Neither, a self-published photo-book by Dublin based artist Kate Nolan, is an exploration of the story of Kaliningrad. Told from the female perspective, Neither is unique in that it isn’t about the past or the future, nor about the present, but it is a closely woven tale somewhere between fact and fiction, documentation and dream.
The carefully selected photos show women of Kaliningrad and their homes, workplaces, and the streets of a city that seems forgotten and somewhat lost. The words accompanying these beautifully lit images are handwritten memories, hopes and tall tales that the women themselves have chosen to share.
The gifted Irish photographer Kate Nolan has succeeded in entering into a world, very different from the one she knows, finding personal stories of strangers and making them universal.
For many the city Kaliningrad is an unknown entity, but this once beautiful Hanseatic town played an important role in central European history.
Kaliningrad once was the most easterly German City, after WWII it became the most westerly part of Russia, even if it is completely cut off by land.
Nestled in between Lithuania and Poland on the Baltic Sea, this once proud Prussian settlement was completely isolated during the cold war, and even now is often forgotten by motherland Russia.
This fragile position that Kaliningrad is in filters down into the perception that the women in Neither have of themselves and their lives. This first generation of post-Soviet women, no matter how strong, independent or modern, struggle to figure out what their identity is: not quite European, but neither fully Russian.
Designed by internationally renowned Dutch designer SYB, Neither, is a true organic collaboration between the photographer, designer, and the subject matter, the women themselves.
As you enter into the story, words open up your eyes to the situation and thoughts that surround the portraits and landscapes further within. And you are left with words, memories and descriptions from 1945 that the first Russian women of Kaliningrad have left behind in the local archives, echoing their modern day counterparts.
Neither is a beautiful piece of art, one that, like Kaliningrad’s famous son Immanuel Kant, demands your attention and leaves you with thought provoking ideas. A collector’s piece both fragile, like Kaliningrad’s forgotten daughters, but enduring like the stunning photos it holds within.