The title P.North doesn’t refer to a place in the purest sense of the word. Drawing on a series of photographs made in rural New Zealand and Australia chiefly during the 1980s and 1990s, Kathryn McCool’s debut book floats between decades, locations, people, and the less palpable dynamics that connect them.
Shopkeepers, youths, churchgoers, young children, and animals populate these photographs – nondescript landscapes and sleepy, small-town goings-on building a strangely loaded backdrop. McCool’s unusual photographic signature only feeds this intangible atmosphere. Shifting focal points, analogue detritus, and incursions into the frame – by way of an errant arm, shadow or balloon – evoke both a tenderness and an unease. Whichever the case, these images hold great weight and presence. Almost every character and every composition elicits a double take. The seemingly benign distorts towards disquiet; the malevolent dissipates into innocence.
Contemplating her own questions of memory, faith, impression, and encounter, McCool pictures her subjects with genuine dignity and humour. And it is here that P.North finds its bearings. McCool has spoken about how she found a kind of solace in the awkward intensity and connection of the photographic exchange. By locking gazes with her subjects – flawed and complex as they and we all are – she reveals an endeavour to understand herself.
Specifications: Perimeter Editions ・ 2023 ・ section-sewn hardcover ・ 18.5 x 22.5 cm. / 96 pages ・ English ・ 9781922545145