Photographers' Blog

An egg by any other name

By Lisi Niesner

Egg. Or as it’s known in other languages:
Ei, яйцо, jajiko, muna, uovo, ägg, yumurta, oeuf, αβγό, tojás, vajce, بيضة, aeg, jaje, ovo, yai, 雞蛋, telur, huevo

It’s the hard-shelled reproductive body produced by a bird and especially by the common domestic chicken, which is the definition that first comes to our sense. Obviously an egg is much more than the daily of decision how we like to have our breakfast: scrambled, fried or poached. Tea enthusiasts use a tea egg and we call someone naughty a bad egg. We walk on egg shells when we act cautiously as well as using eggs for certain sayings: no two eggs are exactly alike, for example.

Even scientists, theologians and philosophers have spent quite a lot of time thinking, discussing and literally quarreling about the egg. The question of how life began has always bothered mankind; we come up with approaches and theories to answer one question in particular: which came first, the chicken or the egg?

The egg plays a special role in every culture around the globe. It is the beginning and the end, life and death, birth and mortality. In many cultures, eggs were and still are symbols of cure, fertility, hope and sacrifice. They are also given on the way to the afterlife in some faiths.

In Chinese mythology, earth (yin) and heaven (yang) are formed from the world-egg Panku and ancient Egyptians represented the sun god Re as an egg. The Greek mythology of creation describes that Eros, who set the world in motion, arose from the silver world-egg. In Hinduism, Brahma and Shiva were born from the cosmic egg and Christians believe that the egg symbolizes hope and resurrection. Just to mention a few examples of how the symbolic character of the egg survived over centuries in different and widely separated civilizations.

“As a person I am not extra interesting” – Klimt

By Herwig Prammer

When you walk through central Vienna now you get the impression there are almost no other cultural events this year besides Gustav Klimt’s 150th birthday anniversary. Posters, postcards, sketch books, scarves, curtains, neck ties and gloves, umbrellas, cups and glasses, bottles and plates, boxes and containers on every corner are covered with his paintings. Copies of “The Kiss” even beautify toilet seats!

Originally I wanted to look at how Vienna pays tribute to this important Austrian “Wiener Jugendstil” (parallel to “Art Nouveau” in France) artist. But the growth of tacky commercialization of Klimt’s art has begun to taken center stage.

I learned this is mostly because the copyright time limit for Klimt’s art has recently run out and is partly due to his trend-setting work just being simply popular.

Ice marathon

By Heinz-Peter Bader

The Alternatieve Elfstedentocht (Alternative 11-City Race) has been a Dutch tradition since 1974. The original version in Friesland, an ice skating race over 200 km (124 miles) through 11 towns linked by canals, rivers and lakes, dates back many centuries. As the local waters don’t freeze over so easily anymore, the Dutch started looking for alternatives in other countries and organized an Alternatieve Elfstedentocht at lake Weissensee in Austria’s Carinthia Province in 1989 for the first time.

Nowadays the Alternatieve Elfstedentocht Weissensee is a two-week event with some 6,000 participants, mostly Dutch amateur speed skaters. A day before one of the 200 km races I went to shoot an event officially called the Frisian Shorttrack Championships, with athletes wearing traditional wooden skates and clothes, which turned out to be a fun race. Some 30 women, men and a boy competed in several knock-out races over 110 meters (yards) each, drinking traditional liquor between the heats, struggling more with their clothes than with the ice sometimes.

On the way to the competition I met Norbert Jank, the ice keeper of lake Weissensee, responsible for the preparation of the tracks and the one person to decide if the lake is frozen well enough for the event to take place. Well… it was. Mr. Jank took me out to the middle of the lake by car, grabbed his power saw and began carving deep into the ice. The piece he cut out was an impressive block some 40cm high (15 inches) – the thickness of the ice. It was not enough that Mr. Jank was proud of “his” ice, he wanted to demonstrate the lake’s drinking water quality, so he kneeled down and drank right out of the lake.

Walking the glacier

By Lisi Niesner

Usually I am absolutely not a fan of places where a mass of tourists assemble. I hate standing in line, dislike crowded sights, do not endure guides, prefer to eat meals characteristic of the country I’m visiting and I particularly cannot stand how functional tourists dress in their newly bought outdoor clothing – even if it is not necessary at all. That wind and water repellent jacket, those pants with a cooling fiber effect and, of course, the super soft sneaker shoes replacing the aerated sandals.

However, it has become a routine of mine to visit my relatives who live in the Zillertal valley but I had never visited the tourist attractions in the area. The Zillertal valley, located in the western Alps in the Austrian province of Tyrol, is well known for their “hardcore” tourism that has been operating for years.

It has never been easier to reach the top of a mountain or a glacier without shedding a drop of sweat. The expenses amount to around 30 euros and after a 30 minute ride on the cable car you will get access to a stunning view! On clear days you can look infinitely far.

Der Ball ist rund und das Spiel dauert 90 Minuten

“Der Ball ist rund und das Spiel dauert 90 Minuten” – the ball is round and the match lasts 90 minutes - words of wisdom from Sepp Herberger, known as the ’Miracle from Berne’, most famous as German national coach of the team which won the 1954 World Cup. 

The other night we had something like a miracle from Vienna – Michael Ballack struck a thunderbolt free kick to send an unconvincing Germany through to the quarter-finals of the European Soccer Championshop 2008 with a 1-0 win over co-hosts Austria. Ballack’s free kick, right-footed into the top corner and clocked at 121 kilometres an hour by a German TV station exactly describes, what acording to another German saying, is the whole point of the game, “das Runde muss ins Eckige – the round thing must go in the rectangular thing.

So that is easy enough – isnt it??

1
  
1. Germany’s Michael Ballack (4thL) scores from a free kick during their Group B Euro 2008 soccer match against Austria at the Ernst Happel Stadium in Vienna, June 16, 2008.     REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach.  2.  Austria’s goal keeper Juergen Macho fails to save a free kick by Germany’s Michael Ballack during their Group B Euro 2008 soccer match at the Ernst Happel Stadium in Vienna June 16, 2008.     REUTERS/Christian Charisius