Cold streak south

January 26, 2011 § Leave a comment

(In absence of a digital camera, I write. A record in real time.)

0930hrs train departure from Milan  -> Florence

Branches like capillaries whipping past floating, rooted in a mist shrouded landscape. Italy in the winter. Starlings aflight, broken farmhouses, wood fire smoke. Every so often a black out. Tunnels like the blinking of an eye.

Transitions.

Then suddenly, pale sun on my face and a string of silhouettes, cypress it looks like, dotting the monochrome sweep.

All this to a synchrony of sound.

Faunts. (Explain)

everything that I’ve done
everything that I’ve tried
has led me on this long road
until we all collide

Earbuds wedged in so the movement of the signora seated opposite me, with her coiffed hair and folders full of ledgers are nothing but a mime. I leave her to the negotiation of her numbers and return to naming the solitary trees – the ones that explode voluptuously outwards in seeming defiance of the neat rows their cypress brothers make in their long, skinny reach for the sky.

Fever Ray is next. (If I had a heart)

this will never end
’cause I want more
more, give me more
give me more

I open my book and read,

“He has a repertoire of answers. Sometimes he pictures her drifting down towards the mundane rooftops in a giant balloon made of turquoise and emerald-green silks, or arriving on the back of a golden bird like the ones on Chinese teacups. On other days, darker ones like this Thursday – Thursday, he knows, was a sinister day in her calendar – she winds her way through a long underground tunnel encrusted with blood-red jewels and with arcane inscriptions that glitter in the light of torches. For years she walks, her garments – garments, not clothes – trailing, her eyes fixed and hypnotic, for she is one of those cursed with an unending life.” (Margaret Atwood, Wilderness Tips)

Punctuated by a city. Bologna. Rust-red brick in a glistening coat of graffiti tags. No messages, just signatures – elaborate, authority defying stamps of “I Was Here”. Parking lots and old women in furs preceded by the ubiquitous shopping cart – a simple reminder that we’re all heading to the same place… death by super market/mercato/march√©.

A few minutes later and we are out of the anxiety of the city – that concrete train of inevitability with no stops and no emergency lever.

I scroll artists on my iPod, searching for the right soundtrack for this mood, this cold streak south.

Editors, Doves, The Cure, Band of Horses…

Sometimes I wish I wasn’t such a hipster….

I settle for Auf der Maur. (Lightning is my girl)

Gonna let the lightning
Tuck me into my bed
Gonna let that man
Let him into my head
I’ll see you in my dreams
Electrified and cherry red

We don’t scream and growl half as much as we should as adults. We got it beaten out of us young. “Shhh… don’t cause a scene. People are staring…” they said, a plea for civility.

My mother taps my knee with her foot and touches her watch.

We’re here.

Firenze.

When it was still innocent

January 21, 2011 § Leave a comment

My parents out on a date… probably 1978/79

Taken by the roving photographer with the polaroid camera that made 5 bucks from the young lovers.

Tightrope

January 20, 2011 § Leave a comment

There is a very precarious tightrope that one treads as a professional photographer in the field of Documentary and Photojournalism… It’s where on one side, there is a steep drop to a net of genuine and truthful concern, and on the other, an even steeper and much more vicious drop to the rocky spikes of congratulatory self-righteousness and false bravado.

When an “issue” concerns me, or perhaps I should say, when a particular subject strikes my interest, I seek out a way to reinterpret it both visually and poetically. Often times, I am drawn to ideas that are cultural, sociological, anthropological… I am interested in the consequences of our collective follies and the reasons behind them… Seduced by the aesthetics of modern man and the skewed value system is that largely responsible for the lopsided world we are forced to contend with today.

I photograph because I love things, am mad about things, find things funny, am overwhelmed by a pending sense of nostalgia, a need to share things and have a nod of the head in return by my peers to know that I don’t stand alone in this world feeling like this.

If I do turn my attentions to the blood that is spilt by our more hardened counterparts, militia, mercenaries, the poor and disenfranchised, it’s because I also want you to turn your attention to them. Not to me. Feeling good about how “brave” or “intrepid” or “selfless” I am for approaching such loaded issues is the last way that I want to feel. Leaves me kinda cold and dirty… like I need a bath.

Pay attention if you care. Move on if you don’t. Either way, my part is done and I can only hope that the work resonates somehow on the more forgiving drop from the tightrope.

Ancient light

January 18, 2011 § Leave a comment

When I look at the sky am I seeing a ghost of a star and if so shall I mourn it and if not does the passing of a great thing become greater if it leaves light trails streaking through the universe for millions of years after its death?

Looking up.
Venus Bay | Australia

Progress

January 17, 2011 § Leave a comment

How we live, incandescent with foolishness. Bright with our ideas of what we think we want, what we think is great. Our world bound tight with an ethos of acquisition. Every where I look, the paths are laid out. That walkway through the international airport duty free section that you have to pass through in order to get to your gate. The smooth faces of youthful allure, inviting seduction, thickened lashes made for batting, cushiony lips made for kissing… they stare back at me through the shiny surfaces of glowing lightboxes. Perfumes in rows, every colour, every scent, every promise for every love you have ever harboured without gain. So beautiful, all of them.

Our cities, so grand. Monolithic structures side by side in strict proclamations of power, efficiency. “Bring your dollars here” they announce. “Bring your credit and you will be a part of us, this greatness, this pinnacle of civilisation, that will afford you the lifestyle you think those perfumed faces are accustomed to. And you too, with your hidden foibles, your secret humanity, may be able to pass as one of them.”

Bored of stories with a moral, content to see them replayed out in the classical tales of the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen, I don’t want to launch into some do-gooder tirade. Only to be labelled hypocrite at the end, if not by others, then surely myself. I want to talk about how in love we are with ourselves and this chase to become an Other. Whiter, thinner, darker, breastier, richer, happier, hot in pursuit. The Other, defined by a self-perpetuating cycle of what we think we want from what we’re told we want. Our self-obsession, energy expended in homage to our own reflections. In love with the bright self we think we are.

Incandescent.

Resolve

January 4, 2011 § Leave a comment

I have luck

The luck of people. The people of fortune that bring grace, brilliance and laughter.

I have freedom

The freedom of a means and, essentially, a will.

I have burdens

More importantly, burdens of my own choosing.

I have love

Love that comes without demand or compromise. The iron in the lifeblood.

I have sorrow

The kind of sorrow that aches like an old wound before the rain, twisted with mistakes, missteps, loss that serves only to remind me what I value the most.

*************

And with all this…

It is only now that I emerge from the opaque chrysalis of youth. Only now that I begin to unfurl the wetly cramped wings, grown especially for flight. I crawled around in the undergrowth… always knowing that I preferred the sky, but didn’t know how to get there. Didn’t even know if I belonged there… and I doubted the longing and frustration that wanted nothing more than to propel me away from every thing everyone else seemed to take for granted.

A few years ago, I chose to withdraw from that life and cut free those strings. Left behind the old fears, formulas, dubious comforts of meeting other people’s expectations.

I cocooned.

Now, coming into the wake of my 30th year, I am solid at the core in a way that I’ve never felt before. It’s small, this core. A furnace-forged baton, packed tight and light… straightens my back, lifts my head… flexible, ready for flight.

 

 

Where Am I?

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