projects . gallery . team project . forum . search . members . my space

/projects list for Luko

Project:
 © Luko G-R (
)
20 photo(s)
and 0 draft(s),
created on 20-05-2010
4 project comment(s)
,
69 photos comment(s)
PROJECT DESCRIPTION

The heart of darkness. Now that I chose my title, I am trying not to get scared by it, eventually pull some substance out of it without being doomed by the ghost of a french writing Pole.

 

I don’t recall being frugal on describing the landmarks of my childhood. I’m a south pacific islander in my heart, in my mind, in my home (whoever visited me may knock the nail on the fact my living room looks more like a curios shop...).

It has been two years on that I am revisiting the locations of my childhood : Fiji in 2008 and, last year that was Vanuatu, where I grew up in my teenage for 8 years. I claim if it hadn’t been raining the evening the flight landed on Bauerfield airport, Port Vila, I would have kissed the ground like a polish pope.

 

The place I left long ago used to bathe in sunny casualness, accustomed that one of the two ruling powers of the only condominium government in the world (Brits and French) would swiftly address any issue. We would drive japanese motorcycles with no licenses, play football until late night hours, go to the cinema without paying tickets, load a rifle on the shoulder go hunting wild pigeons in the jungle backyard, take a dip in the lagoon after school instead of doing homeworks. No TV, no taxes, no world outside, eternal freedom were the keywords of my childhood insouciance.

    

Thirty years later, I discovered a place soaked with darkness and wrecked by cupid foreign entrepreneurs trying to rule a place where the idea of “colony” once couldn’t have been further away. Imagine in the 21st century a country whose major city doesn’t have any cinema running on a Saturday evening and where public lights are limited to one street downtown… no, you lost buddy, the correct reply is not "Afghanistan"... I’m sure they have at least a cinema at the US Army base.

 

The places I remember were still there, though more the like parts of a ghost town. I noticed all-you-can-eat-buffet sized pot holes on the main-street, even the 4WD rentals did not insure your car if you dared take the road circling the island, one of the buildings of my school was crumbling down while the more modern ones were for the best more dilapidated than the casino uphill Kep in Cambodia, my home street which was once bordered with bougainvillea and grapefruit trees looked like a dusty part of Soweto on which remained heavily guarded bunkers like the embassy of China, the only part of town that was prospering was the once anecdotal shantytown which had become the size of a carioca favela.

 

And yet, every night the economic rulers are loudly partying on Foster’s and FourX pints, failing to dismiss their calamitous behaviour originated from the penal colonies. Feasting over the profits coming either from the beaches they have privatized against a few mechanic jewelry or from plain speculation over real estate. It is a fact that Vila, Vanuatu’s main city, is dotted with more real estate agencies than bookshops (Actually there are NO bookshops downtown : it is another fact matching with the level of culture already described above) or say decently priced restaurants (which excludes beer gardens and stupidly priced restaurants).

When hearing some of the white guys, downtown was getting to the point of Papua New Guinea, which is halfway between Jamaica and South Africa : house guards had become a serious need and the usual watch out for your white face downtown... Ha : that's what we'll see!

 

“Well, who the hell would spend an hour in your country and why : Send us a dream from Paris and shut up!” That’s what you be allowed to ask at this stage

The people and the magic, folks! Forget the roads and the concrete, forget the architecture and the city lights. Yourself who of course read LF.Celine’s Journey remember that scene, where while he settles deep into the african jungle, Bardamu cannot sleep at night because life is pounding in the darkness... the heart of darkness… behind the back of the deviant rulers… See that’s where we’re getting at it...

 

Once you go past that apparent darkness veiling the genuine life in the island – I have always associated the smell of burnt wood and smoke with Vanuatu, nothing like solar Fijis for instance- then real people come alive, the ones the rulers certainly wouldn’t like to hobnob with, so far way from their concerns..

And beyond the darkness there is a deeper experience like the kava bars serving the organic and psychotrope mashed root drink, the somber side of the island black magic, the color of the traditional black fern carvings, the smoke of volcano fumes, the dim lights peerings through the entrance of the palm tree huts, the fireplace exhaling the wood smoke and dark skinned boys and girls singing “string band” tunes all night long. That’s the country I like.

 

Against all the advices I maliciously asked from either newbie expats or dilapidated barflies, I decided that alike a genuine old time resident, I could walk my way anytime into MY city, especially at night. From one encounter to another, made easier with the help of the local language I could slowly remember first then speak more or less fluently in the last days, I could gather the story of the long 30 years I had missed. As mouths opened up, and words were coming out, I haven’t met anyone who ten minutes after didn't call me like “Welcome back, brother”. 

 

Wait a minute... I am going to call this project “Oh, brother”

ACTIVE_ADMIN ACTIVE    
Project:
 © Luko G-R (
)
18 photo(s)
and 0 draft(s),
created on 21-11-2009
1 project comment(s)
,
59 photos comment(s)
PROJECT DESCRIPTION
I was a fool to ignore Tuscany for decades, though just at my hand, I waited until last month to soak into the famous Siena yellow and loose myself watching the cypress patterns of the Chianti countryside.

I truly think this is probably one of the only part of old Europe that can challenge India of the Moghuls on the architectural or artistic fields. Every single wall of Tuscany is covered with a painted masterpiece, even the breakfast room of your B&B will unveil a renaissance fresco. Add on top of that great wines, one of the finest cuisine in Europe, a sense of wellness and astoundly good looking, smartly dressed, women.

When you think about Siena, Firenze, Lucca or the Chianti trails under the soft and golden lights of the autumn sun, there is nothing too large to describe the incredible wealth  of Tuscany. 
   
I couldn't help then thinking panoramics was a minimal format to capture the feeling of overwhelming that Tuscany provides, plus a pinch of burnt Siena color to warm up the images. 
ACTIVE_ADMIN ACTIVE    
Project:
 © Luko G-R (
)
10 photo(s)
and 0 draft(s),
created on 30-05-2009
2 project comment(s)
,
31 photos comment(s)
PROJECT DESCRIPTION

KL, Kuala Lumpur, literally named the “city of mud”, broke its cocoon to become a brightlighted city.

 

The first time I saw KL was 14 years ago, going to Saigon the plane flew over brownish-red mud scarring deep green palm tree plantations and landed on old KL airport, which was living its heydays, unaware that KLIA terminal, the oversized architectural gesture of Pei, was already contracted by madman Mahattir, M’sia's infamous PM.

 

Viewed from my window seat, KL was another sleepy moist hell in Asia, abandoned since Jo Conrad sailed past the Malacca Straits.

 

Two years afterwards, I ventured out of the airport to discover deserted highways, much alike a dream of a new tropical Reich, only that Mahattir had fixed its arrival on 2020.
That year 97 had been awful for Asia : George Soros was declared the official public enemy number 1, and pointed as THE responsible for all the trouble in Malaysia. Mahattir claimed he didn’t want to carry on with such “capitalistic dogs”, hence he advocated for traditions and stepping back to Islamic virtues as the agenda to M’sia development.

This statement was certainly motivated by the traditional islamic party (PAS) winning the elections in the northern part of the country, close to the Thai border. Never frowning on a contradiction and meanwhile he was structuring a local silicon valley called Cyberjaya, Mahattir promoted kampung life (traditional village life) as the keyword of his successful campaign. The same year, Anwar, his deputy –a more democratic politician-, was thrown to the angry holier-than-thou anger, put to jail and sentenced for “sodomy”. 

 

At this time, downtown KL was a small Manhattan, clean streets lined with beautiful huge banyan trees which aerial roots hosted the ghost of Somerset Maugham. The gringos out there  were mostly british expats. A 5 star hotel room cost 70USD and all the room you can have facing the Petronas towers, for that price you also had the waitress kneeling at your table when she served a Tiger beer or a Sing Sling.

 

Malaysia was so NOT a tourist place, so far away from the “Malaysia truly Asia” slogan. I remember my first late afternoon at the pool of the Renaissance hotel, A colonial brit asked me what “Frenchmen could be doing in the outpost of the British empire” (!). Behind me, I heard ole Somerset chuckling…  From that day, I always wore white trousers in KL, preferably linen.

 

Then a few years later and lots of nights spent in KL 5* accoms, Sepang hosted a Grand Prix, taxis tried to scam you for 0.50 cts, sweet milk tiger prawns tasted like they spent their life in a freezer rather than beneath Malacca straits, there was no way to find a genuine pasar malam (night market) anymore in KL city, Middle East people came to spend the pocket money left from Dubai shopping, XXIst century was taking over…Somerset was packing his case, on the leave.

 

Likewise, I quit my KL hub for Bangkok.

 

Until now it had been 5 years I missed the sour smell of kwai teow noodles and sweet grilled satays on Jalan Alor. Last feb, I stayed a night in KL, Jalan Alor is still there, though the old guy, whose outdoor grill I used to buy my satay from, has torn the curtain down –he probably kicked the bucket too- . Bukit Bintang street now matches any Vegas strip in terms of energy spent on neonlights, the Carlton-Ritz hotel was an old favourite although I didn’t even recognize the hotel... too much light and too many upmarket malls opening each year…


It seems neons and fashion malls are now an illustration for the “Truly Asia” motto. One upon a time, the Petronas towers were a strange sight while looking through the leaves of the banyan or palm trees. I would challenge you now finding any single palm tree in this neon light inferno.
Buy, buy, buy” shout the neon lights. Rajah Rolex rules, globalization is a word invented by brands : could you recognize Siam Square from Bukit Bintang? I guess not. Probably the only truth left is in the food and the local tastes : a blindman would feel more difference relying on the coriander vs. peanut smell than what our eyes witness. The only tiger you can find is not anymore hidden in the billiards room but painted on the beer stickers. A part of South East Asia traded its jungle dreams for streetlight illusions. 


There is something pathetic seeing one of his favorite places sinking into easygoing or blingbling pleasures, you know I feel like an old guy only discovering his younger girlfriend was waiting for a Chippendale to ring home. MY KL, there she is, going down with memories of the previous century.
 
Here goes my KL memories in one night, from mud to brightlights, occasionally a pungent durian fruit stall reminds you are in Asia, only that Somerset wears Prada now and I look so stupid with white linen pants...   

ACTIVE_ADMIN ACTIVE    
Project:
 © Luko G-R (
)
18 photo(s)
and 0 draft(s),
created on 01-02-2009
5 project comment(s)
,
39 photos comment(s)
PROJECT DESCRIPTION
People of Lisboa.. right... behind that ambitious title, a modest view of Mr.and Mrs. nobody, pessoas anonimas, all of them carrying a part and the whole of this contrasted and hilly city.

I could not pretend I had a blast with this city. Gal warned me first, "I can't recommend a specific place : Lisbon is about encounters". True, it seems Lisbon is here and there, nowhere and everywhere, you run around and try to catch the soul of the city globally but you only get a vague feeling ... like the city jumped on the tram ahead of you.

After chasing souls for three or four days, I got slightly discouraged. It's only when I downloaded my CF cards I realized I kept the scent of the grilled fish at lunch, the taste of pasteis at tea time or I got the darkred color of ginjinha at night. 
A collection of Lisbon people was there, alive, chatting on my hard drive but I hadn't recognized it until I looked at them back home, I simply couldn't hear them at first hand. I think you have to learn Lisboa.   
ACTIVE_ADMIN ACTIVE CLOSED  
Project:
 © Luko G-R (
)
10 photo(s)
and 0 draft(s),
created on 18-09-2008
2 project comment(s)
,
49 photos comment(s)
PROJECT DESCRIPTION
This project comes warm from Andalucia. 

One would think first about corrida and flamenco. No, my friend, Spain is the country where pasear -strolling purposelessly, seeing and getting seen- and tapear -munching on anything at anytime- is an Art.

Typical Andalucian diet, bear in mind that, except for the holy afternoon siesta, you must be walking the paseo  :

08:00 - the wake up call : coffee and milk, a tostada soaked with olive oil. Time of the day to spot the funniest looking people : who's that old mustache bloke wearing shorts and a cap?

09:30 - Time to read the news and prepare for the day with Spain's major indulgence : some churros (fritters) dipped in a thick cup of hot chocolate. I mean THICK. The futbol cafe in Granada makes the best. Hands down.

12:00 - Too early for lunch but the heat is increasing dramatically, so that you must run for cover to a bar and order una caña de cerveza (small glass of draught beer). Alcohol is never good without eating, hence a bocadillo (small sandwich) comes handy. Antonio talks about the recent articles he has read in Holà, the gossip magazine. 

14:00 - The official lunch. Outside temperature has reached the unbearable, it would be wise to gulp down a tinto de Verano for your body comfort. Red wine with casera blanca, white lemonade. Then a salmorejo, a delicious chilled cordobesetomato soup and a dish of fried fish to follow. Meanwhile, your terrace is the place to watch those slender and graceful andalucian women around.

18:00 - Siesta has been quite tiring, helado (ice cream) will help you start the afternoon paseo. It's strange to see almost all the waitresses in the Juderia are french students

21:00 - The afternoon furnace has ended, you can now look for a strategical place to drink a refreshing sangria and pick on olives. This is time for the vintage andalucians, the folk from la ONCE is passing to every table to sell lottery tickets : lottery is the national sports before futbol. 

23:00 - now that you have finished the jar of sangria. It would probably be time to find a decent bodega to munch on boquetones fritos, piquillos rellenos, chorizo or lomo ibérico, solomillo de atun, tortilla, etc. Of course that wouldn't be a genuine tapa moment without a bottle of Rioja to wash everything down.
   
01:00 What's better to appreciate the freshness of the night than a flan de huevos and a glass of Pedro Ximenez, the sweet sweet Màlaga wine that tastes like coffee and honey. La noche es joven, the whole town is still out on the plaza, kids running around. Enjoy.

02:00 - tomorrow will be another hard day : let's go to sleep early.    


  
ACTIVE_ADMIN ACTIVE CLOSED  
Project:
 © Luko G-R (
)
10 photo(s)
and 0 draft(s),
created on 11-05-2008
4 project comment(s)
,
20 photos comment(s)
PROJECT DESCRIPTION
The opposite side of my project "Ugly city", where I slyly grit processed urban images of Seoul to stress my own view on the city.

Some of the same images and most of the situations have been already displayed in the previous project : it just takes a few colors and a second look to get another point on anything photographical.   
ACTIVE_ADMIN ACTIVE CLOSED  
Project:
 © Luko G-R (
)
11 photo(s)
and 0 draft(s),
created on 29-03-2008
0 project comment(s)
,
80 photos comment(s)
PROJECT DESCRIPTION

On my way to Fiji last feb., I had the opportunity to overnight in Seoul (strange as it may seem, it's one of the easiest way to reach the Pacific islands from Europe, thanks to Korean Air whimsical network... although I won't complain.). I only stayed one night in and another one out, Just the time to take a handful of pics on reptilian brain mode (the one we use for reflexes), jet lagged to the depth of my spinal cord and like a walking ghost, I almost fell asleep inside the guts of the city, line 2 of Seoul subway system. 

I wish I had more prepared this trip, maybe I would have asked some tips beforehand to the indigenous seoulites also settled in Holik (Rafal for instance). 

Something immediately struck me with the uglyness of the city, although I woudn't say it's devoid of any charm. Dazzled with the greyness and the number of so many similar and impersonal housing complexes coming out from the soil, but also amazed with the lively feel of the city as soon as the sun has set and the office hours are off. Seoul lives with its people, probably more than any other town.

This view of the city is a personal and subjective take, where I chosed to enhance the gritty sides of an "Ugly City" with the processing to go with. Perhaps to counterbalance my slyness, someday I will also try another photo essay which I'll call "Beautiful Seoul". 

ACTIVE_ADMIN ACTIVE CLOSED  
Project:
 © Luko G-R (
)
10 photo(s)
and 0 draft(s),
created on 15-01-2008
1 project comment(s)
,
75 photos comment(s)
PROJECT DESCRIPTION
I have been shooting for a while in Paris, even though I will never claim it's my favorite field.
I have been shooting for a while in BW, even though I tend more often forget to load TriX in my Leica camera.

After this while, I think I may have shot enough stuff during these 10 to 15 last years to illustrate a project in Paris. Even though I have never followed any plan for a particular photo project, as far as I remember, I have always shot my pictures with a similar mood, probably too aware and respectful of the photo classics who still haunt the streets.  

Hence I will introduce you to my ramblings in Paris in 20 photos, no more, no less... why should it be 20? As you may know or not Paris elects his mayor from 20 urban districts, rolled around the city center and unfolding the spiraling district numbers counterclockwise, like a snail shell. You have to know that each of these numbers plays a different music to the ears of the genuine parisian inhabitant. Districts are more or less like villages boasting their own urban glories or the social class of their settlers. To each district number is associated a specific social class and the political opinion to go with : as in many cities, your address will often reveal your lifestyle. If a parisian asks you in which district you live, it might be more to assess your social style than for sheer geographical curiosity.

This is how I'll try to show you Paris from the inside, less of a sequential linear project, this is more a numbered collection of parisian sights. I don't really know where I'm going (except digging deep into my negs), as I have just a few shots in my mind... at least it'll give me opportunities to shoot in Paris.

In fact, Jorrit was quite inspirational with this project, I think it should be MANDATORY for any of us to upload a long term project on our city, like Milan for Jorrit, Tokyo for Francis, or Washington for Chris, Budapest for Sasa or Bangkok for... Simon ;-D  are doing.    
ACTIVE_ADMIN ACTIVE    
Project:
 © Luko G-R (
)
6 photo(s)
and 0 draft(s),
created on 12-12-2007
7 project comment(s)
,
33 photos comment(s)
PROJECT DESCRIPTION
I chose the title of this project as enigmatic and as experimental as I could find.

It happens that I am into a period of my life where I'm asking myself a lot of questions especially about the way of living I'm going through and the meaning of my work, which I start to despise. Generally not good news. For the ones who still don't know : I'm a consultant.
 
For the french people of my generation, Houellebecq the writer has been quite influential since his first novel, which was titled in english "Whatever" (first clue), and  which french original title could be translated as "Extension of the struggling area" (second clue). This novel describes the life of a consultant (first coincidence) going through a breakdown after realizing he's been exploited and that the economic rat race, -the struggle-, has extended to his most intimate self, which he can't escape, and the usually more private areas of life where the economic rules have nothing to do. Therefore he gets more and more distance and disinvolved in what he sees or does...

I discovered that Houellebecq was born in Reunion island where I spent three days for business last week (second coincidence), locked in my hotel or in a conference room. The idea of bringing with me the less capitalistic tool I could use to come back with a short experimental story naturally blossomed to my mind.
I then swiped the dust off my cheapo medium format Lubitel, (a genuine product from the ex-USSR) which I am now using as a paperweight, and went down to the kitchen to grab the last three 120 film I found in the egg compartment of the fridge. 

Once landed after a 11h low cost flight, it turned out to be really experimental conditions : short of sleep in the ghost town of Saint-Denis-de-la-Reunion (SDDLR, third clue) during a sunday... paralleling with the original idea, as Houellebecq's "Whatever" takes place in a off season dreary french provincial town, before and during the Christmas festivities (third coincidence).

As for Fim do Mundo, I suppose it's about an ending of the project. You'll see by yourself.

I'm not sure the whole project has a plot, I had felt this sleep lacking day like a dream awake, struggling against sunlight and tiredness. I don't know whether you've already noticed that the lack of sleep, as well as depressive environments enhances the inner dialogue.

Of course there's nothing to expect from the technicalities of the tool, I guess mobile phones take sharper pics nowadays and I'm still wondering about the experimental lay out I chose..

You should probably imagine the narrator's voice off... it's me talking...

... but you tell me. In any ways, don't worry, it'll be a very short project : 5 to 6 photos concentrated on one day.   
ACTIVE_ADMIN ACTIVE CLOSED