Sunday, January 27, 2008
I joined a group of bloggers/photo-enthusiasts yesterday to visit a photo exhibition by Stephan Vanfleteren. 'Yes', you say, 'isn't that the famous photographer with his pictures of the dark, grimey, smelly, empoverished underside of Belgium?' And you're totally correct, dear readers. It's such a pleasure to know that my readership is entirely composed of the upper strata of intellectuals all around the globe.
But enough wanking, let's see some pictures. Because when you visit a photo exhibition with sixteen amateur/semi-pro/pro photographers, it's not just about looking pictures but also about taking them. And take pictures we did, more so than a busload of japanese tourists on steroids.
It was the first time I visited Antwerp's Photo Museum - shame on me and my children and my children's children to the fourteenth generation. I'd be planning to for ages, and Artur's invitation seemed the perfect occasion.
Did I mention it is an exhibition about Belgium?
I was a bit surprised to see this picture, because I know this man. He's an old coal miner that lived close to my former office. He lost his leg in an accident, and in order to keep getting his social benefits, he has to have a medical examination each year to show that his leg hasn't grown on yet. True story, I'm not pulling your leg (yes, I know, but I'm very tired). For me, that story says as much about my country as Vanfleteren's pictures.
With 16+ people in the room with a camera, such scenes were very common: one person would take a picture, while a second photographer thinks it would be cool/funny to take a picture of the first one, while a third one would capture the second one shooting the first one and so on. There were probably five people taking a picture of me taking a picture of the two of them.
Afterwards, we went for a drink in the 'Zuiderpershuis' - an old pumping station turned into a cultural centre with a focus on the south. With so many cameras around one table, things got ugly from time to time. You know, people shooting each other and so on...
Inspired by Vanfleteren's work, I started taking pictures of ugly people... KIDDING - just KIDDING!
There were two groups: the (semi) pro's, sporting cameras like these that come with their own laser ranging system, doppler radar and refrigerator to keep your drinks cool. By contrast, the cameras of the second group, the amateurs, looked almost like those disposable thingies you can buy in theme parks or at tourist attractions.
Smoking can lead to some nasty effects, like photo geeks insisting on taking your picture.
After the drinks, a small group of us went for a walk in the city, to practice what we'd learned from the great master (and from each other).
Antwerp, the birth place of Bob and Bobette (or rather: Suske and Wiske). Antwerp - and many other Belgian cities - boasts a number of comics figures on such walls all over the city.
As light was fading, my trusty camera reached its limits. So time to get 'creative'.
One final picture, and then I had to run to get my bus. Wolf and Mrs.B were waiting for their diners.