Wednesday, 25 July 2012

NOTHING MATTERS EVERYTHING MATTERS by Shawn Sobers

Still from the film "NOTHING MATTERS EVERYTHING MATTERS" by Shawn Sobers

There is nothing that can quite compare to dancing naked on the beach at five o'clock in the morning to Roy Orbison singing "In Dreams". That was what I ended up doing as a result of the request by Shawn Sobers to film me as part of my project.

In 2011, I came across a photography blog administered by Dr Shawn Sobers, Senior Lecturer of Photography & Media at the Faculty of Creative Arts, Humanities and Education at the University of the West of England (UWE) in Bristol. However, at that time, I didn't know Shawn was the administrator of the blog. I had read a post by one of his students, Chloe Lee, whose father had Parkinson's Disease and replied by way of a comment and he answered on her behalf. Then, one day in the following summer, I was wandering through the Free Range exhibitions of various college students' final degree projects at the Truman Brewery Buildings in Brick Lane, East London and, after 'sending half crazed shadows, giants dancing up the brick wall of Mr Truman's beer factory waving bottles ten feet all', I happened to walk into the section where the photography students from UWE were showing and Shawn, recognising me, approached me and introduced himself and we had a chat in the course of which he explained that he had started his own project which involved filming people dancing and asked if I might be interested and I said that I would. 

A few weeks afterwards, we corresponded by email and agreed that we could shoot four songs, two naked and two clothed, one song of each section being dance music and the other slow/thoughtful music. I was to choose the songs - this was almost like Desert Island Discs! Well, I had to choose "Dreamer" by Supertramp as one of the dance songs, the other being "By the Way" by The Red Hot Chilli Peppers. As for the slow ones, I chose "One Day, I'll Fly Away" by Randy Crawford and "In Dreams".  Shawn came to stay with us and the first morning, we went very early down to the nudist beach in Brighton and I had a most wonderful time dancing to this beautifully emotive music. 

After a while, Shawn sent me the film - it is good. It says so much about how I felt then. Free and happy whilst I was still keeping my illness under control. Shawn very cleverly edited the film in such a way to show this feeling. it might seem easy just to point a camera at someone dancing and to catch what the guy is al about but it was the manner in which Shawn communicated his ideas to me and then brought the film together that really enabled him to represent how I was then. 

The film has received a very good response by those who have seen it. Since then Shawn, whom I should say at this point is a lovely, lovely man, has kept in touch and last year I went to Bristol and spoke to his students whose work I then saw later in the summer at their degree show on the South bank and indeed some of them have agreed since to photograph me. I know they will make a superb job of it because Shawn, as well as being lovely, is clever and a communicator and their work shows his influence whilst, at the same time, he gives them the freedom  to express themselves.

As for the title of the film, Shawn took this from a story I told him about which was mentioned by Olivia Laing in her superb book, "To the River" which is basically a beautifully written documentary about the River Ouse which features Virginia Woolf who drowned in the river. She recounts in the book how Virginia's husband, Leonard, had a motto, "Nothing Matters" and when I read that, I thought, 'yeah, I'll sign up to that' but, after she drowned, Leonard altered the motto to "Nothing matters, Everything matters" which I thought was also right for me as well. 

I danced to the music on the beach that morning as if nothing mattered but it does all matter, so much, doesn't it? Or does it? 

No.....

....and Yes.


FILM: http://vimeo.com/82142061.[Password: nothingeverything]

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