Category Archives: worry

Stuff it

Seriously, all I want is my stuff back, finish a few projects and go home. Sounds simple, right? Especially the getting my stuff back part. Apparently it’s not.

I stored 4 prints and 10 A2 sized framed images at Museum Gallery in Cape Town at the end of 2010, with the promise to get them back when I was next in town.  I was part of their opening show ‘The New Landscape’ and had a good working relationship with them. I blogged about the show here. When I left CT,  I asked if I could store some of my work at the gallery while I was in Europe. They said yes, no problem. Fast forward 15 months. I am back. And I have been *trying* to get my work back since April 5th and obviously still haven’t got it.

First thing I did was to simply go to the gallery. There was no one there. In fact, half the gallery seems to have been closed. So I wrote an email instead, asking for an appointment to come fetch my prints & frames. I got a swift reply from the owner/manager saying that he was out of town, but that he would look for my prints and get back to me as soon as he returned to town. That’s cool. I did not hear from him again. So I sent another email. And another one and another one. And, in fact, another one. I phoned and left a voicemail message. Finally, an email reply. He was on holiday, but he would get back to me a.s.a.p. “Asap” again, eh? I am sensing a theme here.


As to be expected, nothing happens. I phone again, I email again. I went down there again. We speak on the phone, again. I offer to come help look for the prints. “No no, you don’t want to be down there”. He will look for it, and will get back to me tomorrow morning, or this afternoon or whenever.

Anyway, you get the idea. There is always an excuse; he’s out of town, the electricity is out and he can’t see anything, they are taking down one exhibition and building the next, but once that’s done, sure ‘I’ll get to the archive’. Best of all was when he suggested it was my fault because it took me more than a year. What are we, in high school?

You are running a business, I made a deal with you guys that it was ok to store my stuff there, now I want it back. All you have to do is set up an appointment and keep your word. I am not your ex-girlfriend asking for an old t-shirt back. This is my work and frankly, returning it is your work.

Anyway, you get the idea. I am being strung along, given the run around, lied to. But, I still want my work back.
And this sucks.

Towards the end of summer

How do you know when it is time to push through just a little bit longer or to face facts and say this isn’t working? Where’s the line separating determination, knowing what you want and faith in your own ability from plain stupidity? If you know, let me know cause I sure as hell don’t know anymore.

I have got emails to editors, submissions to magazines, introductions letters, entries to competitions, tweets, likes.. you name it, coming out of my ears. I do get published, and I do have work coming in, but I am still not making a well enough living.
Non of the online magazines I have submitted work to, pay for the content you provide. Yes, it’s cool to be published but I also like to get paid. And yes, it is my choice to enter my work in the first place. The thing is, that I feel that something is wrong in this whole set up. To illustrate my point, consider the following.
I personally believe that in order to create a high quality and healthy online culture business, magazines should pay  journalists and photographers for the work they do, and magazines should be paid via subscriptions and through selling ads.
Yet, I just came across an online photography magazine that charges photographers $35 to submit their work to that magazine. Wait a sec.. you are charging me to provide you with free content for your magazine? That is wrong. Isn’t that kind of like biting the hand that feeds you? OK, fair enough, the one that feeds you are the readers buying your magazines and the money you make from the ads on the site, but you can not charge the one who provides you with content. And you do not pay them in return when you do publish their work. Boo..
To be continued.. I need coffee.

September girls

 I emerged from the underground garage into the pissing rain in Utrecht. Great. I am tired of the rain but hell, off to my meeting it is. On my bicycle. In the rain. It’s not that bad actually, as I like riding my bike. I make my way through a wet, dirty and extremely grey Utrecht along with dozens of others. They freak me out coming from all corners and ever so close to you. I arrive all wet and cold at the meeting place. Hot coffee’s waiting though. Awesome.
The meeting is cool and it’s the first meeting since I have been home that makes me feel excited about things. It’s cool to hear that someone on this side thinks the project has relevance. I almost feel like in CT, like “yeah, let’s just try, let’s network, let’s go for it”. I get excited about possible collaborations and think, hey maybe Overtone or the Network should get involved too. They could do X,Y and Z while we do this and that on our side. It’s a nice feeling. I don’t care that nothing’s definite or planned. I just like the feeling of possibility.
The market is changing in the NL (as everywhere) and one can’t afford to sit around and wait for clients to come to you with jobs. Clients don’t want to spend money on design right now. You either have to just do as they say without being too stubborn or arty or face a difficult time while they go to your competitor. If you want to do something cool and creative you *have* to get yourself out there. File sharing and free downloads, trading or giving work away while making money some other way is the way forward. Collaborate. Get yourself known. Do. And damn, if it doesn’t sound familiar to me:-) Cool. And it’s a good feeling too.
Some people immediately ask “What has been agreed upon? What are your plans? What are doing with your time?” Like everything is a failure until there is a buck in your wallet. I disagree. I usually bite my tongue. I realize that playing schtumm isn’t really helping anything but for now I’d rather shut up. I simply don’t have a lot of answers yet. Maybe it would be a very good idea to spend some time somewhere on my own with a laptop, camera, some music and wine. And then just think. I need time to think. Actually, not “time” but “space”. Space to find out what I’ll do next. To properly *think*. I used to laugh at my flatmate when I asked what are you doing and he answered “thinking”. I don’t any more.
A friend’s parents came with to the exhibition in November and his mom approached me. We chatted for a bit and she told me she admires and worries as her son, myself and so many people present choose such difficult area’s to work in. How hard it is making a living and a space for yourself but that she likes it too and would like to support me somehow. I thought that was sweet. 
Back to feeling excited about the meeting yesterday afternoon. I decided to start looking at my time in the NL as a project as well. Who can I meet, what can I do, how can I get funding and most of all, how can I get to be where I want to be? I’m still in mid-air so to speak but while I am trying to land on my feet, doing all this boring admin stuff, backing up all of last year’s shoots and cleaning out my computer, I better make the most of the view and start trying. I can’t keep writing boring, whiney blog post for that much longer anyway:-)
Silly randoms #1: Dutch woman are *tall*, more men wear very nice shoes and coats, stroopwafels are awesome.
The top photo is a Dutch singer called Lella Fathia, the other girl in Julia Merrett from Miss Texas 19977. Both photographed by me. Oh and the title comes from a Big Star song “September Girls”…

Sugar Mountain – I wish to be

Seeing my friends and family again is truly wonderul and I realize I missed them more than I thought. As for the rest? I really am trying to see the positive side about being back in the NL. I am trying to see it all as part of the big project. That having to go back home broke is also part of Swimming Upstream, just like trying to get a refund for your seriously broken and ruined frames, or trying to get published, paid or an agent.  I try to ignore the depressing darkness and do useful things with my time while I figure out where to go next.
So in week one, I applied for an editor’s position (even if I don’t get it, updating my CV and thinking about hourly rates etc must be useful), have updated my own website with tons of new work, set up meetings, wrote emails in advance that I can send out as soon as Cape Town gets back to work after the 16th and have been doing loads and loads of admin for the past 3 days. I’ve sent stuff to my accountant, medical insurance and travel insurance. All very .. uhm.. useful stuff. And useful is good, right? Useful is what you should do, what is necessary or expected. But ai, what if useful is not contributing anything to your soul’s well being? 
For you see, with my mild ‘Himmelhoch jauchzend, zum Toden betrübt’ and according to some mild ADHD ( cough Joy cough) disposition, doing just what is ever so useful or expected just makes me wake up early, feel worried and I am easily moved to tears without ever really crying. Maybe I should. I hold on to the idea that there must be some good in spending time here like sorting out admin, spending time with my family and friends, networking on this side and that maybe, hopefully, there will be an idea or job in there somewhere. And I also know that it is good to sort stuff out properly, be responsible and adult about things and that not earning any money for more than one year is *not* the way to go so yes, something must change. I know what I want and as usual I am pretty inflexible about changing that which I personally think is a good thing:-)
Besides how hard can it be right? If you can visualize or verbalize it you are able to get there or some other appropriate dogma.
So there we go once more. I want to go back to SA for approx 6 months and finish my project properly by throwing those events with Instant Grass/Overtone and others, by taking Duncan up on his offer to teach me all about video making and *make* those music videos, and by getting in with some of the agencies and get paid jobs for cool (music or travel) magazines, get my project published and get more paid jobs. Then with the money I earned, I want to go travel across southern Africa: Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Botswana and hell why not add Malawi to the mix while I’m at it?
Really, how hard can it be?
the photo is of Lauren Fowler. I took it a while back in Kalk Bay. As for the video, it’s an oldie by Neil Young. I love Neil Young. Seriously. And there’s something sweet and naive about this song that i have always loved. I also want to live on Sugar Mountain, with the barkers and colored balloons:-)
Happy new year everyone! x

Who Cares What The Question Is?

Gup Magazine, Mahala, Itch, A Look Away, One Small Seed… what other magazines? I need suggestions.. and publications:-)

With 3 more weeks to go I am starting to feel stressed out about doing more with the Swimming Upstream project. Have had a very cool and inspiring meeting with Instant Grass and one with Museum as well. Thing is, I have an awesome idea and it could totally work but I need more time. Instant Grass suggested doing it in January and that makes way more sense but that means coming back. Coming back is exactly what I want but I am so flippin’ broke that I am moving out today to stay with a friend. And then another friend. And another and another. You get the idea… Fuck. Where to find enough money for a plane ticket, food, housing, transport etc for 2 months…  Bleh

Meeting Overtone and Akio this afternoon.

Sunday Ramblings – Seven Stories Underground

Bit of a blue day. All I can think of is leaving and just how much I don’t want to leave. I just can’t see myself living in the NL right now. I don’t want to be there and I don’t want to leave here. So why go? Cause I have to as I have no money left and am not making any money. Am not allowed to work here but I seriously need a paying job. It’s odd to find that my decisions are now based on finances. I think it’s a first, for whatever that means and it can’t be right:-)
Thing is, I know exactly what I want and it ain’t leaving except for a trip home for Christmas. Seeing my friends would be great, riding a bicycle everywhere you go would be the best simple pleasure I can think of, safety, infrastructure… it all sounds great. But what about the rest? What about my friends here, what about the work that I put in to get here, what about all those people I haven’t met, the stories I haven’t lived, the countries I haven’t visited?
It kind of feels like I am only getting started properly. The project was an awesome thing to do and a fab way of getting to know people but now comes the real challenge; pushing it out there further than an exhibition. How to make your mark? How to determine when your mark is made? When is it done? I don’t know. I only know it’s not here yet. It feels like there is more coming even if I am a little bit afraid that a friend is right and that Cape Town is very good at dangling a big carrot in front of you, making you believe there is more while you’ll never quite get there.
But wouldn’t it be so much fun trying?

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:-)

The Ministry of Arts & Culture Should Protect Us

As artists, we are only valued for what we can contribute, not how we can sustain ourselves. The Ministry of Arts & Culture should protect us. So many artists die broke and it is not because they don’t have enough information it is because the arts aren’t prioritised and they need to be. Imagine a party without music, it wouldn’t be a party, right? So many people back away as soon as rights are mentioned, artists are being ripped off all the time, left, right and centre. 

(Monishia Schoeman aka Eavesdrop)

Slightly out of focus

Here I am today, recovering from National Braai Day, listening to Sharon van Etten and trying to finish #5 of my 5 Must Do’s of this week. I am unfocused and my mind’s all over the place. I am trying to ignore my financial worries and the looming end of my stay in SA. It’s too depressing. Then I try to imagine myself living in the NL again and hmmm, not really want I want, even if my friends and family are there. In two days time it’s the birthday of one of my best friends, Suzanne. She’s expecting a baby. I won’t be there. And no matter how much I want to stay here and also to *not* be in the NL, I do miss my friends. I love my friends here, they’re awesome but my friends in my other life are awesome too.
On another note, you know how they say you must verbalize your wishes and the universe will hear you?
Well, this is it:
I want funding to come through for the Swimming Upstream exhibition and for the exhibition to be awesome and successful;
I want to generate work from it so I can stay in SA, at least until June/July next year;
I want to travel… I want to travel in Southern Africa; I want to see more of SA, I want to go to Zim. I want to go to Mozambique and Botswana and frankly, I still want to go to Tristan da Cuñha but that can wait;
I want to work for magazines; 
I want to stay.
There’s gotta be a way, there always is… I am just slightly out of focus and missing the obvious or too unwilling to accept the inevitable but I am still in denial about that. Just so you know:-)
The title for this post comes from Robert Capa’s memoir ‘Slighty Out of Focus’. He’s my all time favorite photographer. Fellow photographer and friend Henri Cartier-Bresson may have taken the slightly more high-brow and aesthetically perfect images but to me Robert Capa’s images are better, rawer, less observing, more present.
I remember this this conversation I had once with an American Jazz musician at a random train station in the NL. I was reading Billie Holiday’s biography and he came up to me to chat. According to him I should listen more to the likes of Ella Fitzgerald as she was the better singer (compared to BH), always on the beat, always perfect. My reply was that that was exactly why I like Billie Holiday so much more. It’s also why I love Robert Capa’s work so much. Maker of haunting images on D-Day ’44 and of  amazingly beautiful and somehow very human Spanish Civil War portraits. Traveler, with John Steinbeck, to Russia. Awesome, adventurous, inspiring, co-founder of Magnum, beautiful eye, a little dangerous, loner and ever so handsome.  
(photo: Gerda Taro)

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:-)