Sunday, January 17, 2016

Wilfred Stanzer

Wilfred Stanzer, author, film maker, explorer, May 17, 2014.

Some people seem to live more than one life. Wilfred Stanzer might have rested after making six documentary films for Austrian and German Television. He was travelling among the nomads of Afghanistan and east Persia, he admired and studied their carpets, but when the situation in Afghanistan became too difficult he knew he had to leave.

He began travelling in Morocco. He had already written KORDI — Lives, Rugs, Flatweaves of the Kurds of Khorasan and Morocco was new and strange territory. Wilfred Stanzer's Moroccan explorations would become the foundation for his next book, Berber published in 1991. 

I was able to travel with Wilfred for a few days in 2014, an opportunity I owe to the intersection of Maiwa's interest in natural dyes and Wilfred's interest in reviving traditional artisan work in a small village in the Anti Atlas mountains. Wilfred is a remarkable man, at ease barefoot on the Saharan dunes or trekking through the hail when our mountain road was washed out by flash floods. He demonstrated the kind of facility for memory a man develops when he is constantly among new languages, patterns and cultures. When Wilfred left our small group he said goodbye to each individual with a comment tailored to who that person was, or what they had experienced.

This portrait was taken on the edge of the Sahara.

Friday, January 15, 2016

A letter is like ...

A letter is like the first page of a book. It is a leaf without a history, nothing preceding — no ancestors or parents. A letter is an orphan who makes his way alone, puts on his shoes in a quiet hallway when the other children are gone; the sun through the windows picking out motes of dust in the air, as if they were the stars in the heavens and like the stars the beautiful transit of their orbits traces a geometry without purpose or conclusion; a cipher we can never understand. A letter lives alone in the heart, like a man in a tenement, waiting for the right day to go out into the world. A letter is a solitary that dreams of the society of others, that keeps an ember of longing alive, that believes in a purpose. A letter is like the first page of a blank book and it carries with it the essence of promise.