documentary films on the creative arts

Katrin Koenning : Revisiting

Katrin Koenning - Revisiting
Peter M Lamont
Peter M Lamont


Chasing the light is what we do. Light reveals what is and what isn’t. Light tells the story. Quite literal interpretations have become, to me, a hallmark of Katrin Koenning’s story-telling and none is more evident – indeed literal – than Lacuna 13:20, a photo-essay about the express train of life as it passes through a sliver of light that only appears at 1:20pm each day at a certain time of year.

My own experience of Katrin was at Melbourne’s highly-regarded photographic gallery Edmund Pearce at the opening of her new show Dear Chris. I realised at once the power of collections of work as the narrative and with Katrin’s work grouped in (let’s call them) tales – smaller parts of a larger story – a plainly bigger picture is clear, and scary.

We’re all casual visitors to the artist’s mind. We (well I then) look at work which may or may not be the expression of an idea by the artist and I try to understand the message, or I just admire the technique, or sometimes I just go for another glass of Gallery wine. The story doesn’t often get told – perhaps there wasn’t one. But in this case, with Dear Chris, there is.

Dear Chris is reconciliation of effects, of events, times and thoughts, assembled using photography as a way to visualise the very many (often conflicted) emotional states when a friend takes their own life. Knowing the story I find the work painful and in that, it is immensely compelling.

Acquiring a work from this show is like smuggling home a piece of stone from the Colosseum. Sitting in my home on a wall, I can look at it and remember not what it is, but what it represents. It’s a powerful reminder about things we shouldn’t forget so easily. Is all art like that? Perhaps not, but good art is.