Monday, September 24, 2007

Carry Me To a Better Place













It's difficult. It's very tough.
I said to the man who'd been sleeping rough
To sit within a fragrant breeze
All among the nodding trees
That hang heavy with the stuff

He threw his arms around my neck
He brushed the tear from my cheek
And held my soft white hand
He was an understanding man
He did not even barely hardly speak

Easy money
Rain it down on the wife and the kids
Rain it down on the house where we live
Rain until you got nothing left to give
And rain that ever-loving stuff down on me

All the things for which my heart yearns
Gives joy in diminishing returns
He kissed me on the mouth
His hands they headed south
And my cheek it burned

Money, man, it is a bitch
The poor, they spoil it for the rich
With my face pressed in the clover
I wondered when this would be over
And at home we are all so guilty-sad

Easy money
Pour it down the open drain
Pour it all through my veins
Pour it down, yeah, let it rain
And pour that ever-loving stuff down on me

Now, I'm sitting pretty down on the bank
Life shuffles past at a low interest rate
In the money-coloured meadows
And all the interesting shadows
They leap up, then dissipate

Easy money
Easy money
Easy money
Rain it down on the wife and the kids
Rain it down on the house where we live
Rain it down until you got nothing left to give
And rain that ever-loving stuff down on me

"Easy Money" Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

untitled #1

Friday, September 7, 2007

A Week of Buildings 3 4 and 5



Kolarovo Namestie Bratislava 2006



Burned Building Šamorin 2007


Orange Bratislava 2006

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

A Week of Buildings ( Day 3 )



Jelačičova Bratislava 2007

Monday, September 3, 2007

A Week of Buildings (day 2)



Palkovičova Bratislava 2005

Sunday, September 2, 2007

A Week of Buildings ( Day 1)



Staré Pres Centrum Bratislava 2007

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Morning Yearning


Kameňe Namestie Bratislava 2005

I have realized that to finish the collection of pictures for my book I need to start getting up at sunrise again. Walking the streets in the half dark before dawn, gives me the chance to get a lot done before noon.

At this time of year when the light comes it is strong and clean. It cuts through the narrow city streets and paints rich black shadows on every surface. The remnants of the night before hanging around before the new day progresses it away.

Friday, August 31, 2007

School


Palkovičova Bratislava 2007

I have only once in the twenty four years since I left, been back to my old school. The occasion was to see a school play and I was struck by how small everything was: desks, chairs, classrooms and teachers. All shrunk by the magic combination of time and adulthood.

This school yard is in the neighborhood I lived in for the first couple of years after I arrived here. It is a primary school and I used to hear the kids playing during morning break. Screaming and running around chasing each other. The sound echoing off the walls of the surrounding apartments . Weekends and evenings the area would be quiet, the school deserted except for the painted footprints dancing on the broken concrete playground.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

clyde & bonnie


Palkovičova Bratislava 2007

Monday, August 27, 2007

Friendship


Train tracks Chemicka Bratislava 2007

Friendship like train tracks running straight and parallel heading for the horizon. The view becomes obscured and the reality is altered. The tracks once inseperable, part and change course for different destinations. We have our alloted time with one another, a time of learning and growing. A journey.

Friendship is neither about asking nor is it about replying. It is merely an understanding. When we stop understanding we become like the train tracks: still solid and straight yet inevitably headed for different destinations.

Friendship is a lot harder to make than it is to break. It resembles an out bound journey filled with unknown promise but often unfortunately with no return ticket.

House of Culture



Dom Kultura Bratislava 2005

Friday, August 24, 2007

A Life Less Ordinary - Anton Podstrásky



Photo by Miro Miklas

On Monday 21st August at 16.37 I received an s.m.s. from my friend. ‘Tonko is dead” Everything stopped for a few seconds. My memory took over.

“Tonko”, Anton Podstrásky was arguably the best Slovak street photographer of his generation. A man who lived in the moment, a working class connoisseur of the human spirit. He focused his lens on the ordinary, the downtrodden and the ignored. His studio was the city streets, the market at Miletičova and various krčmas (cheap bars)in Bratislava. His subjects were societies rich tapestry of manual workers, alcoholics and misfits. His perfectly preserved photographic archive remains as both his gift and memento.

For a street photographer to be in the right place at the right time requires luck. It takes a great deal of sacrifice, self belief and patience to walk the streets daily, literally waiting for that briefest moment when something special jumps out from the seamless flow of ordinary life, like seeing a fish leap from beneath the surface of a fast moving river. Tonko’s photographs are a testament to that: A life less ordinary.
Chain smoking, hard drinking Tonko was never simply a voyeur, his life on the other side of the lens was with the very people who fill the frame of his photographs. The struggle to survive combined with the pressure to create. At times Tonko shone. There was a party and he was the host. At that time maybe with the influence of an appreciative critical force on him he might had become a household name.

In the last years of his life even though Tonko suffered great physical pain he managed weekly trips to Mileticova market to raise a glass among the remaining friends, memories and ghosts of his life. It was there more than a year ago that my friend seeking out Tonko hopefully as the subject for his Bachelor of arts thesis on photography found him. Tonko invited us to his home to look through his archive and instantly we realized what an amazing treasure we had found in both the man and his work. Reacting instinctively and with utmost empathy we selected and printed images from his archive and made an exhibition for him in the city. His first exhibition in a decade. Public response was overwhelmingly positive not only from Slovaks but also from world wide visitors.
Tonko sat at his opening surrounded by his photographs with a smile on his face and a tear in his eye. The subsequent weeks brought more pain and suffering, Tono was rushed to hospital where one of his legs had to be amputated. Infections and more operations followed. He was sent home and cared for by his friends. With his intelligence, strong will and humour intact, he was still pushed in a wheelchair to his spiritual home: Mileticove market. The last time I saw Tonko he was sitting under the shade of an old tree at the end of my street. Newspapers tucked between his thigh and the side of his wheelchair, a cigarette in one hand and the remains of a half litre plastic bottle of white wine in the other. On recognition of us his tired face lit up with the briefest flash of genuine love. He shared a joke with us, we smoked a cigarette and said goodbye.

Thank you Tonko for your gift to us: That to truly live the Life Less Ordinary you must never give up.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Lavagance





A few years ago a friend of mine introduced me to the music of Lavagance. Instantly I felt something, it was loose, sexy rock and roll with equal amounts of attitude, talent and raw energy. Unfortunately I wasn't able to photograph them for my "Memento" project (young artists and musicians originally for id magazine) three years ago but after various brief encounters over coffee or beer I was invited to visit their studio to begin documenting the recording process of their new album. Its a great privilege to be around music in its making and to spend time with genuine ego free musicians who's verve for life is translated into the music that will inevitably define them.

Monday, July 30, 2007

A Head Full of Half Formed Ideas

My head is crowded with half formed ideas. Can I control my destiny or is it set. Am I a passenger even when I think I am not? I live now, but is now a fading moment?

Streets carpeted with leaves soften my footfalls. They make me feel weightless. This is a moment like many that will ignite a memory that is so deep I cannot recall it for more than a few seconds before it’s gone. Lost memories. A song on the radio or a word in a newspaper will vividly bring back a face from a past I had forgotten. Like static between stations there is a voice and a name but to faint to make out.

Love or the feeling of falling in love softens the sharp edges of life. Love is a separate entity, a third person in the relationship of two. You fall in love with her, she falls in love with you and you both fall in love with love. Its instant. Some people never love like this; they calculate everything down to the smallest detail and weigh up the value, the profit and loss. Love is a collision you can only have at full speed with your eyes closed and without your safety belt fastened. It’s a leap of faith. It is also filled with equal amounts of beauty and foolishness.

It puts ink in the poet’s pen but not food on his table. It can last a lifetime or just a heartbeat. It can’t be measured and only its effect can be seen.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Hot Hot Heat



Today was 39 degrees impossible to do anything other than constantly replace lost fluids.
Even now I'm coated with perspiration and its an effort to type.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Like a river carrying a seed on its current to the ocean




Photographs themselves are literally empty of meaning; only the viewer can instill concrete meaning to these two-dimensional representations of a reality that only existed for a mere 250th of a second. A frozen piece of time devoid of real life, an imprint of science like a fossil. As the photograph and our perceptions converge on the same space we realize that we can never again live in these moments, alas they are gone into the ether of our memory. But the photograph can provoke from us the answer to one important question: Did we truly live in the moment anyway?

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Understanding the Reality



“Statecraft is often about working to transform current realities so what is not possible today becomes possible over time. Before you can change an unacceptable reality you have to understand it in the first place”. Dennis Ross The Wall St Journal.

Between the cities of Poprad, Levoca and Spiska Nova Ves sits the tiny village of Letanovce. With magnificent rolling hills and dense forests as far as the eye can see it is
a place of unspoilt beauty only an hour away from the breathtaking tourist paradise of the High Tatra mountains.
Scattered here on the side of a hill at the edge of a forest is another scene that captures the eye, though neither for beauty nor tourist potential. It is the makeshift slum that is home to around 500 Roma. But here in Letanovce as with most rural areas underdevelopment and unemployment statistically sit side by side. The Roma of Letanovce are viewed locally as a problem and a nuisance. Stories of widespread stealing and lawlessness are commonplace. Yet these men women and children live out their existence in the rapidly prospering EU country without electricity running water and sanitation. And what of the many children who by the time they are able to will probably become parents themselves? The coming generation of under 11’s are a massive focus group for what is to be fully understood before it can be transformed.
A common story and another statistic to add to the already overgrown pile of problems being faced by the government their new Roma representative and the many NGO’s trying to unravel and solve the many layers of this problem. What we have done we have done but what we do now will shape the future for these people and this country. It is a domestic issue that has gained an important place on the international stage. How Slovakia handles this will be viewed critically throughout the international community.
The slum in Letanovce is due to be bulldozed, more than half of the inhabitants are to be moved to new housing in a town where their new potential neighbours have already expressed disappointment. Words like ghetto, closed society and segregation have become catch words in the media.
One answer obviously lies in education, both in schools and in training for skilled work.
Eventually to have schools staffed with Roma teachers who could focus on solid practical skills and social education would be a giant forward step. The possibility of successful future integration into high schools and universities or sports scholarships could provide valuable motivation. Sports programs have proved a success in underprivileged communities throughout the world and in themselves help to promote and sustain a healthier lifestyle. A lot of raw talent from a poor environment has passed through wise nurturing hands and gone on to greatness. Communities are as strongly affected by success as they are by failure and fairness and understanding today have as much to do with right and wrong as they always have. Emotions can cloud the ability to effectively judge a reality. Injustice is common fact of life worldwide and is judged so.
Tackling the problem also lies in the hands of the individual, the parent, the teacher and the employer. Looking and listening without prejudice is a quality that has to be taught at home and in school to children. It is also a basic need that should be required and reinforced in the workplace.
Its not just a case of pouring money in to a situation until the situation miraculously fixes itself. This does not work. We have to recognise that the problem is also a problem in ourselves and in our attitude and focus on what we want compared with what we need. If we do not want a problem then we should seek a way to properly understand why we have a problem. If it is not a medical problem where at best we can only treat the symptoms then we have to change thinking and more critically pre existing patterns of what we the individual deem right and wrong. These and many similar situations feed off our ignorance and selfishness and thus can affect our belief of right and wrong.
Ultimately there is no one perfect solution to this problem but it is easy to see how elsewhere in the world situations like this have been manipulated, a divide grows, negativity spreads and a malign feeling transforms itself into something much worse.

more images from the project



.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Fragments of a Broken Dream



This will be the title of the book I am making from the last three years of work.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Football












The boys were filled with more pent up energy than usual. A quiet before the storm and the sky too the colour of wet concrete peppered with bruises like a post fight boxer. The ominous promise of a storm.

The reason for a little more tension than usual: the inter school football finals to be held in Dubravka. The weeks leading up to this day were filed with intense Friday football sessions in the school gym. Two and a half hours of running, sweating, falling and fighting for goals interspersed with many cheers of victory and tears of failure.

Picoman was filled with his usual repertoire of mischievous comments and posturing the central focus of the six boys. Marek laughed but with suppressed aggression rippling across his face, Tomas a gifted footballer exuded a quiet confidence. Miso his customary baseball cap pulled down low flashed a smile or two, Karol the youngest and smallest excited and a little cocky, he also has a natural gift with the ball but has yet learned to pass it. Riso, quiet and sleepy had his usual otherworldly look in his eyes.

The bus ride was relatively sedate the boys content to be out of school looking out the window, telling jokes and watching the girls on the bus going to work. Jakub filled me in on some of the situations that might be possible based on previous competitions. Rivalry, bad words, fights and a visit by the police to take away a couple of boys wanted for some petty crime. Anticipation raised my adrenalin level a little higher than normal.

We walked into the school with that familiar smell of feet and dust and made our way to the gym. Passing a handful of scowling boys dressed in red and black striped football shirts. Teachers and boys met and shared greetings albeit the former more cordially than the later. While the boys changed into their football strips Jakub introduced me to the other teachers and over a cup of coffee I sat quietly as they exchanged thoughts on the proceedings. In to the gym to meet all the boys from the five schools lined up to hear the expectations of fair play and good behaviour. An intense mix of adolescent energy, boyish awkwardness and tension. A few furtive glances shot my way only to be expected at the presence of a stranger with camera.

The first match got started and it became quickly obvious it was going to be a one horse race. The home side Dubravka with as much skill to match their pace and aggression scoring a couple of quick goals. Their players more solid and confident especially one boy sporting a shaved Mohawk haircut who dominated the play, controlling and feeding the ball to the main goal scorer an athletic dark haired boy with an intimidating presence and a rocket of a shot. The next match saw the boys from Karpatska and with them the hope to see them do well and play as a team. They had the speed and skill to outplay their opponents and flashes of brilliance from Tomas and pace from Picoman produced a couple of goals but they lacked the right attitude and became quickly disheartened with frustration giving away easy goals. Victory was not to be theirs.

Their second match started well but the same frustration and lack of spirit returned. A challenge on Picoman produced a few seconds of writhing agony worthy of an Oscar. The rest of their games played out the same way. Karol shone briefly in Pico’s absence but had neither strength nor luck to put together a winning goal. Tomas played with guts and determination throughout but was unfortunately alone. Marek playing with wild aggression could only power the ball off the back wall and give away frustrating penalty goals. Riso in goal bravely did his best under constant attack, saving as many and in reality keeping the defeats respectable.

The one horse race finished with the home side eating up everyone in their path, only Ruzinov presenting any kind of difficulty. So for the presentation of the trophy, the boys changed into their regular clothes: A mix of hip-hop influenced hooded tops and baseball caps. The older boys back into their tough guy pose the younger boys looking childlike by comparison. We rolled out of school and on towards the bus stop to make our way back to Karpatska school. As we rounded the corner the sight of a waiting bus made the three older boys race for its doors. Leading the charge was Picoman seemingly unaffected by his agonizing injury.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Infinity

Monday, May 28, 2007

In Your Honor



Can you hear me
Hear me screamin'
Breaking in the muted skies
This thunder heart
Like bombs beating
Echoing a thousand miles

Mine is yours and yours is mine
There is no divide
In your honor
I would die tonight

Mine is yours and yours is mine
I will sacrifice
In your honor
I would die tonight
For you to feel alive

Can you feel me
Feel me breathing
One last breathe before I close my eyes
This suffering
For receiving
Deliver me into the other side

For you to feel alive
For you to feel alive
For you to feel alive

Foo Fighters In Your Honor

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Dano




Dano is in his sixties though he looks younger. When he was a boy he loved horses and was a talented rider. But in a moment he was kicked in the head by a horse. The accident almost killed him and subsequently left him permanently "dull" to the world around him.

I see him often in the city though he comes from Dobra Voda. He lives with his sister and her husband in Bratislava.
He can be found most days walking in my neighborhood. Just wandering aimlessly. Sometimes stopping and staring off into the distance. One minute looking like a lost boy the next laughing to himself like he's just heard the funniest joke.

He always politely asks me if I have a cigarette or 20 crowns. His speech for me is difficult to understand but I have realized he is always telling me some joke or funny story and when he gets to the end, he laughs.

I laugh as well, not because I understand the joke but because Dano's effort and presence make me happy and reaffirm something to me.

In a moment it could all be different.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

XA2 and Humor






I started using my old Olympus XA2 again.
Small and compact with a good lens especially if there is a lot of light.
Nice for the street because it can appear like a mobile phone so people don't really notice you taking their picture.

Everyday life is filled with little subtleties, as things change here the contrasts become more apparent and I enjoy seeing and capturing these changes and the humor they sometimes provide.

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Fly



Its hot and sticky. The average temperature is around 30 degrees.
On the ground floor the strong smell of waste and decay attracts flies.
Eventually I find them on the fifth floor. Stuck to the window, motionless.

Monday, May 14, 2007

First week at school






A couple of images from a new project I am working on:

A Portrait of Jakub.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

More Emotional than Physical


I find myself drawn to illustrate the emotional side of situations using photography. Reportage for me is a constant process of refining and editing and simplification. Telling a story has so many variables depending on your standpoint on the issues and themes. Allowing oneself the luxury to dream a little with the everyday, to walk and wait and feel. Then one gets a little closer to harmony.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Flowers

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Family


Monday, April 23, 2007

Dogs at Easter



Dobra Voda Easter 2007



Bratislava Easter 2007

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Andrej



Andrej talks in complex riddles, his subjects range from vitamin and mineral compounds to oral sex. He stares at you unblinking with intense dark brown eyes. The kind of eyes you instantly associate with trauma.
Andrej has an easy warm smile and a quick memory for each new English word I tell him.
He invites us to his home to see his paintings and listen to his music.

The walls and ceiling of his room are covered with painted symbols, Mayan, Egyptian and Chinese amongst them. As his computer starts up he tells us in his own unique way about the paintings and what some of them mean to him. The musical selection is of the ethnic trance variety in a few different themes. We settle on an Arabian style and Andrej Accompanies the weaving melody with his own interpretation on a plactic recorder.

Maybe fifteen years ago Andrej was just another young guy with a few problems. He was diagnosed with depression and I guess prescribed various pharmaceuticals. The place he went to during this period of his life, It seems he never came back from.
Even with his relentless stream of words, elemental abreviations, repeating questions and sexual innuendo there is such innocence about him. I am happy to have met him.