Monday, 20 April 2009

der geist der stets verneint


Places, encounters and the nature of immortality through a lens. So you walk into a place like this and it seems to have been frozen, the only movement is the build of dust and time and perhaps the banging of a loose shutter. The elements of a life gathered and disintegrating is a kind of theatre where the actors are invisible or perhaps suggested by the commemoratives hanging on a wall. In this instance 3 weddings, a patriarchal figure, a stag hunt and the Nazarene. This is the visible cast that suggests drama, linear motion and time, a suggestion in 1 frame. The secondary cast is the absent one; the debris on the bed that resembles evidence of a figure disappearing but in reality is something else, the delicately disintegrating embroidery that would have been part of a dowry trunk. This binds the drama.
I've been thinking about this a lot recently.
I used to scavenge these abandoned buildings, collecting small artifacts, stealing little elements of people's lives because I was so struck by the story contained in each environment. It all had a value to me as it related to time; the time I had seen. I'd often rearrange these things in boxes, glass fronted boxes that were shrines to the places, there was a lot of junk, still is a lot of junk that I keep because I can see a value in it.
I came across a suitcase full of photographs in a tannery, there was also a suitcase full of exercise books that chronicled a young girl's education between 2 wars and during the second. I sat there for hours looking at those images that combined with some letters began to emerge like a puzzle. Certain people appearing with regularity, growing, aging having children, emigrating etc. These photos dated from a time before the whole world was entitled to a point and shoot. Most of the photographs are staged studio portraits but there were quite a few incidentals, someone out with a camera shooting real time instead of staged time. When I finally left the place, returning all the photos carefully to the suitcase I had that feeling like when you walk into a cinema in daytime to watch a Tarkovsky film and emerge at night. All those people were suddenly resurrected in my mind, they were continuing the actions that had been frozen in frames and were now embarked on another life. In my head.
I did return, how could I stay away, I wanted to get to know them better. When I got back the place had been vandalized, the photos and exercise books were strewn everywhere and what had been a carefully packed small cardboard box of paper thin liqueur glasses nestled amongst the images was all smashed up. I took what I could salvage and now keep them in an old suitcase at home. Some I've framed.
What this discovery showed me is how close photography comes to immortality because it captures time as well as light and 'souls'. I don't collect things anymore and I don't make other things out of them but I do look for the story that exists in these places.



By the third day it was so
organized, so nearly
differentiated that it was
beautiful. On the fourth
the light became specific
to sources and could be
turned away from. Unlike
Heaven with its omnidirectional
brilliance, its unceasing
labour of song,
so that the angels,
to grasp the word 'ending', could only
fondle the boundaries of
their own bodies-and wonder
what that foreshadowed.

Cooper Esteban


the 2 colour photos are from the house of a sculptor who died recently, he had grafitti'd the whole place with angels, it was a very strange and mysterious building to walk into.


malex said...

I really like the first one, brilliant photo and there are so much mood in it. I love the story, not only because it is about this strange place but about you and your reactions and feelings there.
Places need a people like you who can be touched by the time treasures. respect.

David said...

You may know, but, if you didn't I assumed that you'd want to.