As a filmmaker, Wim Wenders has mastered the beauty of the banal, training his camera on places our eyes would automatically glide over — the commonplace, the overly familiar — and transforming them into vistas rich with portent and purpose. This collection of his photographs feels the same way, and combined with Wenders’ poetic text (ranging from dreamily philosophical to sharply descriptive), Once serves as an insightful glimpse into his creative process.
In his introduction, Wenders describes photography’s dual nature through the German word einstellung, which details the elements of a photographed image in technical terms, but which also “means the attitude in which someone approaches something, psychologically or ethically, i.e. the way of attuning yourself and then ‘taking it in.’”
The photographs, haunting black-and-white and inviting color images shot over a 25-year period, include numerous portraits of his filmmaking peers: Martin Scorsese and Isabella Rossellini ride through Monument Valley in a convertible bathed by a glorious blue hue; John Lurie kisses a girl on an eerily Doisneau-like SoHo street; titans Akira Kurosawa, Jean-Luc Godard and Nicholas Ray are starkly humanized in candid snapshots.
Wenders’ films (Paris, Texas, Wings of Desire, The Million Dollar Hotel) demonstrate his strong sense of place, so it’s no surprise that the most evocative photographs here are landscapes, particularly the vast expanses of Australia and western America.
Flip the pages of Once, and what emerges is a portrait of a born wanderer who views life as one continuous, extraordinary journey.
E-mail Serena Donadoni at [email protected].