28 01 2015
By Kyla Woods for Photobook Melbourne
Kyla: When did you begin to seriously venture into the realm of photography/ visual art?
Katrin: Photography became something meaningful to me when I started making pictures with Tobias’ camera. He died in a plane crash above Iceland just after we graduated from school, and he’d been obsessed with photography. I took his camera and left for Iceland – that’s how I came to photography.
Kyla: I read that you have come to understand two things; one, you can always see Orion; and two, all you need to travel to the stars is the mind. Can you tell me how you arrived to these conclusions?
Katrin: They are both ideas I think about a lot in relation to distance and migration.
Actually it’s really simple – the mind is extra-ordinary. It’s borderless, it can fly, burn, escape, speak a thousand languages. It can travel you anywhere. I’ll never be able to take my body into space – but my mind, hell yes! It bounces around up there quite frequently. Once I worked for 3 months as an information trainer at a large new media exhibition in Germany. It was a stinking hot summer (quite unusual for Germany), and the exhibition halls were all taped off so no light got in. It was pitch black in there, and all those sounds from the artworks…I spent an eternity sitting there in the dark, very few visitors, no light to read or anything. So I travelled. Took my mind to other places, like for example Jupiter; it kept me sane.
Kyla: Can you tell me about your project Indefinitely? How did it come about & how long have you been working on it?
Katrin: Indefinitely leans on the idea of Near, a project about my family that I’ve been working on for close to 10 years now. Indefinitely uses a different language though – it is more about time, story and metaphor, and less about family. The work is about this space that migration creates, and the idea that this space is not just something to do with void and sadness, but rather that it is the curator of new narratives. It’s a space of love and dream and it actually holds everything; oceans, stars and animals, us, trees and thought, deaths, births and fire… Between us is the world! How incredible is that?
The work creates a narrative where geography, memory and absence all sort of mingle together into something akin to a new idea of presence – you could call it a narrative for undoing distance through story.
Kyla: What was the first project you worked on?
Katrin: Documenting a dance project by children with disability. At the same time I was creating rainbows in my backyard and photographed them, haha! Embarrassing (the rainbow thingy), but it’s a long time ago…
Kyla: I think, especially for aspiring photographers and storytellers, it can be difficult and confronting to find a project/ subject – do you have any advice for individuals looking to venture into visual storytelling? Do you have any advice for people starting their first project?
Katrin: No not really, everyone has to do it her or his own way and there’s no recipe for this. The world is insanely interesting and stories are everywhere, even on your street or in your local corner store. I think to follow your gut and get involved in something you truly love or feel passionate about is the most important thing. If for some inexplicable reason you love plastic chairs, then find a way of making a story about them. The challenge of course is finding the right language, but I think it’s so important to be in it whole-heartedly, and to enjoy it. Why waste your time making a story you think the world wants, but that doesn’t excite you or enrage you or make you cry (or laugh, of course)? It’s as if you were a writer with an undying passion for cheesecake, but instead of writing about cheesecake you’d write mediocre crime-novels thinking it’s what the world wants. Truth is there are many others out there who are actually really good at writing crime novels. So I say go with cheesecake. Life is too short.
Kyla: This is a bit of a weird question, but can you talk to me about your dreams – what do you dream about? Are they serene, vast or convey nature/ freedom or take place in nondescript settings?
Katrin: Oh! You mean dreams I have when I sleep? I don’t think you want to know. They’re dark and twisted and full of blood, I’ve had these for as long as I can think. Sleep and I have a complicated relationship. There are two upsides to the nightmares: when I was young I trained myself to remember them so that I could write them down. This means that when I get a good dream now, it lasts me for days! The other upside is that I walk a lot in the night and I get to see the world when it is on it’s own.
Thanks for your time!