Friday, March 25, 2011

Billy Monk.

Art does it for me.
There's this feeling I get when I see paintings or photographs or sculpture up close... it's a great wonder, a fluttering, a lump in my throat - I want to laugh and cry at the same time. I got it when I saw the Rodins and the Blaue Reiters in Germany, the Degas ballerina with her tattered net skirt at the Tate. I had to sit down in the Rothko room, I got it so bad.
I saw forty-seven Billy Monk photographs today and got that feeling.

I saw this image in a Vula magazine when I was seventeen and it's stuck with me ever since. Back then I'd sneak out at night to hang with my friends at The Mix. We saw e-Void and EllaMental and The Dynamics.  I  drank those same little bottles of Coca Cola while I thought about that picture.

Billy Monk was a bouncer at Les Catacombs Club in Long Street, Cape Town in the late sixties. He used a 35mm Pentax and a fine grain Agfa film. High contrast with velvety soft tones and explicit detail.
The stitching on a shoe, the hair on a girl's leg - swirled under silky pantihose, the grubbiness around pockets, a half-smoked cigarette on the floor,
the ash perfectly intact.
Empty Limosin Brandy and Coca Cola bottles. Intelligensiemengsel. A girl in a bikini dancing in a cage. People lolling back, covering their eyes. It makes you queasy just looking. Dancing girls in trapeze-shaped mini dresses and silver shoes.
You see the bruises and the iniquity and you think that these images should be hard and ugly, but they're not.
They're beautiful.

Nightclub Photographs runs at Michael Stevenson until April 9.
See the rest of the photos here.


Roy said...


Adi said...

brilliant. I'm going there right now. thanks Lil!
p.s. I like your photo with knife... .

Diane said...

You are such good writer, Lil. Dead right.

Lily Turner said...

thank you D.

Jan said...

ditto what he said.
that photo of you
and the knife is

very nice.

S. said...

I just want to say
that, besides the knife photo, which undoubtedly IS very nice -

your writing is really, really inspiring. please just carry on.

Lily Turner said...

thank you and thank you.