This and That

Random bits of my life

Photo “Joiner”: Restaurant in the Shuk

Posted by Avital Pinnick on October 15, 2010

Restaurant in the shuk

This collage isn’t my own idea. It’s based on David Hockney’s joiners and was an improvised solution to the problem of trying to photograph a restaurant on a narrow street in the shuk with a 50mm prime lens, without standing behind the counter of the spice store opposite. I took several photos separately, without trying to get any continuity in exposure or angle.

When I read about Hockney’s initial experiments, I realised that my motivation was the same, to capture a wide view without a wide-angle lens. If you want to see some of Hockney’s joiners, there is a good selection at http://5magazine.wordpress.com/2010/09/05/david-hockneys-joiners/. For more information, see Time Magazine’s article, Time Recomposed of Shards (because this article is a commentary on an exhibit but has no images, you should have the 5 Magazine article open in an adjacent browser window for reference).

Well-known Hockney quote, from Cameraworks:

“Photography is all right if you don’t mind looking at the world from the point of view of a paralysed Cyclops.”

Actually, that quote doesn’t make much sense in isolation. It comes from Lawrence Weschler’s introduction to Cameraworks:

My main argument was that a photograph couldn’t be looked at for a long time. Have you noticed that?” Hockney led me back into the studio and picked up a magazine, thumbing through randomly to an ad, a photograph of a happy family picknicking on a hillside green “See? You can’t look at most photos for more than, say, thirty seconds. It has nothing to do with the subject matter. I first noticed this with erotic photographs, trying to find them lively: you can’t. Life is precisely what they don’t have- or rather, time, lived time. All you can do with most ordinary photographs is stare at them- they stare back, blankly- and presently your concentration begins to fade. They stare you down. I mean, photography is all right if you don’t mind looking at the world form the point of view of a paralysed cyclops- for a split second. But that’s not what it’s like to live in the world, or to convey the experience of living in the world.

Hockney was trying to create a narrative with his joiners. I found that I was doing much the same, albeit unconsciously, when I put together the pieces with Picasa’s collage feature. I wanted to emphasize the ironwork above the door, the warm colours and lighting of the kitchen, and the fish monger next door who sprayed me with cold, fishy water while he was hosing down his stall. Ugh. I was eating at the time. I also wanted to show the restaurant’s sign, although it’s at an angle. If I were to do this again, I would change the angle of some of the shots so that they would convey their meaning more clearly. I put no real thought into taking the actual photos. I only noticed that one could play around with the relative importance/size of the components when I was putting together the puzzle. Interesting for a first experiment!

Ironwork

Detail of ironwork above. The plaque in the star says “1923. Meir Eliyahu Banai.” The shop originally belonged to Meir Eliyahu Banai,  a member of the Banai dynasty, an Israeli family that has produced a large number of singers and actors. A few years ago it was converted into a restaurant called Mitbach haBri’ut.

Mitbach haBri’ut is a kosher, organic, and vegetarian restaurant in the Mahane Yehuda market. The food is mainly lentils/tofu/salad, nicely spiced and well prepared. Menu is limited but portions are large and prices are reasonable. I would definitely go again, and sit indoors or upstairs (yes, there really is an upstairs in this tiny restaurant!) if it’s close to the time when the fishmonger is closing. The restaurant is located at 1 Banai or 4 Agas, just off Pri Etz Haim (the covered shuk). There are two tables outside. On the left of the restaurant is the fishmonger and on the right is the woman whom we used to call the Queen of Vegetables when I was a student. You’ll recognize her when you see her. She sits on a high stool above rows of perfect vegetables. Everything at her stall is orderly and calm, unlike the feeding frenzy that you’ll  see today if you stand in the middle of the shuk and yell, “Tomatoes! Tomatoes! Three shekels a kilo!!” (The recent heat wave drove up the price of tomatoes to 10-15 NIS/kg.)

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One Response to “Photo “Joiner”: Restaurant in the Shuk”

  1. That’s a great idea Avital… and it’s worked out real nice too… I’m thinking I might have a play around with this concept too at some point…

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