Mar 06, 2017
Katrin is a German photographer who focuses her work on documentary photography, creating compelling narratives that are both beautiful and moving. Her series “In Between” depicts the journey as well as the people and stories that unfold on the Trans Siberian Railway. Certainly this ride is one of the most popular amongst story tellers and photographers, however this is by far one of the best projects we’ve seen on this subject, since it approaches it from different angles, exposing in this way the thoughts and feelings of the travelers and the ambience of the places traversed. Katrin’s images transport us to the big Siberian steppes and immerse us in the universe of these passengers.
§ “In Between” has been published as a monograph by Nimbus Books, Zürich.
Following we present an interview that we had with her:
am - First of all thank you very much for your contribution to our project. Can you please introduce yourself for us?
KS - Hello and thank you very much for the invitation! I grew up in Munich and live in Berlin. I studied Photography at the Staatliche Fachakademie für Fotodesign in Munich and Visual Anthropology with a focus on documentary photography at the University of Manchester. Last year I completed the Postgraduate Class of the Ostkreuz School for Photography in Berlin under the direction of Prof. Ute Mahler and Robert Lyons. For the last seven years I have been working as a freelance photographer on my own projects and on assignment for different publications and organizations. I run the aff Galerie in Berlin with a collective of twelve photographers and I teach photography classes at the MVHS in Munich. Currently I’m researching a new project and am editing a photo book of my latest project, “Night Time Tremors”, photographed in Kiruna in Northern Sweden.
am - What is “In Between” about?
KS - For the series “In Between” I travelled for nearly two months over the Trans Siberian Railway from Moscow through Siberia and China to Mongolia. From there I returned by train to Moscow.
My project is about being on the move and about the perception of space and time that encloses itself around the passengers on their journeys through Siberia’s, China’s and Mongolia’s open spaces. It is about the state of being in between; in between cities and countries, in between time zones, in between the walls of the train compartments, in between strangers, in between getting off the train and the continuation of the journey.
My photographic work grew out of feeling at home on the train, a place that at first seemed so foreign and transient. Passengers share food, have conversations, play cards and sleep in either small four bed compartments or in open carriages. During long hours on the train I gained insights into other people’s lives and their reasons for travelling: the soldier stationed in Kaliningrad traveling to visit his parents. A young girl and her father going to China to visit her mother who had to move thousands of kilometres from Siberia for her job. And a boy from Krasnoyarsk who for the first time leaves his hometown to live in China for the course of his studies.
Only a few times during my journey I did leave the familiarity of the train to visit places along the route. During my short stays I wandered the streets of Krasnoyarsk, Beijing and Moscow and the small towns and vast plains of the Gobi Desert. I found beauty in the magic of small moments; ordinary street scenes and quaint places caught my eye. They seemed so mundane to the people living there, but were unexpected to me as a foreigner in their midst.
My photographs capture moments in front and behind the windows of the Trans Siberia Railway. They are intimate images of people interacting in train compartments and of the daily routines in places along the tracks.
am - What inspires your work?
KS - My work is often inspired by stories that people, friends or acquaintances tell me about their families, their lives, their dreams and hopes. As an inspiration for recent projects, some of these stories came from my family members - that’s why some of my projects have evolved around my family’s history. But films and books also inspire my work, as well as photo projects by other photographers. Work by my peers and other emerging photographers is a constant source of fresh inspiration.
am - Who are your favourite photographers / artists?
KS - There are a lot of photographers from the United States that have influenced my work. The New Topographic Movement and contemporary photographers like Alec Soth, Andrew Phelps and Todd Hido. Also Rafal Milach and Rob Hornstra are among my favorite photographers.
am - If you could travel and stay in a place for one year, where would you choose to go?
KS - I would probably choose the United States. Maybe not at this point in time looking at the political situation, but it’s a part of the world that heavily influenced me from early on and it could be interesting to spend a year there. I like the social aesthetics and the vasteness and variety of the landscapes.
am - What’s your favourite movie?
KS - It’s difficult to pick just one movie, but there’s one film that I’d like to reference with regards to my project “In Between”: “The straight story” by David Lynch. The film is about an old man who travels through several states in the US on a tractor to visit his brother whom he hasn’t seen in 10 years when he finds out about his terminal illness. I love the beauty and the slowness of the film as well as the heart-warming family story. I’m mentioning this film at this point, because the soundtrack of the movie became the soundtrack of my journey with the Trans-Siberian railway. I listened to it when I looked out on the passing landscape and thus I had the film in the back of my mind when I photographed the story.
am - Do you have any project in mind that could be a personal or professional challenge?
KS - Quite a few of my projects have taken me East, yet for my latest project I spent a lot of time time north of the arctic circle in Kiruna in Swedish Lapland. I am drawn further north and would love to go to the Arctic and work on a project in the cold and darkness of Svalbard.
am - What is your favourite photo book?
KS - “Sleeping by the Mississippi” by Alec Soth
am - Thank you very much for your time and your contribution to analog magazine.
KS - Thank you!