Wednesday, 27 January 2021

Post Truth

These pics are simply gorgeous! To me, they are a perfect unreal aesthetic pleasure. Unreal? What was photographed is real! Right but that is not the way these photographs appear to me – the equivalent of McDonald’s ice cream: totally artificial, and tasting great!

Ian Volner, in his accompanying essay “Unreal City: The Urban Sublime of George Byrne,” explains that when Byrne returns from roaming the street to his computer “he then laboriously sifts through these sharp, contrast-heavy images, and choosing elements from various of them he starts to meddle, using photographic software to cut, paste, re-color, and generally monkey around.” No wonder his pics look unreal! That they should, as Volner claims, also disclose “a deeper truth about the cities we inhabit and how we inhabit them” I do however consider nonsense for by highlighting the surface you make any underlying depth (“a deeper truth”) insignificant.

George Byrne, born 1976 near Sydney, Australia, arrived in Los Angeles on September 23, 2010. “I remember looking out of the plane window and being taken aback by the scale of the urban sprawl, the vast tracts of shimmering, dusty pink-grey suburbia. Even from way up there, I thought it looked strangely beautiful. Later that same day, driving through the streets of L.A. for the first time, I was transfixed. There was so much light that the streetscapes seemed to become two-dimensional, angular cutouts. Shadows dissected the open space and figures occasionally floated by like ghosts. It felt free, wild, and open. Laid out in front of me in that moment, I saw what would go on to form both the basis of my artistic practice and the essence of this book.

For more, see here

Wednesday, 20 January 2021

In Zurich, in 2016

Copyright@Blazenka Kostolna

The other day, when looking at old photographs, I also happened to come across these three and wondered how different I could look. They were taken by photographer Blazenka Kostolna, who for 14 years has been regularly taking pictures of me. I do not remember how I felt at the time but I recall the circumstances of the shooting in Zurich. Number one and three were taken at the Photobastei, number  two at Blazenkas's place in Wollishofen.

What does a picture tell? What can it tell?  Number one and three show me posing for the camera, number two does not give this impression but I was also posing, I remember that clearly, or so I believe. Looking at these three pics makes my mind primarily wander to the time and surroundings of the shooting  we had cappuccino at the Photobastei and looked at the then current exhibition; in Wollishofen, we had enjoyed Blazenka's traditional Christmas dinner at her place.

These three photos, it seems to me, are basically triggers that bring me back to the time they were taken. They confirm that something once has been and is no longer. They give testimony to the passing of time and often, at least when you're older, will also make you feel strangely sad.

Wednesday, 13 January 2021

The Ameriguns

My first reaction to the pics in this tome was: These people are clearly nuts! How can you want to have your picture taken surrounded by your firearms? And not just one firearm, lots of them. Moreover, the guys and gals look seemingly proud. It is way beyond me what is going on in their heads. On the other hand, it is generally beyond me what is going on in anybody’s head and that includes my own.

Politicians from both sides of the Atlantic often talk about shared values. Looking at the people portrayed in this book, I’m not sure what these values could possible be. To me, these people seem to inhabit a foreign planet. But, hey, aren’t Swiss citizens allowed to have guns at home? Yes, they are (and I do find that nuts too) but they do not talk about it. It’s like money, the Swiss do not talk about it either … although they are supposed to have lots of it..

 Although I’ve been visiting the US many times (and once crossed it from East to West) and have of course heard about American gun culture, I hadn’t been aware of the dimensions this book informs me about: There are more guns in America – firearms legally purchased and owned by civilians – than people. How come? Journalist Gea Scancarello argues “it is a question of tradition, of a constitutional guarantee”. It is, she writes, the “ideal of freedom on which the entire American narrative is founded: limitless possibilities, minimal restrictions, self-determination. Ensured by guns.” It is also what Trump stands for: Me first. The American version of freedom, it needs to be stressed, is not a universally understood concept.

For the full review,see here

Wednesday, 6 January 2021

Before my eyes

Santa Cruz do Sul, Janeiro 2019