Copyright Kate Nolan 2014, self-published
Neither is a three year project by Kate Nolan (b. 1979 Dublin, Ireland, where she currently resides) that takes place in Kalingrad, formerly called Königsberg (German), a seaport city and the administrative center of Kaliningrad Oblast, the Russian exclave between Poland and Lithuania on the Baltic Sea. This place was formed following World War II with the displacement of the native Germans with those who relocated from the interior regions of Russia. What results is a multi-dimensional photobook that is a mashup of written narratives and visual poetry that attempts to investigate feminist identity in the context of a memory of an ambiguous place.
Nolan’s photographs the women of Kalingrad, a mix of portraits, those who directly confront the photographer, thus the viewer, and those who look pensively away. Inter-woven are urban landscapes of a place that shift from the lyrical, a beautiful tree in colorful bloom, to terrifying landscape, a field ablaze in flames. The latter photograph (below) is adjacent to and faces a photograph of a women with a child playing on a ride, while a child faces away unaware of the “approaching” danger.
The smaller stiff-cover booklet contains narratives and is bisected by the larger stiff-cover book containing the full bleed photographs with a floating and separate narrative as a physical sub-text. The front booklet acts as a Forward with hand-written short stories to describe current conditions .The book’s Afterward, formed by the other half of the smaller booklet, contains stories that describe events occurring in 1946 during the formation of Kalingrad, written by the women who were involved in this transition.
Her photographs are printed full bleed, so the photographs are physically joined at the seamless gutter, one photograph slamming into the other, creating interesting diptychs, that can be read singularly or as a panoramic whole.
This project appears autobiographical as Nolan is investigating the subject of the identity of young women within society with perhaps some similarities to her own circumstances.
As a book object, this is a crazy and complex design with a lot of moving parts that include three distinct sections; one smaller stiff-cover book that is bisected by the larger stiff-cover volume, held together by a sewn binding and a clear poly band. Within the larger volume is another narrative on separate pages, essentially a mini-booklet within a book and can be read independent of the pages above.
Due to the design and sewn binding of the larger volume, the interior narrative pages slightly brush and physically interact with the photographic pages, creating a subtle tension between the two. The book is a lay-flat book design that makes it a joy to read.
This photobook was designed and developed in collaboration with the creative Dutch photobook designer -SYB- (Sybren Kuiper). The publication of her book was supported by a successful Indiegogo fund raising campaign and I have selected this photobook as one of the Interesting Photobooks for 2014.