Sven Johne

“I am interested in the fate of individuals, precisely when the individual becomes something typical. That is fiction, but only fiction succeeds, as we know, in capturing reality and what it hides.” Sven Johne

  • Sing Hallelujah (w/Falk Haberkorn), 2019, Klemm’s, Berlin

  • Bon Voyage, 47 faults between Calais and Idomeni, Ludwig Forum Aachen, 2020, photo: C. Bruno

  • Sven Johne / Anomalien es frühen 21ten Jahrhunderts, 2019/2020, Museum Folkwang Essen

  • Dear Vladimir Putin / I am the Power, 2018, Klemm’s, Berlin

  • 47 Faults between Calais and Idomeni, 2017, Biennale für aktuelle Fotografie – Farewell Photography, Mannheim, Ludwigshafen, Heidelberg

  • Anomalien des frühen 21. Jahrhunderts / Einige Fallbeispiele (Anomalies of the early 21st Century / Some Case Studies), 2018, Riga Biennial, Lithuania, photo: V.Svetlov

  • Where the sky is darkest, the stars are brightest, 2013, Camera Austria, Graz

  • Der Weg nach Eldorado, 2013, Klemm’s, Berlin

  • Made in Germany 2, 2012, Sprengel Museum Hannover

  • Reports from the Crack of Dawn, 2009, Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt

  • Reports from the crack of dawn, 2009, Frankfurter Kunstverein

  • Reports from the crack of dawn, 2009, Frankfurter Kunstverein

  • 52 glückliche Orte / 52 happy places, 2008, Klemm’s, Berlin

  • Ship Cancellation, 2004, La Filature, Mulhouse

About the artist

Sven Johne‘s works playfully act on the accustomed manner of representation and readability. By combining takings of spheric simplicity with sober and report like narratives he implements fictional elements in his works, taking their meaning beyond the purely documentary. Hereby he generates space for associations that are quintessential in fulfilling his aim: creating metaphors of being and conceiving alternative myths in times when global change and its impacts are penetrating the life of every individual.

In his inter-medial game, alternating between fiction, narration, and documentation, Johne approaches general and highly subjective topics of our time with humour and subversiveness: the question of self optimisation, specific fear of exclusion and failure, the search for individual fulfilment and the promise of a better, fairer world.

For many years now, the multifaceted field of documentary photography and its interlinkage with texts, information, stories and history has taken center stage in Sven Johne’s photographic practice. In his works — often based on research on site — he systematically deals with the relationship between what can be experienced and known and what can be shown and communicated about it. In the process, it becomes clear that documentary images are not exclusively an element of the visible but that a fundamental dependence on words and knowledge is inscribed in them—that a shift in the status of the images, an uncertainty with regard to their possibilities of producing meaning is the result.

“Johne provides an important contribution to opening up possibilities; to conceiving new linkages to meaning by means of images, especially documentary ones; to introducing a basically open space of meaning production which can be understood as a space for other visual politics.”  Reinhard Braun, Camera Austria 2013

Sven Johne on his work: What you say to yourself matters, 2020


  • Das sowjetische Hauptquartier. Filme 2006–2023

    Catalogue from Sven Johne's exhibition "Das sowjetische Hauptquartier. Filme 2006–2023" at Fluentum Berlin, directed by Dennis Brzek, Junia Thiede und Markus Hannebauer, design by Andre Fuchs, Deutsch/Englisch, 152 Pages, Distanz Verkag, Berlin, 2023
  • Sven Johne and Sebastian Orlac Anomalies of the Early 21st Century / Anomalien des frühen 21. Jahrhunderts Some Case Studies / Einige Fallbeispiele

    Ed.: Sebastian Orlac, Sven Johne and Spector Books, Leipzig Design: Helmut Völter
  • The Doubt of the Stage Prompter

    Jumana Manna in conversation with Aleya Hamza / Sven Johne in conversation with Nataša Ilić Deutsch/English, 144 pages, 18 x 11 cm. Design: Katarina Šević. Oldenburg, 2015
  • Fußnoten der Weltgeschichte 2. Januar – 10. November 1989

    Cuttings from the East German newspaper „Neues Deutschland“ (January 2nd – November 10th, 1989). Design: Helmut Völter and Sven Johne. Limited and signed Risograph edition of 100 (including one signed b/w photograph 25 x 15,5 cm). Berlin, 2014
  • Sven Johne: Karl Schmidt-Rottluff Stipendium

    Deutsch/English, 32 pages, 28 x 22 cm. Design: Patricia Hepp. Berlin, 2012
  • Winter/Badende Winter/Bathers

    ger./engl. Ed.: Günther Peill foundation and Leopold Hoesch Museum, Düren, Germany Design: Till Gathmann
  • Berichte zwischen Morgen und Grauen Reports from the Crack of Dawn

    ger./engl. Ed.: Frankfurter Kunstverein Texts: Werner D'Inka, Jens Kastner, Catrin Lorch
  • Leben und Sterben in Ostdeutschland und anderswo. Life and Death in East Germany and the Rest of the World

    ger./engl. Ed.: Nassauischer Kunstverein Wiesbaden / Elke Gruhn Gestaltung: Till Gathmann
  • Marion Ermer Preis 2005

    ger./engl. Ed.: Marion Ermer Stiftung zur Förderung von Kunst und Kultur in Sachsen und Thüringen
  • Vinta

    Institut für Buchkunst Leipzig. Text: Claudius Niessen. Design: Till Gathmann. Leipzig, 2005