inframe in frame jake mein

Interview Jake Mein

This work is a 10years project. How all begin?
Working for a magazine I was traveling a lot for different assignments while I was on these assignments I would always be making work for myself, it’s also where I started to explore the ideas of identity & belonging. It took about 8 years to realize I had a project in the works though. I didn’t have a precise idea at the beginning but looking back at it now I was exploring the same ideas that I am still working with now. I look at the project as a visual wandering, an understanding of space, identity & belonging.

Where comes from the title?
It’s from a poem called One for Sorrow, based on the amount of magpies you saw determined ones luck. One of the earlier versions published in 1846 had the line as Six for hell, not six for gold.

« It depends, it’s quite hard to describe the feeling, it can be instinctual a lot of the time, a gut feeling. You only know when you see it. »

What push you, in general, to take a shot, when you feel the need to click?
For the Six for Gold project at first, it was documentation, mainly of a subculture and the moments in between. I think it depends on the project. Of course, aesthetics have to come into play, you need to capture an audience with aesthetics to then deliver a message. It depends, it’s quite hard to describe the feeling, it can be instinctual a lot of the time, a gut feeling. You only know when you see it.

Is it analog? What camera did you use?
Yes, for Six for Gold I used a 6×6 medium format camera but I’m currently using a 6×7 camera for my new project. For me the camera I was using for Six for Gold just felt natural to use, I liked the look it gave and I felt the format landed itself to the project well.

Tell me your background story and your influences about photography?
The bulk of my influences are local Australasian artists and my friends, to be honest. That’s not to say there aren’t international influences but those around me are the ones I’ve paid the most attention to. The likes of Laurence Aberhart, Derek Henderson, Trent Parke, Caroline McQuarrie, Wayne Barrar, Ann Shelton.

Do you have a moment/photo from that project that it stuck to your mind?
The image of the sharp rock in Cape Foulwind, it was just such a bizarre thing to see in the middle of a beach on a gloomy day, also the tide has worn it completely away now.

This project is in New Zealand, what place have photography in NZ?
It’s definitely evolving. Things have changed a lot in the last 10 years. Considering the size of the country we do have a lot of galleries and a large amount of artists. We’re lucky here to have a great government based arts grants that encourage the development of the arts. In terms of festivals they are growing, our photo book festivals are doing the same. Sometimes it can feel very insular in New Zealand, there could be more development of emerging artists but I think that could apply anywhere.

Your approach is contemplative, tell us more about this personal expression of inner thoughts that we felt looking at your pictures? and about your book how you work on it?
It’s definitely contemplative, although sometimes it does feel like you’re scrambling to quickly get everything ready. In terms of the viewing, I think that’s completely up to the audience on what they take away from it and if/ what their connection is. For the book It was a hugely collaborative process with Lucy & Harry from Bad News Books, we worked on sequencing, design right down to trials of paper stocks & cover materials.

I want to ask you about the Maori culture, what is the place of this culture in NZ society?
I actually see Maori culture becoming more and more prevalent in New Zealand society, the language ( Te Reo Māori) is being picked up by more and more people. There’s actually this amazing metal band Alien Weaponry from New Zealand who performs all their songs in Te Reo. Having said that there is still a lot that could change here in New Zealand.

Your top 5 photobooks?

Probably the toughest question out of the lot. So I’ve done my recent top five.

Dana Lixenberg – Imperial Courts
Gregory Halpern ZZYZX
Morgan Ashcom – What The Living Carry
Deana Lawson – Monograph
Hayahisa Tomiyasu – TTP
(extra one) Tim Coghlan – Hell’s Gates.

Interview by Kalel Koven

Photographer’s links: website / Instagram