Thursday, February 26, 2015

Aerial Photographs Of Sri Lanka

Last week, while hanging around the metropolis of Serendib, I went to the opening night of the exhibition at Barefoot, a place you just might be aware of.

C had one of her newly christened Barefoot sulks about this. I've decided to label them because they happen frequently and laughing at your partner, particularly when they don't find it funny, is a surefire way to a healthy relationship. If you don't believe me just ask any one of my exes.

You see, she gets all moody about going to Barefoot, moaning about it as if I'm dragging her through hot coals. I mean, it's not as if we go several times a week or anything like that. But then, when we go, she always enjoys herself. It's almost as if women have a crazily irrational mind, one men can't understand. Besides I like Barefoot; it gives me a good chance to see how the other side, the common working man in Sri Lanka, really lives.

All the usual Colombo glitterati were out. Of course there were more Sansonis than you could shake a sarong at, strutting around like they own the place, Ashok Ferrey was there, being witty and managing to last the whole evening with a mere two costume changes, Java's Dancer wife was there, looking rather elegant and happy, Michael Meyler and Richard Simon were both there, bringing the average height of the evening up to around 9 foot 7 inches and naturally Jeremy Spellbinder was there and sang a couple of songs with those Musicmatters fellows.

For the purpose of accuracy, fairness, truth, justice, liberty and freedom I should tell you that I was immediately struck by the total lack of photos of aerials. Not a single one was present anywhere. There should be laws about this kind of misrepresentation. I mentioned this to Sebastian Posingis the next day. He gave me that German look; the "is he serious" one and I felt awkward, like a schoolboy whose teacher didn't believe that the dog had eaten my homework.

In place of the pictures of aerials as promised was / is one of the most stunning collections of images I have ever seen.

I was told that Messrs Posingis and Sansoni spent something like 27 hours up in a helicopter, with many hours or days of poring over Google maps and the like to gain more information and ideas of specific areas and photos to attempt to take.

I'm a chap who would consider myself to be reasonably familiar with the works of the photographers and I knew I'd be impressed, but had expected to hit about a level 7 of being impressed, like when you watch an episode of Blackadder, laughing at the brilliant lines you've seen Fry and Laurie perform before.

Instead my impressionometer hit about a level 41, perhaps even Level 42, but that would be a band from the 80s. It was like they'd written a new episode and it was funnier and different to what you'd expected, as if Ashok Ferrey had had a hand in the script and slipped in some covert Lankanisms.

I thought aerial photographs would be a variation on a theme; pictures of scenes taken from a helicopter. And they were. But that was where my expectations were met, the rest blindsided me.

The variety of types of images struck me. Nothing was cliched even though the "predictable" sites (sights) were there. Sigiriya, Sri Pada and the like were well represented, but in images that were refreshingly different to the usual sort. I hadn't expected the sheer scale of the images either, some of them have been blown up to massive sizes, not of that A4 or A2 business that we're so used to.

Then there were abstract ones; of Salt Plains (not to be confused with Salt Planes), beaches, layered landscapes and detailed shots of everyday Lankan life from afar and above.

I was talking, well listening, to Sebastian Posingis the next day and he gave me some fascinating insights into his mindset about this exhibition. I hope I don't get these bits wrong as I have a memory like a whatsername at the best of times, but he's particularly proud of this body of work. In a very humble way he feels as if Dom and him might have started something that could encourage people to see Sri Lanka in a different way. I have to stress his humility with this view, it wasn't at all a cocky one, more a hope and one that I think anyone seeing the pictures would understand.

He also would like people outside of the Barefoot crowd to be able to see the photos first hand. His vision is for schools and young people to see them, perhaps taking the show out to schools and communities in the country is possible. I got the distinct impression that making money was the last thing on his mind here, this is about something bigger, something higher up Maslow's hierarchy of needs.

My favourite, by a considerable margin, is the picture of the Flamingos above. I took a sneaky picture of it and am pretty sure I got away with it. Take a good look, it's a once in a lifetime shot, but only if you're connected to Sri Lanka. Or Flamingos.

I dream of taking a picture like that, when I'm not dreaming about drums.

I somehow ended the evening with my first ever visit to Pilawoos. Just me, C, Jeremy Spellbinder and his rather lovely Girlfriend, a very nice Suddha who was a bit too worried about getting food poisoning and some other fellow. They even brought a table out for us and set it up.

If you want to check out the exhibition it's on at Barefoot until March 8th. Trust me, it's spectacular.


Marc said...

great post ! I snapped a picture of that amazing flamingo formation last year but Posingis made me swear to delete it :D
Glad you are no longer a Pilawoos virgin; a favourite hangout with many fond memories from high school days..

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

Thanks Marc. He's definitely dodgy, that Posingis chap!