L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e ~ D o s t o ï e v s k i

L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e  ~  D o s t o ï e v s k i

Friday, November 16, 2018

Moules et vin blanc

I know nothing about this photograph. (Courtesy of my Belgian friend Ralf De Jonge.) Fourteen men sitting round a rather rough wooden table with bowls of mussels before them. Circa the first decade and a half of the twentieth century, probably taken in France or Belgium. The background is full of what look to be rows of empty shelving. Though the setting is unrefined, the men aren't laborers. They're all dressed in suits, with proper collars and ties, though most have work coats or smocks on over their clothes. A totally unremarkable image. An unremarkable activity, most likely unremarkable men. But... there's something about the gaze of the man in the foreground. His gaze is so alive. So often in old photographs, the people appear frozen, unnatural. We might find them fascinating or charming in the oddity, but there's an unbridgeable gap between their humanity and ours. This man, though, almost seems able - likely - to shift in his chair, to push away from the table, to rise and speak to us. Across more than a hundred years, but as easy as that.

1 comment:

  1. It is quite an engaging photo, I agree. Also the chap second from the left looks interesting, they all look like they have stories to tell. Oh, if photographs could speak...