A decade of transformation through the lens

E&Ms Editor in chief, Fatlind Duraku, conducted an interview with Berlin-based photographer Corinne Holthuizen-Habermann about her long-term project “Wendepunkt.”, showcasing the impact of personal growth and change.

It is no wonder Prizren’s youth refers to the end of summer as a period of “post-festival depression”, as the city buzzes with the music festivals like Ngomfest and the renowned international film festival Dokufest, among others, during July and August. Tourists, locals and youth from across Kosovo fill the city, giving it an unparalleled atmosphere and vitality. Amidst the exhibitions, documentaries, movies and the vibrant nightlife, the exhibition “Visa l Asiv” by the Berlin based photographer Corinne Holthuizen-Habermann and former KFOR soldier Axel von Hoerschelmann stood out to me during last summer. It celebrated Kosovo’s visa liberalisation, offering glimpses of Berlin’s youth and places through photographs. “Wendepunkt” translated into English as “Turning point” is one of Corinne’s long-term projects which started in 2018. The idea behind the project is to document the transformation of individuals and change of perspectives throughout the years, with plans to compile the photographs into a book.

Laura Marie

Lindi: What inspired you to start this long-term project, and how did you select the participants?

Corinne: It’s always difficult to pinpoint where an idea comes from. It’s like being a reservoir of various impressions over time. I imagine it was influenced by other long-term projects that impressed me greatly. For example, I visited a photo exhibition at the CO Gallery in Berlin, where photographer Nicholas Nixon had a show. It was so touching to see how he photographed his wife and her three sisters every year, and as I walked through the large room, I was moved to tears by the passing of life, captured in those photos.

As for selecting participants, I chose them based on their recent completion of school and asked them questions about their current situation, future aspirations, and how the pandemic affected their plans. The changes in their lives and perspectives were captured through photography, showing their growth and transformations over the years.

Lindi: Can you share the questions you asked the participants at each photo session?

Corinne: In the first phase, I asked what they liked best about their current situation, their future aspirations, and a general question that varied depending on the phase. During the pandemic, I adapted the questions to ask how they were doing and if the pandemic had changed their plans. In the third phase, I plan to ask the same questions as in the first to see how their perspectives have changed over five to six years.

Philipp

Lindi: How did you perceive the changes in the participants’ personalities and perspectives over the decade?

Corinne: You can see the growth and change in their thoughts and faces through the photographs. It’s a process of maturation, and I chose to start the project after school when changes are significant. Over five to six years, it will be interesting to see how their thoughts and appearances have evolved.

Lindi: Were there any significant moments or events that influenced the participants’ development?

Corinne: Some experienced major events, while others had smaller changes. One participant had to change their career path drastically due to the pandemic, shifting from biology to becoming a bookseller. These events can lead to significant transformations in their lives.

Lindi: How have photographic techniques changed during the project?

Corinne: I started with black-and-white portraits and switched to colour and full-figure photos in the second phase. For the third phase, I’m considering different approaches but haven’t decided yet. It’s important to capture the essence of the subject in the photograph.

Noa

Lindi: How have the participants reacted to their own changes when they saw their responses over time? Or are they still not aware?

Corinne: Many haven’t seen the full progression yet, as I plan to complete all three phases before sharing the final results. Once the project is finished, they’ll likely be more aware of their changes, especially if it’s presented in a book or exhibition.

Lindi: What role do you think photography plays in documenting and understanding human life?

Corinne: Photography plays a significant role if it can capture the openness and honesty of the subject. It can convey a lot of emotions and information, touching people deeply.

Fabrice

Lindi: Do you have plans to start similar projects in the future, perhaps with a different theme?

Corinne: Currently, I’m working on a project about people and their favourite places, which includes the DokuFest director. I also have another project in mind which is enjoyable and closely related to the individual, but it’s still in the early stages and will be a surprise.

Photo credits: Corinne Holthuizen-Habermann

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