12.03. – 21.04.2011
Nathan Peter Before Old Glory
It is 10:45, legible over the 11th platform of the train station. Waiting under the time table, a person looks closely at the photo in his hands. He looks with pure attention, focused on one point. He looks in the eyes of the person in the photo. How can he know the only thing that doesn’t change on a human face are the eyes. He looks awkward and embarrassed, like the trainers who work with magnificent animals, finding themselves at a moment of reckoning summed up in those deep and difficult eyes. Will he recognize who he’s waiting for after all these years by looking into his eyes? Maybe he has never met him before. A moment of getting together. It may also be the beginning of a detective’s interrogation.
He looks at the photo desperately; those deep and difficult eyes have been frozen for all time. There is an unyielding mystery, a long-forgotten clue from the past that belongs to the person arriving on this train.
Although he is not aware of my presence, I got into the habit of taking a picture of this street at exactly 10:45 everyday. This one is fresh from my minilab. That trash bin has become the guardian of that corner. Here it is in this photograph as well; not surprising me anymore. I feel the gaze of a pair of eyes under its lid. It caught my attention one week ago; he always closes the lid on the same side so that some fresh air may get in. He tries to hide away in vain. There must be a human hand placing the lid compulsively the same way everyday. He must be following something very important since he has been there all this time, patiently. Now that he is there, I also started to look at the exact part of the building that must be visible from that measured gap. My gut feeling says this cannot be solely coincidence.
There, a woman sits across her; I can read her face on the other. She may be crying at this moment. But why?
Obviously she will leave the table very soon. Without a further word or goodbye.
Good guess. Her eyes are moist; discernible in the second photo. Here the other one is standing now. She stares indifferently, looking a bit arrogant and mysterious.
Returning back to New York streets may heal her. The bistro she was working at was just a breathing moment. She will let the city take her over in spite of everything. Tired of the fight. She looks a bit lost yet transformed.
Here is another pic. She turns towards the backside of the street. New York was always stalking her.
The last pic. She is not there anymore.
Taking a picture of time; don’t ask where I got the idea from. You don’t need to be master of the universe to picture time. Just spare five minutes of your day and reclaim that point you have always known; and shoot. Everyday. You will be surprised to see how time takes up its space in the frame.
It’s been 4 years since I started this business. For you I chose 30th November. 10:45.
Crossroads. Brickstone buildings. Small shops; here a second hand record store, there a bakery, the rest is desolate for the moment. I am Serge by the way, I have a 24/7 cornershop at my back.
It is 10:45. An elderly woman leaves the building with the second hand shop, holding a bag, lost in thoughts.
Across, a young woman passing the street is lost in the song she is listening to on her headphones. They don’t acknowledge each other.
One year gone, the elderly woman always passing at the same time is not there anymore. The record store is still there, but a newspaper kiosk appears. The same young woman shops at the kiosk. Winter seems to have arrived earlier, the trees lining the street readied for the approaching cold.
It is 10:45 again. The store opening at 10:00 is still closed. A teenager is trying to squirm into the store. Who knows which precious record he is after before anybody else today. It is still autumn. Some dudes are collecting leaves. The same young woman crosses the same street rolling a big trolley. People may not recognize her in their daily indifference but I see how her eyes shine from the point I am standing.
In fact, we are no more moved by a past we are busy inventing, than by a present we are busy denying.