Jordan 1.1 by Zico O’Neill
Jordan 1.1 is the first part of an ongoing project in Jordan by photographer, Zico O’Neill. Here we feature the first series – a selection of images that depict certain scenarios within the Jordanian landscape. By focusing on simplicity and treating the subject as an object, O’Neill’s geometric eye creates a graphic aesthetic in these Jordanian settings.
How much time did you spend in Jordan?
I visited Jordan for two weeks in October of last year.
Was it your first time there?
Yes, this was my first time to Jordan. I have always had a desire to go to the Middle East and take photos. My Dad is originally from New Zealand but recently moved to Amman with his wife and kids. They both teach at an international school in Amman and that helped get me out there.
What were your impressions?
Going into the trip, my knowledge of the area was very minimal. Basically I had no idea what it was going to be like. My initial feelings before arriving were much the same as those you get before visiting any new region for the first time. In Jordan however, the landscape, people and culture really stood out and made the whole experience very unique. The main thing that still sticks with me today is the sound, especially in Amman. Hearing the voices over loudspeakers coming from the mosques mixed in with the sounds from the city, and then hearing gunfire echo through the hills in the background was very surreal.
Was there anything you felt particularly drawn to?
The main thing I was drawn to at the time (and still am) is the unique edge the country has. It evokes a certain mood that I hadn’t experienced anywhere else. (It certainly kept me on my toes.) I feel this aspect definitely fueled what I was interested in when capturing the series.
What became your big inspirations photographically?
It was the environment and atmosphere that caught my eye. The colours, light and simplicity of the surroundings were something I had never experienced before. It evoked this graphic element that became the main focus for the series. I wanted to highlight the subtleties in the environment; to allow the colours and contrasts to fuel the image.
How did you find being an outsider in Jordan and how did that help form your view of the place?
I was a total outsider with very minimal knowledge of the area and the culture.
As an outsider to any country I feel your mind is very directed to preconceived notions and views of that country, in particular to views of the middle east. So from the start I was conscious not to fall into that trap and I wanted to go in with a completely neutral view and mindset about the country and culture. This, I felt made the experience more unique and fresh. It was all very unpredictable which was nice for a change, apart from the heat!
What is the next step in your project?
I will be travelling back to Jordan at the end of the year to carry on with the second part of the project. It will follow the same direction as the first series but will involve a portrait element. The portraits will be a close up and intimate view of local Jordanian people. I feel these photos will juxtapose with the landscape images and give the viewer a greater insight to the personalities of Jordan.
See more of Zico O’Neill’s work here.