AN HOUR OUTSIDE IN THE MARAIS

 

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Occasionally I decide to go out with an old 35mm camera… This happens now and then. I don’t have a wish to feel like Cartier Bresson, you see?
Maybe it’s because of Paris itself that I took out my Yashica GSN Electro 35 and went down in the streets of the Marais.
One hour was enough: the old Yashica GSN weighs a lot, but its autofocus was fast enough to capture the different souls of the neighborhood. 35mm “language” is different, perhaps today few understand its aesthetics… (a Rollei RPX400 roll film loaded in camera).

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EXTINCTION REBELLION IN PARIS

 

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A village.
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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.
Everyone listens.
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.

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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.

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BOATS WITH NO SEA

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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

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY MR. RAVA

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To celebrate his birthday… Three unpublished frames (taken at Università Statale di Milano, early March 2009) of Italian trumpeter Enrico Rava from my Rock Music Archives. For fine art prints please contact Expowall Gallery. HAPPY BIRTHDAY MR. RAVA!

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AFTERHOURS: THE STORY OF A 2003 LUCKY FRAME

 

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Storage could kill a frame. The mind of a photographer is always focused on shots to come. The shots then flee from memory until someone retrieves them. When Afterhours’ celebrative box set (book + 4 CDs) was released in 2017 I was deep in my photo projects so I hadn’t paid much attention to that record release dedicated to the band I had loved so much in the early 2000s. Two years later I bought the box set at a cheap price and I discovered that one of my shots had been included in the book.

The frame in question, taken in Milan, mid February 2003, portrayed the band in action at the Triennale Museum in Milan: it was a special live performance (2 sets) in the middle of an art installation inspired by Italian writer Italo Calvino’s book Città Invisibili. During the photo session (with a Pentax Espio) I took care to portray the scene comprehensively, showing the band really immersed in the art installation and in touch with the audience. Manuel Agnelli, the Afterhours frontman, appreciated my point of view and asked for prints for his personal archive. At the time I had some meetings and lunches with him because I was in contact with the indie label Afterhours signed with. That shot of the Afterhours’ Triennale performance is a lucky frame: it risked ending up lost in my photo archives but it was saved by a publishing project.

Below more pics from the Afterhours’ Triennale shows.

 

JAZZ ASCONA ‘019 IN “FUJI X PASSION”

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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!!!

CARSON MCHONE – THE FULL PHOTO SESSION

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I’m very proud to see the interview with CARSON McHONE (and the shots I took with my FujiFilm X30) published in the Plug n’ play June 2019 issue. I’m equally proud to present on my blog the full series of b&w shots (and just one color frame) I took of Carson at Rough Trade East, London, during the Texan singer and guitarist’s showcase in early February 2019.

To enrich this post let me add Carson’s opinion on the role of photography in her career. As Carson told me: <If there’s this constant need for content then it’s important to think ahead, especially if you want some sort of coherent theme to your imagery. I am definitely not anywhere near where I’d like to be with this but recently I’ve started to really think about any photos I take or any photo shoots I do, to have some sort of unifying aesthetic or intent, so that when I do post these images to the rest of the world I can feel like it’s a representation of the art and not just cheap engagement.>

– IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN BUYING FINE ART PRINTS PLEASE CONTACT EXPOWALL GALLERY

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