First Draft Sneak Peek No. 2
My work thrived on feelings and impulse. Ideas toppled all over themselves in my mind. I started burning through piles of material, shot hundreds of photographs, compared, evaluated, and developed my projects on the go, through trial and error, following my gut instincts.
An epic fail occurred when Andreas sent me on a quest to explore my journalistic capabilities. I picked a refugee camp of Albanian intellectuals who had escaped persecution and found shelter in Switzerland. The Albanian families did their best to survive until they would hopefully get the green light from the Swiss government to enable them to stay legally in Switzerland and acquire a work permit. For now their hands were tied as they tried hard to not be overcome by fear and desperation.
I felt mortified having to photograph them. I spent days amongst the families, listening to their stories, admiring their courage and resilience. We talked way into the night when an armada of cockroaches started to take over the rough shelters where the families were housed. The intellectuals told me about their meaningful lives as college professors, poets, politicians, and thinkers too far ahead of their time as well as too radical and threatening for their political environment.
Andreas kept asking me about my photographic progress. I never photographed. Since the camera hadn’t been a part of our encounters from the beginning, I felt like a traitor, the camera a red-hot piece of molten iron smoldering away in my bag. One day before my final deadline I downed an entire bottle of Baileys, then went to the refugee camp and photographed all day. Still drunk I rushed to the Academy darkroom, developed the films and hoped that I would be able to get at least a handful of presentable prints out of the foggy journalistic endeavor. When I finally opened the developing canister to examine the film I stared at roll after roll of empty film. It dawned on me then. I had been so drunk that I had never removed the lens cap. The refugees had either not noticed or exhibited extreme self-restraint in watching my comical attempts at being a journalist. After I left they must have collapsed with laughter. At least I could rest assured that I had brought some involuntary humor into their otherwise dreary daily routines.