by Steve Bisson

Firstly could you briefly introduce your book ‘Jazorina’? What brought you to this region and how did you develop the project? 

Freya najade (FN): In my series 'Jazorina' I capture the transformation of the coal and energy center of the former German Democratic Republic into Europe’s largest man-made lake district and a holiday destination. In my photographs I explore the changing landscape and the emerging tourism of this region. A few years ago I came across this ambitious project in a newspaper article and was fascinated by how humans were changing the character of a whole region. The lake district will be the third cultural landscape in Lusatia. During this time span, the region witnessed a transformation from forest and marshes to villages and agricultural fields, to mine pits and now to lakes. In addition, I found interesting that the planned new identity of the region aimed to be a synthesis between the past and present byincorporating the industrial history e.g. by offering to tourists visits of a working power plant or of an active mine.

© Freya Najade from the series 'Jazorina'

After reading this newspaper article and doing further research I felt that I really wanted to visit the region. As a result I went with my camera one summer and afterwards I was hooked and returned the following two summers. A photographic project started to evolve, and after working on it for four years now, it finally came out as book published by Kehrer Verlag.

When did you decide to actually make a book?

FN: When working on a project I always lay the images out as a book – be it virtual or physical. That doesn’t mean that I necessarily intend to publish the series as a book, but it helps me to shape a narrative by playing with edits and with text. In Jazorina’s case I had made a very simple virtual book using a Blurb template to show in a portfolio review at Format Festival in Derby. At the time I had been working on the project for one year and was planning to return to Lusatia again, but I wanted to get feedback on the project in general. I had in the back of my mind that it could potentially become a book but I was not working towards a publication as such at the time. When I met Alexa Becker from Kehrer Verlag in the portfolio review she really liked the project and the idea to make a real physical book of the project started to evolve.

© Freya Najade from the series 'Jazorina'

It’s your first monograph? How did you choose the editor Kehrer Verlag?

FN: 'Jazorina' is my first monograph. I knew Kehrer Verlag from photo festivals, they seemed well established as a publisher and well connected in terms of distributing books. I also really liked their program, many photographers whose work I love e.g. Andreas Meichsner or Ben Huff had published with them.

What about the process of choosing and selecting images. And text? What about the graphic and design layout?

FN: I edited the pictures and worked on the layout mostly myself, but I got some feedback on my image selection and sequencing from colleagues and friends I trust. This definitely helped me taking certain crucial decisions. To finalize the design I collaborated with Kehrer Verlag’s design team, together with them I worked on the text layout, the map and the cover.

Plans for the future? Are you going to do an exhibition with this book? 

FN: This month I just opened a solo show of Jazorina in Lusatia. It was for me quite important to show the work in the region which is subject of the series. The exhibition’s location is very special and in my eyes perfect, as it is a former briquette factory, which is now a museum. I love that the series appears to be embedded within its industrial past. In addition, it’s on the top floor which has an amazing view over the region. One can see some of the lakes and a power station puffs at the horizon.

Installation view

Are you going to interact somehow with the community you have portrayed? 

FN: At the opening of my show in Lusatia, I also launched my book. The local newspaper wrote about it and also advertised the show which has been great. Many people from the region came and I could have an exchange with them during the opening, plus some of the people I photographed attended. The latter has been especially fantastic, it was so nice to meet some of the “models” again and to show them the finished project – the book and exhibition – they are part of.

© Freya Najade from the series 'Jazorina' 

Did this project affect or change/evolve your idea on photo books?

FN: When working on the book I obviously thought a lot about book publishing and looked a lot at other photographers’ photo books. It made me realize how important the design of a book is and that besides of good photography the design is really the key to a successful publication. Almost any work can be seen online, so a book makes sense if it becomes a special product itself and adds something to a project or series.

© Freya Najade from the series 'Jazorina'

Finally can you suggest us 3 photography books that you liked? 

FN: I love the following three photo books: 'Dalston Anatomy' by Lorenzo Vitturi, 'El porqué de las naranjas' by Ricardo Cases, and 'Jeddah Diary' by Olivia Arthur.


Freya Najade 
Book available from here