“Money is the Cheapest Thing…”

“If you don’t take money, they can’t tell you what to do. Money is the cheapest thing. Liberty and Freedom are the most expensive.”

Anna Wintour, editor in chief of Vogue once said that “we all dress for Bill”.  Bill is Bill Cunningham, an 82-year old street fashion photographer for the NY Times, who bicycles every day through the streets of Manhattan documenting people and what they wear.

He has been doing this for over 50 years.  On the guest list for every socialite event in New York City, Cunningham is entirely unaffected by fame or status. I wanted to find out more about him and watched “Bill Cunningham New York” on Netflix.  Here’s the preview:

Until 2010 he  lived in a tiny rent controlled apartment, an artist studio in Carnegie Hall (yes, that Carnegie Hall), with no kitchen and a bathroom down the hall. The place was so small that his bed consisted of a mattress placed on top of his filing cabinets. The movie is worth seeing just for the studios in Carnegie Hall and the artists who lived there, like Editta Sherman,  a 99 year old photographer and former Warhol muse. She was also known for making delicious soups from scratch which she would leave at her fellow artists doors. It was Bohemia in mid-town Manhattan until 2010 when all of them were evicted to make room for something more sensible like office spaces and emergency generators. However Cunningham didn’t seem to care and was moved to another rent controlled apartment where he asked the landlord to remove the kitchen appliances to make room for his negatives.

People and what they wear is all he really cares about. What does Cunningham wear? He wears the same cheap smock Parisian garbage workers wear, not because it’s a fashion statement, but because it has many pockets for his rolls of film. Yes, he is still shooting film. When he attends the parties of the rich and famous, he changes into black tie, grabs his 29th bike – the others got stolen –  and takes pictures of everybody who interests him, with no regard to rank and status. He declines any invitation for food or even water. That would be inappropriate according to his principles and idea of freedom.

His smile and laugh are contagious.

Bill Cunningham will not compromise his art for comfort, status or riches, which for most of us is not an easy thing to do. He lives exactly the life he chooses: bicycling through Manhattan photographing people and the things they wear.

Even if you have zero interest in either photography or fashion this film is a great portrait of an inspiring artist. Or is he a philosopher?

“Money is cheap, liberty and freedom are expensive.”

He is right.


Pina – Dance Dance, Otherwise We are Lost

PINA – Dance, dance, otherwise we are lost – International Trailer from neueroadmovies on Vimeo.
“Pina” is tribute by Wim Wenders to the German dancer and choreographer Pina Bausch, who died of cancer in June 2009. She was the godmother of the Neo-Expressionist form of German dance known as Tanztheater (dance theater) and I’ve always greatly admired her work. Her “Tanztheater” is located in the German city of Wuppertal, very close to where I grew up. Pina Bausch is a great inspiration and proof that you can live your dreams and create no matter where you live or come from. Her visual language is unique and the emotions portrayed through her work are powerful, beautiful and harsh all at the same time.
The movie was just released in the UK in 3D, a definite “must see” about a powerful artist by a brilliant film maker.

If you’re interested:

pina – A film for Pina Bausch by Wim Wenders

Jane Eyre

I’ve always been intrigued by the Brontë sisters. Five sisters, two of whom died in childhood and the others, all super talented writers before the age of 40. Here I am over 40 with no novel and no excuse. This blog certainly won’t become a classic. Back to the Brontës.

Emily’s Wuthering Heights made me shiver under the covers and Charlotte’s Jane Eyre is my favorite Brontë novel with its dark brooding mood, gothic setting and early feminist ideas.

Needless to say, I was eager to see the latest Jane Eyre movie, directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga. I thought at first Michael Fassbender was a bit too young and handsome for playing Edward Rochester, but his excellent acting made me soon forget that. Same goes for Mia Wasikowska. In reality too pretty to be plain Jane Eyre, she exceeded all my expectations for her exquisite interpretation. Fassbender said she reminded him of a young Meryl Streep.

The phenomenal cast also includes Judi Dench as Mrs. Fairfax and Jamie Bell as St. John Rivers, but see for yourselves:

Have you seen the movie and what did you think?

Mi Buenos Aires Querido…..

La Boca, Buenos Aires, Argentina
I’m taking a break from the garden lockets due to a moment of nostalgia. Right now, I’d love to sit on the bench above, which is located in “La Boca”, a working class barrio (neighborhood) in Buenos Aires. It’s one of the famous tourist attractions with its colorful houses originally decorated with the left over paint used for ships.

It’s also famous for its tango past. The history of tango is fascinating. Did you know that to impress the ladies, men would meet, improvise and practice, developing the dance style. You’ll find couples dancing in the street today, but only for the tourists and their pesos. Although their dancing is often professional and beautiful, my favorite tango places were not in the guidebooks, but found in the neighborhoods outside the spotlight. Entering these hidden social dance halls felt like traveling through time and space.

They looked more like “Claechen’s Ballhaus” in Berlin and the dancers inside are proof that youth and beauty are never necessary to express emotion, elegance and passion though dance and movement.

Get a taste below what you’ll find in the streets of “La Boca”. The “tango” was originally composed as an instrumental piece by a Canadian Celtic musician, so it’s not really a tango:

However, the song  Al Pacino is dancing to, is the beautiful tango “Por una Cabeza”
 by Carlos Gardel. The scene below is taken from the movie “Scent of a Woman”.

A day of a little “Wanderlust” …. and still experimenting with small embroideries. The unfinished stitched small “Boca” on top was a reminder of my time in Argentina and fits perfectly in a locket to be held close to my heart. “Mi Buenos Aires Querido”…a perfect tango ending… if nothing else.

Szomorú Vasárnap – Gloomy Sunday – 3 Interpretations

To paraphrase Cornel West, “I  have a cheerful disposition and a melancholic soul.” Every time I come to Europe, it amazes me, how quiet it is. In winter, it’s not only quiet, but also dark. Maybe that adds to the melancholy which seems to infuse everything. This sounds rather sad, but in fact, I love […] Read more »

Words and Visual Language

Radiolab has an excellent example of how language defines our thinking. If you are not a native English speaker (or pretty close to one), this will be an interesting collection of images and words, but knowing the language adds so many more levels to the experience. In Radiolabs own words: “Words have the power to […] Read more »

Monday Inspiration: Wolf and Pig

This stop motion film by Takeuchi Taijin is one of my favorites of this genre. It was part of the “2010 Disposable Film Festival”, a festival dedicated to films made on non professional devices including cell phones, still cameras and webcams amongst others. Isn’t this inspiring? See what you can do with a vision and […] Read more »

The Secret of Kells

This weekend, we went to see the movie “The Secret of Kells“, the story of a young monk called Brendan who fights Vikings and a serpent god to find a crystal and complete the legendary Book of Kells:  The Book of Kells (800), showing the lavishly decorated text that opens the Gospel of John.Picture from […] Read more »