Book review by Gerry Badger / The Photobook: A History Volume III
Photography, by definition, deals with specifics, material objects that are visible.
But frequently photographers want to address things that the camera cannot
record directly, such as relationships. Katinka Goldberg's Surfacing is about her
mother. So, apart from reproducing snapshots and her own photographs of them
both, Goldberg resorts to symbolism to get her story across. The reader needs
to work at the symbolism, for much of it probably has private meaning, but the
synthesis of Goldberg's varied imagery is interesting enough for us to tease out
our own meanings, perhaps relating to our own parental relationships.
As well as portraits, Goldberg presents landscapes and still lifes. Many of the
landscapes, Swedish forests at night, have a biological feel, the branches like
arteries and veins. This may connote biological links, or the tangled nature of
familiar relationships, but Goldberg herself denies any specificity "How do you
tell a story without a narrative?" she asks.
Clearly, she is exploring the relationship while making the work, without
drawing conclusions. She compares its indeterminacy to "seeing under water"
but dreamlike is perhaps a more apt analogy. We often dream about our loved
ones, and hardly in a logical way. Surfacing may refer to the point where emerge
from a dream and struggle to make sense of it. And that, as Sigmund Freud
argued, requires carful analysis.