A picture for the funeral card
The Austrian young photographer Simon Lehner has been with us for a long time. In the first printed issue of the C/O VIENNA magazine – THE PRIVATE ISSUE we published his intimate and humorous documentary KOAL. It shows how his grandpa Karl perceives his everyday life in rural Upper Austria. We asked Simon to write a few words about him.
The wheels of my pedal go-kart rattle loudly over the loose manhole cover in my grandparents’ garden, which I use as a curb. I turn into the chalk-drawn pit lane. My grandpa awaits me there for the imaginary tire change. “And off you go!” he shouts as I move on.
“And off you go!”
The wheels of my pedal go-kart rattle loudly over the loose manhole cover in my grandparents’ garden, which I use as a curb. I turn into the chalk-drawn pit lane. My grandpa awaits me there for the imaginary tire change. “And off you go!” he shouts as I move on.Twelve years later I turn into the same pit lane with a new set of tires: This time it is not the wheels but the rattle of the motor of my first real car. We squat on the rough asphalt in the garden, and while we change the tires of my car he asks me with a slight smirk in his voice: “Know what I don’t get? You really don’t get tired of taking photos of me, right? Am I not doing the same thing over and over again?”
“No, not at all. I just don’t know how the project could end yet, but I still have lots of time.”
“You shouldn’t take too much time with the end of your project,” he laughs and inquires further: “What’s gonna happen with all the pictures you’ve taken of me when I’m not here anymore?”
“Maybe I’ll make a book about our relationship and the changes in the family over time.”
Since five years I’ve been trying to come up with a good ending with my photos, clinging onto every scrap of time, preparing myself for what there is to come. He has already prepared for everything. He visited the place where he will be cremated. His testament is written, the house divided up between the daughters. The only thing missing is a recent photograph for his funeral card.
“Hey, when you visit next time we have to make a new photo for my funeral. I’ll wear the suit again and we’ll make another one, okay? One that shows me in my current condition. You know, people should recognize me as I am now when they look at the card.”