Judith Jockel — Framing sorrow

Interview: Bob Vanden Broeck


Petals, horizons and mist. Your photographs look very romantic.

These photographs arose from the death of my best friend, Mieke. I was looking for a way to process it, to make my grief accessible. The result was a whole series that revolves around the rose. took all the photographs in the communal garden of our studio. The project was finally given the title “You breathe from a garden in your neck”. It’s a line from a poem by the American poet Jennifer Joshua Espinoza.

The haze in all the pictures is almost a subject in itself.

It was a hazy period. The fog in the images refers literally to this. I used a view camera, a Combo 8x10 inch. This camera belonged to Mieke. After she died, her parents said that I could have it. The bellows are broken, so this fogginess sneaks into the pictures. I found this effect very appropriate and interesting. Everything came together in those photographs.

How should I connect these landscapes with You breathe from a garden in your neck?

The photographs of landscapes are fairly new. So it’s also a work in progress. I cycled through these places when I was grieving. I involved the fog in these too. Where is the border in these landscapes? What lies behind this landscape? How far can you see? I also found the marshy aspect really interesting. A marsh is somewhere between a solid and a liquid form: it is a transition between two materialities. So I deliberately chose to incorporate spots on the lens, as though there is something liquid in the photographs.

The viewer isn’t given the context of your grief.

I have been able to process my grief through these photographs. I hope that others can do the same through looking at them. But my personal story shouldn’t be attached to these images. The viewer should be left free to project what they like on to my pictures.

© Judith Jockel
© Judith Jockel
© Judith Jockel