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I don’t spend nearly enough time on rooftops

Venetian pavement 2009

A man walks up Krúdy Gyula utca carrying a pair of chopsticks… No joke. I was stting outside Fictiv enjoying a Saturday evening constitutional, and had his progress in full view. Eyes down, he would stop very so often and use the chopsticks to prise coins from the pavement joints. What a way to make a living. Two memories came to mind: one of this footpath in Venice and another of the start of the old Mary Tyler Moore show.  In stark contrast, she always walked with her head held high. Her view of the world was slightly different to most.

(C) Steve Fareham

Back when I was living in London, S&P came to visit. We were wandering around Piccadilly as S wanted to see the Piccadilly divers. I was convinced she was raving. I have a thing about statues, and couldn’t believe I’d missed something that obvious. I was sure she had the wrong address. But there they were. My problem? I’d never taken the time to look up.

While in Zagreb last year, I spent an amazing afternoon at the cemetery and took lots of carefully chosen photographs. And yet, just last week, when looking for photos, I came across one I don’t remember. I remember taking it, but I don’t remember seeing it.  I don’t remember it being so deep.

Looking at another of Kerényi Zoltán’s photo albums, perspective comes to mind, yet again. Taken from the rooftops of Budapest, they give a completely different focus to the city. I though I knew the city well, but there are some vantage points that I cannot place. I’ve probably passed them a hundred times but have never seen them from this particular angle. I don’t spend nearly enough time on rooftops.

As Ani Difranco said When I look down, I miss all the good stuff. When I look up I just trip over things. It’s all a matter of perspective.

Something old, something new

It’s not often that I get to see how a number of choices meld together to create something that actually works. Even more so when you’re making those choices in the hope that it will all come together but you know that it could just as well go completely wrong as go completely right. I’m jazzed. I struck lucky.

At lunch last week, the inimitable Mr F started waxing lyrically about this photograph he’d gotten as a birthday present. When explaining to me that  it captured a Russian tank on fire in front of McDonalds on Blaha Lujza tér didn’t work, he pulled out his iPhone to show me another photo of WWII parachutists in the sky over modern-day Budavár. I still wasn’t getting it but infectious as his enthusiasm is, I knew it was worth following up. So when he sent the link, I clicked – and I began to understand what he meant by superimposing old photos on new.

Rószák tere 1936 and 2011

Kerényi Zoltán started posting to this album earlier this year. Nothing much happened for a few weeks and then some blogger picked it up and it went viral. I must have been out of the country to have missed it. He gets some old photos, finds out where they were taken, goes back to the original spot, takes a new photo, and then inserts the old into the new. The difficultly is no so much finding the original places, apparently, but finding the right lens, angle, light to make the fit work. The result is this interesting take that gives you the best of both worlds – a window from the present to the past. Suddenly the juxtapositon of a burning Russian tank and the golden arch of McDonalds didn’t seem so implausible.

Halászbástya 1975 and 2011

I have this inexplicable need for things to be signed. American author Evan Esar maintains that a signature always reveals a man’s character – and sometimes even his name. Perhaps that’s what intrigues me. Be it a book, a painting, a photograph, a ceramic ashtray, I want it signed by the person behind it. It makes it more real. And for signatures, you need matting. Trouble is, this word does not translate into Hungarian. Nor can you buy precut matts in assorted sizes. There’s a market there for someone. And it’s nigh on impossible to find a readymade frame in Budapest that has not been made in China.

Getting photos or paintings framed in Budapest is right up there with tooth extractions on my list of least favourite things to do. Choosing the matting and the frame; deciding on the size, the look; taking the effect I want it to have out of my head and articulating it in such a way that I get what I want and praying that what I want actually works – that all adds up to stress. Bringing someone along for a signature (or a second opinion) is even more stressful as I’m likely to be talked into choices I know won’t work. But work they do. Am jazzed. Nice work Mr K. Nice work. Am so glad I ignored the denim blue.