Jan Kapitän

Karl Marx Stadt, GDR

Jan Kapitän was born 1980 in Karl Marx Stadt in the former GDR.

He started to evolve as a photographer while studying visual communication.

He is now living and working in Berlin, Germany interchanging his time between commercial and personal artistic jobs.

His personal works examine the trivial phenomena of the western society today.

Where are you from, where are you living now?

I was born in the former German Democratic Republic. In a town called Karl-Marx-Stadt. After the wall came down the city got its old name back → Chemnitz.

So the place of birth on my passport is now very old,  as it quotes both names.

At the moment I am living in Berlin where my family and work is based.

What was it like growing up in GDR, do you have any specific memories, how have you seen Germany develop and change?

My childhood was actually quiet, standard and cool. I was only 9 when the wall came down so I didn’t fully understand all the negativity and restrictions the system imposed on the people. I also didn’t know any other different way of living. I still remember that we had to muster in school. The Parade for the 40th anniversary of the GDR we all had to attend and of course the weird but also super exciting times after the wall came down and everything was as we knew it had changed, everything was new from then on.

Germany always felt a bit conservative and stiff to me, it still does. The Germans do everything correct and if not, people will call you out for doing it wrong. Other countries always feel more exciting and free but also less efficient somehow. I think this is something that will never change in Germany.

What scares me and what I have seen change over the years is this kind of patriotism that came back to Germany, especially in the last 15 Years. Visually this started for me with the FIFA World Cup in 2006 when its was cool to show the german flag again but of course, this has been a slow process for many years now. Hopefully Germany doesn’t ever want to show the world again that it feels superior!

Whats was it that got you into picture making?

I think I got my first camera from my parents when I was a kid but didn’t know exactly what to do with it. Later I used the old “Exa 1c” from my dad to play around with and then it was music and parties with friends in Amsterdam where I used to live at this time. Because of the fun in visual work I was having at the time I decided to go back to university to get a BA of the arts in visual communication.

Whats your go to equipment of choice?

I somehow started with Canon equipment and got used to it. So I still rely on all kinds of Canon 5D. For the rest I don’t think the equipment makes the picture more the person behind it.

Tell us a little about what drives you to make the images you do?

I’m always looking for mundane but odd situations in life. They are sometimes superficial sometimes funny. Im looking for the beauty in nature and architecture. On top of this I’m interchanging the lines between commercial jobs and free artistic work. So this whole potpourri forms my visual output.

Do you have any projects lined up in the near future you can share with us?

Nothing special yet, I would like to continue a series about the topic of online and offline surveillance and how to bypass the systems that are in place.

Where can we find you online?

www.jankapitaen.com & Instagram