Friday, October 8, 2010

With Jacques Montel, 9 11 10

My friend Jacques visited me a few weeks ago bringing his Nikon and mono pod. That Saturday morning he was tired some - he was at an art opening the previous night, He attends many.
We find each other near the river, Jacques is taking pictures of women.
There were some structures and areas around that, given the right light and atmosphere, I'd find interesting enough to photograph. Jacques doesn't seem to mind the monotony of the blue above. It's a peerless stereotype of a September day. Actually September 11, and weather-wise, a carbon copy of 9 years ago.
I showed him under the bridge. We strolled down a shady sidewalk to where I watched the smoke billowing and churning horribly gray then. It is almost as quiet now, absent are wails of sirens and fighter jets roaring above, protecting us.
We went to the waterfront close by the East river, and gazed at its surging currents and he spotted fish beneath the blue glaring waters. He liked a photogenic area, desolate and expansive, but was stopped by a chain link fence, so I gestured to offer him a lift, but he laughed and declined. Jacques likes what he calls "Forgotten Places".
One fisherman had landed a sizable fish - a bluefish. He took it into his view finder and clicked this into his digital memory, while I watched it gasping, its gills like huge flaps, useless, and dying in the bright September sun. Its gills seem enormous, vital, electric. I watched it struggle. Its such an ordinary thing, but I've never seen a fish die. I'm transfixed and shocked I guess. It suffers. Its bundle of neurons wants to live. All is obvious but this visceral proximity to suffering ignites something.
Jacques lives in Sweden, but he's originally from France. New York is a city where he wants to stay. He saw the exhibit in Kristianstad, where he lives , and got in touch with us when he came to New York. Last week at our Seeing With Photography workshop, he posed me with a very long, red paper tongue, and a make believe stick of dynmite strapped to my head. He also made a self portrait with a computer motherboard taped to his bare chest, to be lit green and aerie, while wearing a strip of dark material around his eyes. I guess- cyborg "This is how I'm feeling" he told me. His tripod was accidentally knocked over, and the lens was damaged before his idea was created. This happens sometimes. Donald's camera, and Mark's too, have been toppled. The room can literally be a forest of tripods sometimes, Navigation is best done slowly. A friend suggested we suspend the tripods from the ceiling there - but that's not practical.
He is an artist, print maker and photographer. Recently he's made some self portraits in a very emotional state of sadness, reflecting the break up with his girlfriend. He sent me some by email but took them down off his web site. He is hesitant about being vulnerable.
Image above: Box Portrait of Jacques Montel in Tophat c. 2008

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