The Kathmandu Café in mul­ti­ple di­men­sions

Geist - - Features - MANDELBROT

Zero De­gree Din­ing

Pho­to­graphs are the pure ex­pres­sion of per­spec­tive, which is the tech­nique of map­ping three di­men­sions onto two. Drama in a pho­to­graph results from the op­ti­cal re­la­tions of near to far de­fined from a sin­gle point in space. (You can see the per­spec­tive ef­fect by look­ing at the world with one eye open.) Su­per­im­pos­ing sev­eral per­spec­tives in near align­ment can ren­der space in ap­par­ently more than three di­men­sions, as in this pho­to­graph of the Kathmandu Café in Van­cou­ver. Walls, floor and ceil­ing are thrown open in pro­jec­tion, peeled away from their nor­mal align­ment, to cre­ate a kind of map, or chart, of the do­main of the first pro­pri­etor of the Kathmandu Café, Abi Sharma, who stands here ad­ja­cent to rather than en­closed by the sur­faces of his world.

The Kathmandu Café, a favourite din­ner and meet­ing place for Geist friends and staff since it opened in 2005 un­der the pro­pri­etor­ship of Abi Sharma and then Pradeep Sharma (no re­la­tion), closed its doors on the first of March, 2016, for rea­sons of fam­ily. It was unique among restau­rants in of­fer­ing a kind of De­gree Zero in din­ing (to steal a term from Roland Barthes): a hand­some space de­void of em­bel­lish­ment, a menu de­void of os­ten­ta­tion, ser­vice de­void of

per­for­mance, an at­mos­phere of plain com­fort de­void of polemic. These are el­e­ments that com­bined to make the Kathmandu strange in the full and ex­cit­ing mean­ing of that word. We are told to watch for a new Kathmandu Café a year from now. Per­haps this im­age can serve as a map of what has been and what might be yet to come. Mandelbrot is a pho­tog­ra­pher who has been writ­ing about photography since 1990. In an­other life he is Stephen Os­borne, co­founder and con­tribut­ing pub­lisher of Geist. Read more of Mandelbrot’s work at

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