My questions and my frames (taken during JazzAscona 2019) for the interview with great Jamaican-American jazz pianist Monty Alexander in Plug n’ play Swiss music culture magazine. ENJOY! (Cover photo-retouch: Federica Beffumo)
Surviving time is not an easy task. Tom Barman – a voice somewhere between Bob Dylan and Eddie Vedder – succeeded with the dEUS and then with TaxiWars. During their latest show in Milan, Mr. Barman and TaxiWars pushed post-rock into the arms of free jazz, bewitching the audience. On stage, the songs from the new album, Artificial Horizon, opened the window and cleared the air of rock music. The band did not give up to a desire to feed their fans; TaxiWars played loud to convince those who still weren’t convinced of their music. In a rainy Milanese night the magic came true. Everybody survived the Nineties.
A real village, built at the Châtelet, in the center of Paris.
It is a real village – I wouldn’t call it simply an encampment – fully equipped to facilitate the permanence of the Extinction Rebellion people.
There are tents, small yurtas, improvised but well-tended gardens, spaces dedicated to debates; toilets, meeting points, a medical center and even a cellar; and a gratuiterie where warm clothes are available in case of a cold night.
The slogans are as varied and colorful as the new residents of Châtelet. Some “hardcore” mottoes; and more reasoned ones. The main goal is printed on the banner that crosses the rue de Rivoli at the corner of Boulevard Sébastopol where the crowd is. “CHANGE OF PRIORITY.” Accordingly, the symbol of the movement is a stylized hourglass.
The prefecture has banned the rally scheduled for the morning. It doesn’t matter. The rebels soon reorganize, call a meeting right under the banner.
There is no shadow of the gilet jaunes here: just some hasty tags on a bus shelter. Gilets orange are what the people of the order service are wearing, and peaceful protesters are on stage.
After adjusting the amplification system, a skinny and whiskered blond young man takes the microphone and starts a rap with ecological rhymes for the crowd that is beginning to gather.
His militant lyrics reach beyond the Fontaine du Châtelet to the Pont au Change, which is blocked at the end of the Quai de l’Horloge by the offshoots of the Extinction Rebellion village.
While two young men are intent on cleaning the stone parapet of the old bridge, smudged by tags, a gilet orange shows an alternative way to the Île de la Cité to an Asian tourist in fluent English. Two dogs play nearby following in the footsteps of passers-by while their masters kneel on the pavement creating new tatzebaos.
Persons who are just curious mingle with activists. Someone asks questions. Someone else takes pictures. Here and there you can see the discreet presence of reporters ready to collect impressions and news on the events of the day.
In rue de Rivoli a lady in a raincoat is bent over the asphalt intent on leaving a mark of her militant participation: “REBEL FOR LIFE.” On a window “ANIMAL REBELLION – INSURRECTION – STOP FARMING/LIVESTOCK AND FISHING.” To partially shade an igloo tent decorated with a red and black ladybug-style motif another banner announces: “HERE WE CULTIVATE.” Less than ten meters away, a field with timid plants sprouting out of the humid dark soil.
The attention returns to the rue de Rivoli where the young rapper calls another person to the center of the scene.
A girl announces the name of Carola Rackete.
The brave German captain of the rescue boat Sea Watch 3 timidly emerges from the crowd with her long dreads. She smiles as she advances with a firm step. The signs of the judicial events of the summer – linked to the rescue of migrants in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea – left memories on her young face. Her eyes reveal the ideals in which she believes and for which she fights.
She greets everybody and announces that she will make her speech in French, apologizing for her pronunciation, holding a smartphone with the text of her speech.
Carola speaks for about ten minutes: she tells about her commitment to the environmental cause – she spent time at the North Pole studying the effects of pollution on ice – and underlines how the phenomenon of migration has always been linked to environment and climate changes. Saving people at sea is simply the logical consequence of her environmental activism.
Someone is preparing a question.
I take some pictures.
I take one frame in particular.
At the back of my mind a painting preserved in the Louvre Museum, just a few hundred meters from where we stand.
A fraction of a second before the CLIC and everything is done!
Carola Rackete magically enters in a black-and-white version of Le Radeau de la Méduse (1818-19) by Théodore Géricault – the painting depicting a tragedy at sea which at the time had a great international impact.
Or maybe I just imagined seeing one of Lucas Cranach’s Madonnas…Painting and photography… Past and present.
Looking at the black writing on the side gate of the Théâtre de Ville, which is all wrapped up for restoration, it would seem that the future also looks back to the past: “1871 VIVA THE COMMUNE!”
Perfectly complementary to the “OUR DESIRES PROVIDE DISORDER” graffiti which I had come across a few hours earlier near the Pompidou Center.
Boats can remain in the harbor without sailors. Boats can be abandoned at the mercy of marine currents. But a sea-less boat must make people think. A ship with no sea attracts attention and suggests questions about its dry fate. Why does it lie there on dry land after a lifetime in the water? Who was its captain? Who were its sailors? And its passengers? The camera lens records the fate of these boats with no sea and tries to give them back a poetic fate. The camera lens imagines new ports and new sea routes for them. How many lives could these ships with no sea save?
All frames taken in Naxos, Greece, with Fuji X100 and Ricoh GX100
In FUJI X PASSION August 2019 issue you can find my b&w night reportage from JAZZASCONA 2019. If you love jazz music run to see my frames of Leroy Jones, Ashlin Parker, Ellen Birath, Nayo Jones, Othella Dallas, Michael Watson, Uli Wunner, Sax Gordon, Nico Duportal, etc. ENJOY!
For more pics see Le notti di Ascona in Jazz Ascona Flickr albums!!!
June 28, 2019, a full page with a selection of my b&w frames dedicated to the Jazz Ascona Festival 2019 in Tessiner Zeitung newspaper. Some great musicians (friend New Orleans trumpeter Leroy Jones; Jazz poetess Othella Dallas; New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, etc.) portrayed in action. ENJOY!
<… ein paar Schnapppschüsse des offiziellen Festivalfotografen Matteo Ceschi, die mehr von der Magie eines einmaligen Festivals erzählen als tausend Worte.>
FOR MORE PICTURES SEE Le notti di Ascona flickr JAZZ ASCONA 2019 album
Since the first large graffiti appeared on the walls of Philadelphia in the mid-Sixties as territorial warnings by the local gangs – see Jack Stewart’s Graffiti Kings. New York City Mass Transit Art of the 1970s (NY: Abrams, 2009) – street art has had a double “social” meaning: the first is the author’s; the second is the meaning that passers-by give to what they see.
As with a song – in particular topical/protest songs – the skill of passers-by in appropriating street works becomes the core of the street’s independent art system: the feeling that the artwork arouses stays on the wall in a lasting way and can also condition the author and influence works to come.
The dual nature of the street work – whether a painting, a graffiti, a stencil, etc. – places the photographer/observer in a condition of knowing both sides of the coin.
Observing a street artwork in a neighborhood instead of another makes a huge difference. Knowing a street artist and seeing him at work in the street helps even more to understand how in the last three decades an independent/underground art became the center of attention for collectors and art galleries all around the world.
The series of black and white frames (taken with mirrorless cameras Fuji X100 and FujiFilm X30 and without the use of additional lights) were recorded in two moments: during the night, while artist Osmo Kalev created his work; and the day after when the work, whose title is RIOT, was already being lived by passers-by and curious people in the neighborhood – stickers and tags add new perspective to the work.