Shot over three days in the attic of Pelči Manor – a grand,19th-century, art nouveau structure in the small Latvian town of Kuldīga – the latest book by young Australian photographer Sarah Walker offers an ominous, curious and claustrophobic vantage on this historically loaded building. The site where Latvia ceded independence to Nazi occupation during World War II, today the building is used as a school for disabled children.
But amidst Walker’s dynamic, high-flash photographs – which were composed in the dark and reviewed after the fact – the cavernous interior of the building’s attic frees itself of historical shackles or signposts, morphing to assume the guise of an untethered, intensely psychological space. Here, endless geometrical forms stutter, shadow and repeat; Latvian graffiti, cigarette butts and dead critters litter surfaces; jagged objects and rusted tools gesture towards signs of violence; overlapping beams and joists form oblique visual puzzles. As such, Walker’s Pelči Manor feels like an obsessive thought or cerebration, looping and rearranging itself toward any and every possibility, searching for a solution that may never present itself.
36 pages, 30.5 x 20cm, unbound softcover with elastic cord, Perimeter Editions (Melbourne)