Florence in February (#lategram)

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In February I was in Florence for work for a couple of days. I took lots of instagram shots but also a few with my camera. But things got a bit crazy and I went back home straight after the trip and never got around to editing them. A few days ago I was going through my SD card (because I never delete photos) and came across this shot and decided that I really like it and it is high time I put it up.

All aboard…

New York nostalgia train

New York nostalgia train

New York nostalgia train

New York nostalgia train

New York nostalgia train

New York nostalgia train

“Nostalgia is denial – denial of the painful present… the name for this denial is golden age thinking – the erroneous notion that a different time period is better than the one ones living in – its a flaw in the romantic imagination of those people who find it difficult to cope with the present” – Midnight in Paris

Two weekends ago, and again this past weekend, I took a ride on the nostalgia train in New York City. This is a train composed of museum train cars that were used on the subway lines between 1931 and the 1970s. It was so much fun seeing everyone dressed up for the occasion and to read some of the advertising signage inside the old cars, which had ceiling fans and not air-conditioning (obviously). The train runs during the winter holidays on Sundays, along the M line, making all the stops between the 2nd Ave and Queens Plaza stations.

There is only one weekend left this year (30 December) – for more information, visit the MTA website.

The danger of a single story

How often do we see other countries or cultures trhough a single story? Is there a single authentic African identity? Who decided these were the stories to tell? What are the power relations behind these stories?

“Power is not just the ability to tell the story of another person, but to make it the definitve story…” – Adichie

This morning I watched this TED Talk by Chimamanda Adichie which tackles the issues of identity and power. It is 19 minutes that will make you a better thinker, a better tell of stories, and a better person.

Whose history is it?

A few months ago I had a heated discussion via instant messenger with a friend about Johannesburg. One thing he said that really annoyed me was something along the lines of Joburg not being old enough to be historically worthy. Unfortunately I had one of those moments when my really clever response came hours after the conversation.

History and historical worthiness is not about time or size, it is about significance – and that significance depends on who you talk to. Luckily in today’s technologically abundant world it is easier for people to document their history – they don’t have to wait for a historian or politician to decide it is worthy.

While I was in Poland my aunt and uncle really wanted me to go and photograph some of the old buildings and traditional wooden houses that are still standing (but barely) in their city Pabianice. Most of them are being demolished, or in the final stages of decay – in spite of the fact that many people still live in them.

I had never really thought about Pabianice in historical terms – of course every city has a history in a linear passing-of-time kind of way, but when a country has cities like Krakow or Gdansk, it becomes easy to overlook the histories of smaller, less beautiful, less poetic cities.

It reminded me of an important lesson for photographers – and even writers – not to accept the face value and not to make assumptions about what it is significant or important.