Thinking back, this past summer was somewhat surprisingly influenced not only by my working with photography but also with text. You may or may not know that I have a background in literary research, and as it at some point happened, I just felt over saturated with text and needed a break. To make a change, I wanted to go back to experimental photography of my early twenties and work with the visual and sound alone as some sort of a counter balancing act, away from books. Come to think of it, I always preferred to keep text and image fully separated and disliked visual art work that would have text incorporated in it as it felt – and still does – somehow pretentious and almost patronizing. To me a text “glued” on top of an image takes away from the image itself instead of adding to it. Now, after this long shift from text to image, I have rediscovered a good appetite for books and I’m having again fun reading! These days you’ll see me bouncing like a rubber ball between taking and making photos and writing and reading. And I seem to be truly missing encounters with people who read books.
From what I’ve read recently, I’ll just mention a few favorites: I enjoyed every minute of Arundhati Roy’s The Utmost Ministry of Happiness (2017) and her narrative on Hizras and politico-religious clashes in Kashmir, not to mention the vast array of characters in the story and all that craziness of human beings… I devoured this book. It has received very mixed reviews, possibly partly because of the large number of characters so much so that it may become difficult to keep track who is who, especially if you have any longer breaks from reading the story. I don’t mind a large number of characters at all and I suppose in this case when we are talking about India it only makes sense! Other recent well spent moments: Haruki Murakami’s wonderfully melancholic story Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage (2013), the Senegalese young writer Mohamed Mbougar Sarr’s third novel De Purs Hommes (2018) that addresses taboos and prejudice very courageously, and Sadie Smith’s fantastic collection of essays in Feel Free (2018), to name but a few. At least one of the essays titled Generation Why, a review on David Fincher’s film The Social Network and published already in 2010, can also be found online on The New York Review of Books.
If I had the means, I would open a library here in Saint-Louis. We already have a small library at Waaw but it’s open only to our artist guests. I just love spaces where people can sit around and dedicate time to read papers, wander between book shelves and take books out almost randomly and flip them and get lost in reading. It’s that old analog world! If there is one thing that I miss in my former home town Turku, it’s the library.
We don’t have a library here in town but it has been a wonderful discovery to see that even on this small island you can actually have books made. Or have those broken books that hang around in the house fixed. Ibrahima, who inherited the bookbinding skills from his father, is now having his sons around to give a helping hand. His atelier is an interesting space with half full ink bottles, printing machine parts, piles of brochures, old prints on the walls.. All those indie publishers out there, this is the place! It’s early days of my one-man indie publishing career but soon, after the last twists of editing and creating language versions, the very first book will be out!
I’ve uploaded a short clip on Daily Motion in which you can see Ibrahima and his colleagues in full action.