Claudia Heinermann

Siberian Exiles Part III printed by KOPA printing
Siberian Exiles Part III printed by KOPA printing

Claudia Heinermann: Digital is not an option for me

Our doors are always open for those who are curious about the printing process and the magic behind the printing machines. So, recently we were visited by  Netherlands based documentary photographer Claudia Heinermann who came to witness her ideas turning into the tangible matter. While our colleagues were preparing the printing machine, we had a chance to talk to Claudia about her new project, discoveries, challenges, and inspiration.

KOPA: What is your new project about?

Claudia: Some time ago I worked on a project called Wolfskinder. It was the first time when I came to Lithuania to work on a project. It was based on the war orphans who fled from Kaliningrad (at the time it was called Koenigsberg) to Lithuania. Some of them found shelters at Lithuanian farmers who secretly took them in and cared for them as best as they could. While we were interviewing them for the book, they often mentioned that the farmers did that with the danger to be deported to Siberia. I kept that in my mind, because I knew about the Gulag camps, but I didn’t know about the deportations of woman and children. Then I realized that my knowledge of this topic was not enough. So, when I finished the Wolfskinder, I immediately started my research on deportations, which led to the idea of creating the trilogy. I found so much interesting material, but there was too much that needed to be told and heard to fit it all in one book. 

KOPA: How did you collect the material?

Claudia: I’ve visited different archives: Genocide Museum, National Museum, National archives, etc. in Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia where I was searching for photos related to specific topics. In addition to that material, I took photos from the personal photo albums of people I interviewed. This archive material was quite important for the whole project. For example, in Siberian Exiles. Part I project there was one book entirely dedicated only to archive material. It is very important because it tells a lot about the history of that time.

Claudia Heinermann

KOPA: What was the experience?

Claudia: Mostly I was very welcomed; people really wanted to share their story. There were only few times when someone refused to give an interview, because they felt too old and didn’t want to talk about the past anymore. In general, I had only positive experience. People want that history wouldn’t repeat itself, so if they can somehow support and spread the knowledge about this topic, they are willing to do so.

KOPA: What challenges did you face?

Claudia: The difficulty was the archive material. For the previous book I had a chance to get original photos and obtain the high quality, but now I had to work with archive material downloaded from the internet, because the archives in Russia were closed for some topics.

KOPA: What is the most important for you about your prints?

Claudia: The main thing that is important are the accurate colors so that everything looks bright enough.

KOPA: Digital or print?

Claudia: Digital is not an option for me, printing never will be dead. A book is a book – you need to feel it, smell it and hold it in your hands. That‘s it! Of course, digital matter can work as a supporting material. For example, websites about specific topics can be very useful and supplementing to the project.

KOPA: Would you advise others to come and participate in the printing process?

Claudia: I would like to advise everyone to use the chance to participate and witness the printing process. In one way it is very exciting to see your book growing, but in another – it is also important to check everything yourself.

KOPA: Did you make any adjustments?

Claudia: Yes! For example, I asked to adjust the colors of the cover. It had too much pink shades, so we reduced them. The advantage is that you can do it in this process and that’s why it is good to be here. Especially for people from abroad it’s very nice to come to Lithuania, so I would always take my chance to come.