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Jana Koelmel

MA work

Something to do with my Father

My graduation project exists in three connected parts: a short story, a video installation, and an audio piece.

The short story is a collection of memories and intimate thoughts, a story about love and separation. In a broken narrative, it opens up a mental space that speaks about fatherly love, the passing on of traumata throughout generations and its’ influence on our relationships.

The video piece is my first major moving image work. My background lies in photography. I have a strong curiosity in the possibility of storytelling through dance. Hence for this piece, I have worked with contemporary dancer and choreographer Lauren Bridle, in order to create a dance for camera, where two dancers translate inner landscapes into movement. The filming was set in two main locations in London: Alexandra and Ainsworth Estate, a brutalist council housing estate, and a wooden raft floating in the middle of a lake. The video involves music compositions by Alberto Santamaría Lázaro, and a voice over by Aischa-Lina Loebbert. 

The audio piece is a reading by Aischa-Lina Loebbert. It creates an intimate space, which invites the viewer to enter a personal realm of thoughts, a world of strange but familiar emotions.

The three screen video installation will be shown in RCA’s Moving Image Studio. In the foyer one can listen to the audio piece, and look at a copy of the limited edition publication of the short story.


  • Portrait Jana Koelmel
  • MA Degree


    School of Humanities


    MA Photography, 2014

  • My work is dedicated to storytelling; it digs deep into the world of our inner landscapes. I interweave the forms of spoken, written and visual language in order to express something that lies beneath the surface of their symbolism: The translatable essence of personal experience. Finding the right form of translation of my own experience to others in my artistic work, I try to unfold feelings that every human being relates with. Reflecting and analysing emotions is my way of understanding and speaking about human relationships; and to me this analysis is essential in order to grasp an understanding of life in general. 

    My background lies in staged photography. In my earlier photographic projects, I was interested in creating a narrative through staging scenes in front of my camera’s lens. The process of making my series ‘Staged Photographs (2009-11)’ was very similar to the production of a film. It involved hunting down the right location, casting the right people, and setting, and directing a staged scene, in order to produce a still image of something that so far only existed as an idea in my mind.

     It seemed like a logical step to move forward from that point towards making moving image work. Since the beginning of my studies at the RCA, I have worked predominantly with writing and video. My strong curiosity for the body language in contemporary dance is why I chose to collaborate with a dancer for my current project. One of my greatest inspirations stems from watching Pina Bausch’s pieces. 

    While producing my graduation piece, I have enjoyed the beauty of collaborating with artists from different backgrounds, which has enriched and inspired me. In coming projects, I would like to continue collaborating with artists from distinct fields, in order to cross borders between separate art worlds, and create pieces that are less and less linked to just one medium, or one art form.

  • Degrees

  • Diploma in Communication Design: Photography, Folkwang University of Arts, Essen, 2012
  • Experience

  • Workshop leader, ReachOutRCA, 2013; Artist lecture, London College of Communication, 2013; Teaching assistant, Professor Muller, Fine Art Photography, Folkwang UdK, Essen, 2010-12; Assistant, Jitka Hanzlová, Essen, 2008-12
  • Exhibitions

  • Science and Fiction, Book launch & Exhibition, WORK Gallery, London, 2014; Jana Koelmel, This is no Art: Affordable Art- Pop-Up Exhibiton @ Brick Lane Market, London, 2014; Salon Photo Off, Paris, 2013; Splinter Art Fair, Michael Hoppen Gallery, 2013; RCA Secret, Royal College of Art, London, 2013; Work-in-progress, Royal College of Art, London, 2013; Kein Wort Zu Viel, Kunstverein Ettlingen, 2012; Final Show Photography, Folkwang UdK, Essen, 2012; Jana Kölmel – Staged Photographs, Galerie & Atelier 52, Essen, 2011; Cumulus Conference, Zeche Zollverein, Essen, 2010; Academy meets Photokina, Cologne, 2010
  • Awards

  • Residency, Durham Wharf Foundation, 2013; Excellence Scholarship, Marianne Ingenwerth Stiftung, 2012
  • Publications

  • Science & Fiction, Black Dog Publishing, 2014; Union Station Magazine (9), 2014; Something to do with my Father, Short Story, self published, 2014; Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, March, Essen, 2012; DEKAMIRED, 2012; Kein Wort Zu Viel Exhibition Catalogue, Folkwang University of Arts, Exhibition Catalogue, Kunstverein Wilhelmshöhe Ettlingen e.V., 2012