Duet by Andrei Riskin

In this city of ours stand thousands of buildings, for the most part the kind that draw little attention, and occupied by us, who draw just as little. Mornings we, naturally, vanish in doorways, and toward evening we predictably scramble to fit keys in slots or rattle garage doors — we come back to our own walls.

Here we lose baby teeth, and hair grays and thins; here we whisper and shout, we hear and don't hear, but our voices are fractured like the sun's rays. The same as sometimes break into the apartment to Frank, a man almost completely decrepit with age and nearly blind.

The apartment is strewn with abandoned, invisible things, not often touched by their solitary master's fingers. But Frank doesn't live alone; looking after him is Michael. Uncomplicated needs and duties — that's the whole extent of their contact, so meager, so kitchen-sized, that there's not much to say about it.

In Frank's scuffed living room, back to the window, stands an armchair. Each morning, leaving scraps of bacon or bread smeared with jam behind on the sticky tablecloth, he topples into the armchair and simply sings away.

At first raspy and hushed, for hours he fills his home with snatches of melodies from the records gathering dust beside him. Everything here, from the unfashionable clothing to the bleached photographs, has long since grown accustomed to this voice; the person it belongs to will sit like this, almost motionless, one palm covering the other, all day.

Maybe each of us has an invisible accompanist? Maybe we're accompanists for each other? It seems unlikely that Michael puts thought into such questions. As a person, he's a bit ineffectual, naive and obsessive.

This last trait finds expression in two guitars, an amplifier and a pick — which Michael runs over the strings, day after day without ceasing, composing music never recorded, never heard by anyone. Simply music.

March 2009. San Francisco.
All photos and text © Anderi Riskin
(translation by James Manteith)

It is a beautiful and meaningful piece of work that Andrei shares with us. I am very impressed by his way of telling this story about Frank and Michael. This is great photography. See a multimedia presentation of the series with the complete set of pictures on Andrei Riskin's website.

Andrei is one of more than 30 photographers who have held an online exhibition (jan- feb 2009) on 591 Photography Gallery. See blog entry about the exhibition.

Andrei Riskin was born 1975 in Moscow and lives in San Fransisco, USA.


Mikael said…
Fantastic work, each photo with a story in itself and together they come out even better
Paolo Saccheri said…
A good reportage, a deep insight in a little story of everyday's life with sensitiveness and originality.
br said…
a beautiful reportage. each image resonates with the reality of life. thank you. !
Vedres Ági said…
dorogi andrei, this is a heartbreak-story, but i can feel everything.thanks.
Rhonda Boocock said…
wow...amazing work, a joy to view!
Darren said…
A thouroughly enjoyable series...excellent!!!!