At the recent Moscow Photo Bienale, Guy Le Kerrek presented his ‘Jazz Series’ of photos shot in cramped, smoky clubs and musty old hotel rooms, and other obscure places where if the music reaches to them, it does so as an echo of its original intensity. Guy himself is in total contrast to his work, almost like a soap bubble reacting to the slightest movement of the air. As DEI spoke to him, Guy contantly hummed a certain tune and swayed to the music…
DE I: The exhibition begins with a photo of Myles Davis just off stage. Was he always so wound up before going out to perform?
Not particularly. I shot Miles plenty of times and don’t really get why this photo was used to open the exhibition. For me it’s just the same as all the others. Photography will always exist regardless of the author’s intentions about how and where it will be put on show. For example for the Jazz series I did 3000 pictures, then chose 300 and so it turns out that the ones that didn’t make it there’s no point in remembering. There are 8 photos missing from this exhibition in Moscow, they got across the border alright but for some reason they remained in their boxes. Someone snatched away from them the chance of being seen. What do those 8 photos think about that? They’re like a girl who got ready for the ball 40 times, but each of those 40 times her young man chose to dance with someone else.
DE I: When you photograph such great musicians, how do you feel next to them?
My way of filming is the same for everyone: whatever it is I’m shooting, I do it from as concealed a position as possible, hardly drawing any attention to myself at all. Very similar to the jazz men, I’ve noticed that I also start to improvise. I read the notes, get the overall theme, and get my shot.
DE I: Do you run any kind of photography classes? What is the first demand you make of your students?
I often get together a class but my teaching method is more like unteaching dance moves. It’s also an experiment for me. As a dance teacher I watch the movement, which moves are successful and which aren’t. If the intention is there, it means the result is also there. For the first week, we try to gauge the intention, where the effort has gone, and try to measure it’s originality and sincerity. It’s important to understand why something doesn’t give you a result. And it’s very important to establish a creative atmosphere so that each participant can evaluate not only his own failures, but the failures of his neighbour as well. This forms a very solid base within the class, but not for seeking comfort, for the exchange of ideas. If I notice that someone cannot understand their mistakes, I come up with a special exercise which will rectify everything. If he is lacking in confidence, or is not participating, I ask directly, why do you need this at all? Say he answers ‘I want to correct something in my life, and I think this may be it.’ I give him the simplest of movements (Guy stands up and demonstrates the simplest dance step) which he has to repeat until he understands that the problem is not the wooden floor, not the marks and not the rhythm. If he doesn’t walk out, in five or so days he’ll be in a completely different mood, a person who will now be open to many different moves!
The art of photography infers not only being in focus and concrete ideas, but also attention to detail which seem to mean nothing at first glance.
All of the Magnum photographers are unique in their ability to calculate time and space. You have to learn to be able to do that, but arising from your own emotional make-up, whether you’re impulsive, calm or a provocator. These are all style of shooting that you can apply to yourself. But if you don’t analyse your own defeats, it is impossible to come to a moment of truth.
Please find the full version of this publication in our magazine, DE I/DESILLISIONIST ...
phone: +7 (495) 979 7705
© DE I / DESILLUSIONIST ¹16-17. «Guy and Mingus»