So these are trying times we are living in. At first, it all seemed harmless enough, a talk of a new virus in China far away, far away.
Then the images of people getting grabbed in the street and forcibly being put in quarantine. We thought they were really exaggerating.
Just a month ago, I was at the printing house controlling the quality of the photos for my latest photo exhibition. A few days later I had my opening and talked to so many people.
Now I am back in Vienna, mostly at home with my 10 year old daughter except when we go shopping or for our daily exercise walk around the park which has now been closed.
Things change so quickly nowadays. First you could go to the park, enjoy the fresh air, witness the first signs of spring appearing. The first buds on the trees, smell the first blooms, sit on a bench, write or photograph at will.
Then no more park. Gates closed, looking at the emptiness of a space that should be full of life. Now we can only go around and see the big walls and the top of trees. Everything looks the same minus the people. Even the crows and pigeons look confused. Some on our side of the wall, staring at us, surely wondering why all the humans are on this side now.
Then came the closing of all shops, including my favourite, bookshops. I was not prepared, I did not plan ahead. I was living in denial too.
As we are not living in Austria at the moment we only have a very small apartment in Vienna. Living in such a small space is not easy but I’m grateful we have at least a roof over our heads.
So what to do? Well I have a photo project I have been working on since before this happened. Before I had my office, my computer, my photo printer. Now all I have here is a laptop and a few of the photos I will use. As well as the stories… Whenever I have a quiet moment I try to get back to it. I take my time, it needs to feel right at this moment in such a confined space with many daily interruptions. An artist friend Saeed Ensafi, who is brilliant, just created a new logo for me. The next step is the design of a new website just for my photography, my exhibitions and projects.
Another thing that is helping me a lot to cope is books. I’m very grateful for my kindle and delivery services are still working so far.
Right now I have some inspiring photo books on the way that I will show you later. But for now let me tell you what I have been reading. I usually read several books at the same time.
My first thought when the Corona started to spread was the book “La Peste” or in English “The Plague” by Albert Camus.
It tells the story of when the plague appears in Oran in Algeria and it takes place in 1940. Some say it is an allegory related to the arrival of the Germans in Algeria during WW2 and the resistance of the people. Well, the way the book starts when after the first signs people try to ignore it and then the spread and the isolation they are forced to endure, it all came back to me. So I decided to reread it on my kindle. It is a fantastic book that tells you a lot about human nature but it is not a light read so you have to think if you are up to it.
I’m also reading Twyla Tharp’s “Keep it Moving”. I have already read her book “The Creative Habit” and I really liked it. As a dancer and choreographer now in her 70s, she gives really good advice about the creative process and how to keep it up. I think both books complement each other.
One book I also always refer to when I just need some relaxing time and that always inspires me is “The Photographer’s Playbook” edited by Jason Fulford and Gregory Halpern. It contains advice, stories and ideas from a number of photographers and other photography professionals.
Another inspiring book on the essence of creativity and how art can influence your work is Karl Ove Knausgaard’s book “So much longing in so little Space”. In it, he reflects about the painter Edvard Munch, the ideas behind his iconic paintings and how his art has influenced his own work as a writer. I really recommend it.
I confess it is easier for me to order english ebooks and books on amazon but if you have near you an indie or independent bookshop which can also deliver to your home, I suggest you support them. Some of them may not survive this crisis without your help!
When I work and while I read, I like to listen to music, so this week here are some of my favourites:
Not only because she happens to be my niece but because she is a great artist. Her music soothes and is a great companion. Her album SHHE is amazing. She also has other art projects. You should check it out.
He is an incredible musician. The Blue Notebooks is definitely my favourite album but Sleep is also good.
He is one of the most famous Iranian Setar players, also known internationally. One of his students was one of the women musicians I portrayed in my last exhibition (all will be revealed when my website is ready).
Great music and artistry. I’m currently listening to his album In the Blaze of Songs.
And that is all for this week. I leave you with some pictures I took while walking in Vienna. It is interesting how, when all else is taken away, your senses start getting sharper and you begin noticing details you may have overlooked before.
How are you staying inspired and busy? Would love to hear from you and get some of your recommendations too.
Happy walks, exercise, readings, get inspired and creative! Stay healthy and safe!