The Woman in the Dunes

While living in Bonn, I often went to the local art house cinema, the Brotfabrik (bread factory), not knowing what to expect. I was often rewarded with surprises, but few were as impressionable as watching The Woman in the Dunes by Hiroshi Teshigahara.

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The next morning I went to a bookstore (yes, it’s that long ago) and bought Kobo Abe’s book with the same title. The book, while still worth reading, pales compared to the film, which is still sticking with me, in particular when I visit dunes

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The pictures here are from Oregon in 1994, when I visited Christine and Tom.

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I paid them back their hospitality by taking these pictures.

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And no, we did not try to reenact the film. But the intensity of the landscape almost too easily distills the personality of the visitor.

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If I ever feel like emotional cleansing, I will walk the Oregon Dune Trail.

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Black and White?

Once in a while, as a photographer, you come across a view and know that this will be the shot of the day.
This is very satisfying. Even better and much rarer is it when you come across a location that feels like stepping out of reality into a scene where almost every view is powerful.

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In the 90s, I spent a lot of time biking in the Siebengebirge, a usually rather scenic hilly region southeast of Bonn. Seeking exercise and one or two good views, I once stumbled across a gypsum mine, still active, but in a pretty desolate shape.

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It felt like out of the sudden, color had been removed. It is one thing when you take black and white images, or when reality suddenly becomes black and white. Motives that will stay with you for decades emerge out of the dust.

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The tension, however, is not between the remaining black and white. It is rather the almost existentialistic fight against decay, be it by machine, be it by nature.

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The novel Woman in the Dunes by Kobo Abe, turned into a devastating film by Hiroshi Teshigahara, captures all this much better.

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