Holleben Kosmos


Jan von Holleben

“I once ruled the worlds. Not just one, but many. I ruled them with mirrors and lenses. I ruled them with light and shadow and time. Sometimes I ruled with a trick of the eye. Through my camera, an entire kosmos took shape, and each world within it seemed to operate by a certain unfamiliar logic.” – Jan von Holleben

Jan von Holleben has constructed a kosmos of six planets with little more than a box of props, a team of willing humans, some clippings from the garden, and his camera. Click, click, click and strange things happen, right before the camera, with no digital manipulation: Ghosts flash through the Berlin cityscape. Plants cast shadows on the sky. Many places gather in the same place at once. The monsters imitate the flowers (or is it the other way around?). Each planet is an optical riddle. The only clues are visual. No answers are provided. This is a book for intrepid discoverers.

Note: the inventor of these planets avoids all references to god and to the cosmos. His kosmos is spelled with a K and is something quite different.

Artist book / an original work for print
Six variably-sized softcover books housed in a printed and folded portfolio box

Planeta Symmatrius:
15 x 21cm (6 x 8 in.) trimmed page; 30 x 21cm (12 x 8 in.) open
48 pages; 30 color images

Planeta Visumbra:
27.5 x 18cm (10 x 7 in.) trimmed page; 55 x 18cm (20 x 7 in.) open
16 pages; 7 double-page color images

Planeta Microidi:
27.5 x 36cm (10 x 14 in.) trimmed page; 55 x 36cm (20 x 14 in.) open
28 pages; 13 double-page color images

Planeta Florala:
21 x 28cm (8 x 11 in.) trimmed page; 42 x 28cm (16 x 11 in.) open
24 pages; 11 double-page color images

Planeta Phantafulgeo:
23.5 x 31cm (9 x 12 in.) trimmed page; 47 x 31cm (18 x 12 in.) open
16 pages; 7 double-page color images

Planeta Isolametro:
27.5 x 18cm (10 x 7 in.) trimmed page; 55 x 18cm (20 x 7 in.) open
12 pages; 5 double-page color images

First edition: 1,500 copies

Materials: book paper is ProfiBulk 1,3 115 gsm, a wood-free, coated paper with pH >7 measured according to ISO 6588; cover paper is Gmund No Bleach 300gsm, a pH neutral paper; portfolio box is pH neutral KöhlerBox S Color (brown) with a linen band closure.

Printing: books and covers are printed on Little Steidl’s Roland 200 offset-lithographic press using a four-color process for the books and a graphite grey ink for the book covers.

Stitching: books are stitched by hand using a modified double-running stitch; stitch lengths are customized to the centerfold image and thread color varies by book.

Concept and work: Jan von Holleben
Project development: Nina Holland and Jerry Sohn/Little Steidl
Book design: Nina Holland and Jan von Holleben
Texts: Jan von Holleben and Nina Holland
Scans, color correction, and separations: Nina Holland/Little Steidl, Göttingen
Production, pre-press, printing, and binding: Nina Holland/Little Steidl, Göttingen

First Edition
ISBN 978-3-944630-01-4
Little Steidl: 2017
Price: €120 in Germany

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Find out how this book was made: workshop/Kosmos

About the Artist

Born in 1977 and brought up in the southern German countryside, Jan von Holleben lived most of his youth in an alternative commune and identifies a strong connection between the development of his photographic work and the influence of his parents, a cinematographer and child therapist. At the age of thirteen, he followed his father’s photographic career by picking up a camera and experimenting with all sorts of magical tricks, developing his photographic imagination and skills with friends and family and later honing his technique in commercial settings.

After pursuing studies in teaching children with disabilities at the Pädagogische Hochschule in Freiburg, he moved to London, earned a degree in the Theory and History of Photography at Surrey Institute of Art and Design, and became submerged within the London photographic scene, where he worked as picture editor, art director, and photographic director. He quickly set up two photographic collectives, Young Photographers United and photodebut, followed more recently by the Photographer’s Office and the publishing house Tarzipan. His body of photographic work focusing on the homo ludens – the man who learns through play – is itself built from a playful integration of pedagogical theory with his own personal experiences of play and memories of childhood.

Ten years ago Holleben came to Little Steidl and proposed to make a kosmos. Immediately accepted, this project began a long-term artistic collaboration with the publishing house. Kosmos is the first project to be released, and there are many more surprises in the queue to be printed in coming years as well as many new projects yet to be discovered.

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