Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Perspective: that famous V-day photograph

Perhaps you know the beautiful photograph on the right taken in the streets of New York by the gifted photographer Alfred Eistenstaedt on VJ day in 1945.

I don't even know where the book of Eisenstadt photographs came from. I pulled it my art bookshelf the shelf last Saturday, to read while eating breakfast in the sun.
I devoured the elements of each photo, reading about Eistenstaedt's patience and perseverance. For example he would set up a camera looking out of a shop window and then snap as passersby looked in. That's how he snapped the woman with her two poodles outside the flower store below. 
It was all very naturalistic.
The VJ day photograph is very well known. I'm sure when I lived in International House at Sydney University some of my friends had it on their wall. The other one we all had was Le Baiser de l'Hotel de Ville by Robert Doisneau (below). Or maybe Le Baiser was the one I remember because I lived in the Maison des Etudiants Canadiens at the Cite Internationale Universitaire de Paris. I know I had Le Baiser myself!

The point is this, though. I always thought the VJ day photograph was joyful, romantic and celebratory.
As I read about how Eisenstaedt took the photo I was hit by a ghastly realisation. 
Eisenstaedt had seen this drunken sailor careening down the street kissing random women. He raced ahead of the sailor until he saw a woman in a white nurse's uniform, which he knew would look great against the sailor's dark suit. 
It becomes an involuntary kiss, a rape-kiss if you like, when you hear that context, and I wasn't as happy about displaying it. 
Suddenly I'm afraid for the girl, not happy for her, as I was when I was in my 20s and saw this image. Look at her hand, grasping, maybe even trying to push him away. Is she kissing him back, or is she unable to get out of his embrace?
We'll never know.

So it relates to Improvactually and Likewise this month because we're going to give you patient and interesting scenes from real life. Lovers and siblings, parents and friends in interesting, ridiculous and even threatening or sad situations.
Our show will include 2 parts: A segment from the A-train, my favourite Sydney Longform troupe. They have been rehearsing together for nearly 3 years, and this shows in the intimacy and timing of some of their scenes. The other part of the show is still brewing, and it will feature some of our "normal" Likewise cast. 

We may take a trip down memory lane to the posters we hung on our walls when we were younger. Or we may explore what it's like to lie in wait, never knowing if you'll get the perfect photograph. Or we may just laugh a lot with you as we make it all up.

Love to see you there!

Buy tickets to our next show on 17 July 2014 here.

Cindy