On blind accordionists

Geoff Dyer, in the Ongoing Moment, his divergent attempt at a taxonomy of photography, spends a lot of time tracking pictures of blind accordionists through the 20th century. It might seems an unlikely procession but, being blind, these accordionistas are the perfect subject for a street photographer who wants, above all, to take his or her photographs unobserved.

The first accordion player was photographed by the Hungarian Photographer, André Kertész in 1916.

Kertesz Accordionist

It’s worth pointing out that our man isn’t blind, just short sighted, but the photograph still inspired this poem by George Szirtzes:

The Accordionist

The accordionist is a blind intellectual
carrying an enormous typewriter whose keys
grow wings as the instrument expands into a tall
horizontal hat that collapses with a tubercular wheeze.

My century is a sad one of collapses.
The concertina of the chest; the tubular bells
of the high houses; the flattened ellipses
of our skulls that open like petals.

We are the poppies sprinkled along the field.
We are simple crosses dotted with blood.
Beware the sentiments concealed
in this short rhyme. Be wise. Be good.

Dyer’s book, The Ongoing Moment is well worth a read.

On blind accordionists

Learning to look

Dorothea Lange said that ‘the camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera’

I recognise that in the photographs I am drawn to and why I am interested in taking photographs myself – though for me it is less about teaching others than teaching myself to look properly.

This is Lange’s photograph of children in San Francisco joining in the Pledge of Allegiance, just before the internment of Japanese families began in the second World war:

JapaneseAmericansChildrenPledgingAllegiance1942-2

Learning to look