Constellation Cafe Books : One Hour by Robert Frank

Robert Frank is most widely known for his work on “The Americans”, an iconic book which changed the landscape of American documentary photography. Even thought that remains his most influential work, in the later period, he experimented a lot with video and storytelling in the most raw uncensored way.

One of the starting points for my study into these works was with “Cocksucker Blues”, a documentary Frank shot with the Rolling Stones in 1972. Raw, blunt, brutally honest and shot almost without any restriction, it shows the band members with drugs, groupies and friends. Met with much controversy and because of legal issues it was shelved for a long time but now it can be downloaded off a torrent or you can easily find it online.

I found a similar piece of work by Frank recently called “One Hour”. A tiny little book with no introduction or preface, it puts you in the center of a conversation with dialogs.

Tiny little hardbound book by Steidl

Reading more about the book I found that the book is actually the transcript for the video Frank made, partly in a minivan and the rest walking around with the actors. Yes without the video its a little difficult to comprehend what exactly is happening at first but slowly the book emerges with its own flavor.

The book is divided into acts, as you move ahead, it marks "Act 1" etc
The book includes a few pages of screen captures from the video itself. But it never really talks about the video in the book.
What I really liked was that Robert Frank doesn't approach this project as a passive observer but he actually participates in the project. In one of the lines, an actor asks "What time is it Robert?".

An interesting read, not really expensive, I am happy that I got to see something new, a body of work which excludes visuals to make the text almost rudely loud. But it settles in more and more as you read it.

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One thought on “Constellation Cafe Books : One Hour by Robert Frank

  1. Sounds like you found a treasure! Loved the first photograph the best. It’s like we (the readers of your blog) are looking over your shoulder.

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