“I’ve always felt that music and photographs are related and this body of work illustrates that idea; a certain frequency and pitch, an arrangement of pictures that lures us in, like visual sound that slowly but surely leaves a residue that has poetic staying power and a ringing in the mind’s eye.” — Jeff Mermelstein
At its best, a photograph made in the street photography genre holds the energy of spontaneous caught moments of humanity and the world intersecting. Nuances of expressions and gestures contribute to an authenticity in the imagery, and seemingly random moments within the picture carry meaning by their juxtapositions of people and place.
Duologues is a rich collection of photographs made in this tradition by New York City-based photographer Nina Welch-Kling. For this project, she paired two photographs to create diptychs, evoking a dialogue between them. This format allows for the display of her particular talent for noticing aligned colors, patterns, or narrative elements between images and pairing them to create yet another layer of contextual definition in the conversation between the two images.
Her curated diptychs are rich in visual parallels and Welch-Kling writes about the “discovery process” for viewers in interpreting the meanings. “Reminiscent of the idea of synchronicity, an idea that describes meaningful coincidences, my pairings intentionally produce uncanny relationships.”
She speaks of shooting intuitively, noticing distinguishing features in shapes, light, people, or the surrounding environment. In describing her process for pairing her images, she referenced the game Memory, noting, “I match the images by playing a game of Memory: finding in each image shapes, gestures, and symbols that rhyme. The rhyming may occur within the major elements in the image, such as the subject, or in minute details that otherwise might go unnoticed. By pairing two photos that occurred at different moments in time, the story that emerges can bring them together. The final sequence feels deeply connected, even though the encounters on the street were random.”
In his essay for the book, celebrated street photographer Jeff Mermelstein reflected on Welch-Kling’s use of the diptych format to further expand the context and narratives within the individual images. He notes, “Picture magnetism pulls and holds particular images together; they lock together, like the word pieces of poems, on the surface, below the surface, and deep inside in that somewhere that is uniquely photographic. At times there is a kind of magnetic tug of war, for example with the photograph of the curved architectural wall paired with the picture of the back of a man. It is as if he is fighting the powerful pull of the wall with all the strength of Atlas.”
The book includes writing by fellow New York City photographer Gulnara Samoilova who focuses much of her own work on street photography and on elevating the visual voices of women street photographers. She reflects that, “The street, perhaps the most pedestrian, democratic, and accessible place on earth, is a marvelous mix of the mystical and the mundane, swirling in our midst while hiding in plain sight. Heeding its siren call, photographers flock to the street for the chance to transform the prosaic into poetry. Like all great modernists, Nina sees life as a configuration of light, color, composition, and form; it is in their infinite interplay that we craft stories about how we live and who we are.”
Photographer, painter and sculptor, Christopher Giglio, also contributes an essay in which he writes about the paradoxical nature of photography. “As a medium, photography’s original contradiction is that it can be simultaneously literal and ambiguous. In practice, the photographer’s core problem when taking pictures is dealing with the random. The delight and life of a photograph, then, comes from the acceptance of and successful commingling of these three elements: the literal, the random, and the ambiguous. In this way, a photograph is more like poetry than prose, and viewers of photographs have an essential and demanding role to play in creating meaning.”
The book’s layout includes both color and black and white imagery. Thoughtful sequencing and substantive written contributions all combine to result in a richly complex collection that invites the viewer to linger, consider, discover.
“By grace of her camera holding virtuosity which is simultaneously calligraphic and precise, Nina Welch-Kling achieves a rare atmosphere within which the photographer, the lens and the viewer all share the same visual experience.” – Ralph Gibson
Nina Welch-Kling is a New York City-based photographer originally from a small town in southern Germany. Her background in fine art and architecture combined with a love for roaming the city streets inform her photographic depictions of everyday life. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (1990) and a Master of Architecture from The University of California, Los Angeles (1993). Since 1995 she has lived in New York City raising her two, now college-aged daughters, while continuing to explore creative outlets defined by her passion for photography.
Nina Welch-Kling : Duologues
Essays by Christopher Giglio, Jeff Mermelstein, Gulnara Samoilova
Hardcover, 24 x 32cm
96 pages 86 color and b/w illustrations
Price: $48 US, €39.90