Back in time : Kuala Lumpur

It’s Sunday and where I live it’s now Tier 2 of the latest Covid-designated level of restrictions. Tier 1 being Medium risk, 2 meaning High and Tier 3 is the absolutely no mingling stay home, pub-closing variety. Anyway the scientists (who listen to scientists anymore, I wonder) say all these tiers are confusing and pointless, since the virus cannot read and they fly around in the boundary-less air with the wind, and they will come and infect you whether you are drinking in the pub, exercising in the gym or do sweaty yoga unless you are in Westminster and your name is Dominic or so they say.

But I digress. Here are some pictures of KL central, from way back, yes in 2008, when I was hoping to be a successful ‘street’ photographer (don’t we all) since almost every photowalk that has ever been organised that I recall always starts in Petaling Street and teaches street photography.

Has it changed? I wonder where these people are today, their faces frozen in time. Do you recognise them, it would surely be interesting to know. Apologies for the garish oversaturated colours, but like sepia and spot colouring, it was in trend back then. I’m more into muted tones now.

Elizabeth’s garden /1

My neighbour Elizabeth is an elderly spinster who has been very ill ever since I moved in next door to her last year. She is bedridden and does not go out, and she gets visits from carers several times a day to feed and care for her. Since February this year, she deteriorated and I understand she is now staying in a local care home.

Her garden is completely overgrown but there grows some beautiful wild weed, roses, blackberries and shady trees.

Winter into Spring

Discovering that all the local trees have sprouted their leaves and blooming with flowers since we entered the lockdown in early March, I took a walk along the towpaths of the River Wey about 15 minutes away.

On a small private island, there is a public park with many mature trees, some are in full bloom, like this one, a hawthorn. Simply magical, shady and fragrant.

Earth Day 2020

Earth Day 2020 today, calls for Climate Action. Clean air is a major factor to healthy living. During the current pandemic, many industrial centres across the world – China, India – have seen a dramatic improvement if air quality and a reduction in CO2 emissions. In the UK there are current research into the causative effects of London’s highly polluted air and the number of serious COVID-19 patients. The city of Milan in Lombardy, the most polluted and affected region in Italy, has announced an ambitious plan to rededicate 35kms of city centre roads to cycle and pedestrian use this summer.

I hope for a cleaner and healthier post-pandemic world, which could begin with forest regeneration and less reliant on fossil fuels.

Bruno Cattani : Eros & Memorie

both

I had the pleasure of acquiring not one, but two photography books from Italian photographer Bruno Cattani last November at the Photolux Festival in Lucca. So much has happened since my rained soaked weekend in the beautiful walled city of Lucca where Puccini was born, and I was recently reminded gently by the gentleman, Mr Cattani, if I could give him my views on his books.

With the current lockdown in the UK due to the pandemic, and with ample ‘lounging-around’ moments throughout the days (weeks and even months ahead…) I finally got to look at, and into – the photographs in these publications.

Not often, I find myself so intrigued in fine-art photography – especially in book form, since most of my recent acquisitions were documentary works  (see Road to recovery : Noriko Takasugi & Catalina Nucera). Documentary works inform and illustrate stories told by their authors – of distant lands, events and peoples, their struggles, their celebrations and their encounters.

Eros, 2018 and Memorie, 2014 do not do that. However, they evoke feelings and emotions, sometimes repressed and locked away in one’s mind.

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Eros is a collection of detailed black and white studies of marble figures. In Europe, these decorate the internals of churches, in public spaces and museums in all their splendour, magnificence and artistry, as common as can be. However, Bruno’s pictures capture the sensuality and erotism in their depiction of the often accentuated female and male forms made more pronounced by detailed lighting, texture and composition, which is his signature style in this series.  Ambiguous representation of marble or flesh? Figurative depiction or human skin? Abstraction or true form. Seeing beyond what is present in the shapes and shadows. The human body fascinates me, all the same.

Some of these thoughts will surely cross a viewer’s mind, as they did with me. Translucence is the emotive phrase I am thinking. Of mind, body and spirit, where clarity and opaqueness meld into each other.

Sometimes, we encounter an image, a sound or smell that triggers our hidden memories and they become as clear as the present day. Looking at some of the photographs in Memorie did just that for me. Even as I have not lived in or visited the city of Reggio Emilia in northern Italy, as the collection in this book depicts, it acts like a proxy trigger to similar places and experiences I have experienced in my years living in Europe.

That’s why I love this book so much as the scenes, some mundane and private only to the author, allows the viewer an insight to the personal encounters and memories of the photographer and at the same time gives me an opportunity to rediscover my past experiences too. More than feelings.


Contact the photographer for more information here :

http://www.brunocattani.it/en/?page=Publications

Road to Noi Bai

Dug out old photographs from storage and decided to hang some on the landing wall, and discovered this picture I took back in 2001 when I visited Vietnam for the first time. I still could recall the moment, we were on the way back to Noi Bai airport in a taxi and the weather was grey and wet. We passed by miles and miles of rice fields and swampy land, and the highway was practically empty. Huge billboards were spaced out evenly along the road advertising face creams and cigarettes, but this one in the picture was bare.  The image shows four locals on their bicycles pedalling alongside the hard shoulder of the highway, in their typical conical hats, possibly going to the local market.  I really liked the mood and moment of this picture, hence I printed it right away when I got home.

Road to Noi Bai, Vietnam 2001, 40cm x 50cm hand printed, vintage print, edition 10