Joni Karanka


There is nothing more to aspire than harmonic imperfection. Imbalanced imperfection. Something that is real and true but not rehearsed. Like Kerouac in The Subterraneans (you have to read it in English, and you have to read it fast, it has a beat beat beat). Like Robert Frank photographing the USA. Only one take. Quick, quick, go, go. Garry Winogrand trying to hit the beat of LA in the dusk of his career. You might have planned it but you are trying to transcend. You are touching god. And you fail every time. It will never work but sometimes it touches others. Like PK Dick’s VALIS, a pink ray of energy from the Cosmos.

It’s my birthday.

This is the best song I have ever heard: Sister Ray

It should not work. It’s one take. John Cale played organs too loud. Lou Reed went through some lyrics. Moe Tucker bashed a drum set at different paces. Everything changed, everything was improvised but planned. Sterling Morrison tried to bring his guitar up in the mix. Only one take. The sound engineer walks out. It somehow held together like a beautiful broken butterfly. Good photography is the same. It should keep you wondering why you are drawn to it. It shouldn’t work. It should bring the irrational and the rational to the same plane, like a folded paper plane. It’s not worth it if you can explain it. Photography can bring you back to unexplained rainbows.

I’m not sure if linking here to youtube is somehow not ok. All the credit goes to the Velvet Underground (Reed, Morrison, Cale, Tucker).


Introduction & April preview

Just a quick post to introduce myself and tell you what I’m planning for April.I’m Joni. I’ve gone into retirement from photography, slowly, since around 2014. Before that I was very heavily involved in both photographing and running a photography gallery (Third Floor Gallery). I have to be grateful for Hatje Cantz to jolt me out of retirement and get me thinking on photography. It’s a strange set of coincidences that make me think about it more through this first half of 2016. Now I don’t go out with a camera in my pocket and spare batteries and film in the other. Instead, I’ve just been having a cup of coffee in the garden after doing some weeding. Sounds boring, but I’m a lot more boring nowadays than I was ten years ago. And I enjoy that.

To be fair, photography does show up in my life a lot. I quitted once before when I was 14 or 15. I’ll touch on that too. It features as an obsession I work hard to get rid of. A bit like smoking, it’s not something you just stop and expect to not take up again. You have to expressly work on it. Burn bridges. Get other hobbies. Hope you don’t get dragged in. I’ll touch on obsession in another blog post (obsessive photography obsesses me).

Here is another thing that obsesses me.

Fruit tree

Fruit trees. Lovely things that give you back many times more than the effort you put in. Like photography projects they do take a lot of time. You have to plan, design, nurture them, etc. But they reward you in that way easy, physical way that you can easily share with others. Three years after planting, having mulched and pruned you pick that first apple and give it a bite. After that they run free. You can let go, which is something that with photography you can’t.

I’ll also pick up what has happened to Cardiff. What happened to all those photographers here. The other week I got invited for a pint with some people I’ve worked very closely with: Claire Kern, Bartosz Nowicki and Gareth Phillips. I had to think about photography and we discussed a lot about the past. I had to think and justify why I stopped; which isn’t easy. We discussed archives, we discussed how Cardiff had changed. Flickr, running a gallery, how people don’t get as drunk anymore. More on that later, including how things I’ve lived through have ended up in museums, which is a surprise given I’m not 35 until next week.

Other things I’ll pick up:
- People I haven’t exhibited.
- Some great people I did exhibit and I’m proud of.
- Does quitting photography make you happier?
- I’ll catch up with photographers I’ve not spoken with for years.
- My photography archives from the 80s, before I was 10 years old.
- How difficult it is to find people to run a photography gallery.
- Mistakes.

I might not get to cover all of these but it’s a good reminder. It will also hold me accountable and focused for a few weeks.

To wet your appetite, here is a picture of one of the simple pleasures in life that just seem to taste better when you don’t have to wake up early next morning to scan through ten rolls of film.

Pint of beer

Also, don’t bother with my old blog, my flickr page or my website. I let all go.