In 2012, Dutch photographer Carla Kogelman (b. 1961) – who previously worked in the theatre industry for twenty-five years – was commissioned by Szene Bunte Wähne, a youth theatre festival in Austria, to make a documentary about the rural Waldviertel region. She ended up in Merkenbrechts, a small village of 170 inhabitants, where she met Hannah and Alena, two sisters who spend much of their time together in a carefree life of swimming, playing outdoors, and engrossed in games around the house. Carla started photographing them in powerful black and white, and has continued to do so, along with their families, friends and surroundings.
“With Carla we return joyfully to a world where we are never bored, rediscovering the freshness and spontaneity of childhood. She meets the challenge with a poetic balance that avoids any voyeurism or sentimentality.”
Jury statement, World Press Photo 2018 – 1st prize long term project
“Carefree, honest, unpretentious, incorruptible. What you see in Carla’s black-and-white photographs is an era of inquisitiveness, cheerfulness and warmth. It makes you melancholic and calm. These are moments of sheer magic that Kogelman has captured. Moments of a pristine nature, intact. Children splash around in the lake, romp through the garden, wade through the mud. Free, uninhibited, inspired, buoyed up by life, air, twilight. They play freely, explore nature, look for earthworms, snails and salamanders. Unbound, they fly through the air, play in the house, laughing. In harmony with nature, often naked. Fairies and fauns appear, dancing in front of Kogelman’s lens. This is what peace looks like. Kogelman hits the nerve of our times: a longing for the past and for slowness in a world of superficial speed. In her pictures she evokes a diffuse lightness of being.”
Jury statement, winner 2015 Alfred Fried Photography Award