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Ten years later

December 9, 2018

Some things have changed. While other things keep re-appearing. And suddenly this blog becomes active again today. Why being absent for 10 years, what did I do, what brings me back? It doesn’t matter. Let’s taste the ambiguity of the communicative network once again. Let’s try the force of the writing routine. And some things will keep re-appearing, like the clouds, like emptiness, like dance moves.

Une minute de danse par jour 01 12 2018/ danse 1418 (One Minute of Dance a Day). from Nadia Vadori-Gauthier on Vimeo.

“4:36 p.m., Capucines boulevard, Paris 9e. The yellow Jacquets protest against precarious living conditions. and tax injustice, leads to outbreaks of violence and confrontations with the police.”

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Ten years ago some officials in Greece had the insight to place a huge and peaceful green Xmas tree in Syntagma Sq, Athens, in front of the Parliament’s view:

(REUTERS-John Kolesidis) xmas tree athens 2008

© REUTERS/John Kolesidis 2008

“Used copies of The Cultivation of Christmas Trees can still be found and are very much worth the hunt — or the trip to the library” according to this well researched BrainPickings article.

There are several attitudes towards Christmas,
Some of which we may disregard:
The social, the torpid, the patently commercial,
The rowdy (the pubs being open till midnight),
And the childish — which is not that of the child…
For whom the candle is a star, and the gilded angel
Spreading its wings at the summit of the tree
Is not only a decoration, but an angel.

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At the beginning there was a publisher’s idea to gather and produce holiday-themed verses and drawings for a poetry pamphlet series, which could be sent to clients instead of Christmas cards, and which could still be sold to the general public.

So, above, you can read T. S. Eliot’s starting verse for his sixth, and last, poem that he contributed to this project in 1954; the pamphlet was greatly illustrated by Enrico Arno. (The whole poem with all its drawings can be found by a mere internet search).

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Bodies and Images

Tell me why you decided to be at the gilets jaunes protest last Saturday.

I decided to go because I saw pictures from the movement. I was in the United States, in Providence, Rhode Island, and in those pictures I saw very poor people, people like my mother, people like my father, exhausted people, extremely poor people. I was able to read it on their faces, because I know those people. I recognized, suddenly, a body, in the noblest sense of the term. A body that I’m not used to seeing in the media. And I felt that these images were crying out to me.

There was the emergence of the kind of body that we never see, and, along with it, the kinds of words that we never hear. People are saying, “I can’t manage to feed myself, or my family. Christmas is coming up, and I can’t buy presents for my kids.” And, for me, a sentence like that is so much more political, so much more powerful, than all of this discourse about “the Republic,” the “people,” “coexistence,” “democracy.” What does any of that mean? These grand concepts that don’t really reflect anything. Nothing real, nothing corporal, at least.

Can you describe the kinds of bodies that you’re talking about?

It’s the body of social exclusion. It’s the body of poverty. It’s the body of people who are living in precarity, people from the North of France, or from the South of France, who don’t have money, who come from the kinds of families that haven’t gotten an education in five generations—families like mine. I grew up in a family of seven, and we had to live on seven hundred euros a month. Five kids and two adults. Maybe you have to really come from that world to immediately identify it.

Actually, when I started to write books, it was because I had the impression that these kinds of bodies were never depicted. And, when I was a kid, my parents, and especially my mother, always said, “No one is talking about us. No one cares about us.” One of the most violent feelings we had was this feeling of not existing in the public discourse, in the eyes and voices of others. It was like an obsession. There was not one day where my mother didn’t say, “No one is talking about us. The whole world could care less.” And so, for example, elections were the moment when she tried to fight against that kind of invisibility. Voilà.

Bodies, images, and social movements. Christmas time 2018. This was an extract from An Interview with the Novelist Édouard Louis on the Gilets Jaunes Movement: To Exist in the Eyes of Others [published by Alexandra Schwartz in The New Yorker, 14/12/2018]

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kauffer

If in the Cultivation of Christmas Trees T. S. Eliot invites us to cultivate a sense of wonder,  in his very first poem for the same pamphlet series, which was The Journey of the Magi (written much earlier in 1927), he offers a dramatic monologue whereby alienation and a feeling of powerlessness prevail.

The journey does not offer wonders, but a tedious and painful nature, a complaint. A whisper is constantly attached to the ears: “this was all folly”; eventually reaching the out-of-time realisation of the intertangled facets of rupture and destruction, (whose destruction? what if ours – what do we do?), in the advance of historical change.

…were we led all that way for
Birth or Death?

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Sensibility

December 7, 2008

 

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© Henri Cartier-Bresson (Pierre Bonnard, assis 'Deville' 1944)

 

Bonnard used to say “what are you after?.. why this instant?.. why press the shutter just then?”

I just answered “why did you just put this stub of yellow?”

He laughed. We knew sensibility cannot be explained.

Read more…

pinhole is cool

November 7, 2008

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For all those enjoying the pleasures of a pinhole camera, or even better, for those who always wanted a reason to try, click here for a Corbis link to five cool and funky designs of a pinhole camera. Download and print them for free :)

Don’t forget to check out the gallery as well. Are you surprised by the power of the pinhole photography? To add one more example,  I have included here a photo by Steve Gosling (below), which was the winner of the ‘Places’ 2006 competition by the journal Black & White Photography (Issue 66)

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© Steve Gosling

This photograph made by a pinhole camera revealed the ‘eerie formations’ of Yorkshire’s Brimham Rocks – formed of a tough sandstone known as millstone grit, a task that was not easy to capture with a standard camera.

According to the photographer, “it’s very difficult when using a standard camera to find a composition that works, because the rocks are very scattered. But the pinhole camera accentuates the texture of the rocks in the foreground in a way that a standard camera wouldn’t.” He also explains that the long exposure, because of the pinhole’s f/138 aperture, and the resulting movement in the tree and the clouds gives a picture a lift.

think different: the new american

November 5, 2008

The night when Barack Hussein Obama was elected as the new U.S. president, adding new meanings to the American identity, I prefer to look at some photographs from the past. And then accompany them with few comments of scepticism.

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Lee Friedlander (Paul Tate, Lafayette, Louisiana 1968)

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fast & changing world (part I)

October 25, 2008

Keith Loutit employed and combined ’tilt-shifting’ and time-lapse photography in order to create the video below. The method of tilting the lens of the camera helped him to control the orientation of the plane of focus, and select an area of focus that deviates from the usual case, which is parallel to the camera. A large aperture was also used to achieve a very shallow depth of field. The images were manipulated so that they look like photographs of a miniature scale model and, given the high vantage point too, the scene seems much smaller than it actually is.

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Unleash your potential

October 3, 2008

There is a time when not knowing what day it is feels very wrong, particularly when you end up buying the stale bread from the shelf. But most other times, it seems just fine.

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© Christos Stavrou (untitled, 2008)

 

There is a poem by Charles Bukowski claiming that…

there are worse things than
being alone
but it often takes decades
to realize this
and most often
when you do
it’s too late
and there’s nothing worse
than
too late
.

There is a time when, despite being surrounded by so many people, someone feels their own body freezing out and the spirit turning into a statue from inside out. Suddenly, this time, one cannot simply move away or keep walking backwards and forwards, eagerly compensating for the time running out. In fact, those with the higher antennas might be the first ones left out; amateurs, angels, and professionals altogether… All this despite, again, that we all need – in the end – a certain level of emotional superficiality… And despite how everyone is aware that the sound of petrified legs hardly echo the most wanted and abused word at the moment, ‘friend’.

How could a body like this have a big love anyway!

***

© Christos Stavrou (untitled, 2008)

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colour

October 2, 2008

© Anne Turyn, 12-17-1960, from 'Flashbulb Memories' (1986)

“Colour expands a photograph’s palette and adds a new level of descriptive information and transparency to the image. It is more transparent because one is stopped less by the surface – colour is more like how we see. It has added description because it shows the colour of light and the colours of a culture or an age. While made in the 1980s, the palette of this image by Anne Turyn seems to date the picture a generation earlier.”

From ‘The Nature of Photographs by Stephen Shore (Phaidon 2007) p.18.

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Yet, while I was recently watching The Genius of Photography (Episode 4) it came as a pleasant surprise to hear how William Eggleston was described as unreadable. This is the photographer of course, who brought serious colour photography into the mainstream art world (see for example a review by Photo Book Guide).

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