Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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While this must have been the first time in a long while that I have been to Berlin without going to some gig, the weekend had another great attraction. The film Helvetica was screened in the course of the Typo conference. Tickets for that were given to participants of the conference at priority but luckily people made an effort to schedule another screening at lunchtime on Sunday at the arts uni. Attending that worked out perfectly – see tomorrow’s post for more comments on that.

Afterwards I strolled around a little and headed for the Martin Gropius Bau where four photo exhibitions were running. I got tickets for three of them – bringing the number of photos I saw in the course of this weekend over 1000, I suppose.

The first exhibition was a retrospective of Brassaï’s work. I liked that a lot. While many of these photos are posed – if only because spontaneous photography as we know it today just wasn’t feasibly back in the 1930s and 40s – they look very natural and manage to communicate some special aspects in otherwise ordinary situations. The guy just did everything which people still love today: photos in the dark, playing with light, fog, people… in a way the exhibition was depressing because it highlighted that pretty much everything I like is completely un-original. Keeping in mind the technical limitations of those days, makes the photos even more impressive.

In addition to the main stock of photos there was also a collection of photos merged with drawing which led to Picasso-esque nudes that were quite cool. They also showed some of his photos of graffiti and some sculptures which I was less impressed by.

The second exhibition was with photos by Gérard Rondeau. While there were a few nice shots between them I wasn’t too impressed with his works. The photos included plenty of ‘celebrity’ (although of a more intellectual type than those in the yellow press) shots which were frequently shot in funny situations – like with some out of focus books or bar covering up a lot of the photo, with the person only being visible through a slightly opened door or with the person being seen in a mirror. While all that is nice and dandy, I tend to find these effects a bit tacky and I much prefer photographers being able to work without such cheap tricks which would attract ‘LOL, great DOF – wonderful composition!’ comments on flickr.

Similarly I fail to see the point of presenting large (60cm×80cm perhaps) prints and in a contact sheet style with the outer part of the negatives still being visible. Did Ilford or Kodak just pay the guy to show off their HP5s and TRI Xs? Or is he just looking for that so-called ‘authenticity’ which such a framing is supposed to communicate? LOL fantastic! indeed. Other photos in the exhibition showed galleries and artwork. I completely failed to the the point of those. I’m just too intellectually challenged for that kind of thing.

The third and final exhibition was of photos by Ré Soupault whom I hadn’t even heard of before. The photos were from different places – Germany, Norway, France, Spain, North Africa – and I thought they were quite mixed. Some of them more like family photos, others trying to document the situations they were taken in. A mixed bag for my taste. Some of the photos weren’t so exciting, while others have that special ‘something’. And many of those great photos were reproduced at a larger size which made them more impressive.

And those were my cultural treats for the day. I think I’ll have a few more comments on those photo exhibitions in a few days but then I went to relax a little, enjoy the sun, drink a milk shake (I tend to get this urge for a strawberry McDonalds milk shake every other year or so and it was that time again – Strangely a ‘small’ shake is really tiny at 250ml these days while a ‘large’ one is 500ml. I think it used to be something like 300ml vs 400ml.) and even do some shopping as the powers that are decided that shops could open for this Sunday. Err, yay!

Then I was off to meet Mona and her friends for a good-bye meal at a Vietnamese place (in Adalbertstraße, a block or two up from the Kottbusser Tor U-Bahn stop). Even though it was a takeaway type of place, both the food and its presentation were extremely nice. Most of us had a glass noodle salad which seemed perfect for the hot day. But the other dishes looked excellent as well. For dessert we went to a Turkish place and had some of those wonderful oriental sweets which the sweet teethed just loved along with a hot but refreshing black tea with fresh mint. Great stuff, I’ll have to make some myself!

And time was running so quickly that I really had to rush out because I couldn’t miss my train (both because it was the last one I could use and because my ticket was good for that train only). With me just missing the underground, this ended up being a bit more exciting than I would have liked – but things worked out perfectly in the end looking at a map now, though, suggests that I could have just walked to the station in the time I needed to go there on the underground.

After a number of hours and some wait at the ‘lovely’ Hannover main station I was back home.

May 21, 2007, 1:08

Tagged as helvetica.

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