Artist Statement: Tales of a City III
This series is the third part of an ongoing urban photo-narrative project about London and UK that is made of individual short stories. Each image captures and tells a single tale. It is a set of documentary street photography. All the photographer’s fetishistic elements are present: his plastic people, shop windows, abandoned objects, garbage, food, messages and street portraits. The group is linked by the same pop style, looking for effects, through saturated colors and reflections. Tales I was born almost spontaneously while Tales II showed the same motivations, and now Tales III, which was entirely shot using a 50mm lens, confirms the conceptual scheme of the whole project. In fact, some places have been re-visited to show the passing of time in the same details. The intention is to portray the old city and other United Kingdom towns shiny and new, once more.
Seigar is an English philologist, a high school teacher, and a curious photographer. He is a fetishist for reflections, saturated colors, details and religious icons. He feels passion for pop culture that shows in his series. He considers himself a travel and street photographer. His aim as an artist is to tell tales with his camera, to capture moments by trying to give them a new frame and perspective. Traveling is his inspiration. However, he tries to show more than mere postcards from his visits, creating a continuous conceptual line story from his trips. The details and subject matters come to his camera once and once again, almost becoming an obsession.
His three most ambitious projects so far are his “Plastic People," a study on anthropology and sociology that focuses on the humanization of the mannequins he finds in the shop windows all over the world, "Response to Ceal Floyer for the Summer Exhibition," a conceptual work that understands art as a form of communication, and his "Tales of a City," an ongoing urban photo-narrative project taken in London.
He usually covers public events with his camera showing his interest for social documentation. He has participated in several exhibitions, and his works have also been featured in international publications. He writes for The Cultural Magazine (Spain) about photography and for Memoir Mixtapes (Los Angeles) about music. He has collaborated with VICE Spain, WAG1 Magazine (text and photography for both), and his works have been featured in his Vogue Italy portfolio.
Links to Seigar’s social networks:
Links to recent interviews:
Have you ever been to Switzerland?
Kasia spent most of her summer in Basel this year and was kind enough to share some breathtaking photos with us.
We hope you love them as much as we do!
- Your friends at inCon
All photos are a courtesy of Kasia.
Spain is incredible, and I mean that even though I strongly dislike it’s party culture. I don’t know about you, but when teenagers stumble through the door between 4 AM and 10 AM in the morning drunk on calimocho (Coca-Cola and wine), high off of I don’t know what, or drunk and high at the same flippin’ time, it kind of drives me up the wall. I’ll let that go for now though and focus on some of the most popular and typical Spanish foods to try in this post.
First of all, HOLY MACARONI. Everything tastes good in Spain. Well, except gazpacho. It’s cold and way too peppery and somewhat overrated. Well, at least the kind that you can pour out of a carton and buy from the supermarket. Spaniards say that el gazpacho andaluz is something else though, so it doesn’t hurt to give it a shot. Still, if you don’t try it, you’re not missing much. Tranquilo.
Remember how I said I’d let the partying go though? Just give me another minute. Because as far as Spanish (alcoholic) beverages go, I have nothing to say about them, and I've never cared to try them. That’s right, study abroad people: you all could learn something. So if anyone’s wondering how a sangria or a Spanish cerveza (beer) or a mojito tastes, I GENUINELY DON’T KNOW. That’s a question for Google.
Now back to the food. If you’ve ever been to a tapas restaurant in the United States, and you don’t live in New York (La Boquería), Washington D.C. (José Andrés-owned restaurants), or a region heavily populated by Spaniards, I can almost bet that you’ve never had authentic Spanish food. Sorry. I live in Chicago, and even though the city’s humongo, I still haven't stumbled across slightly-better-than-edible Spanish cuisine.
Then again, maybe you could say that about any cuisine. I don’t know. It depends on how particular you are about the food you eat, I guess.
So what have you heard about Spanish gastronomy? What have you tried? Most people will recommend that you try Spanish tapas, but I'll tell you right now that that’s a pretty general recommendation because there are HUNDREDS of tapa dishes.
*I'm not sure how many people know this, but Spaniards don’t typically eat tapas for lunch. They usually order tapas at a restaurant bar when they sit down for an afternoon snack and an ice-cold cerveza before dinner. That's why traditional tapas come in small portions.
Let's start with the most typical tapas. Even if you know close to nothing about Spanish cuisine, you’ve probably heard of la tortilla de patata (Spanish omelet), patatas bravas, and croquetas (croquettes). They're all considerably well-known, and they’re delicious.
La tortilla de patata can easily be made at home with the right recipe (and a mayonnaise and ketchup dip if you’re looking to spice things up), las patatas bravas is a dish you’ll probably order no matter what if you’re in Spain or at a Spanish restaurant (even though I ONLY like the patatas from La Mejillonera), and croquetas are croquetas—the Spanish kind, not the French. There’s really nothing else to say about them. They’re delicious, and the jamón y queso (ham & cheese) ones are always at the top of someone's list.
Then there’s Spanish seafood. I’m not even a seafood person, and I still eat everything when I'm in Spain: salmon, sardines, mussels, shrimp, cod, squid, octopus, calamari, EVERYTHING.
As with any country, the different regions of Spain have their own specialties. Every region is famous for something: a dish, a fruit, a vegetable, olives, olive oil, ham, seafood, or some other commodity.
If you’re ever in Galicia, try Pulpo a la Gallega. I don’t know how to describe it, but it’s the best octopus I’ve ever had, and it’s to die for.
If you’re ever in Valencia, order a paella valenciana to share. I hear you can’t leave Spain without having a genuinely delectable seafood paella (or a vegetarian one if you’re not into seafood). Just remember that good paella is hard to come by. I warned you, so do your research beforehand.
If you’re ever in the west of Spain near Madrid, visit the ham museum and try some ham. Prices correspond to the quality of the ham, so don't be surprised or outraged by how expensive a few slices of jamón can be.
My favorites are jamón serrano, jamón ibérico, chorizo, longaniza, and salchichón. Fuet is another popular one, but I've never been all that crazy about it.
Oh, and if you’re ever in ANY part of Spain, order el flan de huevo for dessert because it is phenomenal. If it tastes anything like the one my host mom makes (and you like eggs), you're sure to enjoy it.
To be fair though, it's kind of hard for Spanish food not to be exquisite. It’s a fact, and if anyone wants to argue it, I’ll let you go first, but just know that you’ll lose. In case you didn't get that, I'll say it again: EVERYTHING is good in Spain (food-wise). The bread, the cheese, the salads, and even the magdalenas (muffins/cupcakes) from traditional Spanish panaderías are mouthwatering, so take advantage of the real, authentic Spanish food all around you while you're in Spain.
On that note, I think I’m going to do the same and head over to the local panadería in Jaca after la hora de la siesta. I'm visiting over the summer right now, and it’s actually my host parents' anniversary today, so I think I’ll drop by the pastelería for a cake too.
¡Hasta la próxima!
And stay tuned for my top picks of "Spanish foods to try in Spain."
This post features some VERY typical and popular Spanish dishes, but the ones on my own list may be completely new to you!
I’d probably never have ended up in Daytona Beach had it not been for the Daytona 500, but I’m glad I did. It’s a beautiful, peaceful, sleepy town. Even during race week, I felt like there weren't enough people around; it reminded me of the kind of beach town that you might read about in a 1980s American novel: quaint but more like a vacation destination than a hometown.
Fun fact: there are cats EVERYWHERE in Daytona, so if you're superstitious and don't like black cats, don't look down at your feet. Chances are you'll see one...
Since it was race week and we’d decided very last minute that we were going to be in attendance, nearly every hotel was booked by the time we started looking. It didn’t matter whether the hotel was rated low or high on booking.com. Everyone took what they could get.
I think we got lucky though. My mom ended up finding a vacancy at The German Berl’ Inn (Get it? Berl-in…), and we loved it. The location was safe and beautiful, and it was the first time that I’d ever stayed at a Bed & Breakfast, much less a historic looking one that took me back in time to a classier, more traditional era. I loved the feel of the place. It wasn’t a big inn, but it felt like the kind of vacation house that I’d have dreamt up. When I first walked in, I felt like I was in Europe again.
The family that ran the inn was from Berlin, and they were the most hospitable people I'd ever met. I'd say their hospitality might've even superseded their delicious, freshly prepared breakfasts, and the breakfast choices were pretty hard to beat.
Needless to say, I’m glad we found this place and met so many wonderful people.
We arrived on Saturday, got settled in, and then met with some friends who drove from Orlando to see us. We ended up going to the Daytona Beach Boardwalk, and I enjoyed the atmosphere. People were suntanning on the beach, swimming in the ocean, and buying ice cream at parlors attached to larger restaurants and arcades. There were carnival rides too, and it was a fun place to be.
Since it was mid-afternoon, we decided to find a place to grab some coffee, but everywhere was packed, so we ended up at Johnny Rockets. It's a traditional American deli, and though I don’t know how good their food is because I’d gotten a brownie sundae, I liked the open kitchen and the dancing waiters/waitresses who sang along to this one classic American song every time it came on.
Shortly after, we went to dinner at Rossellini’s, and my goodness, I knew right away that the owners were Italian. I don’t think I’d ever had a better margarita pizza in the U.S. The calamari was just as delicious, and the olive paste that went with the bread was to die for. Needless to say, we delighted in an evening of fine dining.
The Daytona 500
Read Part One here.
After a delicious breakfast, we had the entire morning to explore Daytona Beach before heading to the airport, so my mom and I decided to walk across the bridge to the beach resorts along the island strip. It was a scenic and relaxing walk. I probably should’ve applied more sunscreen and chosen more comfortable shoes to walk in, but I enjoyed myself all the same.
This time, we stopped by a couple souvenir shops to buy postcards and t-shirts (I like to collect them), and then we stepped into Zeno’s Boardwalk Sweet Shop for “the world’s most famous” saltwater taffy. There were so many flavors to choose from, and the shop smelled SO GOOD. There was even a taffy spinning machine in the window! I found it so fascinating that I took a video of it.
Afterwards, we revisited the beach and walked back across the bridge to Sweet Marlays’ Coffee (in the South Beach Street Historic District) for a snack before heading to the airport. The shop's pastries and beverages were divine, and their hummus dip was also insanely delicious.
It was the ideal café. I couldn't even have imagined it to be better if I tried!
On our way back to the hotel, we saw the marina again, did a little window shopping, marveled at the grandfather clocks on display in the windows of traditional antique stores, and said goodbye to Daytona before getting on the plane to Atlanta and then from there to Chicago. My last farewell was, of course, to the Daytona International Speedway, and as I sat back and relaxed while the plane took off, I decided that I’d like to come back someday.
What is the Daytona 500?
It’s the most well known NASCAR race (and the first major stock car race of the season) held in Daytona Beach, Florida, the birthplace and headquarters of NASCAR. Though the dates vary, it usually takes place towards the end of February at the Daytona International Speedway. The racetrack is tri-oval shaped and has a slope that ranges from 18 to 31 degrees to prevent cars from flying off the track, and even then, restrictor plates are required to keep speed and horsepower low enough to guarantee safety. Each lap around the track is 2.5 miles. Since the DAYTON 500 is 500 miles long, drivers must complete 200 laps to finish.
The technique that drivers employ is called drafting, which allows them to gather more speed in a vacuum formed by leading cars. That’s why drivers form certain formations and try to stay closer together.
How I ended up there:
I begged. That’s pretty much how it went down. I’d gotten an email about three weeks before the race asking if I was still interested in volunteering at the Daytona 500, and I jumped at the chance. In the end, my mom and I only went for the race because there were too many logistical roadblocks involved with volunteering, but it all started with that one email.
Everything after happened so fast that I had to pull out all the stops for my mom to agree to my crazy plan. At first, it was begrudgingly (for obvious reasons). Most hotels were sold out, two round trip plane tickets were worth the price of six, and a lot of people were iffy about “the racing crowd.” I’ll get to that.
I know better than anyone that I’d given my mom a hard time, and I’m not even sure I would’ve said yes to myself if I had been the parent, but I think she could tell how badly I wanted to see the race, and since she knew that I wouldn’t take advantage of how easygoing she was deciding to be with me, she agreed.
Why I so desperately wanted to go:
It’s true that I’m not the biggest diehard NASCAR fan out there, but I'd always known that the Daytona 500 is a legendary sporting event, and I'd always been captivated by the spirit and enthusiasm of those who love it. I found it fascinating that people from across the nation would travel to Daytona Beach for just a night or two to see the race, so I wanted to experience its allure for myself.
Going to the race was about the people, the atmosphere, the experience. For me, it’s always been that way when it comes to sporting events, and it always will be. When I’m a part of an event like the Daytona 500, I get to witness and share in the excitement of all the passionate people around me; I get to laugh with them and enjoy a few moments away from the world to have a bit of fun. There’s nothing like it. The way that we, a bunch of strangers, can come together, laugh, and cheer together is incredible. It’s infectious, and it steals my breath away. In an ideal world, we'd always be that way with each other, but since that isn't the case, I take what I can get and make the most of it.
The Daytona 500 was a real sight to see. I can personally attest to the fact that it was much more sophisticated and organized than most people would think, and I instantly understood why hundreds of thousands of people traveled from near and far away to see it. Though the event began at 2:30 PM, most people spent the entire morning at the speedway. We arrived around 10 AM.
After we got there, I couldn’t stop smiling. There was just so much to do outside the racetrack! Entertainment stations were set up, cars were on display for people to marvel at, the gift shops had air-conditioning, Monster Energy took fans on test drives in four-wheel cars that could balance on two wheels, and NASCAR sponsors were practically launching free t-shirts into ever-growing crowds. Needless to say, the place was packed and buzzing with good vibes. It was also extremely family-friendly.
The Pre-Race Show was also a highlight of the race. It was fantastic. Rascal Flatts performed, and the crowd sang along to hits like “Yours If You Want It,” “I Like the Sound of That,” and “Life is a Highway.” It was a blast.
Shortly after, nervous energy began to penetrate the air, and I felt my heart race as drivers were introduced, interviews took place, the National Anthem was performed, fighter jets executed an impressive flyover, and the famous countdown finally began.
It might not seem all that entertaining to sit for hours watching the same cars race around the same track for 200 laps, but when you’re there, and when the people around you are sitting on the edge of their seats and even standing up as cars drive by, it’s hard not to get caught up in the hype. Even my mom enjoyed herself, and I would’ve never pegged her as a NASCAR fan.
The leaderboard changed constantly, and when accidents happened (i.e. a six-car pileup), everyone was anxious to know which cars had been caught in the mess, which ones would need serious repairs, and which drivers would end up with a DNF (Did Not Finish) beside their names. It seems that every year there’s a fan favorite, so imagine the crowd’s disappointment when Chase Elliott (#9) could no longer compete in the race.
It’s true that some of the people around us were a bit… sloshed, especially after all the beers that they’d had, but they were all harmless, and no one was ever hostile. The craziest thing that happened was probably the guy sitting behind us relentlessly offering his never-ending supply of alcohol and asking to take selfies. Nothing we couldn’t handle.
Overall, and for SO many reasons, we enjoyed ourselves immensely at the Daytona 500. It was a new and beautiful experience. I like to think that we learned from it and lived it to the fullest.
Plan your trip well in advance. It’s easier to secure the best travel/accommodation packages that way (because they will sell out).
Call to buy tickets and choose seats that are higher up for a better view. It can get LOUD by the track.
Bring lots of sunscreen and dress comfortably and lightly. It’s ALWAYS hot in Daytona.
Bring earplugs if you have sensitive ears or decide to sit close to the track.
Arrange for transportation ahead of time, and try not to drive because when 250,000 people vacate the speedway at the exact same time, it can take awhile.
Try not to wander around the area by the speedway alone or at night. It’s not the safest place in Daytona.
Part Two coming soon! It’ll be more travel oriented for those of you interested in getting to know Daytona Beach.
There are endless ways to travel, to discover, to get to know some exotic, effortlessly beautiful place in this world. Some of us like to explore with cameras at the ready, some with journals of overflowing description, and others with eyes and a mind wide open. As I like to say, to each their own.
Normally, I travel with my family, and I don’t mind the drama that is my brother, the adventurer that is my mother, or the gastronomy enthusiast that is my father. As a matter of fact, I love the chaos of the four of us bursting at once with the spirit of adventure. We always manage to have fun.
In July of 2017, however, I tried something different: I traveled with a priority and objective in mind that wasn’t travel. Instead, I flew to Wroclaw, Poland to volunteer in The World Games. For those of you unfamiliar with The World Games, it’s an international multi-sport event that mostly features non-Olympic sports and gymnastics (an Olympic sport) seeking qualification in the next Olympics. I won’t go into detail, though. That’s a post for another day.
The point of this one? Taking part in The World Games allowed me to explore Wroclaw differently than I would’ve if I’d gone solely for the travel. Instead, I’d made friends first, and they were the ones to show me around the city. Since many of them were local high school and university students, they knew the city like the back of their hand, and I got to experience the beauty of traveling with them as a volunteer first and a tourist second.
Without further ado, I present to you my top 4 reasons to travel as a volunteer:
1. You get to interact with locals, and locals don’t sightsee the way that tourists do.
Of course, my friends showed me many of the sights to see around town during the first few days so that I could be a tourist for a little while, but it all played out naturally and effortlessly. They’d point to a building or a cathedral or a statue as we strolled down Rynek, tell a fascinating story, show me the best places to take pictures around Market Square, and then take photos of me making silly faces at the camera. They’d show me the most popular places to eat, the best convenience stores in town to run to in case of an emergency, the donut shop or ice cream parlor most frequented by locals, and even the cutest bookstores! Every once in a while, I’d get treated to a little history lesson or fun fact, and sometimes they’d add in a little myth or local legend for good measure.
I remember it was late in the afternoon when my friend and I walked into a protesting crowd one night, and she immediately filled me in on the conflict between the people and the Polish government. As we smoothly navigated through the large crowd, she translated what the protesters were chanting so that I could better understand the situation. There was no need for alarm, and I even got a glimpse of Poland’s political climate at the time.
2. The experience is refreshing and stress free.
If you’ve ever been on a walking tour or guided tour in a foreign city, you might agree that they’re very structured and fast paced because they run on tight schedules and have their own agendas. The tour guides will try to give you the History.com version of whatever you’re looking at in under five minutes, and sometimes they walk so fast that if you spend just a second too long gazing at the scenery, you might get lost.
But that was not the case in Wroclaw; it was actually the opposite:
My friends and I had eight hour shifts at the gymnastics venue where we were assigned, but when we weren’t busy assisting gymnasts, coaches, and judges, we’d take the tram to the city center and just enjoy ourselves. We’d walk a little, talk a little, and even shop a little at a grocery store or shopping mall that we’d stumble across. We’d spot the dwarves that were scattered throughout the city—a trademark of Wroclaw—and bask in the warm weather while eating ice cream and drinking soda.
When we’d had enough of sitting around, we’d get up, stroll through the city park, and even visit some of my friends’ old school campuses because they just so happened to be nearby. The topic of school would then come up, and we’d compare our lives as students while watching cars and trams criss cross each other on the highway from our safe little spot on the sidewalk. We were never in a hurry to see everything and not miss anything, and I loved that I could take all the time that I wanted to revel in the moment. Better yet, I never had to worry about finding directions, about not getting lost, about making it onto the bus in time for the next stop.
I got to experience a day in the life of a Wroclaw resident, and I didn’t mind so much that I didn’t get to visit the city’s famous zoo or Sky Tower because it wasn’t about seeing or doing EVERYTHING. It was about doing whatever it was that I was doing to the fullest, and I did just that.
3. You get to meet people from all over the world.
Traveling can sometimes be isolating and exclusive, but when I traveled alone as a volunteer, the only people that I talked to were strangers (until they became acquaintances and even friends, of course), and I LOVED IT. I met people of all ages and nationalities, and even though I was in Wroclaw, I felt like I was socializing with half of the world. The athletes, judges, and volunteers in The World Games were diverse, interesting, cultured, and friendly. Not only that, they were as curious about me as I was about them, and every occasion was the perfect one to get acquainted.
I remember running into Colombian athletes on the tram and striking up a conversation with them in Spanish, chatting with the manager of the Chinese artistic gymnastics team at a local grocery store in Chinese, and having local people shake my hand, stop to chat, and even ask for selfies around the city center. I got to work with a Brazilian student studying abroad in Poland, a German university student, a Russian photographer, a cheerful Lithuanian girl, a Belarusian student, and a Japanese girl who spent years teaching gymnastics in South America. There was also one guy that came from Mexico, another that came from Africa, and of course, many sociable Polish volunteers.
During my time as a volunteer, I've spoken with my hands to communicate with Korean athletes, helped Australians navigate a Polish coffee machine (with my handy Google translator), chatted with a Belgian judge who was about twice as tall as I was, and greeted this one Portuguese gymnastics coach with a kiss to each cheek every single time we met each other.
And that’s not even the half of it!
Honestly, it’s amazing what a VOLUNTEER t-shirt can do. It’s like a “welcome” sign that attracts friendly people like a moth to a flame, and in those moments, even though I’m a foreigner in a foreign city, I feel like I’m a part of something special and familiar. Being in Poland like that, as a volunteer surrounded by friendly faces, I realized that I can never truly discover a place without getting to know its people because travel is SO MUCH more than discovering beautiful places to look at. It’s about learning a new culture, a new way of life, a new perspective. The best way to do that is through the people.
4. Free transportation and accommodation.
Transportation and accommodation were a true blessing to have because I couldn’t have imagined getting around and finding a place to stay on my own at 16 years old. I might’ve been in Europe, but the “I’ll be 17 in two months” conversation probably wouldn’t have gotten me anywhere. The motto was “18 or nothing,” and there were no exceptions. Volunteering at The World Games, however, was not only a dream and a memorable experience but an alternative to dragging my poor mom along with me just so that she could babysit our hotel room while I spent the day volunteering. Not only was my stay covered, I also got a complimentary breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day. All I had to do was buy a plane ticket, and since I would’ve had to do that (and more) to visit Poland anyways, I had no qualms about it.
Throughout my stay, I felt safe and taken care of. I had a room at a university dormitory that the organization had occupied, and I had an accreditation pass that granted me free transportation on the tram. If I’d had the time, I could’ve probably explored the entire city without having to worry about bus fare or about paying for a taxi. It was very stress free, and since I made friends within two hours of being in Wroclaw, I was rarely alone or lonely.
More than that, I discovered that there were easier ways to interact with the community that I was traveling to and better ways to do so than to stay in some hotel in Old Town for three short, hurried days before moving onto the next destination. 11 days was the perfect amount of time for me to sightsee, make friends, and still want to return to Wroclaw someday soon.