Using evocative portraiture as a way to preserve the lives of those closest to her, Nina Röder explores the passage of time through the eyes of several generations in her family.
For Röder, photography is a way to stop time and capture the people around her as they are, as well as recreate moments in their past. Her family’s homes serve as the settings for her photographs. By utilizing these intimate spaces, she provides a connecting thread between the images she produces here.
While her photographs read as deeply personal because of the familiar domestic setting, her style of photographing feels distant and oddly surreal. Her portraits are brightly-lit and clear so that both the subject and their surroundings are clearly visible. The subject rarely makes eye contact with the camera and when they do, their gaze is intense and stony. This withdrawn feeling recalls the dream-like nature of far-off memories, perhaps an allusion to her aging subjects as they look back on their life. Röder’s series »m und p« (meaning Mama and Papa) is an experiment in which her family members were able to photograph each other.
This series takes into consideration the effects of gender, age, and personal relationships without slapping the viewer in the face with the outcome. The differences in tone between the images are subtle, just as the differences between her subjects are. All come from the same family, but all interact with each other in different ways. »m und p« however, reveals Röder’s older relatives to be more sure of themselves; capable of commanding a presence.
Röder’s work shows the aging process as less of a physical event and more as a series of changes and consequential acts to hold on to memories. By presenting her subjects in their homes that have changed very little over the years in an attempt to preserve not only the freedom of youth but also the memories of an entire lived life, she tells their stories in a way that only someone as close to them could. She has a clear respect for the lives lived before her. She views old age not as a tragedy, by any means, but as a triumph and an accomplishment.
by Jenna Opsahl
m und p year:
Windsbach / Germany