Sunday 5 pm, Amsterdam 1983

Amsterdam 1983

Excerpt from ‘Nabelichting’, Chapter 23, Nothing is Real

Straight from the beginning, on my very first pictures, I noticed that the framed reality on the contact sheets seemed to have more importance, content, and poetry than the original ‘real’ reality. I recognized this later, when I read ‘Secret Arms’ by the Argentinean author Julio Cortázar. In his short story ‘The Devils Drool’, he gives the best possible definition of photography that I’ve heard to this day: ‘One of the best ways of combating oblivion and nothingness, is taking photographs…’

It felt like coming home.
There can be so much beauty in ostensibly small, unnoticeable, and unimportant things which, when captured at the right moment, in the right light, and in the right frame, suddenly become visible and give content to ‘nothingness’. As Cortázar worded it: ‘That rough and delicious career of sunlight on an old stone, or the dancing braids of a girl returning with a loaf or a bottle of milk, instead of simply lurking in wait of the lie like some reporter or catching the moronic silhouette of a big shot coming out of 10 Downing Street.’

When you watch – or better – see things this way, existence itself seems to have more content, with more beauty and meaning.

Not long after I saw Antonioni’s film ‘BlowUp’ – based on Cortázar’s story – in which the protagonist struggles with the uncertainty about to which degree the images he creates are objective and represent reality, I knew I wanted to become a photographer.
To be able to interpret reality and make things look like and show them to others, as I saw them, seemed like a beautiful profession.

 

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