Yet another semester is underway in the beautiful Aegean Center on spring shining Paros. I wanted to share my final Portfolio from last year. A small but precious to me group of photographs. More of my photography can be viewed on Photography page, that I recently edited.
There is a lot of talk on a special kind of weather forecasting these last days fueled by Stephen Hawking and his recent paper published online about Black Holes titled “Information Preservation and Weather Forecasting for Black Holes“, which as they say claims that Black Holes and their surrounding Event Horizon are not what we used to think they were. I hardly understand anything in this field but I am always intrigued. So I wait for scientists who are good at popularizing scientific thought to translate to people like me what this is all about. Here is a comprehensive article from the New Scientist. But there is another point that makes me interested in this development and it has to do with the will and frankness quality needed in the ability to change your mind. If I am not mistaken it is the 3rd time Stephen Hawking is changing his mind about the nature of Black Holes. At first he said that there is no information escaping a Black Hole. Then, he admitted there was (and paid off a bet), and now he strikes with another proposal saying that there is no event horizon at all or singularity in a black hole. I may be sooo mistaken in what I say here I have understood so I will stop at this point. But still the main point is that he feels his understanding of the world, of his field of research is always in process, is always evolving, therefore defending his theory contrary to his results is absurd. I hope I can be open enough in my life to be able to change my mind so profoundly if that is what I should do for the sake of honesty.
Sticking on the weather issue though, earth weather, on a rainy day like today in Corfu, I share here links to the Nimbus series, by Berndnaut Smilde. Smilde is a Danish artist working around the idea of weather, among other things. He created this beautiful series of clouds in indoor spaces, temporary creations that result in lasting photographs.
Berndnaut Smilde, Nimbus Green Room, 2013
Here is a short BBC video interview on how Berndnaut Smilde makes his clouds.
Olafur Eliasson, photo from The Weather Project, Tate Modern, 2003
This was a massive work made of so little and it had an effect equivalent I guess to a common hallucination. In the grim London weather some lights, mirrors and misty smoke in the Turbine Hall created a warm and safe environment for us visitors, for us sun missing people, to agree that the sun was real and warm, and that the sunset hour was soothing and cosy.
The work was commissioned for the Unilever Series and presented in Tate Modern in 2003. Ten years later they made a Remember The Weather Project project and here is a video about the idea and impact of this work.
The term Weather Forecasting for Black Holes sounds to me as literal and as metaphorical as the creation of mini clouds and sunset atmospheres on earthly indoor spaces. Hence the post. One is chosen for the qualities attributed to its scientific relevance while the others for their aesthetic resonance. All three though grow in the prosperous lands of Wonder.
I bumped into these photos of Algerian Women in the 1960’s by Marc Garanger about a year ago and I visit them regularly online, because frankly I find them striking. The women are just beautiful and the shots are so encapsulating. But there is a story behind them that has given this “Femmes Algériennes 1960” portfolio an even more revealing history.
Marc Garanger served in the French army in the Algerian War, the infamous end of the French colonisation epoch in the 60’s. Garanger opposed the French occupation but he was serving there as a soldier photographer. While there he was asked to take photos of the regional population for their ID’s. Within ten days he took some 2.000 pictures, some of them of women who had never before taken off their veils in front of a stranger. There is much talk about the captured looks of these women, their resistance, their strength and their reservation. That is all interpretation as far as I am concerned.
Garanger soon after fled the army and went to Switzerland to publish these images in the hope that he would tell a striking story about the force and demoralisation exercised by the French occupying army towards the peoples of Algeria. And he was right. His images told a story and the discussion on these images hasn’t seized since, while Marc Garanger has made a celebrated career as a culture documentary photographer.
I tried to find more information online about these women and their conditions of life, their traditions, their ways in the various cultures that make up Algeria. Most of the articles I have found bound these images with oppression, Islam, the French occupation and feminism. The only things I have found so far simply on their ways of life just mention that they come from either Islamic or Berber Algerian communities. The Berber ones wear face tattoos. These could not be seen in public because they were hidden by their veils. They were certainly beauty signs but they were also meaning carrying symbols. The tradition of face tattoo has died away in today’s Algeria, but there are still old ladies alive who carry them. Most of them do not remember the symbolism and I find that astonishing, because it is in their face. Apparently, the profession of the tattoo artist that used to travel between the tribes to give them these tattoos has died away along with this tradition. The most concrete information and a sort of background I found for this desert tattoo rite was on Yasmin Bendaas‘s research project (funded by the Pulitzer Center), which she updates regularly.
Traditions die away and memory fades. History is made continually, gets piled and gets done and undone. In this Femmes Algériennes photos I find beauty in women, in photography, in history, in locality, in awkwardness, in the richness of a moment in time.
Marc Garanger is still working on his photography and he has travelled in many locations to record history. Here is a 4min video where he shares his take on his projects.
Tomorrow has almost come. Tomorrow will be the first Studio Work day for the new Fall 2013 semester at the Aegean Center. Being a returner has never made me fill stuck, but rather progressing. Progressing into the silence of the still instant.
Before I embark on this new group dynamic, I would like to share my sea & rock & sky -scapes from last semester. These images are of course best viewed on a calibrated screen. And I think is worth saying that these photographs seen in print make a whole different impact. I am proud of each and every one of them, a feeling never really believed to have me ‘attack’ with my photography. I hope you will enjoy them too.
“Freedom for me is a strict frame, and inside that frame are all the variations possible.”
In a 1971 taped interview, rediscovered in 1991 at the International Center of Photography (New York) archives, Henri Cartier-Bresson talks a bit about his take on his photography. Simple and real. “Yes, yes, yes”, as he says echoing someone else…
“Poetry is the essence of everything, and it’s through deep contact with reality and living fully that you reach poetry. Very often I see photographers cultivating the strangeness or awkwardness of a scene, thinking it is poetry. No. Poetry is two elements which are suddenly conflict — a spark between two elements. But it’s given very seldom, and you can’t look for it. It’s like if you look for inspiration. No, it just comes by enriching yourself and living.”
This is a short, fun and informative TED talk by Terry Moore about the origin of the symbol ‘x’ as the representation of the unknown (or variable) in algebra. Reminding us, thus, that it is through its use in mathematics that we took the ‘x’ to commonly mean ‘an unspecified or unknown thing or person’ in our (use of) life.
The new, Spring 2013, semester at the Aegean Center has just begun… Inspiration and love for life, art and the craft of life and of art is already perfuming our air. This will be my 5th semester of studying Digital Photography with John Pack and I am more than excited about it. ‘Digital Photography’ is just the focal point in John’s class and it serves as a good title to communicate the medium of study. But his class is so much more than that. It is a class of gratitude. It is a class of poetry. Embedded in his philosophy of learning by sharing, daring, caring and crafting, John takes us on a journey where each one of us, and together as a group, acquire the skills and appetite to capture our inner view within a frame of reference, reveal our subtleties by mastering the tonal vocabulary and sculpt these impressions as images on fine prints.
Ah…and this will be a spring journey…!
Just as I embark on this journey, I thought of sharing my Portofolio from last semester, Fall 2012:
“Beyond happiness or unhappiness, though it is both things, love is intensity; it does not give us eternity but life, that second in which the doors of time and space open just a crack: here is there and now is always.”