Saturday, December 29, 2007

Frontier Ambition Vibes...

Zander and I have been trying to suss out a road trip since the end of 2006... we like travelling and shooting the breeze, usually, but there were circumstances in that year that led us to put everything on hold for a while. Looks like we are over that, though we have left it up until the last minute (as usual.)

But we seem to like the pressure that way... and the coffee.

So yeah... we are off to the coast tomorrow morning early, "frontier country" as that part of the Eastern Cape is called...

See you in the New Year...


Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Monday Morning You Look So Fine: Sigur Rós.

I thought it was Monday... it wasn't. Been laying low.

There are no real lyrics for this, all Hopelandic, I believe... Untitled Number 8, off the Untitled album... generally known as Popplagið: "the pop song."

All through fiending on my Christmas present to myself.

Merry Christmas.


Sunday, December 23, 2007

"For each a road..."

After dislocating my arm down in Cape Town (AGAIN!) and having suffered similar mishaps over the last few years, I decided to get myself back in shape... after all, I have crossed over the "big 3-0" line, and have started to notice that everyone around me (of the same age) is either a parent (check) and sporting some extra waistline (not check... and I intend to keep it that way for some time.)

So... in a gesture of contempt for gyms of the modern age, I took up running; just upped and bought a pair of shoes one day after sitting with my father, who has both a Two Oceans and a Comrades to his credit.

Their have been time that my knees have regretted this decision; but I am hooked. Part of that is the Nike+ thingy that clips into the bottom of an iPod... it has helped me keep track of my running (at least, the last 5 runs I have been using it on) and keep me motivated. Now if only I can get Snake convinced enough to get one, and we can challenge each other across the country. By the way, the shot above (taken tonight just after the run) is of one the things I get to see on foot that I would miss otherwise... though it can be hard to appreciate after 5 km's and a hill climb that had me convinced I was running on the spot...

Oh, and since there has been someone that asked... my "powersong" is Ian Brown's F.E.A.R. Word.


Monday, December 17, 2007

Monday Morning You Look So Fine: A King.

Actually wrote this the Tuesday following, but the same applies... I got an advance copy of A King's Dutch Courage while doing the shoot above, and I have had it on heavy rotation since... and my guess is if you follow the music of Fokofpolisiekar, yet lean more towards English as a mother tongue, you will do the same when you get yourself a copy. Laudo Liebenberg (standing on his own) will be familiar to many who saw Francois Van Coke play solo, having accompanied him. Well, this is what he had up his sleeve all that time, with Hunter and Snake (both of Fokofpolisiekar) also in the band, along with Hennie on bass. Make sure you do not miss them when they come by... the album is going to strike a chord with those that list The Boss, Thin Lizzy and even Big Country amongst their favourites. And when you hear the lyrics below, your jaw will drop...

"I have fallen behind,
My every breath fuels my demise,
A futile attempt to repent,
I must have lost my kind,
Seek and you shall find
A messiah to remind you
That deliverance is an open door,
You can choose to go inside..."
- A King

Laudo and Hunter are basically showing, as people whose home language is Afrikaans, that all those souties who decried Fokof as a lyrical gimmick are about to eat their words; a poor meal in comparison to those of A King.


Monday, December 10, 2007

Monday Morning You Look So Fine: The Charlatans.

Bought some songs online this weekend... managed to track some old Charlatans songs I had lost. They were one of those British bands that never made it as big as, say, Oasis, but were a key part of the whole baggy era... and of course, they played with Oasis at Knebworth. They have been on my mind for ages now... Blunted Stuntman included them in a mix at Oppikoppi, and seemed surprised that I initially mistook them for The Stone Roses (it had been ages since I had heard them, and I wasn't the only one, okay.)

Turns out their style is really good for running too... but more on that later.

"The only one I know
Never cries, never opens her eyes
The only one I know
Wide awake and then she's away.

The only one I see
Is mine when she walks down our street
The only one I see
Has carved her way into me." - The Charlatans


Sunday, December 09, 2007

10 000 Friendly Boy Sausages.

I just noticed that I have reached 10 000 views on my MySpace blog, which really just serves as a link to this one. I don't know if I should be excited by that, but I am, mostly because it is contagious (and the source of that contagion would be Headline Payoff.) They got very excited when they first hit 10 000 (and 11 000, and 200 before 20 000, and 27 000) and are now clocking it well beyond where you should have gotten your car serviced. This image was made on the 6th of March this year... just weeks before they hit 10 000, which is probably why they look so gleeful.

You'd look that way too, if you read their blog more often.


Friday, December 07, 2007


One of the most powerful performers I have ever seen, Selaelo Selota, after an incredible solo show at Oppikoppi Easter. And if you are thinking he looks like a miner...


Wednesday, December 05, 2007


Gotta love MySpace... was just reminded by Jeanne of work I recently did for One Small Seed. Was very happy with the outcome (of this collaboration, of sorts) and that they ran a page from my journal to link it all together... just unhappy with how they edited the text I sent them to accompany it. I know I am given to looooong sentences, frequent tangents and undue faith in conjunctions; this, no doubt, as a result of too much James, Forster and Melville. But the way their sub fired full stops and commas at my intro did, I feel, change the meaning somewhat. Especially in the case of removing one particular word: hopefully.

I see a marked difference between
hoping to examine something, and considering myself to have examined it... especially if I say the one thing, and then (after someone else's edit) appear to say the other. But hey... that's the difference between blogging and magazines. Here I get to be confusing and vague all on my lonesome, and in a magazine, someone is paid to help me be confusing and vague... but with brevity. Supposedly.

Personally, I just find it pretentious to pre-suppose the success of an endeavour when examining one's own work. I have read too many gawd-awful theses on motivation to think otherwise... but that has nothing to do with One Small Seed.

End of the day, I am very happy to be shooting this project and it will be running across the next few issues, over the next year. My thanks to Tracey-Lee and Guiseppe for making it all happen and to the subjects, of course. The shots, as they ran in the magazine, are below, along with the original version of my text, limited use of periods still intact.
These portraits (and the journal notes that stem from them) represent an ongoing process, an attempt to document friends, colleagues and acquaintances; those whose work, ideas and outlook I have come to admire.

Separate from my usual approach, the white backdrop is a means to an end, a way of removing those I photograph from the context I am used to shooting them in and placing them instead in a scenario that hopefully examines the personal connection between photographer and subject, rather that just the form of it.

I’m lucky to be represented by an agent and a gallery that are both understanding of what is important to me as a photographer and have allowed me to stick to my own style and approach in telling the stories I want to tell.

From my first solo at the Rooke Gallery, where such portraits were well received, I have been able to draw a distinction between my signature editorial work (which some have assumed to be my art) and those projects that I see as truly expressing myself.

In preparing this project in conjunction with One Small Seed, it was a pleasant surprise to see names on their suggestion list I had already photographed, or friends I still intended to… it makes me look forward to the shoots ahead.
For those who were wondering as to why Hunter appears in the journal but not in the portraits... keep an eye out for the next issue.


Your Hometown.

Been busy planning ( I think I have already said...) This might have been better suited to my Monday Morning lyrical reference, but the fact is, with all the coffee and insomnia of late (a connection, perhaps?) I have been focusing on old projects; and Springsteen features heavily in that. There are those out there who get my obsession with The Boss; one such group would be Die Heuwels Fantasties. Anyway, there are songs I often reference, and continue to do so as "emotional triggers"... perhaps. I realised when viewing Springsteen on VH1 Storytellers that I take more cues from his process than his product, though I was clearly unaware of it at the time.

But... these images are of a yet uncompleted project on my old stomping grounds near Air Force Base Ysterplaat in Cape Town, all in Brooklyn and Ysterplaat itself. The shot of the abandoned car , oddly enough, is behind a community church that featured on the cover of the first release of 7th Breed... the first band of Wynand Myburgh of Fokofpolisiekar and Van Coke Kartel. Small world.

The colour represents the more idyllic memories of the place, all shot on cooked 800 ISO tourist film, through an Olympus Mju with a fixed 35mm lens... that was never lifted to my eye. I now have a little Lomo that fulfils much the same purpose. Gotta love that tourist film. These shots are all of how I remember Brooklyn being... the black & white is how I saw it, on returning 11 years later. I used to make a very specific effort to separate my colour and monochrome work... I couldn't be bothered any more, though I do still "see" in B&W. There are no "safety" reasons attached, as I have learned some think.

Have had some odd reaction to some of these images... hobbyists over-analysing, and such. They have been viewed online, as well as part of Old Mutuals arts programme in connection to the whole Cinema Nouveau set-up, when City Of God first came out... for me, they are personal, reflective of a time around my wedding and first learning of the fact I was going to become a father. Like the song, they started with one role in mind, and shifted to the other...

A work in progress...

"Now Main Street's whitewashed windows and vacant stores
Seems like there ain't nobody wants to come down here no more
They're closing down the textile mill across the railroad tracks
Foreman says these jobs are going boys and they ain't coming back to your hometown.

Last night me and Kate we laid in bed talking about getting out
Packing up our bags maybe heading south

I'm thirty-five we got a boy of our own now

Last night I sat him up behind the wheel and said son take a good look around

This is your hometown." - Bruce Springsteen


"Try again. Fail again. Fail better."

Things are happening, as they usually do, with more weight and definition, it being end of year. Friends in transit, itchy feet. Reworking ideas. Returning from Melbourne, two days on the ground, then to London. Notting Hill, on the lookout for coffee and Ian Brown with Paul. All this more than a year behind, travel again less than a year ahead. So much to plan and when there, so much to see and distil. I have rethought my ideas on where I take my work, but not how... that seems to be a constant of sorts; the more I read on surrealism, the more it seems to apply. Or not. Maybe it's the Irish in me? When Beckett spoke of how Joyce was a synthesizer, "trying to bring in as much as he could", and he was "an analyser", trying to leave out as much as he could. I can't go on. I'll go on.

"To find a form that accommodates the mess, that is the task of the artist now." - Samuel Beckett


Monday, December 03, 2007

Monday Morning You Look So Fine: Arcade Fire.

Was hard at work until sunrise; clearly, I drank too much coffee to begin with. Everything was of a serious note, sorting out details on the HIV/AIDS story I shot for Dazed & Confused:Japan, as well as the Be True event campaign for Nike. Everything is now up, except for me, really... I feel like a car parked on my head (maybe due to having played Arcade Fire loudly in my headphones on repeat while working). Not at all like that day in Limpopo, halfway along a 10k walk with mother and child.

Oh, and a day spent with Sibu Sibaca on the Durban beaches is why I missed last week's Monday Morning You Look So Fine.

"Then, we tried to name our babies
But we forgot all the names that,
The names we used to know
But sometimes,
We remember our bedrooms and our parent's bedrooms and the bedrooms of our friends
Then we think of our parents...
Well, whatever happened to them?!" - The Arcade Fire


Saturday, December 01, 2007

"Nobody Ever Said AIDS."

I have been waiting quite a while to publish all of this; these photos, these stories, have a very special connection to World Aids Day for me. Not just as a result of content, dealing as they are with people affected in varying ways by HIV/AIDS, but in terms of form, the images... one in particular. This is not the first time I have posted the image above on my blog in reference to this day. In fact, I think it has gone up on December 1st every year that I have been blogging, on this site, the one before and the one before that. It has even appeared for the same reasons on SA History Online, and been published in academic texts released by that NGO. But, taken as it was in 1997, this is the first year that it has been published in a public forum usually associated with "photojournalism", the magazine: in Dazed & Confused Magazine, the Japanese edition of July/August. 10 years later.

I cannot explain how much this means to me; the shot shows a young boy watching his older brother (dying of full blown AIDS) being washed by Hospice nurses. One reason often given in the year it was taken for it not being published was that it was too "soft", too "documentary", why not "photograph the brother dying"... since then, thankfully, there are ethics committees in place to oversee and limit the standard Western (read "non-African") view of AIDS in South Africa and the rest of the continent, the "hit and run/spectre of death" aesthetic that sells sympathy all too easily. Or rather, sells pity and distance, a comforting sense of "us and them", another stigma to deal with. The irony, considering that the first reported case of AIDS in South Africa was in 1982 by a man who contracted the virus while in California... in the US. But enough of my politics.

The usage of this image in Dazed & Confused came about as a result of my friendship with Lee Kasumba, who had me work with her on this article; it was Lee's dogged determination that saw what might have been a standard piece turn into a stance on how AIDS is viewed and thought of in South Africa BY South Africans, and not those looking in from the "outside" - wherever that may be. I am immensely proud to have worked with Lee on this, and equally grateful to those South Africans I met during the course of the project, right up until it's eventual 16 page placing in the magazine... with the photograph I have struggled to see used finally run as a DPS introduction to it. Word from Japan is that Jefferson Hack was pleased with the article, and given issues expressed by Africans with the Vanity Fair Red issue (views I shared, and admirably, if not powerfully, put forward in the new South African magazine Empire) I feel we did something different.

This is my view as a photographer, of course... not an activist, not a writer, and not someone who has been that heavily affected by HIV/AIDS, other than what I have seen through my camera since 1997. But it is also my view as a South African, and I feel I need to thank Lee Kasumba for her spirit and D&C:Japan editor Junsuke Yamasaki for giving us the chance and the platform to at least present it... and especially to the people listed below (whose names are linked to the days they were photographed, along with the first English draft of their interviews with Lee... the final edits seem only to exist in Japanese at this point.)

Thanks for your time, and your trust. And those reading this... read their stories in particular, and take the time to learn something.

"Oooooh we!
Friday night sheebeen
Sis Thandeka’s kitchen
Singing loud and rich

To anyone who clapped

The men would sit around
Black label in one hand
Tapping to music
Climaxing in a dance
That was me

My heartbeat in the township
My sheeben
In my kitchen
Making people laugh
Making them get up on the floor
And swing their black hips about
No kaffirs there
Just proud black men
That was me

There were the girls
In rouge red glossy lips
Tight red dresses
Waiting for Jimmy
To buy us a drink
That was me

When we knew
That fear came from

A Boer face
Police raids
Rubber bullets
Fear was making love
That was me

And Jabu
All got sick
And skinny like broomsticks
They started coughing
And could couldn’t dance anymore
They held up their pants
With belts
And just drank and drank
Then they died of TB
In 1996?
Strong healthy men

Who worked in Jozi
And danced every Friday night
In Sis Thandeka heartbeat

Other men died too
Men in big cars

Living in Cape Town
Healthy men died of
Pneumonia, Flu, Cancer
Then the girls in their rouge red glossy lips
Died too
Painfully so,
With hollow eyes
And black spots on their faces
Shebeen queens died
The Boers died
The policemen died
The children were born dying
With black spots on their faces
Freddy Mercury died
Gay men died
Miners died
After they kissed the lips of Red berries
Nobody wanted to touch anymore
Whether black, white, Indian or coloured

Nobody was making love
That was them

I was
Making love to a new breed

Of Jimmy
And Jabu

Then, they died of TB too
Then I started coughing
Skinny like a broomstick
With black spots
On my face
My sisters’ children
Coughed and died
My brother coughed and died
I was coughing and dying
The enemy was in our bodies
Making us cough and die
Eating us out like worms
But some of us
Still made love
Still kissed
Still touched
And make each other cough and die

She died of TB
…She died from TB

That was me
Whispering it at Funerals
Because nobody ever said
We all died
Those who used to tap
With a black label in one hand

Those who used to sing
Like superstars
Whether we wore rouge red glossy lips
Where we wore khaki brown
And beat the kaffirs in the prisons
Whether our faces were covered with soot
From the mines
Even if we were old granny
With men living in Jozi
Even if we were just born

We all died
Coughed and died
We died of TB
That was us
Whispering it at funerals
Because nobody ever said (AIDS)" - Eddie Vulani Maluleke : Nobody Ever Said AIDS


Be True.

At this stage, I am exhausted. Seems I have been typing and blogging for days. But yeah... what you see here is the fruits of a frenetic campaign handled by Trigger for Nike, as they made plans to relaunch Nike Dunks in the context of AIDS Awareness, on the eve of World Aids Day and the 46664 concert (from what I gather... I have been awake a long time and worked many sleepless nights on this, so I may be off on the final intention.) The entire exhibition/event was pulled together in an insanely short time, thanks to the efforts of Trigger (Gustav, Tersia, Gavin and in particular Jane and Roelof) and Jodie Stinson-Ennik.

Three photographers were tasked to portray eight individuals in an evocative manner, not to be branded but to reflect the spirit of what Nike aimed to do (and has already done with Dunks, even in skateboarding.) Six of the names I put forward were accepted, and I got to shoot four of them. I am pleased to be involved, though I admit to being a bit out of my element at the launch event, standing between Corrine Bailey Rae and Ludacris, looking at huge prints of my photos... wha? As it is, turns out I knew many of the people working the event, from sound and lights to journalists to waiters. And I drank my Coke out of the can.

Below are links to the subjects on the days I photographed them, as well as the images and text used at the event... (one of my images was also used for Unathi Nkayi, whose portraits were photographed by Sabelo Mlangeni; I was flattered as she told me at the event she had wanted me to shoot her, but was quick to reassure her as to the stunning images Sabelo had gotten with his Holga, and she was blown away once she saw them.)

Thanks to all who helped and involved me in this... thanks to the subjects for their time and trust.