May 24, 2009

Underground poetry

First, the facts. The city of Antwerp is located on the right bank of the river Scheldt. Since 1933, pedestrians and cyclists can go through the Sint-Anna tunnel to get to the left bank. This 572 meter long construction, 31 meter below ground level, has become a popular photographic icon for the city.

I recently went down to have look at what might very well be the longest poem in the world: a work by Antwerp's city poet Joke van Leeuwen titled 'Eleven hundred and forty-four meter poem'. It measures, as the title says, 1,144 metres and is displayed across both sides of the tiled walls in the pedestrian tunnel. If you want to go see (and read) it yourself, you should hurry: the adhesive letters will be removed by the end of next week.

I had some fun trying to combine the stillness of the words with the fleeting rush of people passing by. I ended up shooting a few bursts at slow shutter speed, and the image above came out as one of the better. Back home, I decided for a grainy black & white treatment - it's about art, after all...

A little irony: the Dutch verb 'stappen' means 'to step', but in this picture there are no pedestrians to see... Maybe I should have read the whole poem first, and looked for a more suitable word play?

Gear notes: D300, 18-200VR

Click on the image(s) to see a larger version

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