Jana Sophia Nolle (b. 1986) lives and works in Berlin and San Francisco, California. Her practice, which consists of photographs and found footage, is self-described as operating at the intersections of research, observation and documentation. Jana Sophia Nolle’s photo series Living Room documents temporary homeless shelters erected in various affluent living rooms in San Francisco, using materials found on the street. In developing the project, Nolle worked with unhoused persons to understand how their improvised dwellings were constructed. After establishing these relationships, Nolle approached wealthy individuals for permission to reconstruct and photograph these structures in their homes.
Nolle remarks that “the photographs are an inventory, a typology of improvised dwellings, cataloging their various attributes.” While formally arresting, Nolle’s photographs also “touch on larger phenomena of socio-political changes, housing shortages, exclusion and gentrification going far beyond San Francisco. How much is our home, whether house or tent, the determining factor for selecting our social group? How much does being homeless define somebody who might also be intelligent, creative and social?
Consisting of photographs and found footage, Nolle’s work can be best described as living between research, observation and documentation. Often, the starting point of her projects is based on either autobiographical experiences or social phenomena. Her interests reflect a fascination with social change, fragile identities, as well as individuals embedded in socio-political transformations.
Having a research background, she often acts as an investigator as well as an observer, scanning the lives of others and using methods of both scientific research and staged documentary photography. Her approach is multidisciplinary, using photography, video and installations.
In addition to being a visual artist Jana Sophia Nolle works as an international election observer, most recently she lived and worked in Nepal, Myanmar, Belarus and Albania. Working in such diverse and vibrant environments has helped to inform her artistic sensibilities.