In my post-cocktail fog this morning, I splurged on a camera thinking that it’s about time this blog had some semi decent photos. So in the two days it should take for it to arrive, I’m seeking some tips and inspiration.
Tonight I went to an exhibition of photography by Allen Ginsberg at NYU’s Grey Art Gallery and the main thing I learned is that my pictures will never be half as cool.
Ginsberg may be best known for his poetry, but he was also an avid photographer, and the images in the exhibit stretch from the 1950s until just before his death in 1997. A few capture famous faces including Madonna and Warren Beatty, but the bulk document his relationships with fellow beat writers including William Burroughs and Jack Kerouac, his travels and his interactions with New York City.
It was the latter theme that interested me most personally, and I loved seeing him at spots I know well. I made sure to jot down his various East Village addresses so I can carry out a self-devised Ginsberg tour at some point.
Among the collection, there were organised portraits and relaxed, intimate glances into his love affairs – some out of focus, others beautifully composed. A few showed days spent in bed, others shared spiritual retreats in India and there were also shots of city eccentrics picking at Chinese takeout containers in his apartment at 4 a.m.
Many had the feel of experimentation – and together, they oozed cool. As Kerouac said, looking back on that youthful time:
We were a generation of crazy, illuminated hipsters suddenly raising and roaming America, serious, curious, humorous and hitch hiking anywhere, everywhere, ragged, beatific, beautiful in an ugly, graceful new way.