From Katrin Koenning’s website:
One morning in 2005 I woke and, with a sudden immediacy, feared the fragility of things. What if tomorrow someone close died? I needed to hold on and photograph those transient moments of intimacy shared only between us, yet common to most. I needed to investigate what is close, and to explore the complexities and challenges of love and belonging. Was there such a thing as family identity? That morning, Near was born – it is an ongoing portrait of my family.
Our story is common to the 21st century – we’re spread across four countries and three continents. We are animators, architects, engineers, social workers, therapists, carpenters, filmmakers and dreamers. Together, we’ve come through cancer and suicide.
Near is inspired by an urgency I find in the ordinary – those split seconds of “insignificant” that ultimately make up the core our lives, and loves. A hand on a washing line, in habit and in rush. The way a towel is folded, gently, in perfect routine. My mother holding her hands behind her back while we walk, always in the same way. A hair on a pillow, a sunburn, a sound. Harboring us from the shadow of time, these things promise safety. They become moments layered in a mountain of meaning only climbed in hindsight.
As time accelerates her rhythm through our lives, there are distances in the family, ever-repeated periods of together and apart. There are birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, funerals. Some we share, most we spend in different corners of the globe. In times of absence the images I make become, for all of us, certificates of presence. Reflecting different states of nearness, they form a patchwork of personal histories, collective narratives and rituals of the everyday. Our family’s emotions, as much as the physicality of our migrant existence, are forever in transit.
I was born and raised in Germany’s Ruhrgebiet, once the country’s prime area for industry. I come from a family of storytellers.
My mother, who loves books and forests and ships, comes from a family of sailors. My father, who partly grew up in Colombia, was son to a painter and a gallerist. My great-grandfather, whom I never met, sang at the Berlin Opera. In his spare time he made pictures of mountains.
When I was little I wanted to be a painter, a singer or an astronaut. We had no money for the stars, so after trying my luck in different realms of storytelling, I relocated to Australia for love and to study the Visual. Today I am involved in various forms of image making, teaching and writing. As distance is part of my migrant identity, themes of place and belonging underpin much of my work. Having arrived in my 30’s, I have come to understand two things:
a) you can always see Orion, and
b) all you need to travel to the stars is the mind.
I am based in Melbourne, Australia, and represented by Edmund Pearce Gallery.
You can see more of Katrin’s work here.
All photos: © Katrin Koenning.
All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.