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Matinee: 'Krass Clement: Like a Play by Beckett' Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

27 November 2021

Saturday matinees long ago let us escape from the ordinary world to the island of the Swiss Family Robinson or the mutinous decks of the Bounty. Why not, we thought, escape the usual fare here with Saturday matinees of our favorite photography films?

So we're pleased to present the 424th in our series of Saturday matinees today: Krass Clement: Like a Play by Beckett.

This 5:50 video from the Louisiana Channel presents Danish documentary photographer Krass Clement telling the story of his night in a pub in Drum, Ireland, that became a book of the same name in 1996. He was interviewed by Christian Lund at his home in Copenhagen in October.

Clement was born in Copenhagen in 1946 and taught himself photography. He graduated as a film director from the Danish Film School in 1973 but abandoned directing for still photography.

His photographic approach emerged from two traditions, he says. The Scandinavian penchant for melancholy on the one hand and the "flaneur" tradition of the Parisian school on the other.

Shortly after his own mother died, Clement was invited to northern Ireland for a month and a half. But was feeling a little uncomfortable and a bit lonely when one night he went into a pub. He immediately fell in love with the place.

He saw an old armchair at the end of the bar. "I can see that's your mother's chair," he said to the owner. The pub owner had, in fact, just lost his mother but still kept her chair by the bar. Clement has instantly made a new friend.

He was able to shoot the pub unimpeded after that. And, taken as he was by the atmosphere of the place, he spent the evening doing just that.

Out of the blue, a disheveled old man walks in and takes a seat. No one talks to him. The whole evening. But Clement sees in him the main character of the night's drama and trains his lens on him, rationing his shots to the amount of film he had brought along.

"I'll be damned. This is like a play by Beckett," Clement says.

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