We all should have heroes. They inspire us to go forward and
seek out our own photographic vision… or at least that’s what
my heroes did for me. Salgado, Irving Penn, Sarah Moon,
Jan Saudek, (you can imagine my joy when the possibility of
including him in the core program at the 2011 Ballarat
International Foto Biennale became a reality).
One of my earliest discoveries as a student at RMIT was the iconic American photo artist Duane Michals, so imagine my joy when Linda Benedict Jones, Curator of Photography at the Carnegie Institute, Pittsburg PA and one of my fellow reviewers at the Lens culture Portfolio Reviews in Paris earlier this month, asked me if I would like to attend a special preview screening of a new documentary on Michals, now in his 80th year. What’s more it was launching at a private club in Rue Montmartre owned and designed by David Lynch.
There were three screenings scheduled in the 25 seat theatre, and Michals was to be only at the first showing to make a presentation and field questions from the audience. Unfortunately the first session was booked out when we applied for tickets, so we had to settle for the second screening at 10.30pm. I arrived early with our BIFB Paris based representative Christine Gates, and after passing muster with security, descended down into the bowels of the earth into a maze of darkened tunnels and mirrors, populated by groups of terribly chic Parisiennes, dressed predominately in black – so very David Lynch!
We were a good thirty minutes early and couldn’t enter the theatre as the first screening was still in session, but were fortunate enough to be ushered in when Duane Michals started speaking and were allowed to stand up the back to listen. Michals is still fairly sprightly for his eighty years and his brief talk was peppered with self deprecating good humour. He spoke and fielded questions from the audience for around 15 minutes before he made his way out of the theatre, and as he passed us interlopers standing at the back he reached out and gave my beard a gentle tug, and enquired with a good humoured smile ‘is that real?’…. ‘No it’s a wig’ came my response. And with that, one of my heroes disappeared into the maze of tunnels and mirrors and savoir faire that is Club Silencio. It is one thing to have heroes, but it is an entirely another matter to have one of your heroes instigate a totally unexpected personal interaction.
So what does that have to do with this, the second edition of BETA – developments in photography?… absolutely nothing, but it is a tale I expect I will tell many times into the future whenever I am in the company of my fellow lovers of the art and craft of photography.