Head of Unseen Book Market
Head of Unseen Book Market
Winner of the Unseen Dummy Award 2019, Moritz Jekat’s photobook Non ya is a portrayal of his newly formed multinational family in Berlin. By stripping away the associations of origin and heritage, each person, their surroundings and the everyday objects they interact with tell stories to create a new narrative of home.
Unseen Platform: What was the first photograph you took for this series? And at what stage in making the images did you decide to create the photobook?
Moritz Jekat: I can’t recall the very first image I took for the series but one of the first images, which made it into the book, is the one of my partner Maii sitting in the sunlight in our room with her eyes closed. It’s also one of the very few analogue pictures in the book. Getting into the series from there started in a pretty natural way. Once Maii came to Berlin in late 2017 (she came on her own at first, followed by her daughter Sionne 1 and a half months later) I started photographing our life together. I always take some pictures every day - just of moments, things or people that I find appealing but not with the intention of creating new work from them. During that time, I was starting the last semester of my studies and I needed to work on my final thesis and project. At the beginning of 2018, I was looking for a topic that interests me. After Sionne arrived in Berlin, it was pretty clear that starting our new little family and life together was going to be that topic. It was around this time that I decided to make the project into a photobook.
The title comes from “None of Your Business”, and the project was made in response to the intrusive immigration process. Yet the series itself is incredibly candid. What were your intentions behind sharing these intimate scenes from your family’s private life?
I love my new little family and our new life together. So, I love to share it. Since I could choose freely about how I wanted to present it, there is still room for interpretation. It didn't feel like exposure. Even though I chose the title Non ya, which stands for “None of your business“, I invite the viewer to come and take a look. Of course, it also relates to the process of immigration where you are forced to share personal details with authorities and strangers who are going to judge you based on this information, which is drastically more unpleasant.
Non ya doesn’t resemble a conventional family photo album, but did you research or think about the tradition of such albums whilst creating this project?
I touched on it during my research but I was mostly looking into different family ideas and the history of family in the USA, Japan and Germany from a sociological point of view. I wanted to understand family and the different ideas of it as a whole (as much as that is possible), and not only based on its tradition to be captured in a picture. We as individuals in our family live pretty open lives and have a progressive understanding of what a relationship should look like. So it was more important to me how that relates to the common understanding of family, and I took pictures based on that.
The photobook’s core theme is family, but many of the images emphasise individual identities rather than a collective one. In fact, there are no photos of your whole family together. Was this a conscious decision?
The book is about family, but especially about becoming a family in a non-binary, open and multinational world with all its opportunities and hurdles. Our lives, and the world around us, have made us unique and different individuals. Taking photos for the book made me analyse each of us as individuals, myself included. Who are you? Who am I? Who are we? And for a fact, we weren't one yet, but three. I wanted the book to be as honest as possible, I didn't want to set up a “family portrait“ with all of us in it. If it didn't happen naturally, I wouldn't have wanted it. We are still morphing together to construct our very own family through the riddle of a triangular relationship: With Maii and Sionne as mother and daughter, Maii and me as lovers and partners, and Sionne and me as new friends, still discovering the father and daughter relationship.
Do you plan to create any more projects about your family in the future?
I am considering it. Seeing Sionne grow up as a 12-year-old in Berlin is amazing and interesting. Also how she deals with certain topics like the digital world but also our relationship with each other. Let’s see.
Interview conducted by Jenny Willcock