The curse of the books

Tomorrow it’s gonna be the premiere of “Yo no se”. A music video that me and my friend Alan Danielson shot last year for new yorker ex former band The Books. For those destiny things, (the great dame of life and death) Alan passed away last week leaving us all in shock but knowing that artists like him will always say : “the show must go on” despite anything, even death.

We worked on this video now for almost 10 months, although knowing that we were doing a project for a band that split apart almost three years ago. We knew this with Alan since the beginning but I was so in love with his choreography that he followed me into this vision until the end. An as usual, in the visual world ( or any kind of project that intends to build something), making this video was a crusade. Even two weeks ago when we (Winnie, the editor of the video) and I decided to do not more fixes and put our mouses down, after Alan (acting also as one of the producers of the video) pleasantly checked off.

However, a bitter sweet taste is mourning in this afternoon, one day before the premiere. A bitter-sweet taste because we felt incredibly happy to finish our crusade, but bitter because it’s also the last good bye that we are going to do to a very beloved friend. And for some reason, even since I heard “the Books” for the first time, an strange  luck of farewells and breaking has been in the air. I titled this post “the curse of The Books”, but please understand, is more like a dark joke because I don’t really believe in “malefic” or “holy” curses that much, haha (laughs nervously).

Actually, and calling to memory, the first time I heard the music of “The Books” was three years ago back in my country Colombia. I was in my best friend’s house and he has invited us to me and my boyfriend of that time to have dinner with him. The reason for this invitation, which included my friend’s best pasta recipe was that my boyfriend and I two weeks later were about to fly to USA to study Film – quote-: not just “Film” but the career of our dreams-

My boyfriend and I had been together for more than two years but we decided to go apart in order to pursue our careers. When my best friend felt that our mood wasn’t very “good”, he forgot about his famous pasta and immediately played “Enjoy your worries you might never have them again” a very great song of the album “Thought for food”  from The Books.  And we actually did. As the music flowed, we decided to enjoy our last supper together while we listened to the full album. I never forgot that song, neither the album.

Three years later, I found their music again. This time in NYC and in a choreography that my great friend Alan Danielson, musician, dancer and unconditional fan of “The Books” had brilliantly created. Since the first time I saw the choreography, I felt it can easily become a music video.  And Alan trust me to do everything to make it happened. So, we did.

I had met Alan for more than 10 years now, and although we were not like buddies, (he was more my mentor than my mate) we always had a lot of fun working together.

I even got my first official gig as photographer when I was 20 and had bought myself a Canon A-1. At  that time, Alan was being invited for a french dance teacher of mine to teach a workshop in Bogotá.

For us dancers in Colombia, more than ten years ago, this was a phenomenal event: one of the greatest masters of contemporary dance teaching a workshop for us dancers that lived on bread and water and not much pilates or fancy diets at that time. But there he was Alan: playing piano while teaching to walk, to dance, to move on a stage like a real performer. Yes, to “walk” …” walk” is a whole mystery in dance. And there I was, poquito english, new comer photographer ( if having a new camera can give me the right of calling myself such as), but with wide eyes open to whatever chance I have to use my camera. Maybe Alan, saw all of this, or a combination all of this ingenuity  with an easy smile (At that time, Alan has probably crossed half of the world dancing, on stage, teaching, etc.) but, he decided to jump and go for it. I mean he was such an experienced master posing naked in front of my naive lens.

Years later some similar luck of events happened. I don’t wan to bored you with the list of works that me and Alan did since I arrived to New York…but this was a very vivid thing with him: he was always ( and I say in spanish: “siempre”) working. He actually was teaching a class to a friend of mine two days before he was gone. But how other way would died a person who devoted himself to his job? I found this a very lucky death. I actually have an aunt that is a teacher and also devoted to what she does, and she always says she will love to died in front of the blackboard with their students watching (…) We have in spanish a common speech for this, we say: “morir en su ley”. Which is something like “you’ll die the way you live”.

I think, Alan happen to have this. And that is why tomorrow, we will celebrate over all the “curses”: We will celebrate this video, and the people who made it. We will celebrate  the legacy of a Maestro and Amigo like Alan. We will… with the amazing music from The Books, and dance, and eyes, and people, and love- And everything you can do and you invent to conquer life over death (Bukowsky has a great poem on how humans get entertained to avoid thinking in death by eating frozen yogurt). Tomorrow, we’ll dance in our red shoes.

still from Buster Keaton, Three Ages, 1923, Metro Pictures, USA

still from Buster Keaton, Three Ages, 1923, Metro Pictures, USA

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