Friday, 24 December 2010

Nihilism and Photography



Most places aren't really that interesting. I'm stating this as a fact: it's mainstream living and nothing more.

But here's where photography makes a twist: it opens up a place. What used to be boring could suddenly become the only thing worth shooting.

I guess this is the main reason why photography has taken such a hold on me, although I sense something way darker underneath this enthusiasm, a kind of sadness, or nihilism, when an idea empties out and the photographs stops radiating.







Susan Sontag writes: "[...] essentially the camera makes everyone a tourist in other people's reality, and eventually in one's own." (On Photography, 1977)




Monday, 20 December 2010

Gray Whales



Before leaving San Diego I read about Grey Whales emigrating south. Colliding with whales are one of my major fears in sailing. Especially at night, trying to sleep, I sometimes find it hard not to visualize a sudden impact.

photo: Henrik Nor-Hansen

3 am, west of Tijuana: Trying to sleep I forced my mind into something else than whales. I thought about my childhood, our new neighbors. They turned out to be vegetarians. We kids kept our distance at first, not knowing what vegetarians were, but they had a son my age who climbed into an empty trash can and got stuck. His father had to come home from work to saw him out. This happened the same winter my school dentist declared that I had eleven cavities. It was pretty much the end for me. He would be drilling my teeth until spring. I came to loath his big fat fingers in my mouth. This was before latex gloves and his nicotine stained fingers stank heavy of sour tobacco. In retrospect I would say the school dentist was bordering child molestation. His secretary was tall and skinny with ice cold hands that she seemed to put in my mouth for warmth. I was lying in that dentist chair, with tubes sucking, when a moose came into the school yard and got tangled up in the swings. Everybody expected the police to use anesthetic but they just shot it, a sharp flat crack, reverberating through windows and concrete, and later on they had to use a chain saw to cut the dead moose down, with blood squirting all over their faces.

photo: Henrik Nor-Hansen
photo: Henrik Nor-Hansen

photo: Henrik Nor-Hansen
Nina called my name. It was my watch. I dressed up in wool and rain gear, but the night was clear and still. No wind. She'd just heard some strange sounds that we soon realized was a whale breathing. But there wasn't much to do about it. We continued drifting south, deeper into Mexico.


photo: Henrik Nor-Hansen