Week 5 and 6
Transcription of Video
My name is Andre Nagel and I consider myself to be a “Light Scribe…. “
Let me explain.
This photograph, by Gary Winogrand (Winogrand, 1969), resonate with me and my past in so many ways. The little boy on the bench looking at the world represents me. I was 10 years old when this picture was taken.
Slide 4 and 5
Ever since I opened my eyes to the world I was fascinated by light, shapes, lines, form, texture, the people and the world around me. From the start I felt the urge to talk and tell stories using pictures and build visual models in my head when describing complex theories.
At first, I just wanted to, as Gary Winogrant asserts, “see how something looked Photographed. (Directive, 2019).”
This is one of my earliest Photographs. I was learning to see light. The soft focus and reflection in the eyes have a certain dreaminess,and in this I see myself reflected in this picture. My teachers always said I was a dreamer.
It was my first attempt at doing a “Rembrandt” using window light. I can’t remember, but I was possibly reflecting Art works that my Dad shared with me. Today I see a bit of Julia Margret Cameron in it too.
I took this image of my cat, backlit with my study lamp in 1979.
A photograph reminisced of Brassaii’s Paris at night. However, for me it reflects on a time I deliberately removed myself from general societal issues.
I no longer involved myself with the lives of any communities outside the perimeter of my protected life of relative bliss; deciding that I had too much of politics and violence in my military years, I immersed myself into my studies, starting my own career and finding love.
However, The Poem by Rod Mckuen I added into my album, amplify how I felt about myself at that time. Especially the line: “I do not live within a lie. Because I do not live at all (Mcheuen, 1972).”
Before finding love of course…
In the same way this photograph haunted me. “As If I we needed something else to worry about. ” This is a quote from “A Tree of wooden glogg’s , 1978”. A film by Ermanno Olmi , which I saw in 1979.
It was a story about Young love, getting new clogs for the son, slaughtering the pig, and daily laboring in the fields, while being oblivious to the outside world, where the Italian revolution raged.
It’s exactly how I lived!
Ironically, this photograph juxtaposes the wealthy and the poor embracing each other.
Slide 9 and 10
Franklin in his book; “The documentary impulse”, write that “the documentary impulse is about human experience in all its range and complexities (Franklin , 2014).”
The impulse to document my life and that of those around me is prevalent in most of my photography.
I strive “to describe the world as I see it with my naked eye (Franklin, 2014).”
At first, I did not know how to define my photography, but two years ago, when doing the course: “Looking at Photographs” with the Museum of Modern Art, I realized that I have been primarily taking documentary photographs.
To Illustrate briefly, I present one of my photographs from a series I took while visiting Turkey in 2000. I used the repetition of the obelisk and towers to accentuate my sense of the intertwining of Egyptian, Roman and Turkish Histories and architectures.I missed the top of the obelisk because I used a 35mm Instamatic Camera.
Slide 12, 13
As part of my personal growth I started to study Theology and Philosophy. This introduced me to critical thinking, I found that things were changing in me at a deeper level and the way I see the world…
Some may call this the “dark night of my soul.” I died to my egotistical self.
As St John of the cross wrote in the last stanza of his Poem
“I abandoned and forgot myself,
laying my face on my Beloved;
all things ceased; I went out from myself,
leaving my cares ( The Value of Sparrows, 2019) ”
Slide 14, 15
This led me into a new phase of my photography. I was looking deeper…
It is what David DuCheman says: “When we look at our photographs and find not the slightest reflection of ourselves, it’s a good sign that our images have lost their souls (Duchemin, 2019).”
The digital age arrived, and my wedding business expanded at a rapid pace.
This new learnings,and the experience with some Social documentary work I did for the church, taught me storytelling, which found its way into my wedding photographs and my popularity increased.
My personal research led me to investigate ways in which I can make my photography more significant and to re-establish the links to my artistic self.
This newfound passion for photography, and the effort to develop myself made me realize how much I had to offer as an art and photography teacher.
As Frank Oppenheimer said: “The best way to learn is to teach (Oppenheimer 2019)!”
I developed training courses for amateurs and, in a way, this was my informal tertiary education. I was being inspired by the practices and photographs of the masters I was now referencing in my courses.
As Desmond Tutu said:
“We are all connected. What unites us is our common humanity. I don’t want to oversimplify things, but the suffering of a mother who has lost her child is not dependent on her nationality, ethnicity or religion. White, black, rich, poor, Christian, Muslim or Jew – pain is pain – joy is joy-(Huffington post, 2019).”
At first, I mentally changed my nationality from “Afrikaner” to “South African”.
In my mind I would no longer associate myself with a specific group being defined by race, creed or religion.
Taking a position require you to draw lines…“apartheid!”
More recently I have decided to even relinquish my position as a South African. I have become Egalitarian
I removed the following due to time constraints. < I am… just me. And you are just you…. No need for pretense to be accepted. Like every sparrow I am special to God or if you prefer the Universe. A Unique person, living in a world of special and unique people.>
This is a photograph taken at a retired apartheid Police general’s funeral. It was attended by Rightwing AWB members and his ex-colleagues; some which happened to be African. All unified in grief.
This new freedom from the constraints of my ego; conforming to someone else’s views on politics, nationalism, religion, and economics allow me to see people as people.
South African’s love sport. This moment was captured during the celebration of Wade Van Niekerk’s World record. The diversity of people celebrating the event, standing on a stairway, seem to celebrate our ascension from our past.
For my project I propose to use the Hegelian Dialectic as a basis to describe through images, our current societal development documenting the resolution of the conflict between Western Modernity and African Ubuntu.
I am heavily influenced by, what Sturken and Cartrwright describe as Colonial modernism or Paternal Modernity.
As a descendant from Europe, I tend to consider it better than any other philosophies.
The theory is that if Western Modernity was and is still seen as superior and influenced us, and keeps on influencing us, then I am a product of that philosophical system.
It presents the thesis of society before the handover of political power in South Africa in 1985
To explain: Using architecture as a theme.
This is the head office of Sasol – Originally a parastatal company created during the Apartheid era, to overcome the embargo on fuel by producing oil from Coal.
A Symbol of progress through Science.
Today they provide labor to over thirty-one thousand people in thirty two Countries.
“In Southern Africa we have a concept called Ubuntu – which is that you can’t exist as a human being in isolation. You can’t be human all by yourself. We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas what you do, what I do, affects the whole world. Taking that a step further, when you do good, it spreads that goodness; it is for the whole of humanity. When you suffer or cause suffering, humanity is diminished as a result (Desmond Tutu, Huffpost.com, 2019)”.
The anti-thesis is the African philosophy of Ubuntu, a Zulu word meaning “Humanity”. It has been prominent in the minds of African people, but I want to learn to see how they see it.
I want to capture this anti-thesis in my images.
It may allow me to change my gaze to something that is unfamiliar to me.
This is an architectural drawing of the Ubuntu center in the Zwide Township, Mandela Bay.
The Ubuntu centre currently feeds 2,000 poor children each day, provides holistic support to 3,500 clients and their families, delivers after-school education to 250 students, and issues HIV counselling and testing to 6,000.
If the Hegelian dialectic is a valid approach, then one can expect a natural synthesis of the two philosophies where conflicts will be resolved, and a new thesis be developed that is uniquely South African.
I want to also investigate if I can observe this synthesis in my photographs
This architectural drawing is of the latest retail space in Midrand.
“The Mall of Africa.”
It provides 485,000 Square metres of space, the shopping space itself is “only” 131,000 squares.”
This is a view of the Western Gateway, a post-Industrial building, at the main entrance of the mall.
“Here is a tree rooted in African soil, nourished with waters from the rivers of Afrika. Come and sit under its shade and become, with us, the leaves of the same branch and the branches of the same tree- Robert Sobukwe (Sobukwe, 2019).”
This image not only stimulate my visual senses through the aesthetics and lines but fills me with an excitement. My children may still have a beautiful future ahead of them!
I realize that a work of this magnitude could take more than a lifetime. And I have little of that left….
So I will address themes in workable chunks clearly demarcating the scope to achieve the desired outcome. The depth of my research will depend on time constraints and my commitment to the task. But the work can be done iteratively with each cycle building on the other. ..
In this semester I will open my photographic eye and do an initial photographic survey, critically read Franklins book “the documentary impulse”, and scholarly works on Ubuntu. I will also attempt to identify knowledgeable collaborators to assist me in reviewing my future work.
I will record my findings and determine which themes I want to pursue in the other semesters.
As my ultimate intention is to teach, I will also focus my research on the documentary approach and aim to prepare for a workshop to share my learnings at the end of the MA.
And if I am successful do my first exhibition in South Africa.
I believe that I need to do this, and keep on doing it,
to improve my practice and to progress from a successful to a significant documentary photographer within a contemporary South African context.
And maybe do some penance for my ignorance in the process.
I conclude in the words of David DuChemin:
“The camera on its own is a wonder, but in the hands of the poet, the storyteller, the change seeker, or the frustrated artist, it can create something alive that touches humanity (DuChemin, 2019).”
Franklin, S. (2014). The documentary impulse.
Sturken, M. and Cartwright, L. (n.d.). Practices of looking. Oxford University Press, pp.95,96.
Versace, V. ca (2007), “Welcome to Oz: A Cinematic Approach to Digital Still Photography”.
Kleinman, P. (2013), Philosophy 101 pp.108,109,110.
McKuen, R. (1972). To every Season. 1st ed. Simon and Schuster.
The tree of wooden Glogs. (1978). [film] Directed by E. Olmi. Italy: RAI Radiotelevisione Italiana, Italnoleggio Cinematografico.
List of Figures
Figure 1: Gary WINOGRANT(2019). Street scene at Hollywood and Vine, LA. [online] Available at: http://www.getty.edu/art/collection/objects/47323/garry-winogrand-hollywood-and-vine-los-angeles-american-1969/ [Accessed 7 Jul. 2019].
Figure 2: UNKNOWN PHOTOGRAPHER (1965). Andre Nagel at the age of six. Private Collection: Andre Nagel
Figure 3: UNKNOWN PHOTOGRAPHER (1977). Midshipman Andre Nagel. Private Collection: Andre Nagel
Figure 4: ANDRE NAGEL (1977). The Great White Shark. Private Collection: Andre Nagel
Figure 5:ANDRE NAGEL (1977). Self portrait with my first SLR Camera. Private Collection: Andre Nagel
Figure 6:ANDRE NAGEL (1978). Cecilia. Private Collection: Andre Nagel
Figure 7: ANDRE NAGEL (1980). My Cat and My Flat. Private Collection: Andre Nagel
Figure 8: DELPORT (1981). Andre Nagel taking Photographs in The Gardens. Private Collection: Andre Nagel
Figure 9: ANDRE NAGEL (1979). Koos and Barbara. Private Collection: Andre Nagel
Figure 10: ANDRE NAGEL (1979). Nicholene on the Stoep. Private Collection: Andre Nagel
Figure 11: ANDRE NAGEL (2000). The Obelisk of Theodosius with Blue Mosque in Mist. Private Collection: Andre Nagel
Figure 12: ANDRE NAGEL (2016). Death: 3 Hours in darkness. Private Collection: Andre Nagel
Figure 13: ANDRE NAGEL (2016). Resurrection: Fish on the beach. Private Collection: Andre Nagel
Figure 14: ANDRE NAGEL (2018). A New Dawn. Private Collection: Andre Nagel
Figure 15: ANDRE NAGEL (2007). Erik and Christine: The first sunset as a married couple.Private Collection: Andre Nagel
Figure 16: ANDRE NAGEL (2005). Koot and his Horse Carriage Private Collection: Andre Nagel
Figure 17: ANDRE NAGEL (2005). Chopper at the annual Toy Run.Private Collection: Andre Nagel
Figure 18: ANDRE NAGEL (2018). Mandy. Private Collection: Andre Nagel
Figure 19: ANDRE NAGEL (2018). Cecilia. Private Collection: Andre Nagel
Figure 20: ANDRE NAGEL (2018). Reco, my grandson, making a smile. Private Collection: Andre Nagel
Figure 21: MORNE NAGEL (2018). Teaching the Masterclass. Private Collection: Andre Nagel
Figure 22: MORNE NAGEL (2018). Showing Bonny the way. Private Collection: Andre Nagel
Figure 23: ANDRE NAGEL (2014). Children playing with a statue of a Boer warrior. Private Collection: Andre Nagel
Figure 24: ANDRE NAGEL (2014). A millennial busy with his phone. Private Collection: Andre Nagel
Figure 25: ANDRE NAGEL (2014). Kasper waiting for a friend to bring him money. Private Collection: Andre Nagel
Figure 26: ANDRE NAGEL (2017). Farewell to “The General”. Private Collection: Andre Nagel
Figure 27: ANDRE NAGEL (2018). Celebrating Wade Van Niekerk’s Olympic Record. Private Collection: Andre Nagel
Figure 28: ANDRE NAGEL (2014). The Photographers Gaze. Private Collection: Andre Nagel
Figure 29: Businesstech.co.za. (2019). SASOL headquarters in Sandton. Available at: https://businesstech.co.za/news/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Sasol-concep-2-640×353.jpg [Accessed 17 Jul. 2019].
Figure 30: Serengreenity. (2019). South Africa: our Next Sustainable Champion? Available at: https://serengreenity.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/uc2-arch-mag.jpg [Accessed 17 Jul. 2019].
Figure 31: Businesstech.co.za. (2019). Mall of Africa. Available at: https://businesstech.co.za/news/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Mall-of-Africa-overall-640×427.jpg / [Accessed 17 Jul. 2019].
Figure 32: ANDRE NAGEL (2018). Celebrating Wade Van Niekerk’s Olympic Record. Private Collection: Andre Nagel
Figure 33: ANDRE NAGEL (2014). The Photographers Gaze. Private Collection: Andre Nagel
The Directive. (2019). A Collective Interview with Garry Winogrand: Rochester Institute of Technology, 1970 | Zinzin. Zinzin.com. Available at: https://www.zinzin.com/observations/2012/a-collective-interview-with-garry-winogrand-rochester-institute-of-technology-1970/ [Accessed 7 Jul. 2019].
Winogrand, G. (1969). Street scene at Hollywood and Vine, LA. Available at: http://www.getty.edu/art/collection/objects/47323/garry-winogrand-hollywood-and-vine-los-angeles-american-1969/?dz=0.4983,0.3599,1.00 [Accessed 9 Jul. 2019].
Openheimer, F. (2019). TOP 6 QUOTES BY FRANK OPPENHEIMER | A-Z Quotes. A-Z Quotes. Available at: https://www.azquotes.com/author/60735-Frank_Oppenheimer [Accessed 11 Jul. 2019].
Huffpost.com. (2019). Available at: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/desmond-tutu-jimmy-carter_b_476610 [Accessed 7 Jul. 2019].
DuChemin, D. (2019). The Soul of the Camera: The Photographer’s Place in Picture-Making. [online] Scribd. Available at: https://www.scribd.com/read/350232885/The-Soul-of-the-Camera-The-Photographer-s-Place-in-Picture-Making# [Accessed 9 Jul. 2019] pp ix, 25
The Value of Sparrows. (2019). POETRY: The Dark Night by Saint John of the Cross. Available at: https://thevalueofsparrows.com/2014/05/21/poetry-the-dark-night-by-saint-john-of-the-cross/ [Accessed 10 Jul. 2019].
Businesstech.co.za. (2019). A look at Sasol’s stunning new R2 billion headquarters in Sandton. Available at: https://businesstech.co.za/news/business/131046/a-look-at-sasols-stunning-new-r2-billion-headquarters-in-sandton/ [Accessed 17 Jul. 2019].
Serengreenity. (2019). South Africa: our Next Sustainable Champion?.
Available at: https://serengreenity.wordpress.com/2011/02/06/south-africa-our-next-sustainable-champion/ [Accessed 17 Jul. 2019].
Businesstech.co.za. (2019). A look at the massive R5 billion mall being built in Joburg. Available at: https://businesstech.co.za/news/general/114480/a-look-at-the-massive-r5-billion-mall-being-built-in-joburg/ [Accessed 17 Jul. 2019].
Sobukwe, R. (2019). TOP 5 QUOTES BY ROBERT SOBUKWE | A-Z Quotes. A-Z Quotes. Available at: https://www.azquotes.com/author/42988-Robert_Sobukwe [Accessed 17 Jul. 2019].