New Photo Exhibition at Hamburg Fair Halls: “Personal Icons”

From June 1 until December 1, 2018, the outside walls of the Hamburg fair halls will again be the city’s longest art gallery, right in the heart of Hamburg. Anyone walking past the glass façade of the exhibition hall along Karolinenstrasse, whether by day or by night, will be able to view the Sven Jacobsen photo exhibition “Personal Icons”. In his show, which is part of this year's triennial series, Sven Jacobsen will present 40 large-format portraits. This selection of photos is part of a larger, ongoing series begun in 2011 in which Jacobsen captures unique personalities. People who stick out because, rather than conforming to popular standards, they exhibit an entirely personal interpretation of themselves. They all seem to be uninfluenced by contemporary trends and ideals.

"We arrange our photo exhibition along the walls of the fair hall as a contribution to urban culture in the public space," says Bernd Aufderheide, President and CEO, Hamburg Messe und Congress GmbH. "Instead of a long glass façade, people see a public art gallery inviting them to pause, contemplate and enjoy."

[Translate to EN:] Foto aus der Ausstellung "Personal Icons" von Sven Jacobsen

Three questions for Sven Jacobsen

What does the exhibition title “Personal Icons” mean?

In my work I connect with people who, according to my first-sight perception, appear to be exhibiting a very personal, authentic, true form of their identity. This sets them apart from most other people who have been influenced by the media and contemporary trends to "assemble" their own personality or type at will, and sometimes even change it as they see fit. I am always searching for my "icons", and I continue to find new ones. For this project I have put them together for myself: "My Personal Icons".

 How did you come up with the idea for this series of portraits?

I grew up in the 70s and 80s when there were all kinds of trendy groups around, such as punks, poppers, mods etc. Today I miss people like these who have an opinion of their own and show it to the world; people who stand for something. It is this longing for true individualism that I express with these photos.

 Where did you take these pictures?

I began shooting them in 2011 and went to many countries and cities, such as London, New York, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Berlin, Hamburg, Los Angeles, Milan, Cape Town, etc. 

About Sven Jacobsen

[Translate to EN:] Sven Jacobsen


BORN IN 1969

Sven Jacobsen´s photography is distinguished by a strong draw back to more simplicity and awareness. It is a radical demand to preserve genuine truth in an over-engineered world, which he strives to capture in his pictures. He tries to find bliss in the simplest things and aesthetics of the moment in order to render a mood visible. He is mostly concerned with emotionality, lightness and authenticity. It is important to him to find the essence of things, go back to ones roots, back home, embrace imperfections and spread warmth and truth. This is what he portrays in his emotional and warm picture language, which defies the modern-day need for perfection. His images are something of an homage to a world that is very close and beckons daily, and the loveliness that can be found in it.


2016 Single Exhibition africa, pitti immagine 2016 Firenze
2014 Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2014, Nat. Portrait Gallery London
2012 Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2012, Nat. Portrait Gallery London
2012 Voies Off, Arles France
2010 Single Exh. Thats A Piece Of Cake, Play, Hamburg
2010 Slideluckshow, Mmx, Berlin
2007 Slideluckshow, Sand Box Studios, New York City
2005 Single Exh. Disco’ Gallery, Scorpion, Hamburg
2004 Single Exh. Safari, Aplanat Gallery, Hamburg
2003 Canon Professional Award, Cologne, Munich, Berlin
2002 John Kobal Award, National Portrait Gallery London
2002 Bff Exhibition Photokina Cologne
2001 John Kobal Award, National Portrait Gallery London
2001 Reinhart Wolf Preis 2001, Hamburg and Berlin
2000 Bff Exhibition Photokina Cologne
1999 Kodak Portrait Award, 2nd Price
1998 Single Exhibition Heine, Hamburg

Book projects

2012 Back To Mama, 272 Pages, 300x240mm, Kehrer Verlag Heidelberg / Berlin
2008 I Love, 144 Pages, 113 Images, Size 300 X 210mm
2007 Artbuyer Germany 2008, 320 Pages, Size 240 X 300mm, Seltmann und Söhne Verlag Berlin
2004 Safari, 120 Pages, B/W Portraits, Size 210 X 250 mm
2002 Schön, 120 Pages, 85 Images, Size 210 X 270 mm

personal icons – selected photos from the exhibition

Photo exhibition "Personal Icons" by Sven Jacobsen - selected pictures
Photo exhibition "Personal Icons" by Sven Jacobsen - selected pictures
Photo exhibition "Personal Icons" by Sven Jacobsen - selected pictures

Kindly supported by:

Hamburg Messe und Congress GmbH
Kruhl von Strenge
Käfer Service Hamburg GmbH
Scharlau GmbH
elektro ZILLMER
J4 Studio