Category Archives: movie

Looking For An Icon

What was supposed to be a 40 minute train ride turned into a 2 hours trip. Not the fun extended, unexpected “go for coffee with a friend but end up with different friends on a beach you never knew existed” kind of trip, but the “leave home on your bicycle to catch the train, but get caught in a thunderstorm only to find out there is no train so you wait for the bus, miss the connecting train in the next city, wait some more in your soaking wet clothes, everyone talks too loud, walks in front of you and generally every flipping part in this city is ticking you off” kind. That kind.

  All I wanted to do is pay a visit to the Dutch Doc Days, a new three-day festival celebrating Dutch documentary photography. I had checked the program beforehand and wanted to attend a debate, catch a movie and see the exhibition. I only saw half the exhibition and never quite made it to the debate but did see the movie (documentary, I should say) which was the thing I really wanted to see anyway.

I enjoyed the documentary even if I was slightly disappointed after I learned they were screening a 4-year-old documentary but in all fairness, that has nothing to with the contents of it. Anyhow, Hans Pool and Maik Krijgsman documentary Looking For An Icon was made in celebration of World Press Photo 50th anniversary. The idea was to find out was goes into the making of an iconic photograph as well as why does one photograph become part of our collective visual memory while another doesn’t. They interviewed photographers several photographers (Eddie Adams, Charlie Cole, David Turnley and OlivieroToscani), editors, publishers and historians. Oliviero Toscani was highly entertaining with his razorsharp insight that everything is for sale somehow be it religion, news or art.

                         Authority that exerts power has to create an icon

He also chatted about a photo shoot he did years ago while with his then girlfriend. She was a model at the time and was wearing a white bridal gown. They had been working all day and were quite chuffed with the way it had been going. The assistant suggested at some point he’d take a picture of Oliviero and his girlfriend. Oliviero was wearing jeans and a shirt, she was still in the white dress as they stood side by side. They were married from that moment on. No one believed it wasn’t a wedding photo and to this day, his mother keeps that picture in a frame as proof of their union. The couple did eventually get married but according to the world they already were and people weren’t all that interested. “We believe the image, not the truth.” 

What was fascinating was seeing the frames before and after the iconic image, and hearing the photographers talk about what went in to making that photo. Charlie Cole was running out of film as the resistance at Tiananmen Square went on longer than expected, and his famous image was on frame 34 or 35 on his last roll of film. He became quite emotional when he talked about the man standing in front of the tanks and explained how he felt obligated to show the world this image as it was proof of the guy’s heroic act, one that he probably lost his life over, “they didn’t run him over them, but I am sure they did later on”.


One of the connoisseurs explained how we in the west are raised in biblical, Greek and Roman traditions where the individual can make a difference; David vs Goliath, George slaying the dragon and men fighting the gods. The image of Tiananmen Square find resonance in that tradition. This may not be the case in f.e. Asian cultures where the collective is more important than the individual. An image, therefore, may become iconic in one culture, but not in another as it doesn’t refer to the same collective stories, myths or traditions.

The documentary does not really answer the question what makes an image iconic or what is iconic to begin with. What it did explain is that iconic photographs often lack context; time and space are slightly kept out of the image as that way it provides more room for the viewer to fill in part of the story or to project one’s own emotions onto the image. And that they often side with those who have lost; lives lost, friends lost, innocence lost. Even if we tend to believe in the good of mankind we are generally lazy. Iconic images show us that “the other person” has stepped up or suffered on our behalf. The image requires nothing of us anymore as it is the end already. We can view the image, feel the pull on our heartstrings as it connects to our personal emotional history, feel a sense of right and wrong rising within us while we have our morning coffee and get ready for work. We don’t have to act anymore, someone did the job for us already.

We bought some drinks and enjoyed our beer or rosé in my friend’s beautiful garden while the sun was slowly setting behind the trees. The images still linger in my mind’s eye and stories are still ringing in my ears. Photojournalists are often criticized for glamorizing war or being sensationalist. Sure, out of all the people you can find some are, most aren’t. I think most work from a place of compassion and even if an image hardly ever really changes the world, they do contribute to our understanding of a situation and remind us of our humanity.

Tim Hetherington, Chris Hondros, Anton Hammerl recently lost their lives wanting to do that. That can not possibly have been in vain.

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Slide Machine

So, I guess I was sort of asking for it… you know, wanting a life that is different than the one you were living… a life that doesn’t just cruise by and keeps you in a false state of security until you reach 60 and think what the hell did I do? So I moved. So I noticed:-)

I got some good news regarding my visa on Monday, drinks with a friend that same evening followed by a cool time at Langebaan all day Tuesday. Kite surfers, cool company, beer, weird stories, sun, lagoon… it was a good day:-)

 Then yesterday morning things changed. My flatmate came in to tell me that her boyfriend was held up at gun point in our street at about 5.30 am. Totally unprovoked while packing his car to go to work. Shit-heads. Then I went out that same afternoon to meet with a friend only to find that my car was stolen. It took me a while to register the fact which in itself is kinda funny… I walk out, expecting the car to be there and nope, no car. I put on my glasses to check again and oddly enough still no car. I ask my flatmate to have a look and no, no car in sight… We must have looked quite funny to the random people passing by. She just got out of the shower and was only wearing a towel and I just had the most blank yet incredulous look on my face I’m sure. Huh??. Spent most of the day at the police station and calling the rental car company… Burnt straight through my newly uploaded airtime.

But yay, as soon as I logged on to Facebook this morning I saw the little video the talented Nic Redelinghuys made of the Swimming Upstream exhibition opening. I haven’t got a copy yet but there is one on the Grand Daddy Hotel Facebook page, right here

The title comes from a Mark Lanegan B-side to the Stay 7″ from years and years ago. Can’t get the song out of  my head today. It’s not a badthing seeing how Mark Lanegan is pretty much my favorite singer of all time and he can sing straight out of the phone book and I’ll still love it:-)

On Opening Night

The opening night is over… It was amazing and I had a fab fab fab time. Thank you so much to everyone who came out!! I can hardly get my head around the fact that the Swimming Upstream project is up for show now. Cool:-)

The whole day was amazing. I was lucky enough to have Jolene help me out all day long. We made our way to Orms at about 11 am to fetch the prints and damn, they did a stellar job. Packed it all up and went to the GD straight away. As soon as we pulled up at the Grand Daddy a big car moved out of the way creating the one and only available parking space in front of the Grand Daddy Hotel. The guys helped us carry the frames into The Venue and move furniture around.  Then we still had to decide on the order of the photos. I had made a selection on my computer but it is different once you’re inside a venue. There’s only so much space available, which photos do you want people to see first when they enter the room. Certain photo go together well, other don’t… When we finally made the decision of who to put where it was more than an hour later. Handyman Sheldon was quickly bribed to forget fixing the water pump and help put up the photos. Thank you:-) 

I think my favorite part of the day was sitting on the floor with Jo, eating pasta, drinking caipirinhas, tweeting and chatting while staring at my own work and realizing it has actually become a reality. Nice:-)

Jolene and I rushed home to Woodstock at about 4 pm in order to shower and change. Made it back just in time for me to fly into a fit, to get the dj table *back* into the room, move some furniture out of the room and for the champagne to be found before the first guests came. And from then on the night just whizzed by.

Verity opened the exhibition with a beautiful introduction and what Swimming Upstream means to her after which we played the video and Akio spinned his records all evening long. He had brought another dj with and they just took turns. Thank you guys so much!

And I can’t wait to see the Pixel Revelation’s video of the evening and some of Joy’s pics:-) If you have any as well, please let me know as between the excitement, champagne, chatting to people, rum & coke, being interviewed, tequila shots, the occasional hiding behind you just so I could take it all in and some more chatting and some more rum & coke, the evening just flew by.

Made it to bed at about 3.30 am. We started the ext day with a yummie breakfast at Superette and now it’s back to reality. Pics need to be sold, banks to be paid and visas to be sorted out… But the night happened anyway:-)

As Long As You Can Whistle

It’s one of those in between days – Not feeling  100%, not sick either. I have sent out emails requesting a shoot but am waiting to hear back. The designers are busy are making online banners and an email invitation, and the press release is under review on a friend’s computer.
 
I watched ‘The Thomas Crown Affair’ last night, the original of course. I can’t be bothered to watch the 1999 remake. I think the story is quite thin but man, Faye Dunaway is stunning and love love some of the outfits she wears. The dress she’s wearing when they’re playing chess, wow. The chess scene is hot in any case; the close-ups of faces, lips, arms, hands caressing chess pieces, you can feel the sexual tension rising. I love the late 60’s feel of the movie. The clothes, the cars, the use of split screens, it’s old-fashioned but in a good way. The pace of the movie is good too.  I’ve never been a big fan of Steve McQueen but after having seen Papillon, the Great Escape and now the Thomas Crown affair and must admit the man is handsome to say the least;-)
 
 Thing is that I’ve been watching quite a few escape movies lately and ‘Papillon’ was cool but apparently the book is better (Shannon:-)) and the whole isolation cell scenes are terrible but not nearly as claustrophobic and upsetting as Javier Bardem’s scenes in ‘Before Night Falls’ or even Paul Newman in ‘Cool Hand Luke’.  ‘Before Night Falls’ wins hands down in the claustrophobic department. Speaking of that movie, Johnny Depp as Bon Bon is fabulous, never realized how hot Olivier Martinez is until this movie and Sean Penn as Cuco Sanchez is cool too.
Cool Hand Luke spawned the classic line “What we got here, is (a) failure to communicate” which, according to Wikipedia, made it to #11 in on the American Film Institute’s list of the 100 most memorable movie lines. I should check out that list.  
 
My personal favorite must be on there, I’m sure: “you do know how to whistle, don’t you Steve? You just put your lips together and blow” by Lauren Bacall in  ‘To have and have not’. It’s not just the line that I love. It’s the tension between them, the black and white, the lighting’s stunning. Yes, I got a thing for Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart:-)
 
 
Time to go outside. Hope you’ll have a great weekend:-) I’m watching Butch Cassidy & the Sundance kid tonight. I’ll post about the project some other day.

A rather rambling note on a smoking burned out train, movies, angelheaded hipsters and wine

We met up in Obs and headed straight for the brick factory in Maitland on Friday. When we got there another camera crew was already doing a shoot which was a bit of a bummer as ja, it’s never too cool to realize you didn’t pick a very original spot. Anyway, the place *was* cool and the best part was definitely shooting inside a burned out train, sticky with soot and stuff I don’t want to know about…
 
I joined  the wonderful Lieve Vanleeuw and Andy Mason of Words & Images for supper the night before and boy, they totally got my mind going with ideas. There were shoes, masks, doorways, naked bums, Greek mythology, Janus, City Lights Bookstore, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Allen Ginsberg… I suppose good company, good wine and trying to quote ‘Howl’ while having good wine does that to you. I can only quote the first sentence btw:-)
 
 
After the shoot I made my way to the Grand Daddy Hotel for a meeting which turned into beer and Jägermeister followed by a movie at my friend’s house. We watched ‘Badlands’ with Sissy Spacek and Martin Sheen. I thought it was quite dull but loved some of the cinematography and Sissy’s dresses. And it kinda made me wonder if Oliver Stone took some inspiration from this real live story for ‘Natural Born Killers’. The meeting was good though and the GD people are super supportive and positive which is awesome. Put November 11th in your diaries! Watched ‘Papillon’ on Saturday.
 
Will start editing Friday’s photo just now. I have a couple more emails to write, seriously stuck on money for the exhibition and listening to Dum Dum Girls. 
 
And so another week begins. And even if I couldn’t wake up for the life of me no matter how many coffees I drank something suddenly changed. I got some good news. Hopefully I can tell you more later this week.
 
Remember 11-11 for now though:-)