Embroidered silk. Taffeta. Suspended in motion. Nylon and wild silk. Rouge. Jewellery brooch. Pearl necklace. Eyeliner. Natural smile. Standards. Dance steps. Exuberance. Platinum blonde.
These words and things. Their resonance, when said aloud, contains their age. Words as if from a used goods store from another era. Things that have different names these days. Things that have barely left a trace. And yet, they are all there in this slide. There is the natural smile from back then, there is the man’s hand marking the beat, the cigar that wafts the smoke of evening party pleasures through the room.
In the flash of these contours, these sketches of a standard of life, the sketches of an ascribed person, a duplication takes place. Roles. A play on identity.
The film pulled. The film wind-on snagged. A photograph overlapped the previous one. Snapped by the left hand of the cigar-smoker, while the man’s right hand follows in time to the dancing women, – and here, a line of thought inserts the fading sound of the word ladies – framing them with smoke and gesticulation.
Celebration – also a word that is becoming rare. Ritualised pleasure. The ladies’ dance. The room full of smoke and warmth from movement. Lipsticked lips. Twisting and spinning bodies. Shifting to the music and the others’ glances.
In the foreground, in the glaring, dissolving light, a white, pale man’s hand. Supportive and yet dominant. The flash, an indicator of the half-darkened room where people are dancing, makes the hand into a white shadow. The gesture of the hand is a chance claim, I have lived and I have lived like this: In rhythmic motion, in the over-exposure of photographic technique, in the moment of celebration. And for the length of the ladies’ natural smile. Birgit Szepanski
The only true thing
The only true thing in photography is the exposure. The only true thing in photography is the light reading. The only true thing in photography is memory, which overlies past things: happiness for example.
The only true thing in this photograph is that the film was not wound on. The only true thing in this photograph is the double or triple light reading (or the multiple dimension of light, as photographic cabbalists put it). A tangible flaw, in other words.
The only true thing in this photograph is that its happiness will not be wound on but will be exposed at the same place time and again, perhaps to the present day, superimposed and steeped in technical photographic jargon, frozen in memory, just like it was.
The only true thing in this photograph is the smile, the dream behind those closed eyes that triggered the photograph. To overlap so many smiles is a coincidence, or perhaps it was no such thing, or maybe alcohol played a role too in the various points of view of those in the photo, or perhaps there is simply no explanation for it…
The only true thing in this photograph is that is makes us think about reality while letting us join the party in retrospect. The only true thing in this photograph is the philosophical reflection on whether we think or celebrate in photographs, or if we use language, as Wittgenstein on occasion believed he had to caution us against. The only true thing in this slide is that we project ourselves on to it and make a performance out of it if we wish; and that despite this, everything stays, as it was/is. Rainer Totzke