Copyright © 2017 Kate Molenkamp. All Rights Reserved.

Molenkamp’s achievement as a photographer lies in her inversion of the codes of traditional travel photography, beginning with her choice of subject matter. These images display an interest in the quotidian, even the mundane. A chilly, blue-grey palette dominates the sparsely populated vistas of concrete and peeling shopfronts, and there is a kind of sterility present that is at times reminiscent of a half-abandoned industrial town. This is emphasised by a straightforward approach to framing, a preference for straight on, eye-level shots over complex arrangements and sharp angles.


The people we see – a street vendor, a hospitality worker on a smoke break, businessmen going to and from work – don’t take much notice of us, and still somehow we feel they are as aware of our presence as we are of theirs. These portraits are shot in the street, in public, never behind closed doors, with the emphasis on distance rather than intimacy. The only subject the camera seems to have caught off guard is a toddler, who stares defiantly back at us through the open doorway of a dimly lit restaurant.


It is this distance that sets Outlander apart from its peers and gives it much of its power. Molenkamp does not attempt to capture the essence of a culture in a handful of images; rather, she illustrates the inherent falseness and impossibility of such an endeavour, and embraces the essential unknowability, the otherness, that characterises so many of our encounters with that which is truly foreign.


Review by Jeremy Mair (Phantasmagoria, Oct 2015). Full version.