While watching Ruben Brandt, collector a film by Milorad Krstic (Ruben Brandt, Collector, 2018) I came to realise how much this semester has impacted on me. For a creative soul, it is a film well worth watching and, it will be impossible for me to summarise such a comprehensive piece of brilliance. So, if you want to and haven’t seen it, then I suggest you stop reading this blog and watch it first.
In a way, the movie is a metaphorical reflection or psychoanalysis of my experience. The lectures, reading material and videos invaded my mind and started to haunt me. I woke up early in the morning, thoughts and ideas churning in my mind. It became an obsession that I could not put it aside, even throughout the day. However, I won’t go as far as saying it was nightmarish! It was as exciting as a good crime novel.
In the movie, the words, collector and thief, was assimilated into one and seem to jump at me directly from Susan Sontag essay “In Plato’s Cave” in her book “On Photography”. As much as I want to disassociate myself from this unethical position, I will accept that in this semester, I was both driven by a similar desire and compassion. I wanted to own these art pieces. Like Krstic, I “stole” ideas from artists like Brassai, David Goldblatt, Maria Meseilas. And the list continues… I was filled with the desire to collect their work and cannot pass a bookstore or website without going in to “steal” or collect these works.
It all started with David Goldblatt’s “Structure of Dominion and Democracy”, which is a compilation of the best photographs from five of his publications.
- On the Mines
- Some Afrikaners Photographed
- Kas Maine
- In Boksburg
- The Transported of Kwandebele
- Structures of Dominion
I followed it up with “Brassai Paris” which is a compilation of his best photographs from six of his publications:
- Minotaure magazine
- Paris at Night
- Secret Paris
- Day Visions
- Artists of my life
- Graffiti and transmutations
The insatiable desire continued:
- Paul Weinberg’s- “Traveling Light” and “Traces and Tracks”
- Cloete Breytenbachs “The spirit of District Six”
- Roger Ballen”s “Boarding house”
- “Voices from the land” by Jurgen Schadenberg
- “Johannesburg the Cosmopolitan City” by Lauren Huges
- “Beyond Bagamoyo” by Obie Oberholzer.
I pursued a scarce book “The Cordoned Heart” Edited by Omar Badsha. After a deliberate search, I managed to get a secondhand copy from the United States as this book is not in print anymore. This book was created by many people associated with the Carnegie Commission’s Second Inquiry into Poverty and Development in South Africa in 1980, but ultimately it resulted in an astounding collective of many contributing photographers involved in socio-documentary photography:
- “Lesotho: Road to the mines”,”Kew Town” and “Newspaper Vendors” by Paul Alberts
- “Venda” by Chris Ledechowsky
- “Cross Roads” by Paul Alberts and Chris Ledechowsky
- “Baphutatswana: The Casino State” by Joseph Alphers
- “Segregated Weekend” by Joseph Alphers and Michael Davies
- “The haven Night Shelter” by Michael Barry
- “Pensioners”, “Asinamali” and “Imjondolo” by Omar Badsha
- “The People Organise” by Omar Badsha and Rashid Lombard
- “George” by Bee Berman
- “The Night Riders of KwaNdebele ” by David Goldblatt
- “Compounds” by Paul Konings and Ben Maclennan
- “Soweto” and “service Workers” by Lesley Lawson
- “Sheep Shearers of the Karoo” by Jimi Mathews
- “From Kammieskraal to Peddie by Ben Maclennan
- Houtbay by Gideon Mendel
- “Border industries” by Cedric Nunn
- “Women from Umbumbulu by Myron Peters
- ” Beauford West by Berney Perez
- “Market Gardeners” by Jeeva Rajgopaul
- “Alex” and “Removals” by Wendy Schwegmann
- “Farm Labourers” and “Mpukonyoni” by Paul Weinberg
Another Gold nugget I recovered is a book by Darren Newbury “Defiant Images- Photography and Apartheid South Africa” which covers the Afripix photographers and their photography campaign against apartheid.
And the madness continues: I must get more!
The myriad of images in the movie made me research Milorad Krstic and his need to make this film. It is his first film, which he started to make at the age of sixty… my age. It took him six years to produce. He has been drawing and painting for most of his life.
When asked to describe the difference between drawing/painting, and animation? He made an astounding statement to which I can relate.
“My drawings and my paintings are my universes. The style, theme, and approach is all mine. (Of course, after learning from my teachers: Dürer, Goya, Picasso, and others.) I draw what I want and I draw it the way I want. There is no mercy, no rules, no self-censorship, no consulting with anybody else. I am God with the pencil and I don’t need any help. When I finish a good drawing, I am already awarded.” (Vollenbroek, 2018)
“A film is something else; it is made for the audience. In making [Ruben Brandt, Collector], I need the help of talented collaborators. I need feedback from the very beginning. I must take care of the advices. I don’t have to accept it, but I must think of it. I’m the captain of the ship, but the journey over the sea is the united work of all the crew.” (Vollenbroek, 2018)
For me, this resonated with the main learning of this module. let me elaborate: When it comes to personal photography work I feel the same as he does: The style, theme and approach is all mine. And, of course, I have been influenced by Brassaii, Goldblatt, Kertesz and many more… But I eventually take the photograph the way I want to. I am God with my Camera and I don’t need any help. When I am done taking the photograph I am already rewarded. In a way, my documentary projects are still fully in my control. My current wedding photography is a collaborative commercial project between my staff for an audience, however, creatively I am fully in control.
However, if I want to grow as a commercial photographer, I need to learn how to work on corporate or collaborative personal assignments. I will need the help of skilled collaborators. I will need their feedback throughout, I must consider their advice. But like Krstic I will need to take on assignments that allow me to lead the vision, do something I believe in, and which I feel I can grow in. Become the captain of the ship and remember that the journey is the work of all the crew.
When asked “Making an animated feature film takes a lot of time compared to a painting. Ruben Brandt, Collector took six-and-a-half years, from development to completion. What made you want to dedicate years of your life to tell this story (Vollenbroek, 2018)?” He responded with a pearl of wisdom yet not taught in the course.: “I didn’t think about years. I want my day to be fulfilled with at least a good sketch or drawing (Vollenbroek, 2018) .”
For me, this is the challenge. To be fulfilled with at least one photograph per day. It will lead to a story… my story! Not merely a becoming a collector or thief! But a creative in my own right. Furthermore, it will lead to a creative vision, personal or corporate assignment idea to which I would like to dedicate my time. Even if, like him, I need to motivate and pitch for myself and get someone to give me a grant.
Thanks for the therapy, Ruben Brandt!
Ruben Brandt, Collector. (2018). [film] Directed by M. Krstic. Hungary: Ruben Brandt.
Vollenbroek, T. (2018). Interview: Milorad Krstić On His Action-Crime Thriller ‘Ruben Brandt, Collector’. [online] Cartoon Brew. Available at: https://www.cartoonbrew.com/feature-film/interview-milorad-krstic-on-his-action-crime-thriller-ruben-brandt-collector-162807.html [Accessed 20 Dec. 2019].
Krstic, M. (2018). Ruben Brandt, Collector Poster. [image] Available at: (https://m.media-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BOGQ3N2E3ODQtYjVkMi00MDZlLWIzMzMtMGNlYmRjODkxMzY0XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyOTgxNDIzMTY@.V1_SY1000_CR0,0,675,1000_AL.jpg) [Accessed 24 Dec. 2019].
Ruben Brandt (2018). Omage to Brassai Rue Cuincampoix 1932 in Ruben Brandt, Collector. [image] Available at: https://m.media-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BYmI1NzNhZjgtZTViMC00MjFlLWE3NzYtNDdiMjUzOTA1YWQ3XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNzI1NzMxNzM@.V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,740_AL.jpg [Accessed 24 Dec. 2019].
Rubin Brandt (2018). Hopper’s Nighthawks from Ruben Brandt, Collector. [image] Available at: https://m.media-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BOWU4MzdlZDMtYTM2NS00NGU4LTgyZjgtZjE4NmZiZWUxN2EwXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNzI1NzMxNzM@.V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,999_AL.jpg [Accessed 24 Dec. 2019].