Photography

Atomic Rooms by Antonio Faccilongo (Photography)

Atomic Rooms
Antonio Faccilongo

Mao, obsessed with the possibility of a nuclear attack, made a law on housing policy. When the builder wanted to build new buildings, they also had to build large anti-atomic shelters where people could live for months – that meant basements had to be fitted out with electricity, plumbing, and sewer pipes.

A half-century after the buildings’ construction began, parts of this underground city in Beijing have been converted into living quarters; until 2010, it was perfectly legal to live in these spaces. In fact, people are still living in these places, but in recent years some of these have become activity centers where people share convivial moments.

Usually migrant workers, they can't afford private housing and, without the official resident permit known as the “hukou,” they have no access to low-cost government housing, so they find themselves living underground. Estimates suggest there may be more than one million people living underneath the Chinese capital. —Antonio Faccilongo


Antonio Faccilongo is an Italian documentary photographer based in Rome. After studying communication, he obtained a Master’s in Photojournalism. He then focused his attention on Asia and the Middle East, principally on Israel and Palestine, covering social, political, and cultural issues. His long-term projects have been exhibited internationally at numerous shows and festivals, including Les Rencontres d’Arles and the Buenos Aires Biennial, as well as screened at Visa pour l'image Perpignan and included in the global campaign #WomenMatter. Visit his website here.

Photography

Nada (Short Film)

Nada

by John Brian King


John Brian King is the photographer of LAX: Photographs of Los Angeles 1980–84 and Nude Reagan, both available from Spurl Editions. He is the writer and director of the art house film Redlands (2014) and the short film Model Test (2016). Visit his website here, and check out his latest photography series Sick City.

We will be selling John Brian King’s two photo books at Lit Crawl SF on October 20. Come see us!

Photography

1KM by Marina Caneve (Photography)

1KM
Marina Caneve

– 1 linear km long
| 10 floors
6000 residents

This series is part of my research into how to use photography in urban investigation. In Île-de-France today, the debate on whether to open the boundaries of metropolitan centers towards the suburbs is of prime importance and has been discussed for years. In this context I’ve been attracted to the rehabilitation and development of the housing complex La Caravelle at Villeneuve-la-Garenne (in the northern suburbs of Paris).

La Caravelle is a housing complex consisting of a one-kilometer-long plan built during “The Glorious Thirties” as a refuge for the myriad of people who were, at that time, looking for a place to live in France. This building was then considered an admirable plastic work designed by Jean Dubuisson.

At the beginning of the 21st century, in contrast with the ideals that led to this complex’s construction, something went wrong and the building had become an enclave estranged from the rest of the city, with one of the highest crime rates. My work focuses on the transformations of this place after the redevelopment made by Atelier Castro in 2003. I was attracted to the reorganization of these urban structures and, widely, to the ways that the complex’s connection with the city was restored.
— Marina Caneve


Marina Caneve (1988) is a visual artist focusing on photography with an interdisciplinary approach. She graduated from the IUAV (University of Architecture in Venice) in 2013, and from the KABK (Royal Academy of Arts, Den Haag) in 2017. Caneve’s work has been exhibited internationally at institutions such as the Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa (Venice, 2017 and 2013), La Biennale di Venezia (Venice, 2016), and the Matèria gallery (Rome, 2016).

Her dummy book Are They Rocks or Clouds?, which she is currently working on, was awarded the Cortona On The Move Prize and will be published in 2019. It was also displayed at the Fotografia Europea Reggio Emilia festival, receiving the Giovane Fotografia Italiana Award. A curator, she co-founded CALAMITA/Á, a research platform focusing on catastrophes, changes, memory, and politics. Visit her website here.

Literature

Excerpts from The Voice Imitator (Fiction)

Excerpts from The Voice Imitator
Thomas Bernhard

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THE TABLES TURNED

Even though I have always hated zoological gardens and actually find that my suspicions are aroused by people who visit zoological gardens, I still could not avoid going out to Schönbrunn on one occasion and, at the request of my companion, a professor of theology, standing in front of the monkeys’ cage to look at the monkeys, which my companion fed with some food he had brought with him for the purpose. The professor of theology, an old friend of mine from the university, who had asked me to go Schönbrunn with him had, as time went on, fed all the food he had brought with him to the monkeys, when suddenly the monkeys, for their part, scratched together all the food that had fallen to the ground and offered it to us through the bars. The professor of theology and I were so startled by the monkeys’ sudden behavior that in a flash we turned on our heels and left Schönbrunn through the nearest exit.

HOTEL WALDHAUS

We had no luck with the weather and the guests at our table were repellent in every respect. They even spoiled Nietzsche for us. Even after they had had a fatal car accident and had been laid out in the church in Sils, we still hated them.

AT THEIR MERCY

In order to save his wife’s life—she had a lung ailment—the man who went by the name of Ofner, the parish man-of-all-work and sexton, bought jointly with his wife, and as our doctor had advised him to, a small piece of wooded land in our neighborhood, high enough up to be out of the mists and in good clean air, and the two of them, after several years’ work—supported, of course, by the parish and their immediate neighbors—had built a small house on the property. When, however, the house was finished, Ofner fell ill, because building the house had really been too much for him, and died within a short time. His widow, for whom, after all, the house at the edge of the wood had been intended and who, even after her husband’s death, was visibly recovering from her lung ailment, had to get herself a dog, because, of course, now that she was alone, she was afraid. The dog barked at everyone who came within two hundred feet of her house, and as time went by, no one dared to go near it. For years the woman endured being on her own with the dog and without people, when suddenly, in a flash, she could no longer stand the situation and went out and bludgeoned the dog—who had served her so faithfully all the years—to death with a so-called Sappel, which loggers use for hauling logs, and threw herself on the mercy of her fellow human beings.

THE MILKMAID

Last week we witnessed the spectacle of five cows running, one after the other, into the express train in which we had to return to Vienna and of seeing them cut all to pieces. After the track had been cleared by the train crew and even by the driver, who came along with a pickax, the train proceeded after a delay of about forty minutes. Looking out of the window I caught sight of the milkmaid as she ran screaming towards a farmyard in the dusk.

TWO NOTES

In the large reading room of the Salzburg University library, the librarian hanged himself from the large chandelier because, as he wrote in a suicide note, after twenty-two years of service he could no longer bear to reshelve and lend out books that were only written for the sake of wreaking havoc, and this, he said, applied to every book that had ever been written. This reminded me of my grandfather’s brother who was the huntsman in charge of the forest district of Altentann near Hennsdorf and who shot himself on the summit of the Zifanken because he could no longer bear human misery. He too left this insight of his in a note.

NO SOUL

As long as doctors in hospitals are interested only in bodies and not in the soul, of which apparently they know next to nothing, we are bound to call hospitals institutions not only of public law but also of public murder and to call the doctors murderers and their accomplices. After a so-called amateur scholar from Ottnang am Hausruck, who had been admitted to the Vöcklabruck hospital because of a so-called curious condition, had been given a thorough physical examination, he had asked—as he states in a letter to the medical journal Der Arzt (The Doctor)—And what about my soul? To which the doctor who had been examining his body replied, Be quiet!


Read more about The Voice Imitator, by Thomas Bernhard, translated by Kenneth J. Northcott.

& COMING IN OCTOBER FROM SPURL EDITIONS: One, No One, and One Hundred Thousandan existentialist novel by Luigi Pirandello. Join our wait list now to find out more information!

Photography

Hotel Immagine (Photography)

Hotel Immagine
Simone Donati

Since early 2009 I have started looking into mass events where heterogeneous communities show similar patterns of behavior. Traveling around the peninsula in search of myths and icons of the contemporary imaginary, and participating in the most oddly assorted events, I understood how my country is the most grotesque, funny, naïve, and fanatic to live in and to photograph. I searched for what drives people to aggregate to pursue a personal interest, which in the representation on stages, real or ideal, becomes collective.
— Simone Donati


Simone Donati (1977) was born in Florence, where he now lives and works. Recently he has focused on the political and social situation of Italy. Donati was selected as one of three finalists in the portrait category of the 2008 Sony World Photography Awards and received the 3rd place at the 2010 Ponchielli prize with Welcome to Berlusconistan. His photographs have been part of solo and group shows in Italy and abroad and have been published in the main Italian and international magazines, including Der Spiegel, Le Monde Magazine, Monocle, Newsweek, Newsweek Japan, and Vanity Fair. In 2015 he published Hotel Immagine, his first self-published book, about his five-year project following myths and icons of the Italian contemporary imaginary. Visit his website here!

Literature

Bugs and Beasts Before the Law (Non-Fiction)

Bugs and Beasts Before the Law
Part I
From “The Criminal Prosecution and Capital Punishment of Animals,” by E. P. Evans (1884)

Rattenkönig_c1683.jpg

It is said that Bartholomew Chassenée, a distinguished French jurist of the sixteenth century (born at Issy-l’Evêque in 1480), made his reputation at the bar as counsel for some rats, which had been put on trial before the ecclesiastical court of Autun on the charge of having feloniously eaten up and wantonly destroyed the barley-crop of that province. On complaint formally presented by the magistracy, the official or bishop’s vicar, who exercised jurisdiction in such cases, cited the culprits to appear on a certain day and appointed Chassenée to defend them.

In view of the bad repute and notorious guilt of his clients, Chassenée was forced to employ all sorts of legal shifts and chicane, dilatory pleas and other technical objections, hoping thereby to find some loophole in the meshes of the law through which the accused might escape, or at least to defer and mitigate the sentence of the judge. He urged, in the first place, that inasmuch as the defendants were dispersed over a large tract of country and dwelt in numerous villages, a single summons was insufficient to notify them all; he succeeded, therefore, in obtaining a second citation, to be published from the pulpits of all the parishes inhabited by the said rats. At the expiration of the considerable time which elapsed before this order could be carried into effect and the proclamation be duly made, he excused the default or non-appearance of his clients on the ground of the length and difficulty of the journey and the serious perils which attended it, owing to the unwearied vigilance of their mortal enemies, the cats, who watched all their movements, and, with fell intent, lay in wait for them at every corner and passage. On this point Chassenée addressed the court at some length, in order to show that if a person be cited to appear at a place, to which he cannot come with safety, he may exercise the right of appeal and refuse to obey the writ, even though such appeal be expressly precluded in the summons. The point was argued as seriously as though it were a question of family feud between Capulet and Montague in Verona or Colonna and Orsini in Rome.

[…]

Chassenée is said to have been employed in several cases of this kind, but no records of them seem to have been preserved, although it is possible that they may lie buried in the dusty archives of some obscure provincial town in France, once the seat of an ecclesiastical tribunal. The whole subject, however, has been treated by him exhaustively in a book entitled Consilium primum, quod tractatus jure dici potest, propter multiplicem et reconditam doctrinam, ubi luculenter et accurate tractatur quaestio illa: De excommunicatione animalium insectorum.

[…]

This curious dissertation originated, as it appears, in an an application of the inhabitants of Beaune to the ecclesiastical tribunal of Autun for a decree of excommunication against certain noxious insects called hubris or hurebers, probably a kind of locust or harvest-fly. The request was granted, and the pernicious creatures were duly accursed. Chassenée now raises the query whether such a thing may be rightfully and lawfully done […], and how it should be effected. “The principal question,” he said, “is whether one can by injunction cause such insects to withdraw from a place in which they are doing damage, or to abstain from doing damage there, under penalty of anathema and perpetual malediction. And although in times past there has never been any doubt on this point, yet I have thought that the subject should be thoroughly examined anew, lest I should seem to fall into the vice censured by Cicero […], of regarding things which we do not know as if they were well understood by us, and therefore rashly giving them our assent.” He divides his treatise into five parts, or rather discusses the subject under five heads: “First, lest I may seem to discourse to the populace, how are these our animals called in the Latin language; secondly, whether these our animals can be summoned; thirdly, whether they can be summoned by procurators, and, if they are cited to appear personally, whether they can appear by proxy, i.e., through procurators appointed by the judge who summons them; fourthly, what judge, whether layman or ecclesiastic, is competent to try them, and how he is to proceed against them and to pass and execute sentence upon them; fifthly, what constitutes an anathema and how does it differ from an excommunication.”

At a later period of his life Chassenée was reminded of the legal principle thus laid down and urged to apply it in favour of clients more worthy of its protection than a horde of vagrant rodents. In 1540 he was president of the judicial assembly known as the Parliament of Provence on a memorable occasion when the iniquitous measure for the extirpation of heresy by exterminating the Waldenses in the villages of Cabrières and Merindol was under discussion. One of the members of the tribunal, a gentleman from Arles, Renaud d’Alleins, ventured to suggest to the presiding officer that it would be extremely unjust to condemn these unfortunate heretics without granting them a hearing and permitting an advocate to speak in their defence, so that they might be surrounded by all the safeguards of justice, adding that the eminent jurist had formerly insisted upon this right before the court of Autun and maintained that even animals should not be adjudged and sentenced without having a proper person appointed to plead their cause. Chassenée thereupon obtained a decree from the king commanding that the accused Waldenses should be heard; but his death, which occurred very soon afterwards, changed the state of affairs and prevented whatever good effects might have been produced by this simple act of justice.

[…]

Sometimes the obnoxious vermin were generously forewarned. Thus the grand-vicars of Jean Rohin, Cardinal Bishop of Autun, having been informed that slugs were devastating several estates in different parts of his diocese, on the 17th of August, 1487, ordered public processions to be made for three days in every parish, and enjoined upon the said slugs to quit the territory within this period under penalty of being accursed. On the 8th of September, 1488, a similar order was issued at Beaujeu. The curates were charged to make processions during the offices, and the slugs were warned three times to cease from vexing the people by corroding and consuming the herbs of the fields and the vines, and to depart; “and if they do not heed this our command, we excommunicate them and smite them with our anathema.” In 1516, the official of Troyes pronounced sentence on certain insects […], which laid waste the vines, and threatened them with anathema, unless they should disappear within six days. Here it is expressly stated that a counsellor was assigned to the accused, and a prosecutor heard in behalf of the aggrieved inhabitants. As a means of rendering the anathema more effective, the people are also urged to be prompt and honest in the payment of tithes. Chassenée, too, endorses this view, and in proof of its correctness refers to Malachi, where God promises to rebuke the devourer for man’s sake, provided all the tithes are brought into the storehouse.


Check back for our next installment of Bugs and Beasts Before the Law, which you can also read in full here.

Photography

Twentysix Abandoned Catalan Gasoline Stations (Photography)

TWENTYSIX ABANDONED CATALAN GASoline STATIONS
Xavier Aragonès

I was once hired to do research for an industrial film about the history of transportation, a film that was to be made largely by shooting footage of still photographs; it was my job to find appro­priate photographs. Browsing through the stacks of the New York Public Library where books on the general subject of transportation were shelved, I came across the book by Ed Ruscha entitled Twentysix Gasoline Stations, a work first published in 1963 and consisting of photographs of just that: twenty-six gasoline stations. I remember thinking how funny it was that the book had been miscatalogued and placed alongside books about automo­biles, highways, and so forth. I knew, as the librarians evidently did not, that Ruscha’s book was a work of art and therefore belonged in the art division. But now, because of the considerations of postmodernism, I’ve changed my mind; I now know that Ed Rus­cha’s books make no sense in relation to the categories of art according to which art books are catalogued in the library, and that that is part of their achievement. The fact that there is nowhere within the present system of classification a place for Twenty six Gasoline Stations is an index of its radicalism with respect to established modes of thought.
— Douglas Crimp, “The Museum’s Old / The Library’s New Subject”


Xavier Aragonès (b.1979) explores through his landscape and architecture photography the sometimes subtle, sometimes traumatic effects of human activity on the places surrounding us. He has published two photobooks, both through the publishing house Camera Infinita: O. O. O. and Twentysix Abandoned Catalan Gasoline Stations. The latter was also featured in the form of an exhibition as part of the Revela-T 2018 international analog photography festival in Barcelona, Catalonia. You can buy his book HERE and please check out his website.

Photography

Olim Palus (Photography)

OLIM PALUS
GABRIELE ROSSI

Everything started in 1926, when Benito Mussolini arranged for the great drainage of a piece of land in the center of Italy. Pioneers from northern Italy were called to work on this project, to defy nature and malaria, with the promise of a house and ten hectares of land to farm.

Littoria was born six years later, a project designed by the architect Oriolo Frezzotti, and one of the major creations of the Rationalist movement; the city quickly gained worldwide attention.

After World War II, the city changed its name to avoid any reference to Fascism; today, Latina has 120,000 residents and is surrounded on one side by the mountains and on the other side by the sea.

The photographs shown here depict the short, layered life of a very young Italian city. A vertical shifting vision, where the city opens itself up as it takes the shape of a contemporary archeology.

The city’s history, after all, is unique and fast-paced, as opposed to the thousand-year-old history of Italy, but it is still storing in its shape the sequence of its own path: pain, death, glory, identity, destruction.

— Gabriele Rossi

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Gabriele Rossi was born in Latina in 1979. He studied photography in Rome and Milan before interning with Francesco Jodice on several editorial projects. Rossi returned to his hometown and found himself traveling backward through his memories, to compare how the city had changed. His photography book ITACA was published in 2017 by Yard Press, and he has been exhibited widely in Italy. Check out his website here.

Literature, Publishing, Photography

Carl Van Vechten, William Seabrook, and Marjorie Worthington

William Seabrook and Marjorie Worthington
Portraits by Carl Van Vechten (1880–1964)


Usually we took them in our stride, offering an apéritif, lunch, or dinner, and sometimes a trip in one of the little boats across the harbor to Les Sablettes. But when Carl Van Vechten and his vivacious wife, Fania, arrived, they expected more than that. At least, Carl did. For all his sophistication there was a streak of naïveté in Carlo that was perhaps part of his charm. 

We took him and Fania to Charley’s, where we enjoyed our dinner, and then Carl announced that he wanted to visit a Toulon brothel. I am quite sure he would never have asked to visit one in New York or any other American city, but because he was in France and because Marseilles had a certain reputation and Toulon, actually, was not far from Marseilles, he expected Toulon to be filled with houses of ill fame, all of them very exciting and special. 

The truth was, Willie and I were the last people to act as cicerones in the area of commercialized vice. When Willie wanted excitement he had his own ways of creating it, and the synthetic stuff likely to be found in brothels would have bored him to death. 

However, since all our friends expected us to show them the sights, we walked with the Van Vechtens to a part of the town that was almost as unfamiliar to us as it was to them. As I remember it, there was a row of houses over near one of the gates in what remained of the wall that had surrounded Toulon in medieval times. Over each house, on the glass transom, was written in elaborate lettering, a name: Adele, Nanette, Mignon, etc. And over the name was a naked light bulb, painted red. 

We went along the row and came back to the first one, Adele’s house, because it was the largest and therefore promised the most elaborate entertainment. We rang a bell and the door was opened for us after a while by a rather drab female whom we took to be a servant. She led us into a large square room, and to a wooden table along a wall. She took our order for drinks, and disappeared. 

We looked around. Anything less like a house of joy would have been hard to find. The floor and walls were bare. In a corner was an upright piano and a bench but no piano player. In fact, a lugubrious silence filled the room, and we waited for our drinks with the hope they would brighten things up, at least for us. They took a long time coming and when they arrived were served by a short squat little man with a handlebar mustache, wearing sloppy trousers and carpet slippers. 

Carlo asked him where everyone was and he shrugged his shoulders. Adele was not working tonight, he said, and her regular customers had the delicacy to stay away. It appeared that Adele’s father had just died, and the house was in mourning. 

However, he added, as we started to leave, there was one girl on duty, “une brave jeune fille,” and he would send her to us immediately. In the meantime, since the “girls” were permitted to drink only champagne, would we not like to order a bottle? Of the very best? It was obvious that he disapproved of our marc, the local eau de vie, which Willie had ordered for all of us in a vain effort to show we were not tourists. The French were always great sticklers for form, and in the circumstances champagne was the proper thing to drink, even the sweet, sickening stuff he opened for us with a pop and a flourish. It didn’t make us feel any gayer. 

Pretty soon a young woman entered the room and came up to our table. She was wearing a plain dark skirt and blouse and she looked vaguely familiar. It was the little slattern who had opened the door for us, only now her dark hair was brushed and she looked cleaner. She sat down with us and accepted a glass of wine. Then she looked at us expectantly. 

Willie spoke to the girl, using the patois of the region, and Carlo listened as if he understood, and I grew very nervous. I looked at Fania and she looked at me and we didn’t need words in any language to understand each other. We made an excuse and asked the girl to show us where the powder room was, just as though we were at “21” or the Colony, and if the girl looked puzzled it was only for a moment. She caught on quickly enough that we wanted to talk to her. 

When we got out of sight, Fania took a handful of francs from her bag and I found fifty of my own to add to them. “Say no to the Messieurs,” I managed to say. She understood, parfaitement, and thanked us. After all, with a death in the family . . . you understand . . . and the funeral tomorrow . . . one didn’t feel exactly like . . . It was understood. And she thanked us. 

Carlo and Willie were as relieved as we were to be out on the street again. The hour was late, and the Van Vechtens were catching a train for Italy early in the morning. We took them back to the Grand Hotel, still good friends in spite of the fact that we, as well as Toulon, had failed to live up to our reputation.

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Photography

Halfway Mountain by Giulia Mangione (Photography)

HALFWAY MOUNTAIN
GIULIA MANGIONE

From the Publisher: According to the World Happiness Report, a yearly survey of the state of global happiness, commissioned by the United Nations, Denmark is often ranked as the “happiest country in the world.” While studying photography in Denmark in 2014, Italian Giulia Mangione had to work on a final project. Most of her classmates went to far away countries. Giulia decided to stay to understand what made Denmark the happiest country in the world. 

“People often ask me if the Danes are really the happiest people in the world. I still don’t have an answer to this. But I know what I like about the Danes. I like that they use cemeteries as places to celebrate life more than death. I like their innate sense of freedom in being what they want to be. I like the fact that Danes go to ‘højskole’ (High School) to learn something for life, to be aware of what they are good at and what makes them happy.”


Giulia Mangione is a visual artist and social documentarist exploring identity, nationality and belonging through photography, film and writing. She is based in Copenhagen, Denmark. Visit her website here, and buy her book Halfway Mountain here

Literature

The Three Sneezes (Short Story)

The Three Sneezes
by Roger Duvoisin

 Via The Public Domain  Review

Via The Public Domain Review

Jean-Marie the Farmer climbed up a tree to cut some wood for his stove. His donkey, standing below, closed his eyes and went to sleep. 

Just then a stranger on horseback happened to pass by. “Heh, there,” cried the stranger, “have you ever sawed wood before?”

“Why, if all the wood I have sawed in my life was gathered together it would make a fine forest,” Jean-Marie shouted back.

“One wouldn’t think so,” said the stranger.

“Why not?” demanded Jean-Marie.

“Because when you have sawed through that branch on which you are sitting, both you and the branch will fall to the ground.”

“Be off with you, stranger,” said Jean-Marie. “I can see that you know nothing about sawing wood.”

So the stranger went off, and Jean-Marie went on sawing. Presently there was a terrible crash, and both he and the branch fell to the ground.

Jean-Marie picked himself up, and when he had rubbed all his bruises and found that his back was not broken, he bethought himself of the stranger’s words. “Surely that was a wonderful man,” he thought, “for he told me that the branch and I would fall to the ground, and so we did. He must know the future. I will go after him, and ask him a thing or two.”

So Jean-Marie got on his donkey, and away they went after the stranger. Presently they came to a turn in the road, and there was the stranger, ambling along on his horse as though nothing had happened. 

“Ho, there!” cried Jean-Marie.

“What is it?” said the stranger, stopping his horse. 

“I see that you can read the future, so I want to ask you a thing or two.”

“What makes you think I can read the future?”

“You said that when I had sawed through the branch, both of us would fall to the ground, and so we did.”

“Oh,” said the stranger, smiling, “I see. Well, ask me your questions, but I warn you I can only answer one of them.”

“Very well,” said Jean-Marie, “just answer me this. When am I going to die?”

“That’s easy,” said the stranger. “You will die when your donkey has sneezed three times.” And with that he rode away. 

“My donkey never sneezes,” thought Jean-Marie, “so I shall live a long time.” And he started for home feeling very happy.

Now donkeys are very stubborn, and they always do just the very thing they should not. When they should walk, they will not budge, and when they should keep still they are always walking away. So it was not very long before the donkey opened his mouth and…

“Aatshoum!” he sneezed, loud and long. 

Jean-Marie was aghast. All his happiness was changed to terror. He jumped down and pressed both hands against the donkey’s nose to stop the next sneeze (for everybody knows one always sneezes more than once). When the danger seemed past, he resumed his trip, but now he did not dare to ride. Instead, he walked beside the donkey so as to prevent any more sneezes. 

Presently they came to a freshly plowed field, and there Jean-Marie paused to admire the rich brown earth. What a fine crop of wheat would grow there next summer. Forgetting all about the sneezes, he bent down to feel it with his hands, and…

“Aaatshoum!” sneezed the donkey for the second time.

Jean-Marie snatched his hat and put it over the donkey’s nose and held it tight.

“Two sneezes already! Two horrible sneezes!” he lamented. “I am only one single sneeze from death, one miserable donkey sneeze. Surely I am the most unhappy man alive. I am sure that stranger must have been the devil. He not only told the future, he is making my donkey sneeze. He bewitched my donkey!”

But he was holding the hat too tightly over the donkey’s nose, and the donkey, finding he could not breathe, reared up and kicked Jean-Marie very severely.

“Some other remedy must be found,” said Jean-Marie. “For if my donkey sneezes again I am a dead man.”

Then he had an idea. He picked up two round stones and placed them in the donkey’s nostrils, like corks in a bottle. “There, just let him try to sneeze that out,” he thought. But he had reckoned without the contrariness of donkeys.

“Aaaatshoum!”

The stones flew out like bullets from a gun. They hit Jean-Marie in the face.

“Ah! Ah!” said Jean-Marie. “I am dead. Very, very dead.”

And he lay down in the road, for it is not right for a dead man to stand up.

Photography

VDNKh by Chiara De Franciscis (Photography)

VDNKh
Chiara De Franciscis

Chiara de Franciscis: VDNKh, pronounced “vedeenkha”, is a trade show and amusement park located in the north of Moscow featuring more than 250 Soviet-era palaces and pavilions, numerous fountains, the Vostok rocket and the Space Pavilion. The park is better known by the moscovites under the acronym VDNKh which stands for Vystavka Dostizheniy Narodnovo Khozyaystva (Exhibition of Achievements of National Economy).

The book VDNKh depicts images of the buildings, the Monument to the Conquerors of Space together with a series of portraits of people visiting an exhibition of wax statues coming from the Wax Museum in Saint Petersburg and shown at the VDNKh.

The eerie photographs depicts the visitors posing with the statues of the likes of Catherine II, Stalin, Hitler and Ivan the Terrible, together with a series of strange characters including winged women and a two headed man.

The images reveal a disturbing and at times ironic contrast between who looks real and who looks fake, which ones are the statues and which ones the visitors. A special mention goes to a dusty and haggard version of Chewbacca gracing the book cover.


Chiara De Franciscis studied photography at The London College of Communication and has shot numerous projects in different countries around the world. Her work has been exhibited internationally in London, Milan, Edinburgh and Los Angeles. You can buy her books – including VDNKh! – here

Photography

Photography by Consiglio Manni

PHOTOGRAPHY BY CONSIGLIO MANNI

Berlin I

The high roadside where we lay was white

with dust. In that narrow place we saw

the numberless: the people press and pour,

the city loom far in the fading light.

 

Through the tumult crowded coaches bore,

along them lines of paper flags were tacked.

Omnibuses, roof and body packed.

Automobiles, smoke, horns with their roar.

 

Towards the giant stone sea. But we looked west,

saw tree on tree lining the road’s long rim,

the filigree of crowns whose leaves were lost.

 

The ball of the sun hung vast at heaven’s seam.

Out of the sunset’s road red streamers burst.

On all heads there lay the light’s last dream.
 

— Georg Heym, translated by Antony Hasler


Consiglio Manni was born in Puglia in February 1989. He moved to Milan and graduated with a degree in Audio Technology from the Accademia Teatro alla Scala. He worked as a sound engineer for long enough to realize that photography was his real path. He was a staff member for three years at Besafe Studios, in Lecce. Now he is again in Milan, working for Circus Studios and as a freelance photographer. Visit his Instagram here, and check out his website.

Literature, Publishing

Excerpt from The Big Love

FROM THE BIG LOVE

BY MRS. FLORENCE AADLAND

flynn_bev_03.jpg

I know the world will always be full of chattering busybodies. I suppose I should be used to them by now, but I know I never will. 

Ever since Beverly was catapulted into world publicity, she and I have been besieged by busybodies. After all the trouble and tragedy occurred, after Errol died and, later, that lovesick boy shot himself, Beverly and I were deluged by do-gooders and Bible-pounders. “Let’s have this girl baptized!” they cried. “Let’s bring this lost lamb into the church!”

As far as I’m concerned, those do-gooder busybodies can drop dead. And that’s what I told them when they came crying around at us.

The trouble with busybodies is that they never bother to examine the facts. If they had ever bothered to look into Beverly’s background, they would have discovered that she went to Sunday School and church for years, that she learned about God like all good little children do, and that she could recite her favorite Bible stories backward and frontward. 

Even while I was studying with the Rosicrucians, I kept up with the Episcopal Church. I saw to it that Beverly was christened and later, when she was three, she won her first beauty contest at Sunday School. Beverly went as Bette Davis and, believe me, even though she was just a toddler she was Bette Davis. She wore one of my long skirts, a big brimmed hat, and trailed a hanky from her bent wrist. She flashed her big eyes all over the place and won in a breeze. 

When Beverly was still quite small she was noticed one day by Jean Self at a Hermosa Beach cleaning shop. Jean, who lived in nearby Redondo Beach, had guided the careers of many famous children and she was so taken by Beverly that she encouraged me to enroll her in the Screen Children’s Guild. 

From that time on Beverly had many, many opportunities. She posed for magazine pictures. She modeled children’s clothes. She sang and danced at club entertainments and at soldiers’ and veterans’ camps and posts. She was chosen mascot for the Hermosa Beach Aquaplane Race Association. She cut the ceremonial tape when ground was broken for a $200,000 beach aquarium. Her photograph appeared on the cover of Collier’s magazine.

By the time she was five, her hair was a golden blonde, very long and naturally curly. One day when we were returning home on a bus from Los Angeles she got into a winking contest with a bunch of sailors who were sitting ahead of us. They kept turning around, laughing loudly at the cute way she winked back.

I gave her a warning that day in no uncertain terms. “That’s all right now, dear,” I told her, “but in about ten years you better be careful because that’s when they’ll take you up on it!”

When she was five and a half she made her first movie, a commercial film in Technicolor called The Story of Nylon. She wore a special nylon dress and had a featured role in a colorful Easter egg hunt. She was paid six hundred dollars for four days’ work.

Not long after that she fell accidentally in the bathroom and struck the back of her head extremely hard. I became very worried and took her to a specialist for X-rays. I was relieved and happy when the films showed that she had not injured herself seriously.

The doctor was a very learned man, an authority on eastern religions who had lectured all over the world and written many books. He was absolutely fascinated by Beverly. He held her hands the way that Rosicrucian lady had done several years before and then he glanced at me.

“Mrs. Aadland,” he said very seriously, “wherever did you get this little girl? She is something very special. I can tell without ever having met her before that she has a great deal of talent.”

“Yes,” I said, “she has been singing and dancing since before she was a year-and-a-half old.”

Then the doctor sat down in his chair and did a very strange thing. He closed his eyes and passed his hand back and forth just above Beverly’s bright blonde curls.

“I think I see sort of a halo on this child,” he said.

His words absolutely astounded me – because one night a few years before, I’d thought I’d seen the same thing. I had come into her room where she was sleeping and there was a wonderful play of light upon her face and head. I suppose it was really just the light from the living room streaming in through the partly-closed door behind me, but it affected me very much.

“Be very careful of this child,” the doctor warned me, half seriously. “She is more precious than even you realize. Protect her and guard her.”

I was given a similar warning about a year later by the head of one of the advertising agencies Beverly modeled for. He was very fussy about his large modern office and never let any of the young children who modeled for him touch any of the objects on his desk. 

He noticed Beverly playing with a letter-holder made in the shape of a dog and he shook his head and sighed.

“Florence,” he said, “I never allow any of the kids to play around my desk, but your child is so different I just haven’t the heart to tell her to stop.”

He shook his head again very slowly and solemnly.

“I’ve seen hundreds of little girls,” he said. “Perhaps thousands, but I’ve seen very few like your child. And I hate to tell you this, Florence, but I think this girl is going to cause you an awful lot of heartbreak.”

“What do you mean?” I said.

“I think men will be terribly affected by this girl,” he said. “I think men are going to kill over this girl. I have the feeling in my heart that she has the scent of the musk on her.”

I knew what he meant. It wasn’t the first time I had run into that phrase. I had read it in the Bible. I knew that women who had the scent of the musk were so desirable to men that in ancient times they had been kept hidden away in secret rooms. When it was necessary for them to be outdoors, they were concealed by veils and bulky clothing.

“Be very careful with your daughter,” he went on to warn me, echoing the doctor’s exact words. “You must be very careful to protect her from herself.”

Both men proved more terribly right than I ever could guess.


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Photography

Photography by Veronica Alessi

PHOTOGRAPHY BY VERONICA ALESSI

MARCH 14–15, 1925

Sidled up to a woman named Nadia – to whom I am drawn by very tender feelings – I am at the edge of the sea, a shore on the order of Palm Beach, a Hollywood beach. Playfully, just to scare me and to ascertain how hard I would take her death, Nadia, an excellent swimmer, pretends she is drowning. In fact, she does drown, and her lifeless body is brought to me. I begin to weep until the wordplay “Nadia, drowned naiad” [Nadia, naïade noyée] – which comes to me just as I am waking – appears to be both an explanation and a consolation.

From Nights as Day, Days as Night, available now.


With her 35 mm camera, Veronica Alessi creates scenes in which her subjects seem to be suspended in a dream-like atmosphere. Her photos often feature girls’ faces, bodies within solitary landscapes, and her focus is always on the light. Veronica Alessi was born in Lucca, Italy, and currently lives and studies in Bologna. She is passionate about photography, and through it she describes things she could not express in words. Follow her on Flickr.

Literature

Panegyric (Excerpt)

PANEGYRIC

BY GUY DEBORD

 Film still from THE BITTER TEARS OF PETRA VON KANT

Film still from THE BITTER TEARS OF PETRA VON KANT

After the circumstances I have just recalled, it is undoubtedly the rapidly acquired habit of drinking that has most marked my entire life. Wines, spirits, and beers: the moments when some of them became essential and the moments when they returned have marked out the main course and the meanders of my days, weeks, years. Two or three other passions, of which I will speak, have been more or less continuously important in my life. But drinking has been the most constant and the most present. Among the small number of things that I have liked and known how to do well, what I have assuredly known how to do best is drink. Although I have read a lot, I have drunk even more. I have written much less than most people who write, but I have drunk much more than most people who drink. I can count myself among those of whom Baltasar Gracián, thinking about an elite discernible only among the Germans – but here he was quite unjust to the detriment of the French, as I think I have shown – could say, “There are those who got drunk only once, but that once lasted them a lifetime.”

Furthermore, I am a little surprised, I who have had to read so often the most extravagant calumnies or quite unjust criticisms of myself, to see that in fact thirty or more years have passed without some malcontent ever instancing my drunkenness as at least an implicit argument against my scandalous ideas – with the one, belated exception of a piece by some young English drug addicts who revealed around 1980 that I was stupefied by drink and thus no longer harmful. I never for a moment dreamed of concealing this perhaps questionable side of my personality, and it was clearly evident for all those who met me more than once or twice. I can even note that on each occasion it sufficed but a few days for me to be highly esteemed, in Venice as in Cadiz, in Hamburg as in Lisbon, by the people I met only by frequenting certain cafés.

At first, like everyone, I appreciated the effect of mild drunkenness; then very soon I grew to like what lies beyond violent drunkenness, once that stage is past: a terrible and magnificent peace, the true taste of the passage of time. Although in the first decades I may have allowed only slight indications to appear once or twice a week, I was, in fact, continuously drunk for periods of several months; and the rest of the time, I still drank a lot.

An air of disorder in the great variety of emptied bottles remains susceptible, all the same, to an a posteriori classification. First, I can distinguish between the drinks I consumed in their countries of origin and those I consumed in Paris; but almost every variety of drink was to be had in mid-century Paris. Everywhere, the premises can be subdivided simply between what I drank at home, or at friends’, or in cafés, cellars, bars, restaurants, or in the streets, notably on café terraces.

The hours and their shifting conditions almost always retain a decisive role in the necessary renewal of the stages of a binge, and each brings its reasonable preference to bear on the available possibilities. There is what one drinks in the mornings, and for quite a long while that was the time for beer. In Cannery Row a character who one can tell is a connoisseur proclaims, “There’s nothing like that first taste of beer.” But often upon waking I have needed Russian vodka. There is what is drunk with meals, and in the afternoons that stretch out between them. At night, there is wine, along with spirits; later on, beer is welcome again, for then beer makes you thirsty. There is what one drinks at the end of the night, at the moment when the day begins anew. One can imagine that all this has left me very little time for writing, and that is exactly as it should be: writing should remain a rare thing, since one must have drunk for a long time before finding excellence.

I have wandered extensively in several great European cities, and I appreciated everything that deserved appreciation. The catalogue on this subject could be vast. There were the beers of England, where mild and bitter were mixed in pints; the big schooners of Munich; the Irish beers; and the most classical, the Czech beer of Pilsen; and the admirable baroque character of the Gueuze around Brussels, when it had its distinctive flavor in each local brewery and did not travel well. There were the fruit brandies of Alsace; the rum of Jamaica; the punches, the aquavit of Aalborg, and the grappa of Turin, cognac, cocktails; the incomparable mescal of Mexico. There were all the wines of France, the loveliest coming from Burgundy; there were the wines of Italy, especially the Barolos of the Langhe and the Chiantis of Tuscany; there were the wines of Spain, the Riojas of Old Castille or the Jumilla of Murcia. 

I would have had very few illnesses if drink had not in the end caused me some, from insomnia to gout to vertigo. “Beautiful as the tremor of the hands in alcoholism,” said Lautréamont. There are mornings that are stirring but difficult.

“It is better to hide one’s folly, but that is difficult in debauchery or drunkenness,” Heraclitus thought. And yet Machiavelli would write to Francesco Vettori: “Anyone reading our letters … would sometimes think that we are serious people entirely devoted to great things, that our hearts cannot conceive any thought which is not honorable and grand. But then, as these same people turned the page, we would seem thoughtless, inconstant, lascivious, entirely devoted to vanities. And even if someone judges this way of life shameful, I find it praiseworthy, for we imitate nature, which is changeable.” Vauvenargues formulated a rule too often forgotten: “In order to decide that an author contradicts himself, it must be impossible to conciliate him.” 

Moreover, some of my reasons for drinking are respectable. Like Li Po, I can indeed exhibit this noble satisfaction: “For thirty years, I’ve hidden my fame in taverns.”

The majority of the wines, almost all the spirits, and every one of the beers whose memory I have evoked here have today completely lost their tastes, first on the world market and then locally, with the progress of industry as well as the disappearance or economic re-education of the social classes that has long remained independent of large industrial production; and thus also through the interplay of the various government regulations that now prohibit virtually anything that is not industrially produced. The bottles, so that they can still be sold, have faithfully retained their labels; this attention to detail gives the assurance that one can photograph them as they used to be – but not drink them.

Neither I nor the people who drank with me have at any moment felt embarrassed by our excesses. “At the banquet of life” – good guests there, at least – we took a seat without thinking even for an instant that what we were drinking with such prodigality would not subsequently be replenished for those who would come after us. In drinking memory, no one had ever imagined that he would see drink pass away before the drinker. 


Read Panegyric by Guy Debord, translated by James Brook and John McHale, from VERSO.

Photography

Photography by Alexander Deprez

PHOTOGRAPHY BY ALEXANDER DEPREZ

Alexander Deprez was born in Kortrijk in 1995. He now studies photography at Sint-Lucas, Luca School of Arts Ghent. Through his work he allows the viewer to take a look at his private life, his view of the world, and his intimate relationship with his wife. His photos are voyeuristic and often leave the viewer with an uncomfortable feeling. His work was published in De Morgen and Vice, and he participated in various group exhibitions in Kortrijk, Ghent, Antwerp and Brugges. Visit his Tumblr here.

Literature

Pathologies (Excerpt)

PATHOLOGIES: THE DOWNFALL OF JOHAN VAN VERE DE WITH

BY JACOB ISRAEL DE HAAN

TRANSLATED BY PAUL VINCENT

Jacob Israel de Haan

 

This is my refined, sensitively presented description of the pathologies that were the downfall of Johan van Vere de With.

 

The market square forms the rectangular interior of the small town of Cuilemburg, which is, however, very much like a village. In the centre of one of the long sides stood their house, an old dwelling.

From outside it seemed like a double residence, consisting of two step-gabled wings on either side of a wide door, wider than two front doors. Still, on the inside it was a single house. Three people lived in it: a boy, Johan, his father, and a very old woman, Sien. Because the house was so big, and these people generated very little noise, the place often seemed quite empty of life.

Johan’s mother had died quite a while ago, before he and his father moved to Cuilemburg. So there were no rooms in their present house that she had occupied, which lessened the unhappiness of Johan’s father. There were, though, many of her things, which for Johan were strange and of little value, but which for his father were very precious, irreplaceable treasures.

Johan occupied two rooms at the back of the house, both of which had a view of and access to the dark old fully planted garden, which was as large and mysterious as a wood. But the darkness did not come as far as the house. Between it and the garden was a paved path and a meadow, in which in the good old days there had been a display of many multi-coloured flowers. In the evenings Johan sat working at his window; the standard lamp shone out with its delicate light, a golden hazy sun that refined and transformed the colour of the flowers, like those in a strange, fragile story. The lamplight could not penetrate the dark, closed, wood-like garden. The trees stood in ranks like a black rampart, behind which there loomed the other world. [ . . . ]

 

Johan’s father, like his mother, was born into a milieu of flawless culture and lifestyle. They were unacquainted with any manual, coarsening labour, but were familiar only with work involving the full, lucid intellect. Johan resembled both his parents. All his life he was a strikingly beautiful young man. Until his life was disrupted in a terrible way, he preserved an aristocratic calm. By the age of sixteen he was fully grown. He looked like an immaculately groomed young man of twenty, who, however, seems younger.

His body was slim and finely structured, and impeccably dressed. Johan had blue eyes, like blue roses would be, were they in our gardens.

When he turned eight years old, he did not go to school because his father thought it more reasonable for his mental development to stay quietly at home, since Johan showed that he felt deeply, but that his feelings were unstable. He did have a reliable intellect, but precisely because of that his father did not want it to be put under too much strain. This is why when Johan was sixteen, he studied with boys who were two years younger. That was not unpleasant, because Johan was not stupid, and so remained effortlessly at the top of the class. He had little to do with the other boys, partly because of the age difference and partly because of his different temperament and nature.

In the last two years, since he had started to grow up, he had developed strange, intense attachments to small, well-dressed, frail boys at the school. He could not fathom why, since he knew of himself that he did not easily bestow friendship. But he felt that this attachment was dangerous, of such a kind that he could not say anything about it to his father. As his body grew stronger, those dangerous experiences redoubled and grew stronger. He dreamed at night of some boys, and he committed obscene acts with them in those dreams, which they also committed with him. Those acts were pleasant to him and evoked powerful feelings. After waking, he noticed that his nightclothes were damp and dirty. He often felt helpless and discouraged, while his thoughts were very melancholy.

Although he knew that these things happened in life and in the body of every boy growing into a man, he was ashamed, and felt very unhappy. He was quite clear that he was unwilling and unable to talk to his father about it, and at the same time he knew that it would bring him relief and solace, if he were to speak to his father about it. Often Johan felt an intense urge to speak to his father, and the fact that he did not give into that urge caused him pain.

 

Johan was always sure that he never had the slightest problem with his father. He never gave it a second thought in his earliest years. But he did think about it, with joy, which moved him deeply, when he heard of other families where there was smouldering discord between the father and his sons. Later he realised that his father never needed to desist from doing anything for his sake, just as he never needed to for his father’s sake, since because of their mutual affection all actions were settled in a calm way.

 

However, recently there had been a devastating upheaval in Johan’s life, because he began to involve his beloved and respected father in the dreams full of obscene behaviour. His father performed indecent acts on him and he in turn did the same with his father. And both of them enjoyed it greatly.

When he awoke Johan was speechlessly and vacantly ashamed at the horror of such thoughts. He looked at his father, his blossoming blue eyes open with shame, fear, and bewilderment. He could not possibly be calm and pleasant. He was also frightened to death of being difficult with his father. The terrible effort he had to make to remain normal made him precisely shy and abnormal. So that his father noticed and asked him naturally and lovingly if there were any problem. This made Johan hopeless with the deepest wretchedness.

The dreams repeated themselves, and from now on concerned only his father. They ruined every night for him. He became neurotic and deathly pale. His blue eyes dried up, becoming wrinkled in their delicate blue and dull in their whites, which had formerly been clear. Johan saw that his father already noticed his sick decline, and that made him precisely sicker still. Finally Johan said, with a calm voice and careful choice of words: ‘Father, I have a great sorrow and it’s making me ill, as you can see. But I can’t tell you what it is… and that the worst thing of all… but perhaps it will get better now that I’ve told you.’ 

They looked at each other with emotion, and this emotion shattered Johan’s calm and firmness of purpose. He sobbed, suddenly broken. He hugged his father, kissing him like when he was a little boy, on his eyes and open mouth. But then Johan felt the same evil and pleasant sensation as in his dreams with the obscene acts, and he felt that his clothes were becoming dirty and damp. His body felt wretched. He released his father from his paralysed arms, and crept upstairs to the bathroom, where he sluiced off his excited body with hard, cold, running water. His father heard the water raging and rattling. It made him uneasy, failing to understand the shyness, the wildness, and the strange behaviour of his beloved son. He thought of the madness of his wife, who had killed herself in a strange way one night when everyone thought that she had been completely free of suicidal plans. The man shivered and trembled with fear for his son. Johan was always precise in the shape of his sentences and in the value of his words, but Johan was never exaggerated in the strength of his expression. Now he had finally spoken, after a long period of suffering, as carefully as if he were writing the words instead of speaking them, he had confessed to a great sorrow that was making him ill, because he could not speak about it.

That same afternoon at the table Johan raised the subject again. Their table was always lavishly laid and provided with many choice artefacts. The boy was greatly pleased, in a way that he was not often pleased, at their possession of so many objects of such beauty. In that exquisite mood the boy addressed his father, while his blue eyes bloomed in the thin sunny light of the lamp. He said: ‘Perhaps my sorrow will pass again… and then we’ll be at ease with each other again.’ As he said this, he paid anxious and careful attention to the state of his body. His body, however, remained calm, without any noxious effect. Johan was very pleased about this, and he again enjoyed an evening with his father.


Jacob Israël de Haan (1881–1924) was a Dutch teacher, novelist, poet, legal scholar, and journalist. In 1904, De Haan published his first novel Pijpelijntjes, which is a thinly veiled version of his own promiscuous gay life with Arnold Aletrino in Amsterdam's “Pijp” working-class district. The book is dedicated to Aletrino. Aletrino and De Haan’s fiancée bought almost all copies of the book to prevent a scandal that would involve both of them, and De Haan subsequently lost his job. De Haan’s Pathologies: The Downfall of Johan van Vere de With was published in Rotterdam in 1908. He also wrote poetry, and a line from one of his poems adorns the Amsterdam Homomonument. In the 1910s he became interested in Zionism and left Amsterdam for Jerusalem. He was murdered in 1924 by a member of the Zionist organization Haganah. Read more about De Haan here

Paul Vincent (b. 1942) studied at Cambridge and in Amsterdam. Until 1989 he was a professor at the Dutch department of University College London. Since then he has worked as a freelance translator. His translations from Dutch literature include works by Willem Bilderdijk, H.M. Van den Brink, Louis Couperus, Midas Dekkers, Douwe Fokkema, Arnon Grunberg, W.F. Hermans, P.C. Hooft, Harry Mulisch, Saskia Noort, Paul Van OstaijenErik VlaminckGuido GezelleWillem ElsschotLouis Paul BoonErwin Mortier and Leonard Nolens.

Photography

Photography by Sara Rinaldi

PHOTOGRAPHY BY SARA RINALDI

From The Street Kids (Ragazzi di vita), by Pier Paolo Pasolini:

Nadia was lying on the sand, unmoving, her face filled with hatred for the sun, the wind, the sea, and all the people who had come to sit on the beach, like an invasion of flies on a table that’s been cleared. They were there by the thousands, from Battitini to the Lido, from the Lido to Marechiaro, from Marechiaro to Principe, from Principe to Ondina, in dozens of beach clubs, some lying on their backs, some on their stomachs, but those were for the most part old people: the young people — the boys in their long trunks, baggy or form-fitting, so that everything underneath was visible, the girls, those dopes, in very tight suits, their hair long — walked back and forth without stopping, as if they had a nervous tic. And they all called to one another, shouting, yelling, teasing, playing, going in and out of the cabanas, calling the attendant; there was even a band of young men from Trastevere in Mexican hats who were playing in front of the cabanas with an accordion, a guitar, and castanets; and their sambas were mixed in with the rhumbas of the loudspeaker at Marechiaro that echoed against the sea. Nadia was lying there in the middle in a black bathing suit; she had a lot of hair, black as the devil’s, curling and sweaty in her armpits, and the hair on her head was black like coal, too, as were her eyes, blazing furiously.


Sara Rinaldi began taking photographs in high school, and studied video making, performance art, and photography at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna. She carries a camera almost all the time and takes pictures of everything – lights, people, colors, places. Her friends and the female body are her main sources of inspiration, and photography is her messy diary. She is currently living in Milan and working on her first photo book. Follow Sara on Flickr and Instagram

Literature

Berlin’s Third Sex (Excerpt)

Berlin’s Third Sex

By Magnus Hirschfeld

translated by James J. Conway

 Transvestite and transgender sex workers at the popular Berlin gay bar Marienkasino in the 1920s. 

Transvestite and transgender sex workers at the popular Berlin gay bar Marienkasino in the 1920s. 

The issue of male prostitution has already come up on several occasions, and we really cannot avoid this lamentable practice if we wish to produce a more or less comprehensive account of the diverse forms in which uranian life manifests itself in Berlin.

Like any other metropolis, Berlin has both female and male prostitution. The two are closely related in their origins, nature, causes and consequences. Here, as elsewhere, there are two reasons that always come together, of which one or the other soon prevails: inner inclination and outward circumstances. Those who fall prey to prostitution are marked from youth onwards by certain peculiarities of which the most pronounced is an urge for fine living combined with a tendency to laziness. If the external circumstances are favourable to these qualities, that is, if the parents are well-off, the young person will be safe from prostitution. But if there is domestic squalor, a miserable livelihood, unemployment, lack of accommodation and possibly the greatest of all problems, hunger, then stable, steadfast characters might well withstand, but the weaker will seek out the ever-present temptation, succumb to it and sell themselves, ignoring their mothers’ tears.

There are humanitarians who expect improvement to come from freedom of the will and others from force of circumstances; one longs for education and religion, the other looks to the state of the future. Both are overly optimistic. Those who wish to help must strive to improve conditions from within and without, such that girls and youths are not obliged to sell themselves, and help improve people with particular consideration for the laws of inheritance, so that the obligation to sell oneself as a product falls away.

You might say that is impossible, but I say he who surrenders is lost.

Prostitution’s sphere of activity is the street, particular areas and squares, the so-called ‘beats’. A homosexual showed me a map of Berlin on which he had marked the ‘beats’ in blue; the number of places thus designated was not inconsiderable.

Since time immemorial the various parts of the Tiergarten have played their own particular part. There is no other forest that is so interwoven with human destiny as this park measuring over 1000 acres.

It is not the beauty of its landscape nor its artistic ornaments that lend it significance, but people – their lives, loves and laments. From early morning, when the well-to-do work off their meals on horseback, until midday, when the Kaiser undertakes his ride; from early afternoon, when thousands of children play in the park, until late afternoon, when the bourgeoisie goes strolling, each pathway has its own character, in every season, in every hour. If Emile Zola had lived in Berlin I do not doubt that he would have investigated these woods and that his enquiries would have resulted in another Germinal.

But when evening falls and the sun turns to other worlds, the breath of dusk mingles with the questing, yearning breath from millions of earthly beings, all part of that global spirit that some call the spirit of fornication but which in truth is just a fragment of the great, powerful drive, higher than everything, lower than anything, which ceaselessly shapes, prevails, forges and forms.

Couples meet at every crossroads in the Tiergarten – see how they hasten to one another, how joyfully they greet each other and stride into the future pressed close in conversation, see how they alight at the now empty benches and silently embrace, and how the high, inalienable kind of love sits side-by-side with the more vendible variety.

Women offer themselves for sale on three widely distributed paths, the men on two. While female and male prostitution are intertwined, here each has its own ‘beat’. Of the men’s, one is filled every evening almost exclusively by cavalrymen, their sabres glinting queerly in the dark, while the other, quite a long stretch, is largely occupied by those reckless lads apt to refer to themselves in Berlin dialect as ‘nice and naughty’. Here you will find one of the typical half-moon-shaped Tiergarten benches, where from midnight onwards thirty prostitutes and homeless lads sit close to each other, some fast asleep, others yelling and shrieking. They call this bench the ‘art exhibition’. Now and then a man comes along, strikes a match and illuminates the row.

Not infrequently the lads’ shrieking is interrupted by a shrill cry, a call for help from one robbed or manhandled in the thicket, or the snatches of music wafting over from the Zelten are punctuated by a sharp bang, reporting of one who has answered the question of life in the negative.

And anyone looking for the colourful city characters erroneously reported to be extinct will find no shortage of them in the Tiergarten. See the old lady there by the waters of Neuer See with the four dogs? For forty years, with brief intermissions during the summer, she has been taking the same walk at the same time, always alone, ever since her husband died of a haemorrhage on her wedding day in transit from the registry office to the church. That desiccated, hunched apparition with the shaggy grey beard? He is a Russian baron who seeks out a solitary bench, sits down and cries ‘rab, rab, rab’, a sound much like the crowing of a raven. This mating call draws the odd ‘cheeky grafter’ from obscure paths – his friends, to whom he distributes the ‘dough’ left over from his daily earnings, usually three to five marks.

Male prostitutes can be divided into two groups – those who are normally sexed and those who are themselves homosexual, or ‘genuine’. The latter are often particularly feminine, and some occasionally wear women’s clothes, a practice met with particular disfavour by female prostitutes. This is ordinarily the only casus belli between the two groups, because experience has shown that neither would rob the other of clientele were it not for this fraudulent representation. I once asked a fairly well educated prostitute to explain the good relations between female and male prostitutes. ‘We know that every john wants what he wants,’ she answered.

There are often unusual pairings among Berlin prostitutes. Normal male prostitutes, the so-called dollboys, not infrequently conduct cooperative ‘work’ with normal female prostitutes. I have even heard tell of pairs of siblings of whom both sister and brother fall prey to this lowly work; often two female and not infrequently two male prostitutes will cohabit, and finally there are also cases of female homosexual prostitutes who take male homosexual prostitutes as pimps, finding them to be less brutal than their heterosexual colleagues.

It is established fact that there is a large number of homosexuals among female prostitutes, estimated at 20 per cent. Some might wonder at this apparent contradiction, after all commercial prostitution primarily serves the sexual satisfaction of the male. Often it is said that they suffer from surfeit, but that is not actually the case, because it has been proven that these girls usually know themselves to be homosexual before taking up prostitution, and the fact of their homosexuality only serves to prove that selling their bodies is simply seen as a business, one they regard with cool calculation.

The relationships between prostitutes are noteworthy. Even here the system of double morality has made its presence felt. Because while the manly, active partner, the ‘father’, is at liberty, free to pursue female contact beyond the shared bedchamber, he demands the utmost fidelity from the ‘female’, passive partner when it comes to homosexual activity. When this fidelity is breached he exposes himself to the most grievous abuse. It also comes to pass that the manly partner forbids the womanly partner from pursuing work for the duration of their affair.

The female street prostitutes of Berlin also maintain diverse relations with uranian women of the better social circles, and on the street they might even make advances to women who seem homosexual. Here it is worth noting that the fees for women are much lower, and might indeed be waived altogether in some instances. One young lady who certainly appears decidedly homosexual reported to me that prostitutes had made her offers of 20 marks and more on the street. The poor example of both female and male prostitution is not just a threat to public morality, and to public health – for it is far from uncommon that infectious diseases from scabies to syphilis are passed through male prostitution – but also public safety to a large degree.

Prostitution and criminality go hand in hand; theft and burglary, blackmail and coercion, forgery and embezzlement, every sort of violence; in short, every possible crime against person or property are a way of life for most male prostitutes, and what is particularly hazardous is that in most cases the anxious homosexual fails to report such crimes.

While twenty of Berlin’s uranian population of 50,000 souls – this figure is surely not too high – are caught on average by the ‘long arm of the law’ every year, at least a hundred times more, that is, 2000 a year, fall victim to blackmailers who, as the Berlin Criminal Police will gladly attest, have built a widespread and particularly profitable profession from the exploitation of the homosexual nature.

The close links between prostitutes and criminals also arise from their use of the same shared criminal jargon. If the ‘beat boys’ are looking for their quarry, they call it ‘going on a collection tour’, blackmail itself they designate in various degrees: ‘scalding’, ‘burning’, ‘busting’, ‘fleecing’, ‘clipping’, ‘dusting down’, ‘plucking’ and ‘clamping’. Here it is worth noting that in Berlin there are also criminals who specialise in ‘plucking’ male prostitutes by threatening them with a charge of pederasty or blackmail. They categorise the ‘schwul  groups’ according to liquidity into ‘mutts’, ‘stumps’ and ‘gentlemen’, and the looted money they refer to as ‘ashes’, ‘wire’, ‘dimes’, ‘gravel’, ‘rags’, ‘dosh’, ‘meschinne’, ‘monnaie’, ‘moss’, ‘quid’, ‘plates’, ‘powder’, ‘loot’, ‘dough’, ‘cinnamon’, and for gold coins, ‘silent monarchs’. To have money means ‘to be in shape’, to have none is ‘to be dead’, should something get in their way they say that ‘the tour has been messed up’, ‘bunking’ means running away, ‘snuffing it’ is dying, and if they are picked up by the ‘claws’ – the criminal police, ‘the blues’, or policemen – they call it ‘going up’, ‘flying up’, ‘running out’,  ‘crashing’ or ‘going flat’. That is when they are brought to the ‘cops’, or the police station, then to the ‘nick’, the remand prison, and finally, as the euphemism goes, they move to the ‘Berlin suburbs’, understood as Tegel, Plötzensee and Rummelsburg, the locations of prisons and work houses. Only rarely do they leave better than they arrived. Well-to-do uranians often try their hardest to save prostitutes from the street, but only in very few cases do they succeed. Many ‘feast on memories’ when they get older by ‘drilling’ small sums of money out of known homosexuals with whom they once crossed paths, which they refer to as ‘collecting interest’ or ‘tapping’.


MAGNUS HIRSCHFELD (1868-1935) was one of the world’s first gay activists. Both a writer and a doctor, he sought not only to define sexual variation – homosexuality in both men and women, as well as what we would now refer to as trans identity – but also to repeal laws that policed their expression in his native Germany. His insistence that homosexuality was in-born, and that consenting adults should be free to form attachments without harassment from the law, was almost a century ahead of Western public consensus. Hirschfeld published in relative freedom under the German Empire and ensuing Weimar Republic but emigrated before Hitler came to power. As the Nazis cast his research to the fire, Hirschfeld resigned himself to exile, eventually settling in Nice where he died on his 67th birthday. Among his works already published in English are Transvestites and The Homosexuality of Men and Women.

Berlin's Third Sex is available now from the new publishing house Rixdorf Editions