The images included in the book are meant to epitomize Winship’s struggle and connection to the landscape where she herself does not belong.
Likewise, this sense of estrangement is conveyed with a piece of fiction by the British poet and novelist Jem Poster. It is woven through the pages of Snow, where the protagonist is a female portrait photographer whose true identity we do not know. We do know for certain, however, that she is not Winship, but rather an invented figure who further complicates the book’s slippery framework.
Read our interview with Vanessa Winship.
When and how was the book born?
The work was born out of an assignment, which was unusual for me, but because it was in collaboration with Mare, who published my book Schwarzes Meer (Black Sea), I made an exception. The final product was published as a feature in Mare, and afterwards I decided that I needed to go back to Ohio, US. I felt compelled to somehow search out something that I was uncertain about.
Indeed, by going through the book it seemed to me that your gaze was looking for something. What were you searching for? And did you find it?
In a certain way, I wasn’t quite sure what I was searching for, but in a peculiar kind of way I went as a detective. I went back to Ohio during the same weather conditions of the period when I went there for the assignment; it would somehow pick what it was that I was bothered about and what was disquieting me. In fact, the very first time I had gone there, I asked a friend of mine if she would come with me to drive because I didn’t feel confident to do it on that first occasion. As we drove there, we went through a polar vortex; I had never even heard the term before. There was this incredible swirling snow: it was weather that I’m not used to and that I’m not comfortable in. When I went back again, the second time, I was alone and drove myself. The weather conditions were similar, but as I went through that landscape the snow was beginning to melt away. I went in search of something, but I wasn’t quite sure what I was searching for. However, I was being guided in a way. There was a ghost-like old man at a hotel I stayed in; his name was Mr. Nusbaum. He would say to me “Why don’t you go here?” and “Why don’t you go there?” He also addressed me in a very old-fashioned way, not really how we greet new people today. So, I was partly guided by him and by my own instincts, moving through the snowy landscape searching for something.