A portrait: some face, a gaze, mimics; scentless, soundless moment out of time; skin with bones and muscles underneath. We sense there is something hidden, a story, a soul which, according to Indian beliefs, can be stolen.
A portrait told by an object.
Two eggshells, an old teabag, an empty milk bottle, a used condom, some torn up bills, a plastic bag, and Xanax box. The content of my rubbish bin. We leave traces every day. Pieces of our lives. We collect them and throw away to a box; biography chunks all gathered in a rubbish bin.
What story will be found among tomorrow`s leftovers? Will they immediately know who I am? What I did. How much I ate. If I pay my bills regularly. What I suffer from. What I do. If I live alone or with a partner. What my disposition is. What secret I hide.
During my trip to Australia I saw them in many places, standing all together on zebra crossing, hiding timidly behind a fence, lying messily in scorching sun on a side. Identically shaped yet different; with a yellow, green, sometimes blue cover. Some sprayed, others perfectly clean, sometimes overloaded with stuff boiling onto the street. Every single one with its unique character, looks; like humans who brought them to life, feeding every day and taking care of them.
We are flooded with technology, Google Earth, 80 million photo cameras, tracks filled with photo equipment following a photographer in order to take a single picture.
I’m leaving it all behind and going back to basics. Once, a small reporter camera with a photographic film, today a mobile and Instagram with over 100 million users two years after its creation.
The most popular medium today, easy and fast, no professional skills needed; everybody can become a photographer.
The photos supplement fictional texts; confabulation, trying to interpret a confrontation with an object; a confrontation which has never occurred. While in classic portrait photography a contact between a creator and an object is a prerequisite for the final effect, here it is impossible. A photographed object doesn`t realize it, has no awareness of the fact that what may seem dispensable can prove the very reason for creating a new, alternative picture of it.
Gray has always been a step ahead. She has always liked riding a motorcycle, parties and jumping over a bonfire. The coolest of the whole gang was Ruben. Ruben has been the strongest and liked jumping over a bonfire too. Sometimes they sat next to each other by the fire and listened to the sound of sea. Silence was not uncomfortable, it appeared to be natural and full of joy. She has never felt so close to anyone. But Gray has not left her then boyfriend and went after Ruben. Then the marriage came, and kindergartens, schools and anniversaries with ever bigger numbers. No one called Gray that name anymore. But at times Gray took the car and drove out of town. She has been stopping at a spot where Pine Road turned inland. Slowly, she has been getting out of the car and looking at an empty beach.
Anna and Christopher is an interesting case. They met in college and from the first meeting they have spent the whole time together. For the next years they spend together every spare moment and nothing mattered, not the weather outside, nor the value of electricity bills, when they can spend time together. Anna is very resourceful but at the same time temperamental, all the time she reads horoscopes excitedly. Christopher on the other hand is more toned down, at times even haughty – especially when holding a book by his favorite Faulkner.
No job is too humble my father used to say and actually think. And this is what I keep saying to my sons: a real man is not afraid of any job. He wasn’t afraid of a job even when the pay was low, and it sometimes was. At the age of 8 he was working gathering harvest of opuntia on a farm near El Sol. Then as a car mechanic, as a salesman at a store with batteries, for a while he also was a touter for a barber shop called “Juanita” – but only because Juanita has insisted. Because Antonio is a joyful man who grins at everybody. But life does not always pay back for a smile. At his last job, after two months of delaying the salary, the parking lot owner disappeared with no trace. Antonio was furious. It is the second week now, that he drags along his colleague and since morning they wait for the owner to come back. So that justice may prevail. Now Antonio smiles. He waits bitter in the dust of Sierra Madra mountains in scorching sunlight.
In certain abrupt moments an indefinable feeling of emptiness appears. It is difficult to describe – it just hangs in the air. Hangs above him. When Michael feels this anxiety he drinks. He drinks for weeks, from dawn to dusk, and no one is able to stop him. Sometimes he wakes up in unknown to him places and has no idea how did he get there.
Johnny already knows who he will be in the future. Not a firefighter and not a policeman as other boys. He does not want to be a doctor or a politician either. Johnny wants to be a pilot. He will walk through the runway briskly, and then sit behind control sticks and lift heavy machines into skies, he will watch as the runway fades away and becomes smaller until it disappears from his visual field.
Then he will be one on one with the world’s entire air! And he will be in possession of something that no one in town has: all the clouds… and boundless blue, which we can only observe raising our heads up high.
Life in a poor district is not easy, especially when it is ruled by mafia bosses. Nick does not want to tell us how he had got into this world. However, we may presume he was allured by the promise of never- ending fun and cheap crack which he used way too often. At least at the beginning. When Nick realised what this whole business was about it was too late. This is not a story about Nick, though. It is about his older brother Andy. When Andy realised what he got involved in, his brother was starting his adventure with mafia. In order to win their trust he had to rob the pharmacy he worked in and then set a car of another gang member on fire. He was really scared, even when mafia bosses promised to secure him. He knew he was supposed to protect his brother. There was no one else who could do it. Andy completely changed his life, he broke up with his girlfriend and sold almost everything he had, including his flat. By doing that, he could be able to pay his debts he never incurred. This; however, did not matter, since they were all the bosses’ rules and they should obviously be obeyed.
Robert was not convinced about his marriage. He could not explain why but finally he agreed. After a year, he realised his wife Anna was no longer attractive for him. However, it was not all about her. He was not into women any more.
Finally, he admitted he was drawn to men. He never plucked up his courage to tell this secret to anyone. He did not reveal why he sometimes sneaked out from home and came back late or why he set up a password on his computer. Keeping this whole thing a secret was mastered to perfection. He is the only person who knows all fantasies which are located in his mind. Anna; however, supposes she knows his secret. It seems not so hard to notice who draws more attention of her husband when they travel or do shopping . She has not plucked up her courage yet to just ask him about it.
This summer has been the hottest one for a very long time. Richie and Mark decided to get into fashion world in the future. In fact, they deal with this industry now whenever possible. They start their day from reading the latest entries on The Satorialist or Hypebeast, sometimes they check out Anna dello Russo too. Next thing they do is to pick some clothes to wear. This; however, takes plenty of time since their wardrobes are full of clothes and quite messy too. When they finally get dressed and stand out from the crowd they call Elena and are ready to do some shopping. Mainly they choose H&M or similar outlet stores where one can find valuable things not getting ripped off. All they lack is money to make tattoos. They are so important. Although they both have one but it is not enough for them. They want to be covered with full body tattoo designs like guys from Wiliamsburg in Brooklyn. They have a lot of ideas what they should present but first they want to get into school and start their real career in the world of fashion.
Applicants who submit an application to Menzies Foundation can do it in person in the office of the secretary from 9.00 a.m. to 2.00 p.m. or online. Everyone can submit an application; however, it is examined by a group of specialists who come from wealthy families and are rather insentitive to problems of low-life families. Not all applications are evaluated positively. An application of a young Aborigine boy called Burnum has just been rejected. Burnum is the most talented boy in the whole village, that is why, his family travelled over 600 kilometres just to protest. Unfortunately, when they reached their destination, the office of the secretary had already been closed. ‘We can wait until morning or even longer’ –says the boy’s mother to other family members. Eventually, the word ‘Burnum’ means ‘a great warrior’ in their language.
Mike has always been exceptional, very sensitive and extremely careful. His favourite moment during the whole week is dinner on Sunday when the family gathers together at the table and he feels everything is perfect. He does not like going out but when he finally does, he is unwilling to leave that place. On his way back home so many strange situations may happen, completely unpredictable. They scare him. After he graduated, he became a warehouseman. Although there were not very dangerous chemical substances, he was very cautious when he relocated the packages or containers. When he starts his shift, he always turns off the radio which is left on, by the fool Raul. He feels definitely better when he is surrounded by silence.
Sometimes all the world needs is order. At least it is Dominika’s and Antoni’s opinion. In the country they come from everything was in order. At home, in families and in the way of thinking. Order was present everywhere. When the family gathered at Christmas, everything was perfectly organized and everyone knew his or her place in the family. Here in Australia, everything seems to be upside down. People eat at night instead of in the morning. They sleep the whole day after a night spent in a disco. Young people are at their sharpest and instead of going to work they just wander around. On the other hand, old people instead of resting, attend universities and get up at 6.00 a.m. to go jogging. Constantly you can hear someone speaking a completely strange language, Indian people fight to get a place in the government and men walk the streets holding each other’s hands. Fortunately, they have their own order as well as each other. She has him, he has her. The only last two people who know that everything just should be organized differently.
Sometimes it seems as if life left you no choice. A person is born in the wrong place and time and he or she constantly encounters some kind of problems. This is; however, not true. A rule like that does not exist. Jim sets a perfect example. When he was born, his parents had already been drinking alcohol for a long time. A probation officer filed a petition to terminate parental rights, the court; however, did not accept it. Apart from the fact, Jim had spent his life in horrible conditions, he was not addicted. With a burden like this, each day is very hard. Jim has already graduated from high school. Now he is preparing to get into university. He does not know how he is going to get by yet but he believes it is possible. The most important thing is not to look back.
All texts by: Radek Kotapka