Renoulf Foyer, MFC
Friday, March 9
Teju Cole is a writer and photographer – an essayist, novelist and critic. He has a role at the New York Times as Photography Critic and has recently released the book Blind Spot which features his own photography with accompanying text. (More on that in another session from Cole though…)
Here he walked us through 12 of his favourite photographers.
Cole was both wonderful and infuriating. Here he worked, off-book, no notes, and was erudite, articulate, passionate, informed.
But – he admitted to flagging the “tech check” because it was always so boring, unnecessary. And then, cue Murphy and his Law, the laptop wouldn’t connect, the clicker wouldn’t work, the lecture stalled before it even officially started.
Cole’s ability to talk around this – while the tech crew member scrambled – was impressive. But a better move would have been to turn up and check that his fucking laptop would connect to the fucking cable and display the fucking photographs on the giant fucking screen. Right?
No matter. Cole talked through this – and when the work finally arrived it was wonderful. Street photographers, portraitists…from the super-planned, meticulous and crafted through to point and shoot improvisation…Cole swiftly worked through the dozen photographers – making it in time (since he was behind schedule with the tech fuck-ups).
He had just enough time to include himself as # 13 – showing off some of the snaps from Blind Spot and discussing his craft, even answering a few questions. He was witty and wise and when the session concluded with a question about what he was reading – he had the right answer: Bill Manhire’s latest volume of poetry.
A brilliant man gave a brilliant lecture – but it was infuriating in part. It had been built up, particularly in the intro by Festival Director Mark Cubey. And then Cole immediately dropped the ball. His match-fitness and intuition meant he was able to cross the line regardless of his bumbled prep.