The editors at Space Magazine discuss what drew them to work with photographer Jonas Unger for their second issue. The mystery of the chair looms large: humble, refined, and always a stand-in for the figure, absent or present. An unexpected drama clings to the empty seats, the sense of a scene about to begin or just concluded.
How did you come across Unger’s work?
I saw his image of Gerard Depardieu flying on his scooter, shot at the actor’s chateaux in France. It looks personal and vibrant, and I really liked it.
Did you commission this series?
It’s about finding the right balance when you work with photographers. You want to give as much freedom as possible to the photographer, to give them a chance to experience something unique. On the other hand, you also want to know what you will end up with in the end… I met Jonas at his local bar in Paris. I wanted him to shoot 100 chairs. He told me that he was leaving to Kilimanjaro a couple of days later, and we agreed that he should start shooting there. A month later he returned with images of chairs shot in Arusha in Tanzania, Rio de Janeiro and Paris.
What do you like about this series?
Everything, I could easily have filled up the whole magazine with images of chairs. These energetic images are an intriguing way to look at objects—the vacated seats especially, suggesting drama just missed or occurring out of eyeshot.
How does the series relate to the Space Magazine aesthetic?
The bold, bright, colourful images and the fact that you almost don’t need any text to explain it. I am a true believer of the need to first simplify and then exaggerate. This story does that to me.
“I could easily have filled up the whole magazine with images of chairs.”