This and that No. 4

Billy Monk photos. From a nightclub in Capetown in the mid-60s.

Billy Monk, The Catacombs, 23 February 1968

Billy Monk, The Catacombs, 23 February 1968 at Michael Stevenson Gallery.

Billy Monk, The Catacombs, 1967

Billy Monk, The Catacombs, 1967 at Michael Stevenson Gallery.

Billy Monk, The Catacombs, 1967

Billy Monk, The Catacombs, 1967 at Michael Stevenson Gallery.

They’re silver gelatin prints. Via The Guardian and a commenter there. Very much worth reading; he sounds like an interesting guy. It’s a review of a new book, Billy Monk:

De Villiers dubs Monk ‘the seedy eye of the 1960s’, but he was more than that. He had an eye for the revealing, the intimate as well as the brazen, and he often caught both in the same instant. A bleached-blonde woman in a white trouser suit, holding a bottle of brandy in each hand, shouts or sings across the room, while beside her a sad-looking man sits in quiet contemplation. Another woman, a love bite visible on her neck, gazes lovingly at the bottles of brandy and coke on an adjacent table, while her escort slumbers blissfully on her shoulder. Bottles of brandy and coke are a constant in his photographs, as are short dresses, cheap suits and comatose customers. Monk’s relentlessly intimate reportage often captures the edginess of the hard-drinking life: the steely-eyed gaze of a punter who resents his camera’s intrusion, the defiant stare of a woman baring her breasts for the punters – and Monk’s camera.

This is a glimpse here, too, of another South Africa, an underground scene in which the taboo of inter-racial sex is flaunted. Ultimately, though, Monk’s brilliant snapshot aesthetic adds up to a portrait of wild people having a wild – though not always a good – time. His job, and his reputation as a bruiser, gave Monk the freedom to poke his camera where he wanted, but his eye for the revealing moment was extraordinary. In a short foreword, Goldblatt notes: ‘Monk’s non-judgmental, even cool-eyed awareness of the photographic possibilities of the bizarre pervades the work, and yet this awareness is never denigratingly exploitative.’

*****

Sally Cruikshank, “Quasi’s Cabaret” trailer, 1980. Described on YouTube as: “Nightclub of the future with live alligators and a tipsy train that serves drinks.” So exciting it’ll make you dizzy! First encountered in an animation class I took in college.

This and that No. 3 is here.

No. 2 is here.

And No. 1 is here.

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