Friday, February 29, 2008

Don Carlos, Schiller

Erster Akt, erster Auftritt

Der königliche Garten in Aranjuez.
Carlos. Domingo.

Die schönen Tage in Aranjuez
Sind nun zu Ende. Eure königliche Hoheit
Verlassen es nicht heiterer. Wir sind
Vergebens hier gewesen. Brechen Sie
Dies räthselhafte Schweigen. Öffnen Sie
Ihr Herz dem Vaterherzen, Prinz. Zu theuer
Kann der Monarch die Ruhe seines Sohns -
Des einz'gen Sohns - zu theuer nie erkaufen.

(Carlos sieht zur Erde und schweigt.)


(Don Carlos, Friedrich von Schiller)

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Wednesday morning service at the Bluedowns shelter...

Images from the Wednesday morning service at the Bluedowns shelter… Incidentally the shelter home was a nightclub and liquor store before... it became available for the charity when the owner was killed in a diamond trade gone sour…

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Traditional Healers in South Africa...

It was confirmed this week that traditional healers in South Africa don't fall under the jurisdiction of the National Health Department... maybe they found it a bit difficult to regulate the efficacy of a charm that brings a lover back :-)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Some life's stories...

M. (26) shows off his tattoos, which mark him as a (former) member of the gang “The Firm”. He was convicted and served prison sentence for 9 times murder. He has now embarked on a 14-month rehabilitation programme at a shelter in Bluedowns. M. says that he has turned to God and wants to turn his life around…

E. (late 20s), an erstwhile gang member who left his gang and turned to God when he escaped an attack which would have cost him his life… He now works as a social worker in his community and organises bible classes in his free time… to “give back to his community and to restore values of the bible into the young…” He is also a member of the acoustic rap band “The Psycho Disciples”.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Returning to Khayelitsha

Yesterday, I returned to the Khayelitsha township to accompany two social workers on their home visits to the families they are looking after… As I was struggling with my approach, I changed my visual style/approach for this visit on the advice of a very clever and thoughtful friend… Instead of trying to capture these candid moments – which is almost impossible as a white person/umlungu who clearly is an alien and outsider to these communities – I resorted to taking formal portraits of some of the people we visited…

It is obvious that there is a very personal story to each of these photographs but essentially all of these families have not been able to provide for their children for one reason or another or their children are prone to becoming street children…

Not saying that I have found the right way yet, I might be on to something, keeping in mind what Marcel Proust once said: “The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”

Thursday, February 21, 2008

“I like ambiguity in a photograph. I like it when one is not certain of what one sees. When we do not know why the photographer has taken a picture, and when we do not why we are looking at it, all of a sudden, we discover something that we start seeing. I like this confusion…”

“I have a great respect for disorder… The strongest notion I have about my work is that it is unfinished: it’s the unfinished that appeals to me…”

Saul Leiter (b. 1923)

Sunday, February 17, 2008

[Self] Interview Part II

rb: ”Oh, it is you again.”

us: “Yes, it is me again. I was wondering whether we could continue our interview, or little talk if you prefer that term.”

rb: ”Well, I am not in the best of moods right now.”

us: “I can see that.”

rb: “But now that you are here, I probably could use a bit of company right now.”

us: “Why are you in such a sombre mood at the moment?”

rb: “It is not easy to explain.”

us: “Then try… We have some time, I guess. Try for me or for the sake of yourself if you want to be your introverted self.”

rb: “Ha, introverted self… That’s a good one. I haven’t heard that for a while.”

us: “So, do you want to tell me why you are in such a bad mood?”

rb: “I went to the Khayelitsha township today and tagged along with a social worker… While I was deeply ‘impressed’ - for want of a better word – of the place… in a sense that it made a deep impression on me… I did not manage to take one decent photograph of the place, the people or for my street children project…”

us: “Why is that? Shouldn’t that have been easy with all the access you had?”

rb: “Right... yes, in theory… and on a superficial level… but when I went into the homes with the social worker, I saw all these very poor and underprivileged people… but I could not see beyond the cliché, which I did not want to photograph… you know, what is the right word…”

us: “You saw an overcrowded room with five kids sleeping on the floor on dirt stained mattresses with a mother lying next to them, bereft of a husband either through AIDS, alcohol or another woman.”

rb: “Exactly… but how do you photograph this poverty, this misery without resorting to clichés and without exploiting the situation? I was really struggling with it.”

us: “I see.”

rb: “Don’t get me wrong… this is the brutal reality there… people are suffering and are on the lowest levels of society… often with little hope of change for the better…”

us: “I start to see what you mean.”

rb: “…And it is no wonder, that these kids, growing up in this environment with no hope for a better future resort to begging, drugs and crime…”

us: “So, how did you react? What did you end up doing?”

rb: “The kids were kind of curious… I was soon dubbed the man with the big arms and the camera… So I did a few portraits of the kids and the mother, which I aim to bring back next week when I will return…”

us: “So your trip had one purpose at least.”

rb: “Sort of… You know, sometimes I think that this is all too hard and that I should do stills photography, advertising or fashion, something more ‘shallow’… and leave this kind of documentary to the really gifted photographers…”

us: “Now you are being too harsh on yourself.”

rb: “Maybe, I was never one to be emotionally level headed… it is either way up or way down…”

us: “Today, probably I should suggest to leave it here and continue some other time.”

rb: “Thanks, I appreciate it.”

Friday, February 15, 2008

[Self] Interview...

SOUTH AFRICA. Cape Town. February 2008. Portrait of two brothers in the Khayelitsha township, close to Cape Town. Copyright: Uwe Schober/rupert beagle photography.

us: “Isn’t this a bit of a cheap trick you are trying to pull off here?”

rb: ”What do you mean?”

us: “Doing a self interview.”

rb: ”Glenn Gould did one before… at least you get to ask the questions that you would like to answer, or would like to have asked for that matter.”

us: “You are not comparing yourself to Glenn Gould?”

rb: “No, not at all… But I have always been an ardent and sometimes shameless imitator of people, styles and works of art that I admire…”

us: “Aren’t you supposed to find your own style? Where is your own creativity?”

rb: “What I meant was I try to study other artist’s ideas and try variations on them, if I like them… and also adopt what works for me… and come up with a few ideas of my own – at least every now and then.”

us: “Can you give me a recent example?”

rb: “Well, yeah, for example, yesterday evening I went out with one of the social workers to look for street children. When we found a group of them, there was no light anymore… It was pitch dark and I could not take a single image… or at least a halfway decent image… Then I asked myself, what would someone like Paolo Pellegrin - as you know one of the photographers I admire a lot - …what would he have done in this situation?”

us: “And, what was your conclusion?”

rb: “I guess he would have resorted to some surrogate mechanism to take some meaningful images nevertheless. So I tried to get away with these blurry, grainy images… and some shots in the headlights of the car… Miles away from what Pellegrin would have produced, but at least I have tried.”

us: “Let’s leave this subject and talk about the hotch potch of images that you are posting on this blog.”

rb: “What about them?”

us: “Well, there is this new project you are trying to do in a more documentary style… and then there are listings of book, music and show reviews… and then also the odd interspersed polaroid. One could say that this is seriously lacking some structure.”

rb: “I guess there is more structure than I would like to have in a year I set myself for experimenting and playing… The documentary images are from projects that I am trying to undertake, for example the ones on the street children or on the vanishing village in Eastern Germany… The other images – in particular the polaroids – stem from a more subjective documentary of my life, more in the sense of a Nan Golding or Antoine d’Agata who are ‘merely’, and I say the merely in inverted commas, they are merely photographing their lives and what they subjectively feel. I guess the polaroids come closest to my current emotional state of mind.”

us: “That sounds interesting. Can I ask another question?”

rb: “Go on.”

us: “On these polaroids… They don’t seem to be very self-explanatory”

rb: “No, and they don’t have to be… it suffices that they are for me… they are subjective after all. For instance, the polaroid entitled ‘the empty chair and other stories’ is really about lost opportunities… there was someone in particular missing and the empty chair in my hotel room was expressing this to me… But I won’t be more specific.”

us: “One more question, if I may.”

rb: “I really should be going now… I would like to catch the last bit of light today.”

us: “OK, then let’s continue at some other time. Thanks so far and good luck tomorrow visiting the Khayelitsha township.”

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Homestead/Outreach Programme (cont'd)

SOUTH AFRICA. Cape Town. Woodstock. February 2008. Outside the drop-in centre for street children in Woodstock, a suburb of Cape Town. Copyright: Uwe Schober/rupert beagle photography.

SOUTH AFRICA. Cape Town. Woodstock. February 2008. Inside the drop-in centre for street children in Woodstock, a suburb of Cape Town. Copyright: Uwe Schober/rupert beagle photography.

SOUTH AFRICA. Cape Town. Woodstock. February 2008. Children pray before their meal in the drop-in centre for street children in Woodstock, a suburb of Cape Town. Copyright: Uwe Schober/rupert beagle photography.

SOUTH AFRICA. Cape Town. Woodstock. February 2008. The possessions of a street boy in the Woodstock drop-in centre. Copyright: Uwe Schober/rupert beagle photography.

SOUTH AFRICA. Cape Town. Woodstock. February 2008. Street children are having an illegal smoke in the drop-in centre in Woodstock, a suburb of Cape Town. Copyright: Uwe Schober/rupert beagle photography.

SOUTH AFRICA. Cape Town. Woodstock. February 2008. Football practice for street children by a volunteer coach in Greenpoint, Cape Town. Copyright: Uwe Schober/rupert beagle photography.

SOUTH AFRICA. Cape Town. Brackenfell/Kraaifontain. February 2008. A social worker is scouting one of Cape Town’s Northern suburbs for street children. Copyright: Uwe Schober/rupert beagle photography.