Jeniffer McClure‘s series You Who Never Arrived is a collection of photos reflecting her past relationships. And while I deeply felt for this series of women wearing the t-shirts of their lost lovers, and I could empathize with Laura Steven’s imagines reflecting the stages of letting go a relationship, You Who Never Arrived feels more emotionally complex. The photos are staged in hotel rooms, the men are friends and acquaintances, and taking this photos was for the photographer a process of understanding and letting go her own misunderstood emotional past. The project caught my eye because the photos are good and so painfully personal, but not only because of that. Recalling my past relationships trying to understand what went wrong is something completely foreign to me. While I can feel the pain and the discoveries this close look at the past can bring, the series made me realize I feel no need to reprocess any of my past relationships, and I also don’t think of them as ‘failed’. They are not failed, they somehow organically reached a natural end, and I feel it was no one’s fault.
Archive for January, 2015
This is what the light and the feeling of waking up early for no reason on a Saturday look like. Eyes wide open and still tired.
The weekend was way too short, or my list of things I wanted to do was too long, but among other things I organized the screening of a Russian film – The Italian, 2005, directed by Andrey Kravchuk – which is difficult to find and not particularly known, but such a nice story about the struggles of a little Russian boy about to be adopted by an Italian family. Adopting Eastern European/Russian children was a practice at a point in the 90’s and I think this bitter-sweet film manages to create an authentic atmosphere and to tell a sad story in a way that is touching, occasionally funny and also optimistic in a genuine way.
The film was part of a small project I took over starting this month, a project through Platform Spartak, this organization promoting Eastern European culture, and the project is called Ulysses’ Gaze and it’s focused on Eastern European films about migration. Yesterday we had coffee and cake and the film at the Barber Shop in The Hague, and I am currently looking for a small cinema for the screenings, so suggestions are welcome.
I have been watching a total of six films over the weekend. Three of them were documentaries. One of them was about a place you most likely never heard of: have you ever heard of Svalbard, this Norwegian island archipelago somewhere close to the Arctic? It is a largely frozen place populated by few people and way more polar bears, and the starting point of many expeditions to the Arctic. After seeing a short, informative and rather awkward TV documentary about the Russian community there (see the bottom of the page), I realized I heard about this place before, when I read about Pyramid, a Soviet town that used to represent the ideal communist community. The town is now abandoned.
I stared at these photos for quite some time because they’re such a warm illustration of human diversity and culture. Gabriele Galimberti’s series In Her Kitschen is like a thank you note for all grandmas and such a complex illustration of traditions, social customs (some grandmas are really young, for example) and the table atmosphere in different countries. More than that, for sure we all recognize the comfort of food, and unless your grandma is or was an evil witch, it’s most likely that thinking of her and her food is comforting and brings some nostalgia.
I don’t remember why I took this photo, I guess out of some sort of intuition that the world inside that house was not going to last much longer. My grandparents often cooked together and I grew up in their kitchen. They also made everything I wanted, they spoiled me all the time. This is the only photo I have of them in their kitchen, where the magic happened.
For more grandmas (only, no grandpas) and their dishes, see Gabriele Galimberti’s photos of grandmas and their special dishes.
What you do when you’re a Furry is that you dress up as a fluffy character and you meet up with other fluffy characters and you chat and have and hang around. You can also do other things, like you dress up as a fluffy character and then go fishing, or cut a leek or iron your stuff. What you don’t do is two things: reveal your identity and talk to journalists. I think there’s something liberating in being a cartoon and I am currently looking for something liberating, so I am considering becoming a Furry journalist, perhaps I’d be the first ever. And perhaps Tom Broadbent will add me to his collection of photos of people who like to dress up like this.
We went to London this last weekend , went to see friends, see some art, have some food. I love London, I always enjoy being there, I love it because it’s gloomy and cosmopolitan, and it’s old and it’s new and it’s really diverse. I love what you can see in London too, the art and the history, and so we went to Tate Modern to see the Conflict, Time, Photography exhibition, which was thought provoking in many ways and I plan to write about it soon.
I also spent some good time at the British Museum, not too long, it was really crowded, but I was excited like a kid to see the Ancient Iran part, and the Tibet and Nepal section. I’d like to bring my father there sometime, it would be like Disneyland for him, perhaps he’d consider living inside the museum. I’d like to go back there myself, middle of the week, when it’s more quiet. I think it’s a great place to take photos, absurd ones, of people taking too many selfies, drinking Coca-Cola in front of antiques. The silly comments you hear cannot be seen in photos though.
I got a nice book on this trip, one with photo assignments meant to make you think and to make you play. Hesitated but got it in the end. I also got some ideas and inspiration, as I usually do when I go somewhere new. And I very much enjoyed the company of my friends there.
Before they pass away: Jimmy Nelson’s glamorous photos of tribes tell the kind of PR stories we want to hear
What initially might seem to be the very best of anthropology meets photography, Before They Pass Away eventually turns out to be a (talented) photographer’s imagination at work. Jimmy Nelson tells the kind of stories we want to hear and takes the kind of photos we want to see, but in the end they create a imaginary that does not reflect the reality of the people photographed. Plus, most of these tribes are not really about to disappear.
Unlike Edward Burtynsky’s Manufactured Landscapes and Watermark, which overwhelm and invite to reflection, Alex MacLean‘s aerial photos are only surprising eye-candies picturing human patterns from above. Why is it that ‘many’ of one thing captivate us and seem beautiful to us, well, I don’t know. But there are many planes, many trains, many people and many boats among other many things in these photos. And they do look beautiful and I cannot stop looking at them.
Alright. So 2015 is here for some days now. And I hope Passepartout will become bigger and better this year. I like the believe that the two go hand in hand.
I do believe images and art can help us understand our own experiences better. If not better, then at least help us get new insights and see new perspectives on things. This is why my plan is to make Passepartout more personal and to offer more ideas for things to see and read.
I said it before: I think photos are not just direct mirrors of the world, they’re actually cultural items, they’re the result of a process, they have their own language and their own world. And they have frames, all sorts of frames that influence what we see and how we understand something, and also how we create our mental image about a place or an issue. I want to (delicately) give more insights into frames and into how images work, and into visual culture in general, so you can question and make better sense of what you see.
Hope you’ll stick around for some good stuff and here are two photos:
See that little table on which the holy light of inspiration seems to be falling? That’s where I work sometimes, when I feel I can no longer stand my own table at home. This may see the most uninspired cafe, but it’s my happy place. Everything is pretty grey around and most shops are closed (bankrupt) but I like the feeling of austerity, the quietness, the old ladies having coffee together there and a certain something I cannot describe and only I seem to see.
And here’s a selfie, last photo of me from 2014. I don’t have many selfies, but I do have this one and like it because I can remember precisely how I felt and where I was when I took it. It was in the mood that makes me think, write and do good things. 😉
Some of the trees in Beth Moon‘s Portraits of Time photo series are 4000 years old, which means these trees were present when whoever you can recall from history was alive. They were around when Jesus was around for example, and even then they had been around for quite some time. They’ve seen history, climate changes and the whole process of our world becoming as we know it. And they’re still here.