Just Two Pictures

We had a phenomenal sunrise in Tuesday. It was so great that I delayed my run, just to take a few shots.


The color saturation has not been manipulated, it was such a true golden sunrise. Keep in mind that we are looking West and the sunrise we see is a reflection in the facades of the buildings. Needless to say, I had a good run afterwards.

The second image is only a consolation prize. A friend and I wanted to ascend one of Bangkok’s ghost towers, but to no avail. Steel pad-locks and unyielding guards cut this trip very short. So, when I saw the graffiti in one of the sois nearby, I just snapped it. Bummer.


Cheers and stay sharp

Markus \m/

An Artsy And Awesome Week

On Wednesday, we had Sebastião Salgado in Bangkok. He was giving a talk to open an exibition of his. Sebastião Salgado is a photographer, but not just anybody. He has established himself as the photographic documentarian of the world. I could ramble on for hours, but just google him or go to his website (https://www.amazonasimages.com/). In essence his work comprises of two major periods. The period, where travelled the world and build major portfolios on different subjects of humanity: workers – manual labor, refugees amd migrations, children. and after years of witnessing cruelty, savagery, injustice, famine, he took a break, because he could not take it anymore. He refocused his energy on healing again by turning his parents farm in Brazil back to its original state. – the state it was in before civilization turned nature into agriculture. And thsi is where tye second period of his work has its beginnings. He started to document and photograph how his parents farm developed backwards (http://www.institutoterra.org/eng/) with the help of donations and a lot of manual labor of love. This experience then spawned an idea to start traveling the wold again to document the few last resort where civilization has not, yet, turned nature on its head.

So, picture this. As we go to BACC, I was excited, because I so admire and lve the work of Salgado. I love the way he photgraphs, the way he develops and prints – balck and white with deep blacks, rich contrast, yet a lot of subte detail. A viewer must discover the image region by region. we were ther earl and thee were a surprisingly large number of other mostly Thai enthusiasts. We sit down and it gets close to starting time. An MC entered the stafe, introduced herself and asked everyone tonsit down, so that we couldnatart on time (this is highly unusual in Thailand, but that is a topic for a different blog – yes blog not just a single entry). As last visitrs are coming in, I turn my head to see who was entering and my jaw dropped….WAY DOWN. I stare, like a 14 year old girl meeting One Nation. The gentlemen I am staring at, stares back and asks me if he could help me. I stammer:” Are you who I think you are?” He says politely:”who do you think I am?” “James Nachtwey”, said I. He smiles and nods. Barbara grins, because she has never seen me like this.- hypersurpirsed starstruck! Now, Inknow the majority of you will say:”What the hell are you talking about? Who the hell ist James Nachtwey?” Just like Salgado he is an icon. He is a war photographer, who shows war not in a sensational way, but in a sensitive and honest  and gritty way. I will spare you my lng and etailed descriptions, just google him, too or visit his website (http://www.jamesnachtwey.com/). So here we are, Sebastião Salgado 5 meters away in front of me, James Nachtwey my personal surprise guest of the night, less than a meter in the seat directly behind me. I was so excited, it was an awesome evening – memorable. And when the talk was over, there were Salgado’s photos to be viewed as well. This could not have been any better in my wildest dreams.


James Nachtwey (r)


Sebastião Salgado and his wife Lelia Warnick Salgado. He photographs, she arranges his books and exhibitions in a manner tyat make his images so captivating and unique. My friend Joe, used to say, a photo is just a photo. But a properly framed photo is a picture. 

Apparently, this is a s good as it gets. Shouid you be in Bangkok, go see the expos, it is running until March  8th 2017 – exactly 28 days. – admission is free (http://en.bacc.or.th/event/Sebasti%C3%A3o-SalgadoThe-World-Through-His-Eyes.html)

On Thursday, Barbara – always a trooper – was “schlepping” two books through town, only to get back to the BACC, to get them autographed by  by Mr. Salgado.

And then the week continued. Barbara found out that there was an exhibition by Alex Face – a Thai graffiti artist, who has created a unique and very iconic character – a three-eyed baby in a white rabbit costume….oh so many metaphors wrapped up in a single character.

This is the little guy, you can find him all over town. There is always some mischief in the images or in this case the sculpture.


A semi-extended middlefinger hidden behind a naked butt. “I like your style, man.”

I have  to say, though, the images simply look better as graffities on building walls, than as acrylic paint on canvas. But it was still a great Sunday afternoon.

then I need to show this image. Because it shows the artists “paint station” or work space, if you will.

This workspace reminds me of the Latin saying: “Ordo Ab Chao” – Order from Chaos. And to me, there is a lot to discover – this workspace tells a story.

Alright, stay sharp people and keep it real and in case you cross path with an icon of youres, enjoy the heck out of the moments that it lasts.
cheers Markus \m/

Let’s Play Pretend…

…just like Alice, of Wonderland fame.I recently got a car – my absolute dream car of dream cars. In fact so much a dream car, that I have no illusion of ever owning  a real one. it is the Porsche 550. to me the most beautiful car ever designed.

But I get ahead of myself. Before we continue, we have to properly enter our pretend land. down the spiral staircase we fall.


Hard landing, but here we are in the “right movie”, because this is the movie where we are the protagonist and where we drive a sweet Porsche 550. In fact it is the Carrera Panamericana Winner of our old buddy Hans Herrmann, parked right there.

We have 1500cc, distributed equally on 4 opposed cylinders producing a 110hp placed perfectly behind us and the rear axle, to propel a 550kg car forward. And because we are day dreaming, we are lean, mean driving machines, not having an ounce of excess body fat, thus our weight has not much impact on the driving experince.


Look at that silouette from above – to me this is what every car since should strive to become. Imagine the wind in your hair as your take sweeping turn after turn, enjoying the rush. No music blaring, no distractions, just you the car the road, the landscape, the raspy screaming of engine and the apex of the next turn where you feel the acceleration again. That’s the ticket. 

Unfortunately, our day-dreaming session is coming to an end. so one last quick look at the beautiful rear end, the one all other drivers have enjoyed viewing and then it’s back to life.


cheers, stay sharp and dare to dream big 

Markus \m/

Moroccan Wall-Art

The same trip that yielded Wall Art From Spain, also yielded Wall Art from Morocco and that is what today’s entry will cover.

Now, Morocco, I suppose has different attitude towards what I call Wall Art, gratifies and stenciling are not yet wide-spread. But if you keep both eyes wide open, you can catch it.

Skateboard

Alright, I know this is very much clichée. “A Skateboard, Markus, really?!”, Yes a skateboard. We did not see any skaters while in Morocco, but, hey it’s the intention that counts, right….expanded Olympic Spirit, people.

To collect the images for this entry, I had to cast a wider net for the picture, be a little more inclusive, lower the bar slightly for entry. Spain by contrast has been exposed to Western Urban Life a lot longer and thus “Wall Art” is more accepted and has become part of the art understanding. In Morocco, not quite so much , yet. But, as you will see, they’ll get there, too.

PrancingHorse

advertisement fo a cyber-cafe (internet cafe) and a prancing horse. Now the prancing horse can go four different ways. 1) Someone is a Ferrari fan. 2) Someone is a Porsche fan 3)Someone is a prancing horse fan. 4) Someone really got carried away and thought of the Prancing Horse Inn from the Lord Of The Rings.

UltraStickmen

On the left side of the corner, you can see some football vandal art (I am being generous), while on the right side of the corner, you can see primitive stickman art (still being generous).

WallInRuins

These are actual paintings on house walls. These used to be inside walls (where antiauthoritarian parents reminded their children gently….very gently to use their “inside voice”).

Chefchaouen5-Beverages

This is a handprinted advertisement for a tea shop, that also feature orange juice. Apparently one must also not part inferno too this wall. The other stuff might actually say:”Markus Is An Idiot”, I haven idea, I cannot read Arabic, I can speak a bit. I can make people hurry up in Arabic and I can say “Hello”, and I can say:”The next stop is…” – no reading though.

ScalesOfFez

Behind this door are the official scald of the leather market in Fez. These scales have been behind tis ancient wooden door for over 2000 years – I made that all up, but some of you were gasping impressedly. No, I just saw the scales, but what I really needed was a reason to take a picture of what looks like a butt sitting on a very uncomfortable rock – I do not get that picture. Someone put effort into it and painted it, however.

AngryBarber

Clearly, this is a handprinted sign for a hair dresser. One must hope that hair dressing is the person’s true calling, because most people, I surmise, would not want to have the equivalent haircut of this painting.

Chefchaouen1

Now we are entering Chefchaouen, in the Rif mountains. This place is one of my favorite villages in the world. Why? Because it is very very soothing and relaxing. The entire Medina in the city is painted in shades of blue and white. Apparently, someone is selling onions. Or maybe the onion to the right is code for weed, because there were sweet Mary Jane field just outside the city. people would go on these easy half day hikes outside the city and come back oh-so-mellow and laid back.

Chefchaouen3-Steps

Look at this, here “Wall Art” is all around, the whole city is Wall Art – very cool place.

Chefchaouen2-Door

Heck even house entries are special. The white and blue mixed with an “M.C.Escher-esque” tile mosaic.

Chefchaouen4-SunflowerAne even though there is no painting pr se, I still had to include this lonely, yet proud Sunflower in its blue pot.

 

And now it is time for me to go to bed, so I am sharp again tomorrow.

Sayonara readership and you, too, stay sharp.

Yours Markus \m/

Spontaneous And Covert Art In Spain

I was browsing through my photographic inventory, where I stumbled upon images of a cool trip Barbara made go on to. In the Fall a few years ago, life handed us some extended time off. So we decided to go to the south of Spain and the north of Marocco – I had’t been to either. When looked at the images from Spain, I rediscovered, tat I had been impressed by all the public art in Granada, Cordoba, Seville and Madrid. These painting ranged fro original graffities created under cover of moonless nights through deliberate paintings commissioned by shop owners to project the mood and feel of the shop. So, without further ado, we go.

Cafe1How cool is the mural on the side of a street cafe? Life starts later in Spain, because I shot this at around 9:00 in the morning and the city was still VERY quiet. Yet, the painting is great with strong colors conveying dynamic.

BikiniLady

Hmm, interestingly this store was already closed when i took this image – early evening. Well, it’s only fair. When you start late you need to make it up by closing earlier – it’s common sense, dammit. The image, looks to me like a chubby skimpily dressed lady…well she seems to be confident. And who doesn’t like a confident woman.

AlcaldeYTimo

Then there as this stenciled spray art. They reminded me of Laurel and Hardy. I have to say, I admire artist who can create stencils and make expressive art with only very few colors.

BGFF

Same thing with this stencil painting. Here apparently they stenciled over a turquoise thing, that either was not very good or never got finished. Anyway, it works for me.

Cafe2

This is the other wall bonding the outside seating area of the cafe form the first image – Señora Amelia. Very life-like, the face seems to have experienced a lot.

ChemSmokingClub

In Madrid, we saw this shop – of course closed, it was only abbots 11:00 in the morning. A Smoker’s lounge. However, I wonder what the Chemical is the Smoking Club might mean. As far as i know weed and anything else north thereof is illegal in Spain. So I suppose they just went with a cool sounding name, but it stops at Cohibas. Anyway, it is bad-ass. Come to think of it – I was bad-ass. Now it’s just a T-shirt graphic. The new bad-ass is the photos of all the illnesses caused by smoking on the packs – gross.

Flamenco1

Part one of a flaking-off painting on a Flamenco Club – love it, though.

Flamenco2

And here is part two – I love it when an artist possesses the ability to capture the essence of something with a simple gesture – the is enviable to me. The crossed wrists and the elegantly spread fingers….so much grace.

MenInBlack

When I first saw this stencil painting, I felt reminded of a young Barack Obama, then an unknown rapper. But when I look at it now, he looks like Trevor Noah, the new host of the Daily Show. I am curious what memories the image of this guy triggers for you.

HeadNBike

This mural I love, because it is so beautifully surreal. If you click on the photo to see it larger, you will recognize how much is going on in the cross section of a head. And in all honesty, that only barely scratches the surface of what really going on in a true man’s head.

SheDevil

A SheDevil – often the things that are most tempting will only bring destruction to a person’s life. Look, I will be honest. I love chocolate, but I know that it is NOT GOOD FOR ME! Thus, I do this abstinence numbers every once in a while until I can’t manage the craving anymore and then……I…..think…Baseball,…. ice-cubes,….football to the groin,……chalk squeaking on black board – because I am a fu#$%ng rational person in control all…..and everyone of the voice in my head agree all with me,Heart-N-Brain

Here we can go deep into interpretation land. What is the message of this stencil? Literally, I appears to promote a dialog between brain and the heart. Henri Cartier Breton once said, that photography is the perfect alignment of one’s eye, the brain, heart, camera and event to be captured. This would fit, too. Go, ponder this over a nice cup of hot chocolate and a good butter cookie.

FaceOfSuffering

This mural speaks to me because of the context it is in. The place was shuttered, the wall the painting is on, is closing what I surmise must have been an entrance. The face is sleeping. There are signs all over setting boundaries, which no one cares for. It displays a certain sleepiness and hopelessness, which is in contrast to the fresh and vivacious yellow of the building wall.

RamirezBlinds

Then of course we have to have an image of something that is borderline to vandalism. Hm, if Señor Ramirez feels generous as the owner of these blinds, he might think:”Well everyone must to start some time some where.” Of course, such generosity must blanket the underlying question:”Dios Mio, why the hell my store? Why not somewhere else first and then you come back when you are good, preferably desirable and recognized. Pendejo”

TattooParlourOur closer is the garage door of a tattoo shop in Madrid – nuff said.

I think this is pretty much it. Stay sharp readership. A note to my American readership:”Trump, really?”.

Cheers your faithfully, Markus \m/

 

1273 Days Ago At The Train Station

A few years ago my friend Joe and I went on a Photo Safari through Bangkok. We try to do that every year. It’s great and I really cherish this one week every year, because we expand our friendship with new shared experiences, new sight and loads of shooting the shit. In the last few days I have perused through photos from the last five years, where I stumbled over a trip we took to the train station. Thailand has a railroad company and a railroad system – and it is wonderfully old and used and shows great patina. I know in any other place in the world patina on a railroad system would be referred to as wear. But here I think it is more patina than wear – there is a beauty to it.

While the train system is in pretty heavy use, Bangkok’s Central Station still has spots that look like it is just waking up from a long fairy tale nap – kissed back to life by some prince on a white horse.

When I look along the narrowing gap between the carriages, it’s almost as if I can look back in time.


If these weeds were roses, it would a the railroad equivalent of the sleeping beauty. But there is more to see at Hua Lompong. There are visual metaphors for the state Thailand is in. Thailand is at a fork as a country – choices must be made. The ASEAN community is putting Thailand under economic pressure – evolve or fall behind; fall behind quicker the more time passes. Following the right track means smooth rolling in the long run, following the wrong track may lead to derailment.


It may also mean just the end of the line, a place where the shards of shattered dreams lie to rot.


Uuuuh, I am getting philosophical….better stop that. Anyway (is the word I am looking for), there is plenty to see at Hua Lompong and if it is just the convergence of tracks and carriages in the distance under an ominous afternoon sky.


Cool, this concludes our little excursion to Bangkok’s hidden gem, the train station beyond the platforms and travelers.
Stay sharp and keep an eye open for life, it happens all around you all the time.

Cheers Markus \m/

Bagan

Two months ago, we went on a long weekend trip to Myanmar. We flew into Mandalay and the by taxi to Bagan. I did not have much of an idea what to expect. So let me give you the lay of the land. Bagan is a huge flat area – a former flood plain. In that expansive area there are hundreds of temple buildings. That sounds quite interesting. The area is bounded in the East and West by mountain ridges. But unless you are born with wings, found a way to defeat gravity or spent $400 on a 20min balloon ride, you likely cannot fully enjoy the sight. The sight is best enjoyed from above – way above, by plane, balloon or jet-pack (which I have been assured by my 2nd grade teacher, some forty years ago, we would all have by now). BaganSunriseAnyway, here we go. This is what Bagan looks like when you are an earth-walking mortal.Being the early birds we are, we got us at the crack of dawn. The temples make for a nice silhouette, with the sun crawling over the mountain ridge behind us in the East. On a rented electric scooter you drive around and about between the ruins. This mode of transportation is quite advanced, because it keeps everything quiet and un-polluted. My lungs went through carbon-everything withdrawl – living in Bangkok, air that is only dusty was very new to us.

TempleLandscapeWe moved on and up the ladder of impressiveness to the next temple.

TempleUpWhen I see this temple, I can’t help but imagine that Space Alien would rather land here, than in Washington D.C., where we are made to believe they blow up the Capitol all the time. Now, I think if I were a clueless space alien looking for something impressive with a pointy finish on top to get out of my blowy-uppy mood, I’d give this a good look. But then I am not a space alien in a blowy-uppy mood and thus I just enjoyed the visit until we moved on.TempleLargeThis was something like the Madison Square Garden of Bagan in its Hey-Day or for my German readership – Think Schalke Arena, sans retractable roof. This is pretty impressive and also the first temple you can enter.CoolWindowWhere ever you can enter, normally, there are places to look outside. What you see here is an early experimental stage of glass – we are still working on the transparent properties of this window glass. The decorations and reliefs they had patt down already…very impressive and beautiful.DoorGroovesI had to take this image, because ti shows the grooves in the floor, made by the door locks. BhuddaAbgledBecause these were all temples and not so much palaces for some despotic ruler, there are many statues of the good Lord Buddha gazing compassionately.BuddhaFullFrontalBecause it is very quiet in Bagan, the mood inside the buildings is somber and relaxing.

FirstTempleView from one of the temples we visited. You can see against the horizon, that there are many pagoda roofs piercing into the sky.BaganSunsetAt the end of  the day, the tourists ride their scooters home, wondering if the batteries may last or if they have to pedal the scooter home. SInce, I embrace danger (except snakes, I run and cry like a little French girl when it comes to snakes), we stayed to the bitter end and enjoyed sunset viewing.

A small side note on snakes: A lot of travel guides warn of the snakes – Cobras and what not. We were cautious and we did not see any. For which I was very glad. In summary, Bagan was a nice trip, but if you need to decide between Bagan and say Angkor – choose Angkor, no question. If the choice is between Bagan and say Ayutthaya Thailand – choose Bagan.

And that closes this entry.

Stay sharp and keep it real.

Markus \m/