Arts & Culture

With And Without You

Jacob Aue Sobol’s book reflects on 20 years without his father

Jacob Aue Sobol

Jacob Aue Sobol Sometimes the fisher men hang their nets to clean and repair them. A bird has been caught during the night. Greenland. Tiniteqilaaq. 2002. © Jacob Aue Sobol | Magnum Photos
Jacob Aue Sobol The Brito Gomez family. La Pista, Guatemala. 2005. © Jacob Aue Sobol | Magnum Photos
Jacob Aue Sobol The Brito Gomez family. La Pista, Guatemala. 2005. © Jacob Aue Sobol | Magnum Photos

When Jacob Aue Sobol was 20 years old his father was killed in an accident, aged just 40. As Jacob turned 40 himself, he began to reflect on the body of work he had created over the past 20 years that his father never got to see. “I had spent twenty years of my life with my father, and twenty years without him,” says Sobol. His book, With And Without You, is a deeply personal reflection on the past 20 years, and is dedicated to his father. “Since it was shortly after my father’s death that I took a serious interest in photography, I saw it as a chance to show him what I had experienced over the previous twenty years. The book is a tribute to him, and all the emotions and anxiety churned up in the wake of his death.”

The book touches on important cornerstones of the photographer’s life, from falling in love to his travels across Bangkok, Tokyo and Guatemala, where he stayed with a family and documented a young Mayan girl’s first journey to the ocean; to more recent work in Copenhagen, America and Siberia. “But no matter where I am in the world, it is not a surprise that my work returns to well-known themes and emotions,” says Sobol. “It’s all about humanity, about sharing something with the people I meet, in an attempt not only to be a voyeur, but to take part in life – even when I am taking pictures of it.”

“I am quite certain that losing my father – in a horrific accident when I was twenty years old – was perhaps the primary reason that I started searching for a way to vent all the emotions that had built up inside me. As soon as I realized that photography was not only about the subject being portrayed, but also about the photographer’s own relation to the world and his surroundings, I found myself with a constant need to create images – to put them out there, and allow others an opportunity to see their own reflection in my work.”

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