mother, i have been unsure : Photography of Jana Herman

Since earning her Bachelor of Arts at Oberlin College in 2015, Jana Herman (b.1992) made a quick stop in Syracuse, New York to spend the summer working at Light Work Lab. More recently, she was living and teaching in the South of France. Tending towards film photography and alternative processes, and viewing her work, which is often in series, as unbound books, Jana found herself married to photography after cultivating an interdisciplinary and multi-media study of Studio Art throughout her undergraduate education.

herman_jana_01 herman_jana_02I work primarily in film photography and alternative processes, enraptured by the elements of chance and perceived control intrinsic to these dated techniques. In many senses, the scientific logic behind these methods implies an unrealistic power over our realities. It is the finicky and sensitive nature of this chemical world that at times seems to scoff at our desire for control—making it even more enticing. Film photography demands a trust in the tangible, a desire for our physicality and hand to leave traces, the photographer as a phantom, as an overseer. More recently, after spending the summer at Light Work, I have become more receptive to and excited about digital photography. My most recent work, tentatively called in all the rest, is shot primarily digitally.

herman_jana_04 herman_jana_05mother, i have been unsure : artist statement : mother, i have been unsure addresses a relationship between compulsive hope and the fictitious nature of control. Obsessively posed and toying with certain superstitious tropes, my images relinquish this control through their unrealistically contrived nature that displays the pursuit of solace. I produce in series, considering repetition a fundamental element of reflection, understanding and recovery as cyclical processes. Told through absent characters, my mise-en-scene works are the trace of a solitary and fixated performance. Equally so, they function as captors of time—frail and under-articulated archives. I indulge in the intrigue of the harsh nature of ephemerality and the accompanying paradox of permanence’s discomfort. Described often as quiet, I see my photographs as the breath after the telling of a story, the moment of pause left for digestion.

herman_jana_06 herman_jana_07Outside of photography I have committed much energy into learning French. Throughout my education in the USA, there was little emphasis on the significance of language learning other than English. I found myself fascinated by the pursuit of bilingualism, which was not otherwise a part of my household, seeking to alter the most basic foundation of my thinking—grammar and words. This has afforded me the opportunity to work in France and to reconstruct my notion of universal understanding. I’ve come to let go of the idea that a piece of art or an idea needs to be communicative in some blanket manner, and instead am focusing my thinking on what I would like to add back into society. In terms of photography, I am forever inspired by my mentor Pipo Nguyen-duy. I also particularly adore Barbara Bosworth and Susan Worsham. Looking at women artists always brings me a particularly strong sense of solace.

herman_jana_08 herman_jana_09 herman_jana_10 these-things-that-i-mind-you-know-arent-mineAll photos © Jana Herman : Website | Instagram

About Nishant Mishra

Nishant studied art history and literature at the university during 1990s. He works as a translator in New Delhi, India and likes to read about arts, photography, films, life-lessons and Zen.