After high school, Jens Olof Lasthein worked as a shipyard worker and a bus driver. Now he is a freelance photographer living in Stockholm, primarily doing reportage and portraits for magazines and newspapers as well as self-initiated projects across Asia and Eastern Europe. Lasthein has had over 40 solo exhibitions at galleries, museums and festivals, in addition to participating in several group shows.
In 2010 Jens received the Leica Oskar Barnack Award for his work in Abkhazia, 'Waiting for the Future'.
Moments in Between, 2000, Journal. Awarded the ETC Photo Award 2001. Shortlisted for ”Best Photo Book of the Year 2001” in Sweden. Selected by Martin Parr and Gerry Badger for The Photobook: A History, vol II, 2006.
White Sea Black Sea, 2008, Swedish edition Bokförlaget Max Ström, English edition Dewi Lewis Publishing. Shortlisted for the Swedish Photobook Prize 2008 and for the European Central Bank Photo Award 2008.
Waiting For The Future
When the Georgian troops went into his hometown, Sukhum, he hid in his apartment, not going out for months because his mother was Abkhazian. But when the besieging Abkhazian troops finally conquered the occupiers, it came as no liberation, his father being Georgian. Now, 18 years after the war, he is still afraid his double identity will be revealed, and only a few friends knows his real origin.
She is born in the last year of the war and has never experienced anything else than living in a country which is no real country, the surrounding world not recognizing its independence. Being Mingrelian, as the majority of the inhabitants in her hometown, Gali, she has troubles with the Abkhazian authorities, so she studies in Tbilisi, the Georgian capital, bribing the border guards every time she has to cross. But she has no other wish than to return to Gali when she has finished her medical studies, to build a hospital for her fellow citizens.
Most of us know the feeling of being knocked off track. For some reason our goals become unclear and the future seems misty. Normally this state of mind will gradually change and we´ll find the meaning of life again, but sometimes it takes a long time. In Abkhazia this has more or less been the reality since the cruel war of 1992-93, where first the Abkhazians and later the Georgians were expelled from their homes.
During all the years since then this tiny piece of land has been a country of its own - and still not. Being internationally regarded as a part of Georgia proper, it hasn´t gained international recognition, apart from Russia and a few other countries after the short war in South Ossetia in the summer of 2008.
The never ending cold war with Georgia has maintained the fear and suspicion among people, and it has set the future on hold. Unfortunately the international embargo is doing no more than prolonging and cementing this limbo by obstructing the rebuilding of the country as well as preventing people from having contact with the surrounding world.