Katrin Koenning / Dear Chris / April 10 – May 04
On the 5th of August 2010, at twenty-nine years, Chris ended his own life. Husband to Alana, my cousin, he was family.
His death came almost exactly a year after he attempted suicide in one of the grand State Forests of his native Queensland, Australia. Something went wrong, or maybe he clung on, back then. After four days in a forest so deep that family and friends all but failed to find him, he walked himself to help.
I’m not sure when exactly his depression first showed face. I never knew him any different. Highly intelligent, he was trapped within himself, a cage with no apparent way out. He fought for years; it was a front-row battle that lacked a level playing field. He spoke about it, you know, about the drugs that were supposed to make him feel OK, about his state of mind, about all the doctors. Often though he’d sit there in silence.
Chris loved many things, I wonder if silence was one of them. He loved Alana, nature, his dogs, the Simpsons. His Hilux, Nirvana, cigarettes. Dreamt of being a pilot, of doing other things.
Concerned with rituals of mourning and of letting go, the images are testimony of memory and of forgetting. Rather than following a linear narrative, the project is made of three interchangeable ‘chapters’: vernacular pictures from Chris’ childhood Album, photographs of some of Chris’ objects kept by Alana, and finally photographs of places of significance to Chris – his story, and ours.
Katrin Koenning was born in Germany’s formerly industrial Ruhr Area. In 2003, after pursuing journalism, she relocated to Australia where she studied photography at the Queensland College of Art, Griffith University. Much of Katrin’s work explores transience, place and belonging within the everyday. Katrin regularly exhibits work nationally and internationally, and her work has been shown at international photography festivals such as the New York Photo Festival, Noorderlicht, Delhi Photo Fest, FORMAT, HeadOn and Voies Off. Katrin has exhibited widely and has been published in Hijacked III: AUS / UK, The Guardian, The New York Times, GUP Magazine and Der Spiegel amongst others. She was voted Australia’s Top Emerging Documentary Photographer for 2011 and has won a number of awards, including most recently the 2012 Annual JGS Award by the Forward Thinking Museum. Katrin is a former Editor of the Australian PhotoJournalist Magazine. She currently lives and works in Melbourne, Australia.