I’m back on the mainland for ten days. It’s lovely.
I’m very proud to have been a producer on Rouzbeh Rashidi's experimental feature film “Phantom Islands” and am very glad to share that it is now available on video on demand to stream or download. The film is like a beautiful, disturbing dream about travelling to the islands of Ireland, and it went on to be screened at over thirty festivals and cinemas all around the world.
To watch Phantom Islands, please visit here: https://bit.ly/2tHeH0w
At least according to Walter Benjamin, who described Marseille as “the world’s wickedest port.” I was only there for two days so didn't get to see much wickedness, but the city definitely feels much more exotic than anywhere else I’ve been in France. I saw some great art in Mucem and got lost in tiny side streets that could have been in Tangiers, and met some very interesting people like Dirk, a Belgian screenwriter and ex punk who wrote this piece of spiky New Wave that years later was used in a Prada campaign.
I’ll be back.
Haven’t been to Aikido for ages, so found a dojo in Paris and went last night. Despite a minor injury* and the struggle to understand the mix of Japanese and French, it was fantastic. Am aching all over today ( a friend calls it Ow-kido) but it’s very much worth it. I’ll be back.
*a sprained toe, thankfully mine. It would be very déclassé to injure a fellow student during my first visit to a new dojo. On the upside, I did learn a new French phrase**
PS: This is great - a demonstration of jiu-jitsu, an earlier form of Aikido, by the absolutely delightful Miss May Whitley and her bandit friend Mr. Charles Cawkell.
When I first met the wonderful Helen Sloan, she told me that all photographers are creeps. I was a bit taken aback, but she’s right - photographers want to see without being seen, to capture things that wouldn’t necessarily happen if people were aware that we’re there, quietly shooting away. Just as when this sleeping man caught my eye at Le 104 the other day, though I was quickly outcreeped by his girlfriend Agathe, who snuck in for a close-up. She’s also a photographer, of course.
I got some concerned calls from friends and family in Ireland when they saw I was out taking photographs at the Gilet Jaunes protests. I assured them I was fine, having learned a valuable life lesson during my first ever riot*.
The current protests also remind me of attending a much quieter riot during the winter of 2011 in New York.
And of going to the May Day riots in Berlin, which turned out to be a very civilised affair.
*I was seventeen and had just started taking photographs when I went my first riot, which kicked off during a squatter’s protest in Nørrebro, Copenhagen. Unfortunately I didn’t get any good pictures - after a few hours hanging around in case something happened, when it actually did I was too busy running down a narrow city street as fast as I could from a terrifying wall of charging police, equipped with dogs and waving long mahogany batons. I didn’t have a press card, but even if I had it would have made absolutely no difference - they were determined to pacify everyone on the street with extreme force, no matter who they were. So my top riot tip is this: in a riot, stay as far away as possible from the people who are most likely to hurt you, and those people are probably the police.
My book of New York photos is available online. Limited-edition prints from the book are available for purchase at The Copper House Gallery in Dublin. You can see a piece I did on New York for Narratively here.
L'Absinthe, 1876, by Degas
L'Absence, 2012, by me
About eighteen months ago I had a screenplay to finish and wanted to go somewhere warm, cheap and interesting* to get it done, and Lisbon sounded like it would be just the place. It didn’t happen in the end, but I did get to visit for a couple of days last January and very nice it was too.
*When a friend from Northern Ireland overheard what I was looking for, she couldn’t stop herself blurting out “Then why on earth would you move to Lisburn?”
I’ve just begun a new writing project.