Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Marked by an Image - La Jetée

A rare gem,
a ciné-roman,
a film composed almost entirely of still images (bar a two minute scene that shifts into moving image).

We sense the foreboding from the outset:
A scene the man had seen as a child, this idea of returning to a past moment highlights the cyclical nature of life, we anticipate the course of events...

Of course the genius lies not only in the strength of the images in isolation, but the animation of them Marker achieves through camera technique and editing skills.

I think La Jetée brings to the surface the small and everyday passing scenes we either forget or fail to notice. The viewer cannot help but take away say the still of a headless statue, irrelevant to the progression of the plot, as well as the pain depicted in man's face as he undergoes part of the experiment. Plus we have the play on our own memory; the stills that each viewer will subconsciously take away from this film.

I could go on about the nape of the lady's neck as she pins back her hair contrasting against her crisp white T shirt, but words lack the resonance they fail to even hint at the beauty, the power and the sheer originality this work exudes.

Thank you Chris Marker !

Those Without Shadows

Monday, 30 March 2009

Love on the Left Bank

Ed van der Elsken, one of the lesser known documentary photographers, likely to have greatly inspired the likes of Nan Goldin and Larry Clark, turned his camera to family, friends and those that crossed his path. His first and arguably best publication entitled "Love on the left bank" (Een liefdesgeschiedenis in Saint-Germain-des-Prés) remains as fresh today as it was in 1956.

The muse Vali Myers immortalised in the streets and bars of a bohemian Paris could easily feature in an up-to-date issue of Vogue. An Australian artist by nature, she also interestingly enough was the tattooist responsible for the lightning bolt (in honor of Crazy Horse) on Patti Smith's knee. Timeless stuff.

Twisted little sister (La Poupee)

Controversial yet intriguing several striking images from the Hans Bellmer poupee oeuvre.
A past show at the Whitechapel Art Gallery in London was probably the first encounter with his work, the fascination remains for this somewhat disturbing but nonetheless powerful work.

Temps perdu

Sunday, 29 March 2009

The Great Patti Smith - Horses

To tell the truth it was the cover that first caught my eye.
The classic cool,the clean lines, the androgynous and sassy stare Patti confronts the camera with, the corner of light cast on the wall beside her.
The track listing also intrigued me, so I bought a copy.
I instantly fell in love. Knowing every song inside and out, I resort to this record in times of changing emotional states, it fulfills every need.
No claim to musical expertise the record is pure genius - the beauty of Patti's Lyrics, the beats, the ups the downs, just every little raw and vivid emotion that comes through lifts me every time. Quite possible the soundtrack of my life!
I think I could write an entire thesis on the subject.
I buy it for friends hoping they too will get the greatness of this record.

Eye of The Beholder - Avedon Collection

The Countess de Castiglione

Ernestine, 1854-55" by Nadar

Stella, 1867," by Julia Margaret Cameron

Things about Richard Avedon

Besides the obvious the stark beauty and originality of his work, his fascination for the medium  and his extensive photographic collection the thing that tends to stick in the forefront of my mind was an article, a child hood experiment of his.
Inspired by a fatherly anecdote on the power of the light in the making of a photograph namely when a magnifying glass is held between the sun and a leaf. 
The leaf of course is set on fire.
The next day little Richard taped a negative of his sister to his skin (an arm if my memory serves me correctly) before he went down to the beach.
As he peeled it of that evening - there was his sister sunburned onto his arm. 
'I knew from the beginning that being a photographer and playing with light means playing with fire.'


Saturday, 28 March 2009