Category Archives: Learning

Housekeeping

Stay up late watching music videos. Easy addiction. Devolve, years fall away. No problem. Everyone should be so lucky.

Close to sleep, songs nudge my third eye into consciousness. Bullshit settles at the bottom. Heart energy rises, resonating. Music makes sad and happy feel better together.

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Respond, don’t react

“Are you attaching? Of course you are! It’s human nature. You know the drill. Let it go. Loosen the grip — respond, don’t react.”

He doesn’t know how much he helped me with that brief rundown on life lessons 101. In 2 mins flat, over fresh fruit smoothies no less.

What if the apartment doesn’t work out? Let it go. There’ll be another one. Where am I gonna keep my stuff? Let it go. It’s just stuff. Will my body survive without the gentle touch of that special man? Let it go. Touch is everywhere.

Am I attaching?

Of course. Thoughts, actions, feelings, habits, fears, freedoms — everything holds me too close. Dancing amid pragmatism and adolescence; those awkward years between birth and death.

If you’re averse to awkwardness, chances are you’ll be averse to life.

I lay my head down on the start-stop of myself, repeating the uneasy silence within until I hear its pattern. Wound-up energy with no place to breathe.

If not this, then what? Gliding from here to there, unencumbered? Can’t do it; impossible.

No, these untimely-unseemly-downright-uncomfortable asymmetries demand to be embraced. Roughly, warmly, they beg to be sought after — not avoided.

I am not always my best self.

But I still buy my ticket: I still get on the plane.

We Women!

Over the weekend, I had the privilege of photographing the We Women charity walk. A group of our supporters fund-raised and walked in solidarity to help improve Burma’s education system.

We Women is: “a foundation that strives to achieve equality for various groups of people in the world. The foundation assists women, refugees, ethnic minorities, and disadvantaged groups with their questions, struggles and needs, as they are formulated within their own terms. Academic research is the first step in this process because it helps to gain insight into local beliefs, practices and ambitions. The key areas of We women’s engagement include personal growth, social inclusion, (mental) health, education, and the encouragement of creative initiatives, with the ultimate goal of achieving equality for all.

Hugo

Ursula Cats, super-woman and founder of We Women, is also a new mom. Taking care of Hugo, Skyping via phone with her We Women counterpart in Holland, and organizing the walk are just a few of the tasks she juggled on Saturday!

Walkin'

I feel pretty...
CM red and white curb actionWe left at around 4:30pm, so the sun was slowly setting as we veered around the South gate of the moat. I can never get enough of the red and white striped curbs here.

Signage

Two of my new favourite ladies! ❤

The rest of the pics are here. I love being inspired by people like these doing positive things. I feel really grateful for being around them. Food for the heart.

Smiles

When I showed this photo to Ursula, she mentioned that it was her favourite of the bunch. Meanwhile, I was cringing since the sweet girl is totally out of focus. From the photo course I recently took, I know that one of the areas I need to work on is getting lots of angles and taking lots of shots to get the most honest expression. When I look at this image, I think: Nooooo! The focus is all off, her right hand is cut off, I needed to move back more, get it from a lower angle, give more space around her. It could’ve been a great photo!

But it’s awesome when the person who sees it still likes it because they might not even notice these things; all they might see is the shining smile radiating through. It reminds me of something Scorsese said about film-making in an old interview he did with John Favreau. He was talking about Casino, how he had to choose between two takes of an important emotional scene featuring Sharon Stone. It one take, Stone gave an incredibly emotive performance, but the camera’s focus was a bit off and the camera work was unintentionally shaky. In the other take, the camera work is technically perfect, but Stone’s performance is less vulnerable and raw. Scorsese chose to put the former in the film, because –for him– emotion wins out every time over technical. I’ve always thought that was a really nice lesson.

I’m looking forward to improving my photo work, but in the end it always comes down to the experience I have with the people I’m working with.

Boda boda Synergy

boda boda

Whilst still in Kampala, I take boda bodas (motorcycle taxis) most places since the matatus (public van taxis) are challenging for sensitive-eared individuals like myself.

Boda boda drivers range in skill. Some are horrendous, some are pretty okay, some are damn feisty (= good). Kampala city streets are dog-eat-dog, so you better be on the back of someone’s bike who knows what they’re doing. (Note – there are almost no female boda drivers.)

Understandably, finding a trustworthy driver is imperative. Log his number in your phone, call whenever you need to get out and about. I’ve found two I actually feel sort of safe with so far – Jimmy and Godfrey. I’ll never forget their names for the rest of my life… I depend on these boys to navigate me through the treacherous traffic, potholes, the riff-raff, the mishmash.

Boda boda synergy

I sit on the back with my headphones in ears – auditory distraction is necessary to keep my mind off the reality of the road insanity. Sunglasses on. Helmet, check. Foot on rests, one hand on the cool rear metal bar, the other varying between my thigh and the driver’s stomach depending on the terrain. Tap tap, my fingers drum lightly to the song.

We go. It’s sort of intimate, in a removed kind of way.

If my go-to boys are busy, I’m left to my own devices, meaning I do a split-second assessment on every passing boda driver who whizzes by. The routine becomes disheartening pretty quickly, and eventually I tire of standing on the side of the road with dust flying everywhere, battling the “muzungu!” chatter in my ear. Resigning to pick the next one that slows down and doesn’t have cracked mirrors, I cross my dirty fingers.

All this does is make me want to ride on my own again. Too chicken to do it without insurance for the time being.

Photographically, I’m in process of figuring out how to show this feeling of flying through the air on two wheels with an engine in between and you on top with wind shooting past and trees zipping by in your peripheral vision and feeling the control and the power and the risk and the autonomy and the vulnerability all at once. The freedom, the stillness in movement.

Boda boda synergy

Inside the chaos, be still…

I love motorcycles.

Distortions

Photo from Distortion series by Andre Kertesz

Photo from Distortion series by Andre Kertesz

In a photo historical context, it is natural to place Kertész’s nudes in line with later experiments by Brassaï, Hans Bellmer and Paul Strand, wherein different forms of manipulation created distortions of forms.[…]

Kertész’s pictures can also be read as a comment on the space women occupy; a space which is completely destabilised due to the use of mirrors. Usually, we have no problem with identifying the physical frame around the body, but here it is not the body that is photographed, but the reflection of it in its physical surroundings. In that sense, one may argue that the pictures are not at all about the body, but about the disintegration of a spatial perception to which one has become accustomed. In that sense the pictures can be argued to have developed from the Cubists’ deconstructed and fragmented spaces. The ruling disorder becomes an attack on the endeavour to instil the human body in a lucid space, which provides it with a defined place. The body is, in Kertész’s photographs, transformed into an object we no longer have a firm grasp of; the body avoids us as a slippery bar of soap. Consequently, it escapes the kingdom of the gaze.

Pg. 9, ANDRÉ KERTÉSZ • DISTORTIONS

What an excellent interpretation of Andre Kertesz‘s innovative, seminal Distortion series. Women – and men, for that matter – certainly live in an inherently destabilized space. Consumerist-driven irrational social and gender constructs create this unhealthy, upside-down environment that has devastating effects on people.

In these works, the image is not about the subject itself – instead the focus is placed on the lens through which the subject is seen. This distorted manifestation becomes how the subject – in this case, ‘woman’ – is perceived, questioning the fragmentation that has occurred between a more authentic ‘reality’ and this final perception (distortion). The series points out how ‘true’ – real – these perceptions seen. Our fragmented, distorted view of women (‘woman’ as subject) seems organic when it is indeed not. Rather it is the result of myriad fragmented pieces haphazardly – yet meticulously and purposely – reconstructed by consumerist social constructs.

I highly recommend reading the write-up in its entirety if you are interested in learning more about Kertesz’s fantastic work in general or his Distortion series specifically.

#1 from Distortion series by Andre Kertesz

#1 from Distortion series by Andre Kertesz

Voici mon secret

“Voici mon secret. Il est très simple: on ne voit bien qu'avec le cœur. L'essentiel est invisible pour les yeux.” ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Le Petit Prince

“Voici mon secret. Il est très simple: on ne voit bien qu’avec le cœur. L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux.” 

Here is my secret. It is very simple. It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; What is essential is invisible to the eye.

– Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Le Petit Prince [The Little Prince]