Aftereffects, another view, and more cud chewing to follow

By Beverly Spicer September 15th, 2008

Most of us who attended Perpignan have been home for days.  Almost all who were there for the opening of the festival left by Monday morning, and by the end of the week were re-ensconced in familiar surroundings.  It was back to our corners, except of course for those who went directly to wherever they will be shooting next.  People had come from all over the world to attend the festival and the guest list was simply phenomenal, a veritable Who’s Who of the world’s most notable photojournalists ranging in age from a very young 20 or 21 to the two emeritus members who by now qualify as living legends: David Douglas Duncan and John G. Morris are both 91 and were born 6 only months apart.  It was great having them present, and the whole thing had the feel of one big family.  

I had a note from photojournalist Paula Lerner about an exhibit that opened this past weekend in Brunswick, Maine, of her AFGHAN STORIES. Numerous photojournalists who have worked in Afghanistan were in Perpignan for the week, and she was sorely missed.  

Funny how a small comment can start one ruminating about things, and Paula said something in our exchange that has had me thinking for days: “Good luck with post-Perpignan time,” she said, “I always find the transition back to my life after a festival like that to be a bit of a challenge.” 

That’s right, it is a bit of a challenge.  There’s a curious thing that happens after participating in an event such as Visa Pour L’Image, or in fact anything that is extraordinary or profound. The experience is one thing, but after you leave, it’s quite another thing altogether, which I is what I’ve been thinking about.  The aftereffects can often be just as strong as the experience itself, sometimes even stronger.  So, I’ve been formulating ideas about intense experience and the spiritual digestion (or indigestion) that follows.  I’m pretty sure the continuum is broad and includes everything from a positive afterglow described by “absence makes the heart grow fonder,” to post-traumatic stress (PTSD), a phenomenon that’s often devastating to photojournalists, especially war photographers.

I’m going to say more about that shortly, but in the meantime, I want you to see more of what happened in Perpignan. To the right you see Photojournalist Casey Kelbaugh, who has written a perfectly fantastic blog entry  on Slideluck Potshow entitled NOTES FROM PERPIGNAN: Casey Kelbaugh visits Visa Pour L’Image 2008. His words and images paint a great portrait of the intense experience that Perpignan really is.  He’s posted a ton of rather trippy, near-psychedelic photographs to go with his comprehensive and very funny narrative.  He describes the experience of getting there, being there, taking it all in and blowing it all out – the ritual that all festival goers undergo – in a beautifully descriptive post that makes me remember what it was like to be a little younger and burning my candle at both ends & in the middle in a relentless quest for life experience.  

Take a look at Casey’s blog while I mull over a debriefing, which I’ll be writing in the next day or two.  His post is a don’t-miss, and as soon as you’ve seen his lively perspective on Perpignan, we’ll be ready to talk about the phenomenon that follows such an event.  To see my own blog entries, click on the category Perpignan 2008 to see the other posts from our phenomenal week in France.

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