A Russian Journal

John Steinbeck writing about Robert Capa – An extract from A Russian Journal with photographs by Robert Capa – published by Penguin

Capa has one curious quality. He will buy a lighter, but as soon as it runs out of fluid he puts it aside and never uses it again. The same is true of fountain-pens. When they run out of ink, he never fills them. A pencil he will use until the point breaks, and then it too is laid aside, and he will buy another pencil, but he will never sharpen a pencil. I flinted and filled his lighters, sharpened all his pencils, filled his pen, and got him generally ready to face the world again.”  

Robert Capa writing about John Steinbeck

My four cameras, used to wars and revolutions, are disgusted , and every time I click them something goes wrong. Also I have three Steinbecks instead of one.

My days are long and I begin with the morning Steinbeck”

USSR. Russia. Stalingrad. August 1947. – Robert Capa

 

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Find the person worthy

I’ve had one of those emails. It goes like this;

Good afternoon!!!How are you today???
I view your profile and you to me steel interesting….
I would like to learn you as it is possible closer..
I have decided to write to you.. I can inform also that I the pleasant and good-looking girl with good sense of humour..
I like different a kind of sports, I like to float in pool..
I also send you the photo, Inform me as receive it, Okey..?
I want to find the person worthy, decent for warm attitudes…
With impatience I shall wait for your letter….
Goodbye!!!!

She’ll have to have a good sense of humour to get involved with me. I see she likes to “float in pool”. Interesting !

It’s been an interesting and memorable past three weeks. I’ve witnessed at first hand the power of shopping and just how resilient people can be when it comes to the act of shopping and the crap people can be persuaded that they need to make that perfect Christmas here in the UK.

It’s bloody strange times we’re living in isn’t it ?  The Internet has opened up whole new and immediate avenues for us to explore hasn’t it. Masses and masses of information instantly available to us. More photos are being taken now than at any time before. Truth in photography is as slippery and ambiguous as it’s ever been. It’s getting to the stage where we can’t trust information that is being presented to us. We’re getting to the stage where we don’t know what’s Fake News and what’s Real. The past is catching up and merging with the present and  the future like some giant tsunami. People would rather peer into their mobile phone screens than engage with the immediate world about them and people are not less anxious they’re more.
So what do we do ? How do we cope ? Somehow we have to hold on tightly to a sense of reality. Enjoy the here and now. Be kind and warm and sincere to those about us. Do not let ourselves be influenced by those who would wish to do us harm or us do harm on others.

Slugging it out

I’m currently involved in a discussion on Facebook amongst some of my photography friends.
Below is the initial post from a friend of mine Paul Hill followed by my input from further down the thread.

Paul writes: At the suggestion of one or two friends, I have put a draft proposal together to revisit and revive THREE PERSPECTIVES ON PHOTOGRAPHY – widely acknowledged as a seminal exhibition – that was put on by the Arts Council at the Hayward Gallery in 1979. As it will be the show’s 40th anniversary in 2019, and as I was one of the curators (with John Tagg and Angela Kelly), I contacted the directors of the Whitechapel Gallery and the Hayward. They do not have direct emails, of course, and despite many emails and phone calls to ‘director’s assistants and/or interns’, no one has deemed it necessary to respond so far.
I have quite a lot of scrambled egg behind my name, so what do you have to do to get replies to serious proposals?
If anyone knows personally Iwona Blaswick and Jude Kelly, could you tell them this is not the way to deal with fellow professionals.
Shown were Thomas J. Cooper, Raymond Moore, Brian Griffin, Martin Parr, Graham Smith, Roger Palmer, Aileen Ferriday, Yve Lomax, Sarah McCarthy, Jo Spence, Vic Burgin, Robert Golden and many many more….

My latest response; 

The problem as I see (in my limited experience) is that many of you photographers on here want patronage from the self imposed art / photography establishment, the gallery owners and curators etc. We/you submit proposals in the hope that they will be received favourably and the rest just falls into place. For them in this era of everything has to have a bottom line profit they want exhibitions that get the punters through the door and into the gift shop and café. The already tried and tested, the Parr’s, the Grayson Perry, the Banksy. The public have to ‘get it’ instantly and if they don’t then it’s just oh so too risky. The curators just won’t take the risks or have the imagination because they daren’t. In my opinion these artists who are constantly trying to get their foot in the door of these big name galleries are wasting their time !! Trying to climb the slippery pole of fame and kudos is energy sapping and futile. The galleries and curators just love being constantly bombarded by portfolios and submissions because it makes them feel so important and self satisfied smug. They can create revenue streams out of portfolio reviews and competition submissions to satisfy their Board of Trustees.
So what do we who refuse to play this game do about it ? We create our own bandwagons for others to jump on. We create our own publications and exhibitions …………leftfield ( my favourite word). We make work that is cheap and low-fi if necessary. We don’t need expensive framed prints to hang in galleries. We can print cheaply and use photocopiers and laminators and industrial staplers. We can show our work anywhere we want; in pubs, clubs, shops, bus stops, car parks, derelict buildings, building site hoardings. Blogs, Facebook, Twitter etc etc.
I once saw a programme about the left wing students in France in the 60’s ? They were making wonderful graphic designed posters everyday and pasting them on walls every night around Paris. It was brilliant stuff. The artist Jean Michel-Basquiat started out on the street.
Come on people !!

Roses have thorns

Dog Shit and Roses

Black Friday ? What’s all that about ? It’s amazing isn’t it how the Gods of Capitalism continue to invent new and multifarious ways to get us to part with our cash. I heard a figure of 8 Billion quoted that would be spent on so called Black Friday. On this day, for one day only the big business’s find ways to supposedly slash their prices and thus create newsworthy mayhem on the High St. Am I cynical ? You bet I am. There can be no sadder shopping sight than seeing people slugging it out over a 40 inch flat screen TV ? How pathetic.  People falling over each other in panic and excitement to be the first through the doors to get those things they don’t really need or most likely actually want. There is a big difference in this world between ‘need’ and ‘want’.