Like a Play by Beckett
“The story is revealed by that face.”
Photographer Krass Clement tells the story of one night in a pub in Ireland, where he is captivated by a man sitting lonely in a shadowy pub. Today the series is regarded as his masterwork. Read more …
Krass Clement recounts the story of a visit to a pub in Drum, Ireland, in 1996, one night where he “didn’t feel particularly comfortable, rather lonely and desolate”. He got overwhelmed by the place and its character. “I remember, I thought; I’ll be damned. This is like a play by Beckett,” Clement says.
When suddenly a person entered the pub, Clement noticed that nobody was talking to him, and Clement thought to himself that he had to “preserve this room almost in a filmic sense.” Having only a couple of film rolls in his pocket, he had to economize with his films, but he shot all the photos that night, knowing that he wanted to make a book out of the series. The man in the centre had a remarkable face, and “the story that the book accentuates is revealed by that face. The face and that place invoke Beckett”.
The images underscore a life lived, the isolation and the melancholy. No one spoke to the man in the pub, but Clement never knew why no one talked to him. “It was just the way it was, just like in the street. To a great extent, it’s a gift, like with street photography, that things present themselves to you. They are not staged.”
The series of photos taken that night in the village of Drum, Ireland, in 1996 was called ‘Drum’. “’Drum’ might have been staged,” Clement says, but “then it would have become Beckett and theatre, but it is reality”.
Krass Clement was born in 1946 in Copenhagen, Denmark. He was educated as a film director from the Danish Film School in 1973, but he established himself as a documentary still photographer. Clement spent much of his childhood in Paris, his father Kay Christensen was a painter and his mother, Anna Katharina Tvermoes, was a pianist. He began to photograph in the late 1950s. Krass Clement published his first photographic work in 1978, ‘Skygger af øjeblikke’ (Shadows of moments). While much of Clement’s work was first presented in exhibitions, by the 1990s, Krass Clement had turned to books as his preferred medium. Clement’s photographic work is part of various prominent collections such as the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Biblioteque Nationale, Paris, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen. Krass Clement lives in Copenhagen.
Krass Clement was interviewed by Christian Lund in his home in Copenhagen, October 2021.
Camera: Rasmus Quistgaard
Edit: Johan von Bülow
Produced by Christian Lund & Johan von Bülow
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2021
Louisiana Channel is supported by Den A.P. Møllerske Støttefond, Ny Carlsbergfondet and C.L. Davids Fond og Samling
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