Some images from another great trip – lots of hard work – and still
another week to go!
I briefly met Federico Frangi last week in Barcelona. We chatted for a few minutes, I admired his work, I bought a small version of the one that he is showing me in this photo.
I admired so much about what he told me. Travelling thousands of kilometres on a motorbike across India. Using a camera that did not need a battery, printing on rice paper. Thinking about the meaning of each of his projects. Projects that took months of effort to conceive execute and present.
Many of his images are available here.
He described how in the photo I purchased Federico had been frustrated because the man had closed his eyes at the moment he took the image. But from that came the idea of presenting the project as this mans memories and dreams.
He talked about his plans to go back and find again the girl who had become one of his most popular images – to help her.
Thank you Federico and I wish you all the best with the next project – and I really hope you find her.
Let me know.
So many things just need us to start – to move – get an opportunity, meet someone – and then if we do take that first step and stay for a while we begin to understand so much – our world changes and we are all the richer for it.
Before then ‘it’ was the kind of passion that ‘other people did’ – not us.
Sometimes, at rare intervals in our lives and for whatever reason you receive some kind of invitation, someone opens that door for you and asks if you might like to follow them – or perhaps simple chance just waits to see if you will react.
But however it happens for that brief moment a door will open for you and you do, or you do not, walk though. And if you are incredibly lucky then behind that door lies a whole new world.
A world like dance, or writing – or photography – or whatever it is for you that engages with you and presents such an unlimited space for you to play, to learn, and to progress.
And playing, learning and curiosity surely defines what it is to be human. To be alive.
Such a precious moment – but so few open the door, and even less walk through.
Don’t stand still. Do it.
Sometimes the conscious mind disengages and we are left in a dream space that is so imaginative and within which so much is possible.
These images reminded me of this sensation. So many different meanings and interpretations.
I know some people achieve this freedom with meditation, Yoga, being alone in moving landscapes, or perhaps in spiritual places with deep connections.
But for me this happens most often when I am dancing. I can feel the logical side of my mind shut down.
It can be a hard landing when the music ends and we are pulled back into the present moment with all it’s noise, clarity and ultimately unsatisfying detail.
But what a wonderful landscape we inhabit while it lasts.
This evening I decided to look back at some images I have taken in the last year.
Within a few minutes I realised that the ones I really love share some basic aspects in common.
They also seem to be reflective somehow. Pauses in conversations, or thoughtful reflection.
They are so often taken when traveling – I have commented before that the act of travel just seems to make me reach for a camera.
It is enlightening to see these images side by side with ones that don’t mean so much to me – and plan now to proactively build up my expertise in these kind of areas in order to create more that I really do feel satisfied with.
But I also think one of the messages for me – personally – is that it is time to live in a city again. So much of what interests me is urban.
For me when I travel to Seville I think of the light, the music, the dancing and the surprising street theatre that just pops up and entertains you at the most unexpected times..
So these are a couple of images from last week – a band having fun at lunchtime on a cafe terrace and a woman playing with soap bubbles on the Plaza de Espana.
The warm light was everywhere.
I had such a great day in the rare London sunshine yesterday, and spent some of that in the wonderful urban space that is the Tate Modern.
I so enjoyed taking some images of people there.
There’s something so wonderful about people in modern art galleries. Their reactions, their juxtaposition against works of art, or in the setting of such an imposing space.
Decades ago I read Sartre for mostly the wrong reasons, like people of my generation did when we wanted to look cool. But this evening I remembered so strongly one passage from Nausea. The moment when Antoine sees the horror of something for what it is, without cloaking it in names. It is a root – specifically the root of a chestnut tree.
It made me feel physically sick at the time. I don’t think I ever really got to grips with Sartre but this particular passage caused a very deep and intensely physical reaction in me – wholly appropriate given the title of the novel and the general malaise of the main protagonist.
“So I was in the park just now. The roots of the chestnut tree were sunk in the ground just under my bench. I couldn’t remember it was a root any more. The words had vanished and with them the significance of things, their methods of use, and the feeble points of reference which men have traced on their surface. I was sitting, stooping forward, head bowed, alone in front of this black, knotty mass, entirely beastly, which frightened me”.
This evening I took this photo, simply inspired by the spring evening light in my garden. The Willow tree is light and reaches outwards, by contrast my own mental images of the half buried root were entirely black, and squirming down into the earth. Apart from the coincidence of trees there seems little connection.
But then I remembered this other darker tree on a recent walk.
When I look at these images I just see so many patterns, so much I cannot understand without hiding behind the shield of language, smug in my elevated safety. There is so much energy, such different timescales, but so little that I truly understand in any meaningful way.
It really disturbed me again this evening, 30 years later, that familiar sensation that if my mind allows me to see things for what they truly are, without names, then I am simply lost.
I never normally set myself a ‘project’ – but I have watched friends do this with great results and so I have set myself the challenge for the last two days to capture images that in some way reflect what we mean by a ‘conversation’
I have tried to interpret it broadly – some conversations look forward, some backward – I even allowed myself images where the subject seemed deep in an internal conversation, or just invited interaction because they were so interesting. I have also processed some in black and white because the bright sunshine in Seville seemed to distract from the topic.
The idea came about because on Friday before I left I was in a bar in Hove and was watching two profoundly deaf men signing with each other.
I know so little about sign language, but they were using a kind of miming of words to compliment the signs – perhaps conveying context or emotion? But the result to me was two men who alternately just focussed on each other, calmly watching every movement.
This was a conversation as few men experience it – listening, giving space, focus, patience – a calm and genuine donation of “all of my attention” that so rarely takes place and yet is so healing and wonderful when it does.
This started me thinking about ‘conversation’ in a much wider sense – so it was on my mind when I arrived.
And I have already asked if I just used Photoshop to create the couple on the balcony. The answer is ‘no’ – these kind of illusions are quite common in Seville – normaly exactly like this – figures on balconies – and they are called Trampantojos. As I now understand it – thanks Beatriz! – they are used frequently in Spain to create an illusion of something that perhaps people can’t have – for example expensive stone walls.