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ISSN 2056-919X


EDITOR’S LETTER As we stumble into the new year, the typical annual ritual of dedicating ourselves to ‘resolutions’ can only mean one of three things. Failing to stick to the gym past the month of January, the very unlikely outcome that we will give up chocolate, or generally creating over the top expectations for ourselves. Here at Artefact we do new years’ resolutions slightly differently. So, we welcome you to the resolution issue. We only hope that our goals for the new year stretch farther than the ones that may only impact our own lives. We have aimed to cover topics that are open for debate, and can only be developed with the conversation and participation of readers. In this issue we attempt to dig deeper into the problems we face around the world, although never forgetting to make note of the fact that there is and always will be a resolution to our difficulties within society, as long as we open the dialogue. By discussing, disputing and bringing awareness to these topics we hope that we can illustrate the need for change in these areas. As we brainstorm and start to debate these topics, we identify that there is potential for resolution, always. Our stories aim to bring light to and cover matters that impact people all over the world, whilst also digging into the topics that are changing the way we live our lives closer to home. Valentina Bulava looks at the dark side of the entertainment industry, delving into the life of club promoters in the UK and the difficulties they face as entertainers. Exploring the future of transportation in our world, Dan Marino explores the prospect of air travel as a form of a daily commute, touching on the ambitions of Uber and the idea of a futuristic world we may already be living in. Using a more hard hitting approach, Chaz Layton takes us on an emotional journey, describing the difficulties of growing up living with an addict and how this can impact a young persons life. Apai-Ketuya Marchant investigates the issues facing the LGBT community in African cultures, as she interviews Cameroonian blogger, Bandy Kiki about her experience of coming out as lesbian to her large and loyal social media following. Looking at the future of human communications, Rachel Garner discusses the future of language learning, and the place it may have in our society in years to come. Around this time of year, as a society we are used to reflecting on our own lives and deciding what we need to develop, which is undeniably a great step towards self-improvement.


CONTENTS

CONTRIBUTORS Magazine Tayo Andoh, Recka Begum, Valentina Bulava, Molly Burgess, Zaynah Butt, Andra-Maria Ciupitu, Connor Davidson, Rachel Garner, Elizabeth Gillings, Jamie Hilferty, Edena Klimenti, Apai-Ketuya Marchant, Zoe Mundell. Isabel Ramirez Cintron, Luisa Rossi, Josephine Schulte, Aino Silvennoinen, Emilia Slupecka, Danyang Zheng

18 Dealing your way through uni Christopher Forsythe 20 Lost in translation Rachel Garner 22 Oral art of the 21st century Alysha Shariff 24 Palestine: remember the 4th of November Anjuman Rahman 26 Who made my clothes? Natalia Faisal 30 The reality of a virtual future Christopher Forsythe 32 Back to the Sixties Elana Dickson 34 From Syria to Germany Alba Regidor Diaz

Feedback artefactlcc@gmail.com Art Direction & Design Oswin Tickler, Smallfury

38 The Walthamstow wetlands Charlotte Layton

Cover: Based on an original photograph by Declan Slattery, Model Fenn O’Meally

Instagram @artefactmag

48 Food-bank Britain Elyse O’Donnell

14 Living with an addict Charlotte Layton

Tutors Simon Hinde (magazine) Vivienne Francis (social media) Russell Merryman (website)

Twitter @artefactlcc

05 My eyes are open so why can’t I see? Phoebe Robinson

10 When Boris Johnson visited LCC Defne Saricetin

Website Jesus Barrera Rodriguez, Fiona Berbatovci, Natalia Faisal, Christopher Forsythe, Jennifer Freitas de Castro, Teresa Gottein Bartosz Kielak, Denieka Lafayette, Daniel Marino, Carla Mbappe, Ginny Pettitt, Anjuman Rahman, Alba Regidor Diaz, Elsa Barbera, Defne Saricetin, Pavel Troughton, Alexandra Vislyaeva, Phali-Tavia Wakadima, Flavia Wright

Facebook artefactmagazine

44 Drawn to Islam Edena Klimenti

06 Dancing at ‘Le Crazy’ Josephine Schulte

Social media Danielle Anastasi, Charisse Chikwiri, Josie Collins, Valentina Curci, Elana Dickson, Anna Dolgova Omima Elmattawaa, Charlotte Layton, Shannon Lyford, Danielle Mayall, Elyse O’Donnell, Diana Orfani, Phoebe Robinson, Alysha Shariff, Michael Ukaegbu, James Underdown, Antoinette Wentworth-Smith

Website artefactmagazine.com

04 Fraud boys Antoinette Wentworth-Smith

50 The path of the pilgrim Teresa Gottein 54 Nasty women Valentina Bulava 60 Has the future arrived? Dan Marino 62 Copping not shopping Molly Burgess 64 Turn to the Right? Jesus Barrera Rodriguez 68 Sharing is caring Josie Collins 70 Cryptocurrencies Elyse O’Donnell 72 Gaming addiction Charlotte Layton 76 The slaughter of Rohingyans Anjuman Rahman 77 African and lesbian Apai-Ketuya Marchant 78 “If a universe can be imagined, it exists” Alexandra Vislyeva 80 Vox pops 82 Straight talking James Underdown

18 “Boris Johnson is escorted in by his bodyguard”

Published by London College of Communication, London SE1 6SB 3


Fraud boys: The rich kids of Instagram Online scammers like to boast about their ill-gotten gains

Fraud is one of the oldest professions; for as long as people have had things, people have wanted to relieve them of their money or property. Whereas in the past there was a general policy of ‘no face, no case’, fraud boys have now begun to brag about their ill-gotten gains on social media, sharing pictures of their cars, cash, and holidays paid for with other people’s money. These lavish lifestyles are often documented on popular image-based app Instagram. One account, Capone Adams, posts videos of himself buying alcohol, holding wads of cash, and what appears to be processing fraudulent transactions. Whilst the sale of credit cards and accounts is very common on the Dark web, it has now crept into the mainstream web with hackers selling the information through the popular image-based social media platform. One Vietnam-based user who goes by Old Hacker advertises the sale of credit card information, packages with a people identifying information (fullz), and Paypal accounts. The anonymous Russian also provides a valued service, which is cash transfers through Western Union, which those sending money being able to stay anonymous. One former fraudster got involved through a friend's boyfriend when they were both struggling to pay their bills and rent, and he ended up agreeing to work for the gangster. “He would give us cards, and we’d go shopping and sell the stuff, sometimes we’d get cash back at the tills. One month I moved around £19,000 worth of stuff; that month I made £5,000.” Whilst they quit their low-level part in the system after a short time, for many others the lifestyle is highly addictive; fraud makes huge amounts of cash instantly available, and the ability to provide for those around them. Lucy* grew up in Tottenham where the crime rate is 77 per cent higher than the national average. She told us that most people get involved in fraud in their mid-teen years. “Basically, a lot of people get into fraud at a young age, as teenagers. They will speak to someone who will say to them, ‘do you want to make a lot of money’, and they will say yes.” They will then ask if their friends to open accounts, and then ask them if they want to make money. The person at the top of this chain will then deposit illegal, dirty money into one of their accounts for 4

them to withdraw, so it can be laundered —money laundering is the process of taking illegally gained money, and putting it through a transaction in order to make it legitimate to use. “One reason why people get into fraud is because they want to have bulk money, and a generous amount of it at any given time—that’s not to say that the life of a fraudster is easy, because they will spend Monday to Thursday going through people’s details however they obtain them and figure out if their details match and will be useful for what they are doing”. Social media is often considered a second life, and fraudsters are using their social media accounts to show people what they do and what they’re capable of. However, people also get caught this way. “In cases where people are living the fast life, they want people to see— this is how they get status in their inner communities to show that they are the guy, because that’s what matters. That’s what people believe matters. They’ll post pictures of a car, forgetting that they are not working a legitimate nine-to-five job”.

Words: Antoinette Wentworth-Smith Images: Reece Garside via Flickr.com

Lucy alludes to the facts that in these communities, people seem to respect not only the money, but the fact that people are able to commit fraud. It's been suggested that the fraudsters get an adrenaline kick from people knowing that they have unlimited funds, not realising that they are potentially exposing themselves. “People get caught all the time. We are being watched all the time, [the police] are making databases and can hack into your social media; people can see something, and say something without realising the implications of what that has on the person they are talking about”. Fraud is now being used daily by these perpetrators, from shoes and clothes, to lunch. Bank manager Phil* sees victims of fraud on a daily basis.“Of course fraud is on the rise now, back in the day, if you were brave enough you could go and just rob a bank, but now for the effort [the thief would] put in, you don’t get much money. It’s much easier to rob people from the comfort of their own home.” * interviewee's name has been changed to protect their identity. b


My eyes are open so why can’t I see? A rare condition that changes the life of its victims —how one person overcame the worst experience of her life

Birdshot chorioretinopathy is a rare disease that affects as few as five out of 10,000 people in the population. The first case was identified in 1949, and was then given the name “Birdshot” in 1980, due to the small orange and cream coloured retinal spots the patient gets on the eye resembling pellets fired from a shot gun. The cause of Birdshot is unknown but it is believed to be an autoimmune disease. This means that the immune system, that should be fighting against disease, attacks its own body tissues. Stephanie Davies was told that she may never regain her sight, and she’s been talking to Artefact about the impact of this life-changing illness. “On the morning of my youngest son’s fourth birthday, I woke up with a piercing pain in both eyes, as I lay in my bed, my husband at my side, I thought I was dreaming. The room was black and I couldn’t tell if my eyes were open or closed. As my husband prodded my arm he said ‘Steph, why are you staring at the ceiling? Get up its Mattie’s birthday. “My heart was pounding in my chest. ‘If my eyes are open, why can’t I see?’ I thought. “It then took four weeks to get an official diagnosis from the Eye Hospital, after what felt like hundreds of tests, and endless hours of screaming because of the agony behind my eyes.” It was then that Stephanie was told she had Birdshot chorioretinopathy, and that it was a rare disease that usually affects white adults, usually female, aged between 40 and 60. “Being a thirty-five-year-old woman, I never expected to be told I may be blind for the rest of my life,” she told us. “After the first time, I woke up unable to see, my vision did come back however it was never for good. I was able to watch my son open his presents on his fourth birthday, but that was the last time I could see the joy on his face as he opened the gifts we had wrapped for him,” she recalled. Stephanie explained how she started treatment for her condition, which consisted of a concoction of steroid and supplement tablets to try and stop her immune system attacking her body, but despite that, nothing seemed to change. “Every day I had extreme pain, not only in my eyes but my entire body seemed to be giving up on me. Every day I had to deal with the constant stomach cramps and fatigue, I had bruises all over my body, another side effect of the

medication I was taking that didn’t seem to help. “My morale was low and it began to take its toll on my family, my husband was struggling to deal with my mood swings and the consequences of my vision being limited, and on some days completely gone.” Stephanie said the illness affected the whole family: “Exactly three months after the day I woke up unable to see, my husband told me he could no longer live with me in my condition, and therefore wanted to divorce. It was then that my world came tumbling down around me, how would I take care of my kids now? How was I going to find someone else to love me when I can’t see them?” Two years on, she says she is learning to deal with her condition: “My sight is now completely gone. My husband moved out of our home and is now in a relationship with another woman. At first I was envious of her, of everyone who had the gift of sight that I no longer had, but over time I am beginning to come to

Words: Phoebe Robinson Images: Tookapic via Pexels CC

terms with the fact the being different is a good thing. Through my condition, I can help others who may end up in the same boat as me.” She said there has been support from a range of sources: “A year into my journey I was appointed a guide dog from an organisation called Guidedogs.org. Not only does Reggie help me with my day to day life, as I walk down the street I now have the confidence that I am not alone, I may not have my own eyes but I see through him.” Stephanie also says she has recovered from some of the other effects of the illness: “I also found a man who accepts me despite my condition, he taught me that being different does not define who I am. “In some ways, I am proud that I am different to most people, living with Birdshot Chorioretinopathy has made me a stronger person, not only for myself but for my children and for everyone else who has to go through what I have. “My name is Stephanie Davies. I am proud to be blind.” b 5


Words and images: Josephine Schulte

T A G N I DANC ‘LE CRAZY’ ’s t Paris a s e n e b the sc ret clu d a n b i a h c e s B ou restigi most p

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In a little box of a room, draped in deep-red velvet, full of objects from the past, I am waiting for Enny Gmatic and Martha von Krupp. Those are not girls whose parents went a little crazy on the name-giving, but two dancers at possibly the worlds most prestigious, ‘adult only’ Cabaret. Paris’ Le Crazy Horse, also known as ‘le Crazy’. The risqué cabaret is since its opening situated just a few steps away of Paris’ Champs Élysées and the Seine, on the Avenue George 5, and is home to the crème de la crème of international dancers and performers. Everything about the two girls that enter the room perfectly fits into the Crazy Horse’s spirit. They have big smiles on their faces and are graceful in every gesture and move they make, from their posture to the way they position their hands sitting down on the red velvet sofas. They are wearing colourful skin-tight bodysuits, very high heels and the iconic blood-red lipstick.

“The a udition is terri bly frighte nin intimid g and ating ”

“I saw the show, and I was like, I have to do that!”, Says Martha, who has been dancing the Crazy Horse for three years. The black-haired beauty is British and trained in London. French/British Enny on the other hand, has been a dancer at the Cabaret for six years, outlasting the average tenure of girls at the cabaret of about five years. Ever since the cabaret opened its doors in 1951, it has gained a front row seat in French culture. So much so that the show has been broadcast on television on the 31st of December. Bernardin, way ahead of his time, took naked cabaret and turned it into something sophisticated by creating the ‘art du nu’, glorifying female sexuality and showcasing it as art. At the time nude girls could be found in Paris’ red light district Pigalle, but there they did not dance. Inspired by American burlesque, Bernardin was determined to create the ‘most beautiful cabaret in the world’. He integrated elements of the New Wave, New Realism, Pop Art and Fashion into the shows, that would revolutionise the industry. Very quickly the Crazy Girls danced their way to become as iconic as the Berghain or Studio 54 with regulars like Salvador Dali and Andy Warhol. Because of the cultural status of the

Crazy Horse, the pressure at the audition is double as intimidating for the native French dancers “Everybody has watched it, like since you are a kid. Watching it with your grandma.”, Enny explains. Even though it was intense, without the cultural baggage, for British Martha, the audition was like any other. “They don’t give you any choreography. In auditions for me normally it is the choreography that freaks me out. This they let you express yourself how you want, so you just improvise the music, and you dance how you like.”, She explains. The audition for the Crazy Horse is something most would consider terribly frightening and intimidating. The girls come on to the little stage one by one in very tiny little outfits, covering only the necessary and improvise to a surprise song, while a jury of a handful of people is carefully watching. Once accepted the girls go through a two month very intense training period in which they mutate into ‘Crazy Girls’. All the girls coming in, need to be classically trained in ballet, jazz or contemporary. Those techniques they bring with them are a necessary base to create a new 7


kind of dancer. “We dance on Christian Louboutin heels, which are 12cm high. We arch our back loads during the show. So all your basics of the dancing are completely like brushed away”, Enny explains. Next, to intense dance training, the girls are also taught to correctly do, their hair and makeup. Hair is a vital part of their stage look, especially for Enny whose short curls are her trademark. “Your curls, its so iconic, people notice you because of your hair. And your beautiful face and body”, Martha tells Enny and leans back on the couch giggling. “Enny was my captain when I arrived. She was the one who gave me the note about my hair. She was like you need to take care of it, cause you have got long hair, and you need to make sure not to get foundation on in it, so make sure you keep it nice and away from the foundation, keep it shiny.”, Says Martha. Her hair is in fact so shiny I had to double check with her if it’s real. After training the dancers are given new identities. They are baptised with stage names that take into consideration their characteristics and dance styles they mutate into nocturnal, erotic mythical figures. Costumes and collaborations with the designers play an essential part in the shows. Located in the midst of the haute-couture fashion houses Saint-Laurent, Givenchy and Balenciaga, back, in the beginning, Bernardin agreed to tone down the outside decorations of his Cabaret in exchange for costumes. Since then Karl Lagerfeld, Paco Rabanne, and Azzedine Alaia have all created costumes for the show and Christian Louboutin, specially creates the heals for the girls to dance on. Unlike at other cabarets, the girls at the Crazy Horse switch positions every night. All the dancers are trained to dance multiple positions and solos so that they can rotate around. “For me for instance, when I am going to work, I don’t know what I’m going to be doing in the show, which is really nice, takes of the routine,” says Martha, also explaining that the girls are taught dance parts, according to their heights. Because even though all the girls are very similar in height and size, they are still grouped with each other according to minimal differences. Martha is 173cm (5’8) tall, and is as Enny explains, the limit. Any taller girls would not fit on that little stage. “ Alain Bernardin, who created the place considered like that little box to be like a jewellery box. And we have always got props on which we are like sitting or dancing around. And it’s like the jewel is the girl.”, Enny says. To the audience the body criteria make it look like all of the girl’s bodies are identical, moulded in the same form. The 8

ncers a d e h T into e t a t u m ic, t o r e , l na noctur figures al mythic


iconic guard opening number of the show sees the girls dressed up identically in uniforms, or bits of uniform. A British officer came to the Crazy Horse years ago to teach the dancers military walks for this. “I saw a video of that, and it’s really scary actually. He is like screaming at the girls and its really like full on the real march, the real military march.”, Enny says. “They really want like us to blend in the group as like clones. But then when we have got the solos, the girls are so different, so that’s what’s really interesting and unique.” Every solo is also adapted to the dancer’s technique and body shape, and dancers are even allowed to propose and co-create, the girls say. Like any other human being, the girls get stage fright sometimes. “I have this thing where I’m not scared, and when I’m about to go on stage, and the music starts, then I get like a moment. But its too late” Enny laughs, “it’s too late it’s already happening. And it still happens

when I learn a new number.” When she trained for her first solo the TV came to film it, she recounts. It was a number including a mirror which broke with the impact of her heel. “That was a big panic.”, she says. Recounting the first solo she ever did, Martha recounts that her heart was beating out her chest. “Behind that curtain, I could look down, and I could see my heart, I could see my boob get a cup size bigger every 2 seconds because I was so nervous. I was like, either I’m going to do this, and it’s going to be amazing, or I’m going to die. I’m just going to die on stage.” she explains laughing. However, the nudity is not something that triggers stage fright. “I mean I guess in the beginning it was quite breezy, but after 5 seconds its fine.”, Says Martha. Explaining that, because of all the pressure and concentration, they usually forget about the nudity altogether. “I know it was tough for my father at first like to come just because like you know, your little girl is in like a sexy show. But now he is like really proud, and he shows the pictures to like everyone. The whole town knows”, says Enny. The girl’s families are usually supportive of their career. Some girls grandparents even come to see the show they tell me. Marthas whole family has also come to see the show and loved it. “My brother has seen the show but without me in it, cause he was like” she makes a funny face and laughs. “But I saw it sitting next to him, and he loved it.” Besides parents, not a rare sight at the Crazy Horse are celebrity guests. Beyonce filmed her music video for ‘Partition’ on the Crazy Horse stage, and the girls have danced for the likes of J-Lo, Cara Delevingne and Christiano Ronaldo. Years ago Enny says, the singer Prince even fell in love with one of the dancers and got her to do a video clip. “I was doing this number, called ‘Teasing Me’. And it was when Christiano Ronaldo was watching. And I was like. Cristiano Ronaldo will do nothing for the next five minutes but look at my bum, I was like this is nice! I was very honoured!”, Martha recalls. However, if she could dance with anyone it would be Michael Jackson or Fred Astaire, she changes her mind. Enny laughs and adds that she would love to dance with Gene Kelly. “All right you’ll have Gene I’ll have Fred!”, Martha giggles. 66 years after its opening, the ‘Crazy Girls’ still seduce their audience, now under the direction of Andrée Deissenberg. For 90 minutes once or twice every night, young and old, girls and boys, men and women alike, can be observed lustfully sipping champagne, sitting back in the intimate, dimly lit room, decorated in that same deep-red velvet. b 9


Words: Defne Saricetin Images: The Foreign Office

WHEN BORIS JOHNSON VISITED LCC The Foreign Secretary boasts of his support for journalists while Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe languishes in jail

It is an anxious morning in the sweltering newsroom of the London College of Communication, and as the first tangerine lights of the day start creeping in through the shutters, the foreign secretary of the British government, Boris Johnson is escorted in by his bodyguard, and his gun, to meet and greet a handful of students, teachers, and refugee journalists. The former mayor of London is here in honour of the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, and as a former journalist himself, (he was controversially the ex-editor of The 10

Spectator throughout his political career until 2007) he is ready to hear the stories of other journalists whose paths were not quite similar to his. The scarlet lights on the cameras surrounding us—one for BBC Newsbeat and one for the foreign office—were on and already blinking, half an hour before the foreign secretary arrived fashionably late in an overly slim-cut white Oxford shirt. Shaking each person’s hand, he greets us all; a group of refugee journalists, the BBC crew holding up a massive silver reflective light, a full team of the

office’s press people, our computers up and running for background decor, plus a classmate and me. Following the meeting with the refugee journalists, fellow BA Journalism student Omima Elmattawaa and I will be interviewing the foreign secretary in the downstairs TV studio for our university magazine Artefact, as we are respectively from Libya and Turkey. We politely grin, repeating that we are not refugee journalists nor on a scholarship scheme every time after we tell him which countries we are from.


In 2013, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 2 November as the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, urging member states to implement definite measures countering the present culture of impunity and stating concern that impunity covers up grave human rights abuses, corruption and crime. In the past eleven years (2006-2016), close to 930 journalists have been killed for reporting the news and bringing information to the public. In nine out of ten cases the killers go unpunished. Johnson is at LCC to promote his concern for freedom of the press in less democratic countries. However, by the end of his visit, it becomes apparent that his knowledge of the plight of journalists in countries such as Syria, Libya, and Turkey is dubious, to say the least. And within days of his visit, he is plunged into controversy over his comments which could double the sentence of a BritishIranian journalist. Boris Johnson is resonating blissful self-assurance as per usual, while inquiries on nationalities circle the room. As is usually the case, in my experience, with people from countries not as improved regarding human rights, each journalist wants to offer a better understanding around the issue in their hometown to a person who has never experienced a similar, relatable occasion in their life before. How does one explain that there is no press freedom for reasons that resist secular explanation? Or what it is like to be afraid of forming sentences, voicing your opinion, writing, merely telling the truth, taking a photograph or even tweeting? As he looks around the room, Johnson seems to be at ease and in a rush at the same time, offering agile nods and smiles. Perhaps it is difficult for him to empathise with the lack of press freedom while being one of the most written-about and criticised political figures in the UK. Regardless, he is here to listen to the experiences of these young people as he walks towards where we are seated. Mohamed Alaradi is a refugee journalist who was detained for two months in prison for taking photographs of the Arab Spring demonstrations in his hometown of Bahrain. He describes the protests in his country as a tradition happening nearly every other decade, almost like a rite of passage. His father was in prison due to protesting for more rights, later his brothers, and finally, him. During his time in prison, Mohamed was tortured. “It felt like a staged event,” he says of the meeting. “When I said I am from Bahrain, he was asked to take questions from others, the Syrian refugee journal-

ists—because they [the British government] support the Bahraini government. “From then on, he talked to the others. I felt like my opinion didn’t matter. When I was telling my story, he [Johnson] said, but you’re Shia. Because I am Shia, I have no rights?” Abdulwahab Tahhan, who was raised in Aleppo, Syria and is now a refugee journalist settled in the UK, agrees with Mohamed. He believes that foreign secretary was given a free pass. “We have seen Raqqa being flattened out and destroyed, and civilians did not have safe passages to leave. When I pressed him about Raqqa, he did not comment, and one of his aides asked him to take questions from others as well,” Abdulwahab stated. “I felt like he was given a golden platform to argue his case but was not challenged at all.” While the conversation between refugee journalists and Johnson continues in the newsroom, Omima and I are rushed down to the university’s TV studio. The foreign secretary arrives a couple of minutes after us, and after taking his seat under the blinding studio lights, he turns to greet us politely. Johnson has perfected the not-tooformal greet; a polite hand-shake, a loud, spontaneous joke about something like where to sit and the chuckle that slowly turns into a somewhat serious comment. Perhaps it is his largely relaxed and informal, often criticised as inappropriate, attitude that makes him so relatable and popular amongst his supporters, a current worldwide trend amongst politicians nowadays—until the comment evolves into more of a faux pas. One of his press people approaches the table to announce we will each get only one question to ask, seconds before we start rolling. Action! The interview begins lightly with

the same ‘where are you from’ small talk. When Omima repeats that she is from Libya, the foreign secretary announces that although he has been to Libya a couple of times, he hasn’t re-studied the media of the country—even though he was there just last month and made a gaffe comparing Libya to Dubai, suggesting they should simply “clear the dead bodies.” During the next couple of minutes, my eyes jump back and forth, watching this awkward ping-pong match which makes the three of us nervously chuckle. “What a country, it is an amazing place,” Johnson offers before he goes on sarcastically, “but it’s got kind of, um, you know two parliaments, three prime ministers, four governments. For six million people, it has got a lot of politics going on.” In Libya, there is no authority entirely in control since the toppling of long-term leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Currently, a new UN-backed ‘unity’ government is installed in a naval base in Tripoli which faces opposition from two rival governments and a host of militias. Libya is in a state of political instability, and reporters face threats and attacks. Johnson says he thinks one of the problems in Libya seems to be that all the other players around the world have different views about what should happen, and the crucial thing is for them to “shut up” and allow the U.N. to bring the bodies together. Omima did not get to ask her actual questions due to time scarcity after stating there is “no media” as we know it there at the moment. “I think that as a foreign secretary, I actually expected him to know more about Libya—especially since he was recently there,” says Omima about the interview, “but instead, I ended up telling him about what’s really going on.”

‘‘In the past eleven years, close to 930 journalists have been killed for reporting news’’

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My home country, on the other hand, is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world at the moment with globally one-third of all imprisoned journalists, media workers and executives being in Turkey’s prisons in 2016. I ask the foreign secretary what the British government’s view on the situation is or if they have taken any firm actions. Johnson quickly goes on to say that they raise this issue regularly with their “Turkish friends”—the Turkish ministers that he meets, and that the Prime Minister regularly raises this with President Erdogan. “Obviously, Turkey had a really terrible experience with the coup attempt on July 13 of last year, [July 15 is the correct date] and people in other parts of Europe didn’t understand quite what a frightening moment it was for loads of Turkish people,” he says. “Because I think, a couple of hundred people died, you know, I saw the attack on the Parliament building, it was a serious business, and there was clearly an attempt to remove the elected government.” In reality, 265 people lost their lives, and more than 1,400 were injured on July 15. It has been sixteen months since the attempted coup, and over 500,000 people were arrested, and another 10,000 sacked from their jobs in the aftermath. “The first thing that the EU said was, kind of ‘oh, Turkey must avoid a crackdown and blah blah blah...’ Johnson continues, “I think, in the end, we’ve got the messages a bit better, but there’s no doubt now there is concern about journalists and human rights activists.” The foreign secretary says the overall picture for him is that Turkey is of huge importance to the UK, and they are keen to preserve good relations with the country whilst being able to say to their ‘friends’, however when it comes to journalism and human rights, they have serious concerns. Johnson thinks it would be a mistake to start putting Turkey into a category that says “Turkey’s going disastrously wrong” and push it away since he believes the country’s future is as part of the great, democratic nations. While it is crucial for Turkey’s own future, as well as that of Europe, that the country does not steer too far away from the European ideals of democracy, how is not condoning, in fact justifying these acts in an attempt to not push Turkey away, help improve the situation of the country or these journalists? Nevertheless, Johnson has come a long way regarding his views on the future and the leadership of Turkey, and his Turkish friends, since winning The Spectator’s President Erdogan Offensive 12

‘‘How does one explain that there is no press freedom for reasons that resist secular explanation?’’

Poetry competition. The interview is abruptly cut short by one of his press officers, and the meeting concludes with Johnson’s declaration of a £1m fund to help end impunity for crimes against journalists. “What we’re doing today as the foreign office is giving UK cash of a million pounds towards the support of people who want to protect the human rights of journalists and the ability of journalists to protect themselves around the world,” he tells the BBC reporter. “People will bid in for the fund, and so, local groups who, there are many many many around the world, in civil society who want to speak up for free speech, for the rights of journalists, they will bid in to our fund. We’ll see how it goes, we’ll see how it’s used and if it’s a success, then we’ll see if we can put some more.” All well and good, a great day overall for the foreign secretary, and the foreign office and journalists everywhere. Except for the fact that the day before this meeting took place, Johnson had made a comment in Parliament about Nazanin-Zaghari Ratcliffe, an Iranian-British mother who has been detained in Tehran since April 2016. She is currently serving a five-year sentence in prison after an Iranian court convicted her of plotting to overthrow the clerical establishment, while her threeyear-old daughter who was with her on holiday in Tehran, now stays with Nazanin’s Iranian family. Johnson stated that Zaghari-Ratcliffe was ‘simply training journalists’ while her family and her employer Thomson Reuters Foundation—a charity organisation that operates independently of Reuters News—repeatedly insisted that she was just on holiday and has never trained

journalists in her life. While the foreign secretary initially claimed his words were taken out context and they would not have any implications on Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s case, the comment was seen as an accidental confession by the Iranian government, being heavily reported in the Irani news and threatening to add five more years to Nazanin’s sentence. It took Boris Johnson twelve days and many headlines to apologise. Following a one-hour meeting with Mr Johnson, Richard Ratcliffe, Nazanin’s British husband said there was only one point that his wife wanted to make to the foreign secretary: “what it’s like to watch yourself being called a spy on TV every night, which has happened only in the last two weeks,” following his gaffe. “I don’t want to be a campaigning husband and father any longer,” Ratcliffe said. “I want to go back to being an ordinary husband and father, with my wife and child at my side.” There are reports suggesting that Britain is preparing plans to transfer over £400 million to Iran to secure ‘goodwill’ deal. The amount is originally a debt dating back to 38 years ago, from a controversial arms deal involving the Chieftain tanks that Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi had paid for before abandoning the throne in 1979. The tanks were never delivered; however, U.S. and U.N. sanctions have kept Britain from making the payment before, whereas it is now back on the table in a possible attempt to improve relations with Iran. Even though officials from both Tehran and London insist the £400m and Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s case are two separate occasions, perhaps it is not that far-fetched to view Britain’s former debt


to be paid during this precise moment in time. Similarly, the release of Jason Rezaian, a Washington Post journalist, and three other Iranian-American journalists also saw the United States make a $400m cash delivery to Iran the same day. Meanwhile, supporters of Nazanin marched in North London, calling for the London mother to be brought back home. Oscar-winning actress Emma Thompson was in attendance, urging Boris Johnson to “deal with the problem he’s so seriously exacerbated.” Mr Ratcliffe says the new court date his wife is yet to face on December 10 could see Johnson’s remarks included as evidence against Nazanin, diminishing hopes for her to be back home by Christmas. The only possible positive outcome could be the gaffe serving as a means to urgency by the British government and Johnson himself, as his comments paved the way for his competency to be once again questioned, and hopefully not as grounds for her sentence to be prolonged in Iran. “He did make a big mistake, and I do agree he should have been more careful and more considerate. As a Syrian, I know exactly what she might have been subjected to,” says Fardous Bahbah, one of the Syrian refugee journalists who has spoken to foreign secretary during the meeting at the university. She says she agrees with Mr Ratcliffe that the focus should be on freeing Nazanin rather than talking about making Johnson step down.

“They [the British government] should use their diplomatic and political ties to influence a regime that abuses journalists. We need a better world peace system as the UN is not functioning properly.” The meeting held at LCC was about what Britain, as the democratic, powerful and open country it is, can do to help journalists worldwide, in countries such as Syria, Libya, Bahrain, Turkey, Russia, China, and others; to engage in conversation and implement support through UNESCO to stop the violation of the rights of these journalists. There appears to be an inherent contradiction while we talk about the positives of refugee journalists coming to Britain and what more could be done to better this issue around the world, whilst unfolding in front of our eyes there is an example of how unjustly even British journalists are being treated. Do the actions match the words? As far as the future of press freedom goes, we are all watching for Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s case, waiting to see what will happen. Will the British-Iranian mother and her daughter be reunited with their family in Britain? Where are we with justice, not just with words, but in real-life situations? “Stop killing journalists day” as the foreign secretary refers to it in the newsroom addressing refugee journalists with a chuckle, is just one in 365 days. Meanwhile, a journalist is being killed every four days. b 13


Words: Charlotte Layton Images: Tae Park

WHAT YOU LEARN FROM LIVING WITH AN ADDICT

A first hand account of the experience of living with a drug addict from a young age

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Sitting in the complete silence of the darkness, almost crippling thoughts of concern quickly seep in. ‘I hope my dad’s okay.’ ‘What if I wake up and he still isn’t back?’ ‘What if he doesn’t come back at all?’ ‘What if it has finally killed him?’ At the age of twelve, and being a self-proclaimed Daddy’s girl, wanting your father is inevitable, regardless of how independent you want to believe you are. Not having eaten for two days, for worry of where my father was, I wander over to the fridge. The realisation struck and I stood absently staring into it – I hadn’t managed to pick up any food for us. The cat comes bounding towards me, meowing and rubbing herself up against my legs begging for food too. Any food in there would have gone off anyway. No electric. The thoughts of food subsided, into the need of a clean school uniform. Wandering into the bathroom, gathering my dirty laundry on the way. The cat still up around my feet. The taps splutter out freezing cold water – no gas either. Tin foil, rusting, bent-up spoons and homemade crack pipes were beginning to seep from their once cosy hiding places. Not knowing what to do with myself – for the lack of gas and electric prevented any form of cleaning – I lumbered into the living room and ripped out a portable CD player from my bag and shoved my headphones in. The device never leaves my side while my father was around, for fear it would be sold to help fund his habit. Pink was what was left in the device. The I’m Not Dead album left on repeat until I finally fell asleep on the couch. Not knowing what time it was, an echoed crash loud enough to distort the music awoke me from my dreamless sleep. Hurtling through the front door was my father, covered in dark stains and screaming for help. Panic-stricken as always, I phoned an ambulance – something I should have anticipated. As the medics arrive, I watched them rush him through the big, luminous yellow doors. A sick bucket in my father’s hands, now full to the brim with blood. The doors shut, and they were gone. Once again, I was left with my nightmarish thoughts. For me, these are just memories of a childhood stripped away. A kind of childhood that is dominated by the unpredictability of a parent suffering from a degrading and dangerous drug addiction. Unfortunately, this type of childhood is rapidly rising here in the UK. In the year 2015/16, a study by the NHS reports that one in twelve adults in the UK has issues with illicit drugs, if not a full-on addiction. That equates to around 2.7 million adults suffering from some form of issue with substances; with this kind of addiction affecting 14 per

cent of children under the age of two, 12 per cent of children between the age of six and eleven, and a further ten per cent between the ages of 12 and 17. For those too young to understand what an addiction is, it is easy to claim that it isn’t affecting them at all. But as a young person, who is fully aware of what is happening, and the ultimate fear of the loss that it can bring, has a significant, detrimental effect on their mental health. Now a university student, 19-year-old Kesia, speaks openly about her fears of living with her father, who is battling an addiction. “It is a constant battle between love and hate. It is so hard to see somebody that you love so dearly, destroy themselves voluntarily,” she tells Artefact. “It puts a strain on your relationship sometimes, and it is difficult to understand when you are not an addict yourself.” It is the irritation, as Kesia explains, of not fully understanding why an addict would take such a harmful substance. Like most, Kesia fears falling asleep, because she does not know what will be there when she wakes. “I think that the biggest hardship was always going to sleep and not knowing whether you’d wake up peacefully, or whether you’d be woken in the early hours of the morning, by paramedics crashing up the stairs and into the bedroom next door. There is a great fear of the unknown and a great fear of potential loss,” she explains. For 53 year-old Laraine, who has also seen what addiction can do, it was difficult watching her friend deteriorate, while knowing that if he didn’t manage to ask for help, he might not only lose his life but his child too. “He managed to stay sober for eleven years, before going back to the drugs,” Laraine told us. “His Mum was diagnosed with cancer in 2006, and she hands down blamed him for her illness. When she died, he simply had no idea how to deal with what happened and went back to the drugs. He held the blame and just couldn’t deal with the guilt. He believed that he had killed his Mum. It’s dealing with continuous lies … What’s worse is that they believe the lie themselves.” “When he was alive, he would tell me that he ‘wishes he could stop’, but when he asked for help, the GP said they would have no choice but to get social services involved, and losing his daughter was more terrifying for him than the actual addiction. I think his daughter was the only thing keeping him going. Unfortunately, the addiction was too much for him, and he lost his daughter anyway. It’s been ten years, and I still miss him and his quirky ways,” Laraine concludes. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the year 2016/17 has seen a rise in the number of individuals killed 15


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‘‘You feel as though you have to carry on as normal so that your school, teachers, workmates and family don’t realise you are falling apart.’’

due to drug-related issues. In England and Wales, the number of people killed by substances, including legal highs, continues to rise at an alarming rate. The ONS reported that in the last year, 3,744 people died of substance abuse. Despite legal highs becoming a common killer amongst young people; cocaine and heroin remain the biggest killers among those with substance-related issues. Having witnessed the effects of drugs first-hand, there is no doubt that drug addiction has the largest ripple effect on all aspects of life. It causes parents to outlive and mourn their children. It causes nieces and nephews never to meet their aunties and uncles. It causes resentment between siblings. It causes an absence before an actual exit because the addict is just not there anymore, and the harsh reality is that you will someday lose them altogether. It causes things to collapse, break and fall like little shards of glass, like the law, trust and family units. Drug addiction causes families to become terrified of the ring of a phone or a knock at the front door, just in case it is ‘that call’. It doesn’t matter if you are from a stable, loving family, or a family that is entirely shattered. You learn to hate the drug but love the addict. You learn to separate the one you love from who they were to who they are now. Drug addiction doesn’t care, but you do. You do care. For 49 year-old Julie, her brother’s addiction caused much heartache, bitterness and tensions within the family. His addiction started in the early eighties, with lengthy periods of soberness. He went on to get married to his long-term girlfriend, and had a daughter, yet he relapsed in 2006, which lead him to lose his life in 2008. “When someone you love has an addiction, you find yourself trying to block it out because you don’t want to believe it or accept it,” Julie explains. “You feel as though you have to carry on as normal so that your school friends, teachers, workmates and family members don’t realise that you are just completely falling apart. It’s dealing with continuous lies, and in the end, you don’t believe a single word that they have to say. What’s worse is that they believe the lie themselves. They steal from you, steal from your friends and then they deny it, blaming you until you start to doubt yourself,” Julie explains. “Back in the 80s, the ‘in thing’ to have was a gate bracelet, so I saved up all year. As I worked in a factory and liked going out clubbing on the weekends, I only saved a couple of quid every week. I only wore my gate bracelet on the weekends, but it was my pride and joy because I saved so hard for it. One week I went to put it on, and only the clasp was in my jewellery box. After a month, my brother

admitted that he had sold it for £10. It had cost me £100. I was devastated.” For Julie, what got to her the most was his relapse, when his daughter was only two months old. Her brother had arrived at his parents, where Julie was still living at the time and asked if he could stay the night to clear his head after an argument with his girlfriend. “He came round and asked if he could stay a few nights. Mum said that he should go back home as he had a new babyt, but he stayed. He went upstairs, and after a while, I could hear Mum shouting. I came out of my room, and there he was, completely naked, with a needle sticking out of his arm. He sat there telling Mum that it was the best feeling in the world and drugs were all he needed. It is so hard to see somebody that you love so dearly, destroy themselves voluntarily.” Like everyone, Julie wanted her brother to get well, but for some, it isn’t that easy. Mustering up the strength to leave a life of addiction behind, is such an accomplishment for those who are consciously willing to get sober. Despite this, according to Elevations Health, addicts are more likely to hinder their progress in their recovery or relapse in later years. Staying positive is each individual’s own personal journey, one of which many struggle with. If there is a bump in the road, it is often down to the addict unable to overcome or accept their troubles, while twisting situations into adverse portrayals of their own emotions. Elevations Health explains that, when this happens, addicts will fall back into habits that only occur with their addiction, which means they aren’t ready to receive treatment and become sober. Unfortunately for almost half of drug addicts, this is something of a continuous narrative. A narrative felt hard by the loved ones of those slowly destroying themselves for a substance that will never love them back. For those who manage to help their loved ones in recovery, is an achievement well deserved to be celebrated. Recovery is as ugly and distressing as the addiction itself. Neglecting yourself in order to help someone you love, is as dangerous as the drug itself. Seeking help for yourself and your loved one is difficult and terrifying, yet beneficial. A simple conversation can be the difference between hopelessness, fear and losing yourself in the mist of your loved one’s addiction, to conquering fears of loss, enabling you to help yourself and your loved ones fully. A simple conversation can be the difference between losing your loved one or helping to benefit the life of your loved one and yourself. So take that step out of the darkness of addiction and into the unknown light that is professional help. b 17


Dealing your way through uni The dark web is making it easy for students to earn spare cash by selling drugs

Words: Christopher Forsythe Images: Jodie Beechem

Students across the UK are now using the dark web to buy and sell drugs in bulk to support themselves through university. You’ve probably heard of Silk Road, the most notorious of the many dark web markets. The website and its founder, Ross William Ulbricht, both went down after an FBI bust in October 2013—but that did not put an end to the trade in narcotics online. The dark web is only a couple of clicks away for anyone. You download a Tor browser, have a quick scavenge on Reddit for an encrypted url and that’s it. You’re in. Now you have access to every drug under the sun, and it’s not just buying and selling drugs that takes place here. There are arsenals of weapons, service providers such as hitmen, billions of pounds, dollars and euros in counterfeit money and fake goods such as watches and so on. Even then, this is only just scratching the surface. Thanks to your newly downloaded browser, users are almost virtually untraceable as their IP addresses are hidden and any transactions carried out will only use the Bitcoin currency, which is also untraceable A recent phenomenon, Bitcoins can be bought legally from vendors at a constantly changing rate in much the same way as you might buy dollars or euros. They are classed as cryptocurrency, an encrypted decentralised digital currency that’s transferred amongst buyers and sellers on the dark web. They are fairly easy to obtain, you can probably even find somewhere that sells them on your local high street. That’s how easy it is. Definitely less hassle than having to wait thirty minutes to three hours to buy drugs from a guy who shouted, “Yo, you smoke weed cuz?”. You also diffuse the risk of some sketchy lad selling you massively cut cocaine outside a club at 5:00am when you want to keep the party going. The dark web seems like a fairly safe, fool-proof way of cutting out the middle man, so it’s not surprising that a number of students in the UK have taken to the ‘Ebay for drugs’ in order to save, and earn, some money. A lot of students don’t have time to get a part time job as they’re in university five days a week, and have coursework to do in their spare time. I got speaking to Mark*, who has been using the dark web to pay his way through the financially trying times of

kit and so far all I could find was MDMA,” Mark continued. “Most vendors online also have reviews from other buyers, talking about the quality of the product, the speed of delivery, the stealth of the delivery and so on. Nobody really wants to fuck anyone around. It’s almost like a close community.” The delivery of a large quantity of drugs to your front door by the postman is probably enough to put most people off ordering. “They hide it so well, it’s always vacuum sealed in an air tight bag, and they put the product inside different disguises, like a lego box or a box of chocolates,” Mark told us. “They even have receipts attached to them for the product it’s meant to be.” It’s not news to anyone that UK students on a whole get involved in recreational drug use—it’s considered to be a time of experimentation in your life, you have that first taste of freedom and go a bit wild. This makes it easy for students who are selling drugs to make money fast as they have a large, easily-reachable army of consumers at their disposal. “Every night of the week students will be partying, and if you’re living in student halls or in a student-occupied area, word will get around pretty quickly that you sell, so it’s like the customers come to you. When I started I was selling about 30 pills a week, just to close mates and that, but it quickly rose to selling 40 a night,” Mark explains. “That’s when it gets out of control, it’s too much money coming in for a student. I had to move house because ‘wreck-heads’ were knocking my door at 6:00am. It attracts unwanted attention.” The police are now combatting the online drugs trade harder than ever. Evolving technology is making it easier for them to get into the dark web. The ease of accessing the site as a buyer also makes it simple to go undercover. The police have been employing hackers to tackle this problem. The FBI carried out a massive bust on a number of dark web sites using an agency deployed malware, that revealed the real IP address of users whenever they entered the site, giving away their location. They found over 1000 IP addresses based in the US and over 135 people have been charged. Not everyone is committing a crime, it’s only those who purchase. The

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university. “I had heard about it [the dark web] before from a couple of lads in uni, but never really looked into it. If you’re going on a night out and you want to get something in for you and your mates it can sometimes be a bit of a mess, waiting for dealers and holding your night up,” he

“The dark web seems like a fairly safe, foolproof way of cutting out the middleman, so it’s not surprising that a number of students in the UK have taken to the ‘Ebay for drugs’.” told us. “So I decided to have a look and see what price things were going for. I was blown away at how cheap it was.” A dealer will charge you £10 for a pill, that you have no idea what’s in it. But online, you can buy in bulk, saving a fortune as you can buy 100 pills for around £120, with a single pill on the street selling for £10. “I was a bit skeptical at first, thinking how can they be so cheap? They must be dodgy or something, so I bought a testing


police have also been working with Royal Mail, who have been keeping tracks on continuous packages going back and forth from certain addresses. They can’t open the packages, but they can investigate who and where they’re coming from. Investigators make a controlled delivery of the package and arrest their suspect. But again, with the sheer scale of the dark web, the number of users and the uncountable quantity of drugs and other items being shipped and sent around the world, the police’s efforts

are not making a massive dent in this trade. This puts Mark at ease, and he believes that he is relatively safe. “I’m not overly worried about being caught, the cops are out to catch the big dealers for most part of things. I toned things down a bit with the amount I was selling because I really didn’t need that much money, I just needed enough to get through uni comfortably. You shouldn’t have any bother if you only sell to people you know.”The dark web is set to grow

over the coming years, and its presence will surely be felt among UK students. However, this isn’t a bad thing. Thanks to the reviews and safety tests carried out and left on the websites, people are able to take drugs in a controlled and tested way. Students will continue to take drugs throughout their university experience and the dark web will make that experience much safer. b * False names have been used to protect the interviewee’s identity. 19


Lost in translation Does technology mean that we will no longer need to learn foreign languages?

Minutes into an extremely awkward attempt at trying to communicate with the landlord of a flat we were looking to rent in South Korea, something so simple had turned into an extremely stressful mission—and it all came down to being faced with a communication barrier. In the midst of struggling to get our point across, the landlord stopped suddenly, and smiled with relief. He asked us to wait, pulled out his phone and started to speak into Google Translate. That’s how the rest of the conversation went. The translation wasn’t perfect, not by a mile—but we managed to get across what we meant well enough to be able to form an agreement. In that situation, Google Translate was literally the only thing that got us through. Had we not had access to it, we would never have been able to come to an understanding. In fact, looking back, this is how most of our trip went. It’s not like we didn’t make an effort to try and communicate, but with our limited abilities, translation apps were by far the most effective way to be understood. Did this stop me from being interested in learning the language? No—If anything, the frustration motivated me to at least learn the basics—but it did make me wonder; with all this developing language technology, what is the future of language learning? Will there be a day where we rely solely on technology to speak different languages for us? Will a time come where people completely give up on learning other languages? The ability to speak more than one language has always been considered something to be proud of, something that is encouraged, something that is praised—something considered ‘employable’ Living in a city like London, one of the many fascinating and fantastic things is its multiculturalism. More often than not, you can’t walk for over a few minutes without hearing different languages being spoken around you. And so, being able to communicate in more than one language has always been something great—it enables this cultural city to connect and converse with one another. In a city where over three hundred languages are spoken amongst its schools (the largest number of community languages in Europe, according to the BBC), London is also home to many universities offering language degrees. 20

Until recently, wanting to study a language at degree level was no issue. However, the past few years have brought a slew of new products and technological developments that have made the prospect of learning one at university something to question. Later this year, the first versions of the ‘Pilot’, a product created by Waverly Labs, are to be introduced to the world— an in-ear translation device that supposedly will be able to real-time translate conversation from one language to another. Though it’s still in its beta stages, this is a clear indication of what the future is going to hold. If all goes to plan, the product will use “speech recognition, machine translation and wearable technology” to enable wearers to communicate easily without the issue of language barriers. According to Waverly Lab’s press kit, the translation occurs immediately, without lag, as users speak. While for now, it’s available in just five languages (English, French, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish), many more are already being worked on, and once the device is tested, trialled and adapted, the entire world could be communicating through them. Waverly Labs aren’t the only company producing this type of product, either. People will be able to choose where to get their translation devices from. Fairly recently, Google introduced the ‘Pixel Buds’, a wireless headset that also offers a translation feature. Skype is also now offering a real-time translation app, making those international calls far easier, and less problematic. “If technology finally arrives at this stage, no one will need to learn anything anymore. Machine translation of a quality better than what humans can do requires an understanding of the world by the machine that is better than a human’s,” said Nana Sato-Rossberg, chair of the Centre for Translation Studies at SOAS, University of London. “When we reach this stage, what people will do is just connect their brains to a machine. This is then not only about language, your entire knowledge will not be yours anymore, just imported from the machine. This would a completely different world from now,” she told Artefact. As translation devices are mostly in early stages, mistakes are happening and not everything is accurate—we’re still far

Words: Rachel Garner Images: Lance C via Flickr

“In a few years we’ll be able to have a conversation with someone whom we share absolutely no language with”


away from that moment. In one or two hundred years, however, this will be our reality. Machines will be translating for us. People will no longer need to learn languages. But, the crux of this is, will people still want to? At a point in time where the world is becoming absolutely consumed by technology, we are reaching a stage where we don’t have to do things for ourselves because there is a simpler option—but, just because there’s an easier path available doesn’t mean it has to be the only route taken. “Learning languages also means to learn different ways of thinking, independent of language use for communication,” Nana explains. “Language reflects a culture and the way people think. If you learn multiple languages, you can think more flexibly and see the world in multiple ways.” Undergraduate Chinese student Mark also views the learning of languages as more than just a means of communication. “My dad’s Czech and he taught me Czech from when I was quite young. So, it’s kind of always been something

I’ve always wanted to do. Not accumulate languages as such, but try to be able to communicate with as many people as possible. It’s always been something quite close to me.” He told us he wanted to speak languages rather than simply feeling the need to: “There’s the idea that because Britain is kind of the global lingua franca, you can just go wherever you want to and not bother to speak anything other than English, which is kind of lazy.” How will it be in the future if we have the technology to translate everything for us? “That’s even lazier. I feel like there’s an element of me that kind of wants to fight that.” For many, learning languages is something more than just an activity they feel the need to do. While a future where it is no longer necessary may come, there remains the argument that the learning of languages is something that simply cannot and will not be replaced by any form of technology—because there will always be the curiosity and the will to learn something new. There’s still a relatively

wide-spread belief that there’s a broad difference in being able to translate something and actually being able to speak a language. “Nuance is incredibly important in language, the kind of subtleties in languages that you can only really pick up if you’re very accustomed to actually hearing the language, and I think that the translation software is going to find it very difficult to substitute that,” Mark told us. Apart from the fact that translation technology will be able to translate for us, there are other reasons to learn a language rather than simply passing information to one another. In terms of social circumstances, being able to talk with someone else in their own language is a significant gesture. As Nana explains: “Communication goes deeper than the superficial linguistic level. The machine literally interprets what people say. To understand each other’s ‘conceptual map’, barrier-free communication is necessary. Otherwise, we just feel that we are communicating, but we are not.” b 21


The oral art of the 21st century How spoken word gives a voice to a lost generation

She breaths in deeply and heavily gasps. Her hands twitch, yet the voice is crystal clear. An emphatic flow of rhyme and power commences. The passion and the authority fill the room, turning the spotlight on her and emphasising Desrees’ every word. It is incredible how a speaking voice, so softly at that, can mesmerise and captivate the audience? In an era dominated by tech-savvy millennials, putting your mind through a pen to the paper is quickly becoming this generation’s DIY self-help session, an old school take on therapy. Relying on its use of rhythm, slang and improvisation, Spoken Word London (SWL) invites those of any background—no matter what age, sex, religion or ethnicity to come and speak their mind, no matter how controversial it may be. Poetry is so much more than a hobby to Desree. She has created a lifestyle, which stemmed from passion and talent recognised by her mother at an extremely young age. During childhood, driven by her vivid imagination, Desree would write little stories and plays, whilst performing her favourite songs in front of the television. Drawing inspiration from her love of music, as well as her everyday experiences, Desree only writes about things she’s seen and has lived. It makes her work really raw and personal. “SWL wasn’t a choice, it kind of happened,” she explains. With a background in rap music, Desree explained how she “wanted to rap but without wanting to be a slave to a beat or a rhythm, and spoken word allows you to go with your own rhythm and your own flow—allowing you to speak your mind without having to fit in.” With its bare, brick-laid walls and alcohol-infused scent, Vogue Fabrics Dalston (VFD), the east London bar infamously known for its outlandish drag nights and experimentation, plays home to the fortnightly event, gathering misfits from all over London. Spoken Word London was started by VFD’s poet and playwright Patrick Cash; after living in Paris and regularly attending the Spoken Word events there, he wanted to emulate a night that stimulates both the offline and physical sensations, bringing people to find, or lose themselves—together. They form what can be deemed a ‘lost’ generation. Fast forward four-and-a-half years since the first SWL was held in the same old liquor-scented basement, and the audience room is 22

filled with regulars and newcomers, all in attendance to listen, or to be heard. “The key thing we find enjoyable about SWL is the mix of comedians, poets, rappers and prose writers that we attract,” says Hannah Gordon as she stands, paper and pen ready, to welcome the eager, animated queue of prospective performers waiting for the doors to open. It’s a gargantuan difference in comparison to the handful of people huddled in the

“In a generation defined by egocentrism and narcissism, it’s very easy to feel like your voice is being forgotten” basement some years ago. Hannah, cohost and organiser of SWL, describes how by retaining the inclusive ethos as it’s heart, “SWL remains a welcoming, safe space for people to share their writing.” There are four 20-minute rounds, each round a five-reader group being given a five-minute platform for each of them to speak. Sticking to this format has allowed an equality to continuously run the event, establishing SWL in its position today. What makes it even better is that it’s

Words: Alysha Shariff Images: Neil Thomas Douglas via flickr.com

completely free. A small fee of 10 per cent of the bar’s takings from the night is used to pay for a local photographer and the hosts’ travel costs. SWL has kept its minimalistic traditions purposefully, allowing all attention to focus on the performance itself. Sipping on her green matcha latte, Tala sits, scribbling her emotions and mind fucks down in a little notebook. Her ashy blonde locks hide away her face. Tala has come a long way from the girl I first met two years ago when I moved to London. Having had a hard time talking about her feelings, as a four-year-old Tala would carry a notebook around, writing little stories and sentences engrained from her Mum. Her mother was a huge influence in her life, and used to write herself. “I’ve always had a joke that if I was to ever release or publish a book it would be titled ‘Things I Could Never Tell My Mum’, not because she wouldn’t want to listen but more the fact I didn’t want to burden her with my issues.” Using poetry as a way to deal with her crippling anxiety, Tala writes about her interactions and experiences with others. It’s a way in which she can be honest about herself and how she’s feeling, and to not bullshit the reality of it. “Spoken Word itself is such a comforting place. The environment itself is so small it verges on claustrophobic, in a way which you’d think would be intimidating, and daunting. But it actually allows people who haven’t felt like they’ve ‘fit in’, or felt like they can’t be talking about their problems, because people won’t get it, or won’t appreciate it to have a voice”. Nathan D’Arcy Roberts, a stand-up comedian, holds a special place for SWL as it’s where his performing virginity was lost and for that he’ll be eternally grateful. “SWL is a venue that is defined by how supportive it is. It’s a place that encourages vulnerability, artistic expression, and community,” he tells us. The basement transforms into a warm, welcoming place, with a home-like atmosphere among like-minded people. A rarity in itself, it may be the only place in London he found to be like that. Enjoying the catharsis that comedy allows (and trying to forget how cliché that may sound), Nathan’s sketches combine his personal experiences, using comedy as a linguistic device to convey actual issues and troubles he’s faced. Some of his best material comes to him on stage, when his mind, enwrought with


the darkness, turns to a standby mode. It’s hard to say for him what specifically inspires his ideas. “If I knew that, I wouldn’t be rubbing that genie lamp incessantly to cure the countless hours of writer’s block” which, yes, is a real thing. Describing the SWL audience as affable yet very direct, he says they’ve helped him to develop as a performer. He was using their response as a barometer to locate any blind spots in his work that should be ironed out. “SWL is where I realised that comedy is what I wanted to do—they’ve helped me develop from a reserved performer who couldn’t hold a mic properly—let alone make an eye contact with the audience.” Now he can work a mic on a stage with ease, at the very least blindfolded. Some, like Tala or Nathan, are using the space and the audience as a catalyst. Tala says: “I think it’s something people shouldn’t take for granted, and everyone should experience that whether

you write or not. It’s definitely changed me”. She validates how much confidence she’s gained over a few months. The reading of her first poem in January she describes as a “more of a therapy session” compared to her second reading in March, which was much more owned by her as a poet, as she gained feedback on her new material. “It’s definitely one of the scariest things I’ve done because you’re so vulnerable. However, I can’t express how important it is for people who write their own material, and are as self-critical as I am, because it changes your mind set, and I don’t think I’d be posting my poems on social media if I hadn’t made that crucial transition.” In a generation defined by egocentrism and narcissism, it’s very easy to feel like your voice is being forgotten. Besides, many young adults fall under the impression that their feelings and emotions are becoming invalid, not serious enough to

be dealt with. Spoken Word teaches both its audience and performers that it’s the voice that matters, regardless of how relevant or not the issue is. “It’s a release. The process of writing itself is a release and allows you to structure your own thoughts. Even down to the performance itself, you can have a million thoughts in your head but as soon as you say them out loud they become real,” explains Tala. SWL embodies a room full of strangers who might not necessarily agree with what you’re saying, but you will have that one person who will resonate with you. “It creates the situation,” she says. With Tala gaining enough confidence to share and start her own online poetry page, Nathan’s constant development as a performer in his niche, and Desree producing her first self-published collection of work called I Find Strength in the Simple Things, SWL embodies the oral art of the 21st century. b 23


Palestine: Remember, remember, the 4th of November Palestinian student Mohammad Samir gives an insight into his life living under Israeli occupation

Words: Anjuman Rahman Images: Igal Feigin

Just another week in Palestine:

civilians being expelled, and exactly 678 villages destroyed or occupied. Muhammad Samir, 21, is a Palestinian resident living in the village of Sur Baher, one of the 678 villages captured by Israel in 1967.He told Artefact how their daily routines are affected by regular harassment and disturbances caused by the Israeli military and settlers. The risk and fear of being molested, shot and harassed is “rampant”, he states. Samir talks of his day starting at 6:00am to avoid being late for university as the struggle of getting through Israeli checkpoints impedes his daily commute. What should be a regular 30-minute trip turns into a potentially deadly two-hour journey. It’s a route where, at the checkpoints, men who suffer from high blood pressure or asthma faint and collapse, and sudden cases of heart attacks are frequent. Samir also knows of girls being molested and reports of innocent children being harmed and he says it’s all too common to not be scared. Although he enjoys studying sociology at Palestine Ahliya University, this line of career wasn’t his original plan. A long-term ambition of Samir’s was to become a firefighter but once he began fighting for his rights and freedom his dreams were extinguished: “I cannot work as a firefighter as the Israeli police have a file on me because of my involvement in demonstrations,” he explains. Samir tells us more about why he got involved in protests: “It was in August of 2014, there was anger in the

October 22: Israeli soldiers execute a 17-year-old Palestinian girl in the Old City of Hebron. October 23: Israeli naval forces open fire on Palestinian fishing boats off the coast of the Gaza Strip. October 24: Israeli colonists flood dozens of Palestinian olive trees with sewage water, near the West Bank city of Nablus. October 25: Israeli settlers attack Palestinian farmers while they are harvesting near the West Bank district of Ramallah. October 26: The Israeli army invades the village of Khirbit Yanoun, demolishing a home, during a training drill. October 27: Israeli soldiers abduct a young man near the city of Ramallah, after opening fire on his car. October 28: Israeli soldiers break into the homes of Yassin Bassam, and abduct him and his brother Ghanem, after conducting a violent search of their homes and interrogating several family members. All in one week, in one country, against one identity. Because being a Palestinian is a crime. It is the world’s most controversial conflict yet, as it disgracefully proceeds with more bloodshed and massacres, a shameful silence also grows towards the contentious issue. November 2, 2017, marked the centenary of the Balfour Declaration. But did you hear a moment of silence? No. Theresa May invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to commemorate the anniversary of the occasion, a celebration generously hosted by the Lords Balfour and Rothschild which Jeremy Corbyn refused to attend. The 67-word proclamation issued by then British Foreign Secretary, Arthur Balfour to Lord Walter Rothschild, a British Zionist leader, is said to have led to the formation of the state of Israel, sparked the Israeli-Palestinian dispute and the ceaseless ‘Nakba’—the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. The controversial pledge included “a national home for the Jewish people” stated in the document, which was seen as the long-awaited permission for the Zionists to create a Jewish state, even though Britain bore no legal rights nor any moral grounds to promise one people’s land to another. In other words, explicit as it may be and whether it was 24

knowingly or unknowingly, the blooddrenched letter which foreordained the history of the Middle East was a form of British colonisation. In February 2017, more than 13,500 people signed a parliamentary petition launched by the Palestine Return Centre calling for the Government to “openly apologise to the Palestinian people” over the Balfour letter, saying the UK’s colonial policy caused “mass displacement” and injustice. Yet, the Government remain steadfast in their denial and responded by saying: “The Balfour Declaration is a historic statement for which HMG (Her Majesty’s Government) does not intend to apologise, we are proud of our role in creating the State of Israel. The task now is to encourage moves towards peace.” After the formation of Israel in 1948, and with a guarantee of help from the British, Israeli leaders were quick to take action as their British-trained troops invaded Palestine, resulting in at least 750,000

“All in one week, in one country, against one identity. Because being a Palestinian is a crime.”


Palestinian streets because of the settlers’ violations of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and their persistency at it. In the same week, the settlers kidnapped a 16-year-old child named Mohammed Abu Khudair. “He was heading to the Al-Aqsa Mosque for the dawn prayer at 4:00am. He had stopped at a shop to wait for his friends when he was approached by three Israeli men. The child screamed but was unable to resist as they kidnapped him and fled,” Samir recounted. Some Palestinian youths witnessed this scene and tried catching up with them but failed. They told the father of the child and contacted the police, but there was no result. “The three settlers

beat the child and forced him to drink gasoline. He begged them to leave him. But it was useless, and one of the settlers sprayed petrol on the body of the child setting him on fire in a forest near Deir Yasmin.” This incident led to violent demonstrations which almost caused a third ‘intifada’ or uprising. Samir was also involved in the protests in Jerusalem and on a Thursday night shortly after while protesting, Samir was ambushed by Israeli soldiers who were undercover disguised as other protestors. Samir was arrested and physically beaten by the soldiers: “The soldiers hit me severely and strongly, beating me in sensitive areas

and insulting my parents. They interrogated me and took me to court. After two months of deferred court appearances, I was sentenced to five months for stone-throwing.” When asked about his hopes of freedom, he answered nervously, “Freedom? No, I don’t think about freedom.” Though they have succeeded in providing facilities and established multiple schools and clinics, the establishment of a political state of Palestine seems to be futile. More time is spent engaging in either seeking revenge through violent attacks against IDF (Israeli Defence Force) or competing with other political parties, the most popular being Hamas and Fatah. Samir told us of his personal views living under such intense ideologies and unstable circumstances: “The Palestinian political situation is very weak. The Arab countries left our cause in 1948. The political parties in Palestine are looking for personal interests,” he said. “As we see, the political parties are fighting each other and forget the existence of the Israeli occupation, especially the Palestinian liberation movement. They all have the same goal, but they can never come to an agreement between them and are oblivious that this is what the Israeli government wants; an internal conflict amongst the Palestinian politicians so they are distracted and forget the existence of occupation,” he explained. “In my opinion, and having lived in Palestine under occupation all my life, I can see the Palestinian issue is being scaled down so that it ends with the existence of an Israeli state who think they have the right uproot and steal our property.” To mark the 100th year since Britain promised Palestine to the Jewish people, Samir and his family plan to remain at home while hearing the celebrations erupt in the streets and watch the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu dine with Theresa May. “I do not think any of us Palestinians are doing anything in the memory of the Balfour Declaration because it destroyed Palestine. It has destroyed a lot of our past and will continue to do so in the present and future,” Samir said. Laughing, he chanted the popular saying echoed in the streets of Palestine, “Remember, remember, the 4th of November!”. b 25


WHO MADE MY CLOTHES? How fashion houses are being challenged by a global campaign with a single question 26


Words: Natalia Faisal Images: Amanda Bjorn

“A garment’s true value lies not in its label, but in workmanship, An appreciation of workmanship is one way of saying ‘thank you’ to the person who made our clothes”—Christa Weil (Vintage Clothing Expert) Retail therapy can be a somewhat enjoyable and rewarding experience, that moment of discovering the perfect item that makes you feel good is a great confidence booster and feels even better if purchased at a bargain price. What makes a product attractive? Is it the quality of fabric? Is it the arrangement and styles of zips or buttons? Or is it the bold colors and the way the garment is put together? That’s all great but has there ever been any consideration towards the fact that somebody, somewhere in the world has created this item you’re so in love with but you don’t even know they exist. Unfortunately, today’s high street fashion demands an abundant amount of inexpensive products to hit the outlet shelves, with little to no consideration of the workmanship behind it. These workers are merely an accessory to the creation of the production chain, they don’t have an identity they are just a machine. In most third world countries they’ve been exposed to the poorest working conditions beyond imagination. With long hours, lack of safety, minimal salary, child labour and essentially no basic human and working rights these are the people who suffer in the name of fashion. The problem is the system and its structure—the consumers are ignorant to what happens behind the scenes and retailers continue to feed this ignorancetheir main concern is the amount of revenue coming into their business in the least amount of time possible. How can you blame consumers for not caring if they aren’t educated on the matter? So, what can be done? Eco-fashion is the answer to make fashion enjoyable for all, and this is how it’s slowly progressing through the industry. There was a period of time where ‘eco-fashion’ was just a way to give a fashion expert anxiety, it painted an image of an itchy potato sack as a dress paired with a flat bottle with a piece of rubber as shoes. It was never a concept that came to mind when you thought about living a ‘green choice’ lifestyle. However, now, oh how the tables have turned! Being 'eco-friendly' has become a trend of its own being the trend that people aspire to follow, but how do you tackle an industry whose main motif is aesthetics? Many eco-friendly clothing companies have amped up their style and kept their clothes updated and sophisticated, showing the world it’s possible to be ethical and trendy! One designer who is a specialist in this niche but a relevant

area of the industry is a social entrepreneur and fashion campaigner, Carry Somers Being involved in the fashion industry since 1992, she has managed to start an ethical movement with her two companies/campaigns: Pachacuti and Fashion Revolution. Pachacuti is a fully transparent fashion brand which aims to make customers think “who made my hat?” The production company teamed up with Seoul Rebel Films and embarked on an Ecuadorian adventure to trace the length and the process of the supply chain. They’ve been working with the weaving community in the highlands for 20 years as they examined the unique toquilla straw used for hats by visiting the Pacific Coast. The plant can be cropped for 100 years but has been sustainably harvested for far longer. Artefact was able to catch up with Carry to ask her about her inspiration to begin this brand and why she picked to invest her time in sustainable/ethical fashion. “I was motivated to start this after seeing the unjust patterns of tradings. In 1992, I was doing my masters in Native American studies and was doing research for an upcoming project and I met cooperatives who had both had arson attacks because they had posed such a threat to the middlemen by forming their own organisations as producers”, she said. “The middlemen completely controlled the textile industry at the time, so they had no access to the local market let alone the national market. I was so fascinated by this and the ethical procedure of the industry I set up the brand Pachacuti .It was initially a fair trade clothing brand but then turned into a hat brand, so fully traceable right back to the raw materials. It’s completely transparent which many brands aren’t” She explained how she created her first sustainable fashion line: “I started with a range of knitwear all made with natural dyes, hand spun-yarn based on some of the indigenous cave paintings I saw in Ecuador.” She explained how she created her first sustainable fashion line: “I started with a range of knitwear all made with natural dyes, hand-spun-yarn based on indigenous cave paintings I saw in Ecuador. “That was my first piece and the collection sold out within six weeks. That was why I decided to put my PhD on hold and eventually decided not to go ahead with it because I could see the difference it was making to the lives of people making the clothes I was designing.” After the success of Pachacuti, Carry valued the impact ethical fashion was making to the lives of these producers and decided not to stop there. She wanted to create something interactive to get 27


Long hours, lack of safety, minimal pay...these people suffer in the name of fashion 28


the public fully involved, which is when Fashion Revolution came to life. In April 2013 in Dhaka, Bangladesh there was a collapse of the garment factory Rana Plaza. With a death toll of 1,134 innocent workers, whose deaths fell into the hands of managers who sent workers back into the factories due to pressure to complete orders for buyers on time. Carry heard about the news and decided to act: “Fashion Revolution is a global campaign for a better, cleaner, fairer, more sustainable, more transparent fashion industry and we believe that everybody needs to come together to make that happen. It was a response to Rana Plaza because everyone felt really powerless, nobody knew what to do.” She knew the catchy name was important: “The whole idea of Fashion Revolution and the name, it’s almost like a fully-fledged idea literally hit me in the bathtub! This would be a catalyst for change in the industry but no one knew what to do about it. So, on June 2013 once we got some people together and had an initial discussion, a few people were like ‘oh we should call it fashion EVOLUTION because a revolution is too strong’ and I was really adamant, ‘no this HAS to be a revolution’.” Carry felt the campaign should provide a platform for NGOs, workers, trades unions, and consumers: “The fashion industry HAS to change, it has to be a complete turn. We can’t have a slow evolution got to really change the whole system. We need systemic change in the industry, incremental change but an overall systemic change needs to be fashion revolution because evolution seemed a little bit too tame for the kind of change that needs to happen.” As Carry explains, the mission is quite clear: “We think consumer pressure can help to encourage brands to change but we also need legislative changes as well so that’s where the unions come in to push change, in particular, laggards who aren’t doing anything.” As the campaign is such a broad movement the target audience matches that. There is no specific target audience because the final beneficiaries of everything they do are the producers and their communities. “Our target audience is particularly young consumers, people with disposable income but people who really love fashion and haven’t really thought about the rest of the story. Also, policymakers, because they can put pressure on the brand through legislation,” Carry says. The work is now multimedia and multi-platform: “Social media has been a fundamental part of reaching out to our younger audience particularly, millennials. We wanted to use the language of fashion, the visuals of fashion and actually

make something that people could feel good about being linked to. Instagram is really important to us, we have over 100,000 followers and have created the hashtag #whomademyclothes. We’ve had over seven million views on one of our Youtube videos.” There have been people who don’t understand the movement and question the campaign’s integrity, and Carry tells us that one of the most cliché questions has been: “Shouldn’t these workers be happy because they have a job, who are we to say they should be paid more?” To which Carry replies, simply: “Having a job shouldn’t preclude having a job with dignity and a living wage.” Right from the beginning, starting from Pachacuti to Fashion Revolution, Carry says she’s seen a substantial change in the industry: “Rana Plaza brought the importance of transparency and people actually had to sift through the rubble to prove which brands were actually producing there. We have seen over 100 brands such as ASOS, GAP, Hugo Boss have been publishing their factory list for the first-tier, and we’ve also seen companies starting to publish their second-tier suppliers too.” Now Carry is looking to the future: “We need to keep focusing on transparency because brands still aren’t transparent enough. With reference to the Fashion Transparency Index even the brands who have disclosed their first tier factory are looking at 32 per cent only and only 14 per cent for the second-tier.” Fashion Revolution does have plans to start bringing more of an environmental theme for the magazine, the current issue is on waste and the future issue will be on climate change. The campaign also has coordinators in more than 100 countries and anyone can put on an event during ‘Fashion Revolution Week’ which happens annually between April 23-29, in remembrance of Rana Plaza; in previous years there have been more than 1,000 events during this week. There is a ‘Fashion Question Time’ in the British Houses of Parliament every year where NGOs, unions, retailers, brands, and members of the press are invited. There’s also open house studios, which have been opened in the UK, US, and Italy, involving designers like John Alexander Skelton, Christopher Raeburn, and Katie Jones. Carry is sure the Revolution will continue: “Anita Roddick, who is an inspiration of mine, said: ‘Well if you think you’re too small to make a difference, trying going to bed with a mosquito’, it would just take an extra 35p for all the clothing in Bangladesh for the works receive double the pay and I really think every single person can make a change.”b 29


The reality of a virtual future How VR technology could change all of our worlds

You’ve just walked past the doorman and the music is getting louder as you get closer to the dance floor of one of Berlin’s underground nightclubs. You’re in. You can feel the kick drum hit your chest. The dense fog is being pierced by the red and blue lasers. The faces of those dancing beside you light up with each flash of the strobe. The atmosphere is incredible. This is why you came to Berlin… Actually, you’re not in Berlin. You’re sat on the sofa, in your living room, in London. You’ve just transcended reality using Google Pixel and Boiler Room’s new virtual reality headset. The two brands collaborated and launched this project back in March 2017, bringing ‘home clubbing’ to a whole new level. The 15-minute virtual experience was shot in an industrial area of Berlin, and features live music, art, immersive visuals and different narratives for the user to choose from, almost like a video game. This is just one of the recent areas virtual reality (VR) has begun to explore. VR isn’t quite the modern phenomenon everyone thinks it to be. It first appeared in 1935 when science fiction writer Stanley G Weinbaum penned the idea in his short story Pygmalion’s Spectacles. He described the concept of a movie giving sight and sound, but if you add taste, smell and even touch, it places you in the story. “You speak to the shadows, and the shadows reply, and instead of being on a screen, the story is all about you, and you are in it. Would that be to make a real dream?” Weinbaum wrote. The idea was just a dream until a head-mounted VR system made its way to the public in the 1980s, however it was not an immediate, ground breaking success. American teenager Palmer Luckey brought the concept of VR into the modern age in 2010, creating a new headset prototype that would eventually become the Oculus Rift. Luckey raised $250,000 (£185,000) through a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign to bring the prototype to commercial production, and was more than successful, raising over $3.2 million (£2.4m), bringing back the attractiveness of VR to the tech industry. Two years later, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, bought Rift for $2 billion (£1.5bn). Five years down the line, we still haven’t quite reached Weinbaum’s futuristic vision with taste, smell and touch, but VR has progressed greatly in terms of visuals, 30

Words: Christopher Forsythe Images: Knight Center, University of Texas via Flickr.com

‘‘Imagine enjoying a court-side seat at a game, studying in a classrom of students and teachers all over the world, or consulting a doctor face to face, just by putting on goggles in your home.’’


creating a much more immersive experience for the user. This is thanks to the recent developments in camera technology, such as 360-degree view, which gives the user a full view of their surroundings, placing them right in the scene. This technology has advanced so far that it is now available commercially through new smartphones. For VR, the simulated experience is shot on a camera with multiple lenses embedded into the device. The 360º view comes from film angles overlapping simultaneously, and, through a method called video stitching, separate footage is merged into one spherical video piece. Augmented Reality (AR) technology has also assisted in making the immersive

experience more real. AR is a view of the physical world with elements of computer-generated images incorporated into it, such as sounds, videos, graphics and so on. It has been used since the early 1990s, being developed at the US Air Force’s Armstrong Labs to help pilots with in-flight simulation training. The most notable success of AR would be 2016’s Pokemon Go, the largest grossing app in history, making Apple’s app business almost $30 billion (£22bn) in one year, taking the total app store sales to $85 billion (£63bn) since its launch back in 2008. AR takes your perception of reality and enhances it through interactive images and sounds, whereas VR replaces the real world with a simulated one, creating a much more intense experience, taking you somewhere completely different. This is the story so far, but in an industry whose revenue is expected to rocket to more than $170 million (£126m) in 2020, what is the next step in the evolution of VR? The media industry is moving towards a virtual reality future, with journalists and documentary-makers using 360º cameras to shoot stories with a new angle. This is a natural step of progression, following journalism’s move from print to online. VR will also correlate with the recent rise of mobile journalism, as reporters broadcast on social media whilst on the move. Dr. Bianca Wright is the course director of BA Journalism at Coventry University; she has been preparing the next generation of journalists for working in the VR world. “We have created a VR teaching experience that allows students to experience a protest situation and then report on it. Our students have experimented with creating virtual experiences.” Wright says the university is at the forefront of VR education: “We have a module called Experimental Journalism Production and Storytelling and we offer the students the opportunity to explore experimental forms of journalism including VR/360º videos.” Dr. Wright believes that VR is an important step in the evolution of journalism: “It’s another platform for storytelling. And it has the potential to create a stronger connection or bond with the user than traditional journalism. It allows the reader to become part of the story in a unique way.”

The Guardian has been leading the charge in terms of VR storytelling. “You can see the push to make readers feel closer to the topic. They have used VR to cover autism, refugees, and many other issues. As interactive VR using headsets that have controllers becomes more accessible (costs fall, etc.), then the potential of VR will really be realised. That’s what we are trying to do with the Blitz VR experience,” Wright says. Keith Martin, Senior Lecturer in Journalism & Publishing at UAL, agrees that VR will benefit the journalism industry. “It’s the high level of ’emotional engagement’ that it achieves. A good VR production transports viewers in ways that other media just can’t manage.” Until now, VR experiences have all been pre-recorded, creating situations for the user to be involved in, just like the Boiler Room x Google Pixel party with the 150 ravers dancing in Berlin, but what about experiencing this in real time? Technologies like Skype video calling could be used to place the user at any location, watching live events. The opportunities are endless. Mark Zuckerberg looks past the potential of just making games and believes social VR is the next step: “This is really a new communication platform. By feeling truly present, you can share unbounded spaces and experiences with the people in your life. Imagine sharing not just moments with your friends online, but entire experiences and adventures. “Zuckerberg clearly aspires for experiences with Oculus Rift: “Imagine enjoying a court-side seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting a doctor face to face, just by putting on goggles in your home.” The idea of a virtual reality ‘society’ is also being developed by a number of tech start-up companies across the world. This involves creating an avatar of yourself to walk around in a virtual world to do video chats with your friends. One start-up, AltspaceVR, believes this is the future, as people will be able to “be together in a more natural way than a phone call, text or video chat.” With VR gear prices dropping and technology constantly growing, it’s only a matter of time before we’re all wandering around in a virtual social network.This is sounding too strangely similar to an episode of Black Mirror. b 31


Back to the Sixties The decade’s influence is felt in contemporary culture

The 1960s marks the time when the black and white world burst into colour. More people finally had access to technicolour through movies and magazines, the advertising industry boomed and fashion and music transformed in the wake of revolution. The 60s had an influential impact on the way we advertise, dress and even the way we protest our human rights today. The era of mini dresses, pixie cuts and man-made fibres reflected the newfound freedom of women to express themselves. Women’s fashion swung across a spectrum from the conservative ‘Jackie O’ style to the modern look of fashion icons like Twiggy and Brigette Bardot. Bold prints and bright colours were inspired by the new pop art movement. The hair and make-up looks we loved this year in the Paris, Milan and London fashion weeks were heavily inspired by the 1960s beauty fads. Chanel channelled Brigette Bardot with bedazzled headbands, sky-high hair-dos and silver floating eyeliner. Karl Lagerfeld created a space-travel inspired fall season, taking us back to 1969 when man first walked the moon. Twiggy’s iconic slick masculine side-parting inspired looks in the Spring/Summer shows of brands such as Givenchy and Prada. The popular beauty and accessorising trends of 2017 also mirror the 1960s icons’ go-to looks. Winged eyeliner and blonde beach waves are a staple which beauty gurus have borrowed from Bardot’s signature style. Bold, big and bright earrings are an essential accessory that holds together any outfit this winter; the bigger the earrings the better. Knitted beanies have been ditched as the headgear for the frosty months as baker boy caps and berets make a Mia Farrow-inspired comeback. Bold mismatching prints and clashing colours inspired by sixties pop art made an appearance in the Paris’ spring/summer fashion week. The Miu Miu show featured lace dresses layered over bright geometric colours and floral prints. Checks and boxy silhouettes with orange and green socks laid the foundation for the 60s-retro vibe. The typical all-black winter outfit is a thing of the past, 2017 introduces the return of bright coloured and bold printed knitwear; from burnt oranges to electric blue knits, the 1960s-inspired pop of colour means your outfit won’t be as dull as the 32

weather. Isabel Marant proved it can still be acceptable to wear a dress in winter with her collection of floral midi dresses paired with knee high boots; a modern take on the 1960s flower-power trend. Vogue covers have always captured a snapshot of the iconic trends of a decade. The 1960s issues feature the fashion ‘IT’ girls of the decade: Twiggy’s 1967 October issue with her signature eyelashes and boyish pixie cut and Britt Ekland’s 1966 June cover showcasing her stylish blonde tussled hair and bold hoop earrings. Today’s Vogue covers also frequently feature ‘IT’ girl models like sisters Gigi and Bella Hadid and Kardashian, Kendall Jenner. Gigi Hadid is a vision of blonde bombshell Bridgette Bardot on her cover of Vogue Japan. Japanese Vogue’s September 2017 ‘retro revival’ covers embraced winged eyeliner, waved hair, baker boy caps and an array of animal and geometric prints; a sixties flashback to retro heaven. The 1960s was a time when people weren’t only just dedicated followers of fashion, but music and art enthusiasts too. Music reflected the revolution and upheaval of the decade; hence the birth of psychedelic rock, protest rock and the British invasion of the music industry. The civil rights movement and the Vietnam war created an atmosphere of unrest, and a change in fashion and music mirrored this shift in culture. Psychedelic rock became popular at the end of the 1960s and was associated with the hippie lifestyle and hallucinogenic drug use. Jimi Hendrix was famous for his experimentation with this genre; his iconic performance of a distorted Star-Spangled Banner at Woodstock festival in 1969 reflected the anguish and uncertainty of the time. Other songwriters such as Bob Dylan and Barry Maguire wrote music which protested the cultural and political issues of the times when the world was on the ‘eve of destruction’. Bands such as The Who and The Doors protested in a different manner—their anti-authority demeanour and the way they acted, such as destroying their instruments on stage. In 2017, musicians continue use their platform to protest war or injustice. Ariana Grande hosted a benefit concert to bring people together after the terror attack at her concert in Manchester in June. Beyoncé used her world tour as a platform to rally support for Hilary Clinton during the presidential election in

Text: Elana Dickson Image: David Howard via flickr.com

2016. Loyle Carner, an English musician and actor, recently kicked someone out of his gig after they made a sexist remark about his female support act. The songwriters of the mainstream music today don’t often write lyrics protesting society however many big names in the industry use their platform and social media to protest. The 1960s paved the way for the widespread diversity of music we have access to now—the sixties pushed the boundaries of traditional music and left us a growing spectrum of music as a soundtrack to life. The ‘British invasion’ of the music industry marks the time in the early 1960s when British bands such as The Who, The Beatles and The Kinks found success in the mainstream music scene. The Beatles are


undoubtedly one of the biggest bands of the 20th Century and one of the first ‘boy bands’ to have a frenzied fan following and dominated the charts for almost a decade. The Beatles were also fashion icons for their era, they were known for wearing all black outfits and classic tailored suits. In the 1960s fashion and music walked hand in hand and had an influential impact on one another. The mod subculture listened to The Who, The Kinks and The Yardbirds and these British bands adopted the mod dress-code. The mod style of dress, with the target symbol, tailor cuts and a sophisticated and casual mix has filtered down into today’s dress code. Bomber jackets, polo tshirts and boxy trousers is a distinct style today

‘‘The 1960s paved the way for the widespread diversity of music we have now’’ which both young and old men have adopted. Musicians such as the Arctic Monkey’s Alex Turner and Liam Gallagher are known for their interpretation of the mod dress-code. A few sixties mod shops still live on in the iconic Carnaby Street in London, selling tailored double breasted

blazers, beautiful silk paisley shirts and every T-shirt with your favourite sixties band on it. Pop into Sherry’s down a side street in Carnaby for a trip down sixties style memory lane (you might end up leaving with a tailored striped suit and straight to a Vespa shop). The revolution and change in the 1960s had a lasting impact of freedom within fashion and music for generations to come. The 1960s is known for the times that were a-changin’ and even though there was a cloud of uncertainty that hung around after the war, people celebrated a new culture of music, art and fashion. Like the sixties, 2017 has had an atmosphere of rebellion, revolution and uncertainty yet the celebrated culture of music and fashion has prevailed. b 33


CROSSING CONTINENTS:

FROM SYRIA TO GERMANY Ferhad’s journey has taken him from Syria to Dusseldorf via Turkey and a refugee camp in Greece

It is late October when we meet up at Dusseldorf’s Hauptbahnhof, the city’s central station. My train arrives on time; he has just missed his. He has taken the next train, just a few minutes later. While I am waiting for him, I watch the station. It is a cold, grey day in Dusseldorf. The wind is blowing strongly. But there is a feeling of warmth inside the building: hugs and farewells, kisses and tears; big, welcoming, hand-written posters and genuine smiles. Peoples’ pace is relaxed. Definitely not like London, where 34

I’m used to the hustle and bustle of the big city. A very different kind of grey days. “Finally here! Where are you?” Ferhad texts me. I am a bit tense. The last time I saw Ferhad was in the Ritsona camp in Greece, nine months ago. Although he has been sending me updates throughout this time, I am nervous about his reaction. So many things have happened to him during the past nine months. In September 2016 he entered Greece making the crossing from Turkey, and in April 2017 he managed to get asy-

Words and Images: Alba Regidor Diaz


lum. Now, in October, we are meeting in Germany, his new country, his new home. When I raise my gaze from the phone, I see him waiting in front of a coffee shop, resting his backpack on the floor, looking around. I wave and walk towards him. When he sees me, he rushes to pick his backpack and starts walking with open arms and his usual timid smile. It is an emotional reunion. I keep having flashbacks from Ritsona, when he was worried about his future, and I was worried about his safety and happiness. I smile at the thought of that farewell we had nine months ago, when Ferhad murmured “everything will work out at the end. Don’t worry about me.” I blush at the thought of him trying to comfort me, while I was going back home and he was staying in a version of his. What a paradox. There are moments of silence. It just seems unreal that we are meeting again. This time, in Germany. “Everything will work out at the end,” I tease him, chuckling. “I told you!” We get on the train and head to his brother’s workplace. Ferhad wants to introduce me to his oldest brother. Although I know how it happened, I have to ask. I need to hear it from his own words. “Ferhad, how did you make it possible? Tell me about that exact day.” He nods with his shy smile and says: “Oh, I will never forget that 28th of April. That day was amazing.” Someone related to his family flew from Germany to Thessaloniki (Greece) with his brother’s German ID. “There was only a tiny chance that it wouldn’t work out. The ID was authentic, and I look pretty similar to my brother. Genes,” he chuckles. I notice that Ferhad always lowers his voice and looks away when he speaks, observing the rest of the passengers on the coach, who, by coincidence, look Arab. Once again my mind returns to the refugee camp where I met him. I am aware that I am in Germany and the situation is very different, I am so happy for him. We get off the train, he knows the route and seems familiar with the city. His state of freedom and his journey towards a stable future has been converted into confidence, a fresh outfit and a new hairstyle, deeply reflected in his gestures. Ferhad introduces me to his oldest brother. 30-year-old Rodi has been in Germany since 2015 and works as a film-maker. His English is excellent and he tells me that his German is intermediate although I hear him speaking fluently. It’s getting colder. The wind blows with intensity and gets into our bones while watching Rodi film outdoors. Ferhad slowly relaxes and the moment to hear how he made it to Germany finally arrives. “I need to tell you the exact story about the day I made it possible,” he says,

warming up his hands. I nod with excitement and we sit down. A cousin of his family flew to Thessaloniki bringing his brother’s ID. “I felt that I had to try it this way. Life in the camp is frustrating, the weeks seemed months and the months seemed years,” he adds. I perceive his resignation in his eyes. Rodi disrupts us friendly offering me a cigarette and says something in Kurdish to his brother. I do not understand a word. I observe them while they have a conversation. Their complicity and brotherly love are hard to miss, and while they talk I can’t avoid thinking about what human beings are able to do when facing vulnerable situations. After the cigarette break, Rodi goes back to work. Ferhad carries on with the conversation. “Mafia IDs are not a guarantee to cross the border anymore, there is a lot of police and security at Greece airports. I was pretty nervous, it was the fourth time I was trying to cross the border,” he says looking down. “At the security control, the police came to talk to us. I was quiet and my cousin talked for me,” he takes a breath and a few seconds of silence. Both IDs were authentic, and the fact that Ferhad and Rodi look similar was the key to passing the border control.“I couldn’t hold my emotions any longer. I began to panic minutes later when I saw two policemen inside the plane. They took an Arab passenger out of the plane just a seat in front of me.” He changes his tone of voice. “They didn’t say anything to me. When the plane took off, my whole body began to sweat and I couldn’t stop crying in silence. I was going to Germany. I made it.” He sounds emotional. “I owe everything to my cousin.” Despite his seemingly permanent good mood, once Ferhad is done telling me about the episode he gets very 35


emotional. I rub my hand on his shoulder to show him my support and affection. At only 19, he had to experience “the worst of the human being,” he admits. He considers himself a lucky person since he arrived in Germany. The asylum process was legalised faster than when in Greece. Ferhad tells me that when he arrived in Germany he spent almost three weeks in a refugee camp near Dusseldorf waiting for his ID. He takes something out of his pocket; it’s his provisional ID card. “I’ve got two IDs since I arrived in Europe, both of them with different days of birth. I am 18 years-old on the German identification, although the truth is that I am 19.” He smiles. He rapidly adds: “I can’t prove my age, the smugglers stole my previous Syrian passport.” There is an overwhelming atmosphere and we can’t stand the cold, so we plan to leave and head off to the old town of the city. It is late afternoon, times flies catching up. As we are starving I decide to take him to a Spanish restaurant a friend recommended to me. I am so intrigued by how Ferhad is today. He is growing so much as a person. When we get to the old town, the moon is rising and the day is turning to darkness. I notice the city getting busier at night. It’s Saturday and bars are full,

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and there’s a fun atmosphere. While we are crossing the busiest bar area, Ferhad thinks out loud: “I now enjoy my life, but I still believe in God.” He adds: “In my country, people take religion too seriously and they are not able to be free.” I nod silently and notice how much he changed throughout his journey to Germany. We are about to order in the restaurant. I fancy a German beer and he doesn’t hesitate and orders another for himself straightaway, very natural. I am a bit in shock, and try to hide it. “Please order whatever you like, I eat everything,” he says leaving the religion aside. However, when I first met him it was very present in his day-to-day. I observe how he uses the cutlery. He doesn’t look comfortable, as if he was trying his best manners on the table. “It’s my second time having dinner with cutlery,” he admits and blushes. I give him some tips to make it easier. I have another flashback and my mind return to Ritsona, this time I see myself sitting on the floor having Syrian lunch at Ferhad’s Caravan at the camp. We ate traditional Middle-East cuisine of the way they do; using Pita bread and hands as cutlery. We enjoy the Spanish ham, it is his first time trying it and Ferhad seems to love this delicacy. His reaction is to speak


about his life now compared to his roots and previous background: “I just enjoy my life; it is better. Many people interpret religion in a bad way and that oppresses us and does not make us happy,” he confesses again. We have an intense conversation over dinner, he opens up to me admitting his state of freedom: “A simple thing for Europeans as riding a bike is banned in Kurdistan, Iraq. I got a bike as soon I got to Germany, it’s one of the things I love to do here. Everyone rides bikes and nobody judges them.” He never imagined his would visit Europe, “Syria was one of the safest countries of the world and an amazing place to live in, but now is the worst country of the world,” he laments. Looking back home, all Ferhad really misses are his mother and his twin sister. “I talk to them every day, and my brothers send them money monthly,” he says. “After almost three years, they are still waiting for the asylum and trying to come to Europe through the legal way.” Ferhad attends German lessons for refugees three days per week. He complains about the quality of his classes and hopes to get into a regular German school next year. He has just started to build a new life in Germany, his German is poor and his asylum process is not fully completed yet. But his positive attitude and spirit help him out. Ferhad’s hobby is to be a barber—his best friend taught him for years in Iraq—although he dreams of studying Geography. He is aware of the importance of friendship: “During my time in the camp in Greece I made great friends from across the world and it made

me open my mind a lot,” he admits. I remember the first day I met Ferhad in Ritsona. He came really early in the morning to the warehouse where the volunteers work to ask in a very basic English and with a discrete approach if he could help us. I will never forget what the camp coordinator told me: “Ferhad is one of the politest, kindest and most helpful people I have met in Ritsona.” I completely agree with him. Ferhad has always been keen to meet new people despite the barriers of the language and has always been involved in the activities of the camp as well as willing to help the volunteers out. Very early the next morning, I am due to leave, but despite the time, Rodi and Ferhad come to the station with me. I hate goodbyes. Although due to his religion there’s usually a bit of a “security distance” between us, we now give each other a hug. “Take care you two,” I say nostalgically. Rodi straightaway adds: “He’s my little brother and my favourite. I always take care of him.” In between giggles, Ferhad has one last thing to say: “Everything will work out and you will see it.” I get back home with a good feeling. Although Ferhad isn’t satisfied enough, I think his ambition will take him into a better situation. His restless instinct and his impressive attitude were key during his journey to Europe. Hopefully, they will help him build up a bright future. The future that he and so many other refugees deserve: “To me, home means to be with your whole family at a safe place. I will call this city home the day my Mum and my sister land in Germany.” b 37


Words: Charlotte Layton Images: Charlotte Layton, Sludge G via flickr.com, Laurence Arnold via flickr.com 38


WELCOME TO THE

WALTHAMSTOW WETLANDS This beautiful corner of north London is the largest wildlife reserve in Europe

Strolling out of Springfield Park with a camera held tightly with freezing cold palms… Springfield Park, a 26.4 acre area, is centred in the heart of 356 acres of marshes, joining up Walthamstow, Leyton and Hackney. The bright blue sky, beautifully contrasted against the great mass of green and browns of the mammoth willow trees, seemingly endless marshes, and dying flowers of once beautiful yellows, reds and purple. November leaves that have fallen from their now bare owners, crunch loudly beneath the heavy stomp of my Doctor Martin’s. Complete silence falls and there is nothing to be heard for miles, other than the cheerful chirp of goldfinches, cetti warbler’s, and chirpy little robin’s whose chests are now a beaming red. Squirrels, who are now familiar with human contact to some degree, stop to watch me, expecting to be offered a nut or two. With none to hand, I wander off, before the little blighters’ big eyes and patient wait, pulls at the ‘aww’ feeling that seems to be somewhat lost. Never mind Springfield and its endless acres of beautiful marshes—the newly opened wetlands, which were once a no-go in the Lee Valley area of the marshes, was the call for this nature photography shoot; although photography was just an excuse to come to such a beautiful place. The real reason was to escape from the unbearably busy, urban areas of London. Wandering through a small gate opposite the marina, where all the boats seemed to be hurled in, a new sense of bliss hits. Despite the wetlands being a huge chunk of the marshes and marina, it is almost as though winter hasn’t managed to get its icy hands on this specific area just yet. The November sky glistens against the colourful wildflowers: white campion, yellow gorse, purple knapweed.

There were even some blackberries left untouched on their prickly bushes that they call home. Granted, they were not ripe and dying, but beautiful nonetheless. The remarkable thing about this beautifully blissful scene, is that it is not just some random, undesirable, tedious corner of rural London, but a formerly avoided area for the lack of ability presiding over us. This remarkable place is located somewhere between the grittiness of Tottenham in North London and the depressiveness of downtown Walthamstow. For as long as those within the area can remember, this group of reservoirs were completely forbidden to everyone, except those who were self-proclaimed fishermen and bird watchers, who were willing and able to pay for the necessary permits to enter. Thankfully now, a £10.6m investment had been put into the area by the London Wildlife Trust, the Heritage Lottery Fund, Waltham Forest Council and Thames Water. The area that received this financial investment included the marshes, Springfield Park and of course, the wetlands, and now, Walthamstow’s very own wetlands is classified as the largest wildlife reserve in Europe. For local resident Kerry Edwards, she was rather excited when the wetlands opened their gates to the rest of the public. “I’m glad that they’ve opened up the wetlands as a part of the marshes. Not only have I got somewhere else to take the kids to explore, but I have extra space to go to when I need to,” she said. “I’ve been going down to the marshes for years. It’s genuinely a beautiful place, and a nice place to go to clear your head. There’s just something therapeutic about this place. It’s so beautiful and quiet, but I always thought it was pointless to keep the wetlands closed. Why should we have 39


to pay to appreciate something so natural and so beautiful?” Kerry tells Artefact. “Coming down here to the marshes is almost as though you’re in a completely different world. You’d never think that this kind of space exists in London. When you think of London, you think of a dirty, built up, overcrowded city, but then you find pockets of beauty like this.” Fifty-three-year-old Laraine Jenman shares a similar outlook to the marshes and wetlands. “I took my children here for years when they were little. But what nobody knows is that I often come here by myself just to get away from everyone and everything. Sometimes I get so down, and the peacefulness of the marshes is the only thing that can help me clear my mind and make me feel better,” she explains. “I never understood why the wetlands were closed off to the general public. I personally don’t like fishing. I wouldn’t even know how or where to start and as for bird watching? I’d rather appreciate all my surroundings. Not that I have the concentration to focus on any one thing in particular when I’m down, but it’s still nice to be able to appreciate

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the little things that nature has to offer.” Laraine continues: “Paying for a permit to fish or bird watch would have been so pointless. The wetlands have been a part of the marshes for as long as it has been here, but without a permit, we weren’t allowed to be anywhere near it. In all honestly, for us it would have been an expense that we couldn’t afford. I don’t think it was right to isolate this part of the marshes.” “Of course it is a huge place, but when you’ve lived here as long as I have, you find every little nook and cranny. I think that’s why I’m happier than I should be that they’ve opened up the wetlands. It isn’t a new thing, but rather somewhere else to go when I feel as though I need that escape,” Laraine concludes. The wetlands have been open since October 20, 2017, and excluding the marshes, the area is a colossal 211-hectare site on its own. It has a 13-mile footpath, for those wishing to wander around, taking in its beauty. The site includes 10 reservoirs, a huge cycle track that seems to go on forever, and eight, large as life, islands dotted throughout the site.


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“There’s just something therapeutic about this place. It’s so beautiful and quiet.”

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From the Coppermill Lane entrance, you have the absolute pleasure of looking over beautifully graceful swans and excessively loud geese, gliding effortlessly down its gorgeous, flowing stream. The Coppermill Tower near the Lane will soon open its doors too, offering a calendar full of a variety of activities as well as seasonal events, which have already been planned in advance. The London Wildlife Trust plans to offer a variety of Interactive learning programmes and school engagement with the hopeful aim that this will influence the next generation to look after the site in years to come. The stream itself looks over three colossal, hand-dug reservoirs, with various smaller lakes breaking away from the main stream. The stream itself is home to lily-pads, tadpoles and a variety of wildflowers, that all float at the surface. On Ferry Lane, opposite the main entrance to the wetlands, is a building dating back to, what only one can assume to be the 1800s. This building is home to the steam-driven pump engine, and is now also available to hire out for exhibition space too. For 25-year-old Jay Collins, Walthamstow and Hackney marshes are somewhat of a nostalgia to him. “I used to be brought here with my mum, dad, nan and grandad and a mate would always tag along. We’d play football in the open spaces, and catch tadpoles in little stream things. I remember catching some kind of newt or something. All I know it was huge!” Speaking about the marshes automatically brings a smile to his face. “As a kid, I just thought everything that was closed off was something to do with the water works, but now it makes a bit more sense that these sites were basically reserved for people who were into fishing or could afford to do it,” he tells Artefact. “I’m glad that they’ve opened up the wetlands though and I think it’s time to actually make the time to go back down there. I work on building sites, so being around nature might just relax me a bit,” he laughs. Although, not everyone is impressed with the opening of the wetlands. 43-year old Lorna Fage, explains that it is only those who have recently moved to the area, who are immensely impressed with the wetlands opening up. “I’ve lived in the area all my life, so to me, the wetlands

opening up is nothing special. As youngsters, we never complained that we didn’t have access to them, we had the marshes and Springfield park. That was good enough for us.” “Of course, back then, we would simply just jump the fence if we wanted to because that is literally all there is separating the wetlands from the rest of the marshes. Even if they didn’t open the gates, it isn’t as though you can’t see the open space of the wetlands. If you’ve gone over to the marshes, you may as well have seen the wetlands too. There is no difference to me,” she explains. “It’s all these young people and those now buying up the properties in the borough who are excited that they’ve opened. Maybe it’s because they never knew the marshes and wetlands were here, but to me and others that I know, it isn’t anything new, exciting or anything to bang on about.” London already has a highly-regarded wetland reserve in south-west London, although a £30 family ticket is required before you can visit the site, which has deterred many from visiting the area. Although this site offers an insane world of lakes, lagoons and miles upon miles worth of marshes, where over 180 different species of birds have been spotted by park rangers and bird watchers alike. This site has even seen an unexploded Second World War bomb, which saw a bomb disposal team scurrying to the site to defuse the situation. It turned out the bomb wasn’t live and so had no possibility of exploding, thankfully. The wetland that has recently opened, asks for no charge at all, and is open from dawn till dusk, Monday through to Sunday. There is an extraordinarily small parking charge for those who intend to drive to the site, but there are several local tube and Overground stations including St James Street station, Blackhorse Road Station and Tottenham Hale Station. Of course, it doesn’t stop there. The marshes that are attached to the wetlands in Walthamstow are open 24/7, which means that the ability to appreciate nature’s beauty isn’t restricted at all. Roughly 500,000 people live within a two-mile radius of these stunning nature reserves, and 250,000 human visitors within its first year opening up to the public, can you really argue with the anticipated figures of how many individuals will visit throughout the year? b 43


Words: Edena Klimenti

DRAWN TO ISLAM The journey of discovering religion

“Islam has changed my life drastically. Before entering Islam, I would hold a lot of anger inside of me. Islam has taught me about being patient. Patience has helped ease the anger and frustration.” Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world, with recent studies predicting a 73 per cent increase in the religion by 2050, it will not only be the fastest growing, but also the largest religion in the world. Converting religion and following a new religious path can be a daunting, yet an equally rewarding experience. The endless cycle of potential judgment and immediate “21 questions” that follow can be overwhelming. Each religious journey is different. Some people may decide to jump in at the deep end, changing and adapting their life instantly, and others may feel more comfortable gradually accepting a new religion into their lives. The idea of religion is complex and it can mean different things to an array of different people. The ways in which people come into contact with religion is always diverse. Some are born into religion and follow strict cultural and religious guidelines from a young age, making it a way of life and essentially something that they will never question or go against; it becomes a key part of their identity. Others convert from one religion to another, whilst some convert from atheism; exploring religion because they are simply curious and intrigued. They gradually grow closer and fonder of the religion that they relate to and find solace in the morality behind religion. Many religious converts explain that they have always had moral obligation within them, as a human being. However, many have suggested that the religious 44

experiences they encounter further motivate and push them towards more righteous paths in their lives. In the Islamic religion, some believe it is more appropriate to use the term “revert” when describing a process of ‘coming back’ to the one true religion. Muslims believe that everybody is born with a connection to God, and it is your journey in life and your parents that will determine your religious status. So, the word ‘revert’ refers to the process of coming back to God, rather than ‘converting’. This is exactly the case for 21-year-old Gabrielle Vincent who grew up with no particular religious beliefs, no background involving a religious routine and no specific interest in perusing a religious path. “Originally from China, I grew up in London with a single, atheist mother. She has a Jewish background but never practiced the religion.” Gabriele had no previous ties to religion growing up, so her journey of reverting to Islam was most certainly difficult, but also entirely rewarding. After committing to the religion completely, Gabriele has reached her happiest place; emotionally, physically, and of course spiritually. But this was not an overnight journey. It was on a residential geography college trip with her friends that she first opened her mind to the idea of religion, the curiosity overwhelming her. Just like many of her own friends now continue to ponder and ask Gabriele about her experience with her new religion, she too was curious at some point, quizzing her friends when, for the first time, she witnessed them reciting a prayer from the Quran; the Maghrib Salah (the fourth of five daily prayers, performed just after sunset). It was in this moment she felt captured, she needed to know more. “I just stayed on my bed and peeped over the bannister. They all stood in a line, facing the same way. I was so confused with what was happening.” After the prayer had finished, Gabriele had begun to understand that it was one of the five prayers Muslims must perform each day; she recalls learning about the five pillars of Islam in primary school. The five pillars of Islam include, faith, prayer, charity, fasting and the pilgrimage to Mecca. Although always having had a basic knowledge of different religions and the way in which they have different practices, Gabriele never quite grasped


the idea of committing to and dedicating her life to a particular religion. A feeling of shock and inquisitiveness consumed her, she needed to know more. It was a foreign concept to her. “I loved seeing them openly practice their religion, they didn’t let anything get in the way.” The idea of being on a school trip, with no responsibility but to attend class meetings and enjoy your time with your friends seemed perfect, it was touching to Gabriele that these girls took time out of their day, each day, to worship and appreciate their God. It was simple yet beautiful. Acting on this new found interest for the Islamic religion, Gabriele was desperate to dig deeper and further her knowledge. Following the residential college trip, Gabriele could not stop thinking about her experience, and decided to stay in contact with one of the women she witnessed praying. During the frequent conversations with her new friend, Gabriele was able to have her questions answered so that she could feel a natural understanding about the religion. She was able to appreciate the motives behind the actions of a Muslim woman. A religion she once felt no connection towards, suddenly consumed her daily routine, even before she had made the final and important decision to convert. The beauty of these dedicated women intrigued Gabriele, so she continued on her quest to find out more. Growing up in London, one of the most openly multicultural cities in the world, Gabriele recalls witnessing some of her school friends fasting during the holy month of Ramadan—always understanding how emotionally and physically challenging this must be. The holy month of Ramadan is a time in which Muslims wake up in the early hours of the morning for the Suhoor prayer and meal; which will allow them to then fast for an entire day until it is time to break their fast when the sun sets for Iftar, the evening meal and prayer. Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam, and is considered a crucial part of the Muslim religion. In an attempt to feel closer to the religion and practice something that intrigued her in so many ways, Gabriele decided to embark on the difficult journey of fasting. “I decided to give myself the chal-

lenge of fasting. Although I was only planning on fasting one day, I ended up fasting the whole month of Ramadan.” Fasting is practiced throughout many religions as a way of feeling closer to God and your own emotions. In Islam, it is a way of obeying God and allowing yourself to have discipline, empathy and control. “Islam has taught me about being patient. Patience has helped me ease the anger and frustration.” It was always interesting to Gabriele how members of the Islamic faith were able to entirely dedicate their lives to God. Fasting during the holy month was a difficult, yet nonetheless a life-changing experience. It allowed her to understand the deeper meaning behind it. “From having to wake up early for Suhoor, to not being able to drink during the day, to waiting for those last five minutes before Iftar—it was worth the sacrifice. It taught me discipline and self-control.” The commitment of this process captured Gabriele’s heart, compelling her to dig even deeper and find out more about the religion, learning about the history and importance of each choice. Ramadan is a holy month in which Muslims are able to feel more compassionate and empathetic towards those in need. The decision was not easy. After months of researching and attempting to understand and respect the process and depth of the religion, Gabriele was still pondering about her position in the religion, sometimes not knowing whether she would be accepted and welcomed. Her worries were quickly pushed aside. Participating in the fasting process, attending religious talks and reading about Islam was a way in which Gabriele could feed her interest for the religion, and slowly reach the point in which she felt comfortable converting to Islam. She found her place in the Muslim community relatively quickly, as she explained how welcoming and accepting they were. After completing her first month during Ramadan, she came into contact with her old school friends. They were thrilled to find out about her interest in Islam, and welcomed her to spend Eid with them. “I’ve never known anyone so welcoming and loving.” Gabriele took care in her religious research, explaining how she had never felt so dedicated to anything in her past. Although she had not converted yet, she made an effort to be a part

“Islam makes me feel complete. Before, I was questioning everything.”

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“I am much more appreciative of life and my blessings. I feel purer.”

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of online Islamic groups, where audio of important information was sent out about the religion. “The first audio sent was of the Surah Ikhlas. I found that the Surah had a lot of meaning and it fully explained who Allah was.” The process of studying these verses was very important to Gabriele, as it made her feel a part of the religion and it allowed her to take this sacred process at her own pace, never once feeling pressured by her friends or teachers. “Despite not being Muslim yet, I took tafseer very seriously and made it my goal to complete the audio before the next one was sent out. I would file my notes away in a binder and protect each sheet with a poly envelope. Way more organised than my university notes.” The process of joining the tafseer group was calming for Gabriele. She was able to feel a part of the community, learning about the religion and studying this new information at the same time as her friends. The group allowed her to understand key verses and meanings in the Quran, whilst also giving her the opportunity to ask questions. After almost a year of studying the religion and keeping up with Islamic talks Gabriele felt like the religion was becoming a part of her identity, something that she did not want to let go of. “When I knew that I wanted to convert I messaged a friend who works at the madrasah (Islamic educational institute) of our local mosque. She contacted the Imam of the mosque to organise a meeting. We all arrived at the mosque early to complete paper work.” The decision was made. “The Imam explained the five pillars of Islam and the seven articles of faith. He ensured that I understood and agreed with them. He then stated the Shahadah in Arabic, ‘Ashadu an la ilaha illa illa-ilah, wa ashadu anna muhammadan rasul ullah’, I repeated after him and then he said the English translation, ‘I testify that there is no god but God (Allah), and I testify that Muhammad is the messenger of God (Allah)’. After I repeated these two sentences, I had officially converted to Islam.” Gabriele felt complete. Although the months leading up to her conversion were difficult, she felt as if she had made a crucial decision in her life; doing something that made her soul happy and gave her a new meaning in life.

“Islam has changed my life drastically. Before entering Islam, I would hold a lot of anger inside me. Islam has taught me about being patient. Patience has helped me ease the anger and frustration.” For Gabriele, this process gave her more than just meaning and purpose. It allowed her to understand other people, respect different beliefs and choices, and have a more complex understanding of empathy towards others. “Islam makes me feel complete. Before I was questioning everything. I still have questions, but they are easily answered now. I look at life in a different perspective.” This prolonged journey was not easy for Gabriele, or her family. It was very important for Gabriele that her mother would be happy with the decision, and that she supported her journey. Converting religion can be a difficult process because of all the information that you are digesting and trying to make sense of. It is also difficult for those around you who may not understand you. In the beginning, it was difficult for Gabriele’s mother to come to terms with the idea of converting. It is not uncommon for people to question and not quite understand the reasoning behind converting religion. Spirituality and religion are personal, they may mean different things to different people, which is why converting religion, or following a new spiritual path may attract so much judgment and curiosity from friends and family. They may be concerned and confused. Gabriele explained that her Mother’s main concerns were about the restrictions that Islam would potentially place on her daughter. “She felt like the religion would restrict me. I explained to her that I didn’t see them as restrictions, and explained why I agreed with them. I pointed out that we already live different lives, such as alcohol; she’ll drink alcohol at dinner parties and I was never into drinking. She would eat pork and I wouldn’t. These are just a few of the examples I gave her.” Gabriele explained that she did not have difficulty with her friends accepting her decision to convert, as they were with her during the process and were one of her biggest support systems. Although her mother now understands and fully supports her decision, Gabriele has not


told her entire family, as some of them are part of different religions and may not fully understand. Converting religion can be an emotionally challenging experience. However, sometimes it is the fear of judgment that prevents people from following their true spiritual paths. The people you care about and spend time with may question your decision, and the majority of the time they will understand your decision as long as you answer all of their curious and confused questions. Certain religions require a certain level of modesty. In Islam, women are required to cover their hair and the shape of their body. This stipulation is often misunderstood as ‘oppressive’, as it is considered one of the most sacred and beautiful requirements in Islam. It is one of the many things that drew Gabriele to the Islamic religion. Gabriele talks about her difficulty with putting on the hijab and abaya, as people she may have bumped into on a regular basis would comment and perhaps stare. The Islamic religion is very dedicated to the notion of modesty and this is one of the many reasons that Gabriele was mesmerised by this religion. “My hardest struggle was going out in public wearing my hijab and abaya. I knew from very early on that I wanted to cover up, as this is one of the beauties of Islam that drew me to the religion. I took baby steps; first going out wearing my new attire with my Mum, then when I went to visit friends and then I started wearing it out alone. It was rather scary at first, but I knew I was firm on my decision.” The fear of judgment can be a difficult obstacle, but Gabriele felt that her connection to the religion overpowered her worries. She knew that she had made the right decision. In some parts of the world, wearing religious clothing of any sort is frowned upon or even against the law. It is deemed a human right to express your religious beliefs and practice your religion, sadly this religious freedom is still a problem for many. In the UK, you are able to freely and rightfully wear any religious clothing as a form of practicing your religion. It is a basic human right. Although this is the case, Gabriele, like many other Islamic women, has faced unfortunate and disheartening discrim-

inatory abuse at her work. Gabriele explains her issues with managers at her retail job in regards to covering up and wearing her religious clothing. “It was difficult to wear my attire to work. One manager was not happy to see me wearing my scarf. Unfortunately, there were rather rude comments made to my friend about me. The next day, my friend told me about her comments and it broke me.” In spite of this, Gabriele has been strong enough to ignore these negative encounters. Deeming them as small set-backs rather than moments that will discourage her religious path. Like many who have converted religion, Gabriele has found a new feeling of fulfilment. Her life has changed forever. “I am much more appreciative of life and my blessings. I feel purer. The spiritual rituals I perform daily, such as wudhu (the ablution Muslims do before they pray) make me feel fresh and pure throughout the day.” Religion can be a way in which people feel closer to God and closer to themselves as human beings, protecting their bodies and minds by following a spiritual journey. It gives many people peace within themselves, and allows them to become more patient and understanding of others and even their own mistakes. “Before, I was a stressed person—I would get stressed over the smallest things. Though I do still get stressed, after I pray I feel much more calm. When the day gets tough, wherever I am, work, out and about, or at home, taking a few minutes to pray helps calm me.” Spirituality and religion is an individual’s personal and sometimes very private and sensitive journey. There are many different reasons why people follow particular religious’ paths. This can be anything from the security they find within the religious community, their deep and personal questions answered, the religious upbringing they have experienced, or simply the feeling of comfort that is a result of being closer to God. Despite the immense scutiny that the Islamic religion has faced, we must learn to appreciate and understand each others personal and spiritual beliefs, even if they do not agree with our own. This is simply because we must all be entitled to our own personal expression, in any form that this may come. b 47


Food-bank Britain Poverty and desperation are forcing thousands to rely on charity

The Trussell Trust is an anti−poverty charity that is one of the largest food bank networks in the UK, with more than 420 nationwide. What started 20 years ago has become the main resource in tackling poverty with them handing out 60,387 emergency food parcels to adults, and 34,803 to children between April 2016 and March 2017. This is a major ongoing issue that the UK government has yet to face head-on, and it makes you wonder how they can justify spending £370 million on refurbishing Buckingham Palace. What comes as a surprise is the people who need it the most are from working families that are under the low-income barrier, such as public sector workers. An anonymous writer for The Guardian explained how benefit advisors and other council staff are resorting to food banks. “As public sector staff, we must show a level of professionalism, but often this is an act. The stark reality is that many of us leave work each evening and go back to cold houses with little food in the cupboards. Too many of my colleagues are reliant on family or friends for food, and if they have no one to turn to, they may even have to use food banks.” They are urging everyone to help support their campaign to end the public sector pay cap for all public-sector workers and give them all a decent pay rise. This is not just to support them but to help them stay in their jobs to support those who need public services. As the number of people who use food banks grows, it makes one wonder what is going on with our economy, that more than 1.2 million people resort to this. Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg recently said the rapid increase in food banks showed a “rather uplifting” picture of a compassionate country. But he was criticised by those who believe that poverty and insecurity should not be glamourized, and felt he is someone who lives in a different world, yet tries to claim the Tory policies of austerity have actually “lifted people out of poverty”. Yes, employment may be at its highest since the 1970s, but that doesn’t mean working-class citizens are not in poverty. The increase of zero-hours contracts, precarious employment and the Trade Union Act has resulted in people turning to food banks even though they have a full-time job. “Since, I think 2010, the number of people relying on food banks has gone 48

up from the tens of thousands to the millions.” BBC Question Time audience member, 27 April 2017 An on-going factor that worries the Trussell Trust is the new benefit, Universal Credit; although in the long term it has the potential to be transformative, in reality, the Trustfinds it much worse.Michael, a food bank manager in Newcastle, where they are experiencing the rollout of ‘full’ Universal Credit, has said there has been an increase in demand and a dwindling in food. This is because there is a six-week wait that must be endured before you can claim the money to which you are entitled, which means that people must try and survive without money for such a long period of time, resulting in them turning to food banks more than ever. Garry Lemon of the Trussell Trust. says it is not just the way Universal Credit has been designed that is leaving people in crisis. “We are also seeing serious issues in its implementation. Due to poor administration and IT issues, we are seeing reports of people waiting 11, 12 and even 13 weeks to receive their first Universal Credit payment.” Duncan Mayers, 60, has been volunteering for two years for the Waterloo food bank at Xenia; a student hostel, since being made redundant from his job as a student advisor. Xenia food bank only stores non-perishable food, and so it only has tinned, packed or dried items and can provide the basics people need, on condition they’ve got a place to stay. Duncan told us that people who are in the low-income barrier use the food banks the most, compared to people who are actually homeless. Although they would like to help the homeless more, sometimes they’re not equipped to do so. “With one of our clients this afternoon, we were limited in what we could give to him because he is currently on the streets. We’re trying to get him to connect with agencies who can help him with that, but in the meantime, that’s his current status.” In Duncan’s opinion, people are really touched by the need for food banks, and so they want to do something. They feel helpless in the face of other people’s poverty, and don’t want to patronise people and the fact that they can donate out to their local supermarkets helps. The Trussell Trust do a monthly pick-up from the supermarkets, and certain ones such as Tesco add a certain

Words: Elyse O’Donnell Image: Tae Park

“It’s only one step short of making people beg on the street and that’s wrong”


extra percentage of the weight of the food to the donation. When asked whether he believes the use of food banks is rising, he agreed that nationally it was, but because of a few different reasons. “Part of that is because more are opening up, another part is that the word is more widely known but mostly, part of it is that the need is getting greater,” Duncan told us. It’s not the only issue, but the fact is that as Universal Credit rolls out, it hits people with an automatic situation of having no money. Even waiting six to seven weeks is optimistic in some cases, so there is a built-in poverty trap to that. Which is fine for the people who have savings but the very people who need Universal Credit are not likely to have savings, therefore it’s a difficult situation and most people feel like this shouldn’t

be happening in a country like ours, it’s not fair, and it’s not right. “There’s clearly a short-term issue, the general idea of making things simpler has to be a good idea, whether paying people monthly is a good way forward for people whose bills are weekly or daily, I’m not sure. It requires budgeting, and it requires a strong sense of having to deny something that you could do today because of later in the month, and when you’re facing poverty, especially if you have a family, that’s hard,” Duncan said. Meanwhile Duncan thinks Jacob Rees-Mogg’s views may have just come out the wrong way: “Mogg’s words belong to a very particular world, but what I guess he probably meant is that it’s good that people want to help. Due to this, it’s pushed people to respond by setting up

more food banks, and it’s a sign that there is a desire for justice.” But he believes there are still dangers in relying on charity: “If it isn’t provided, we will make it happen, but that’s not a long-term solution. We are always in danger of being a sticking plaster when the problem has to be solved at a national, governmental level; we have to find a way of deciding, as a society, how we share the enormous wealth that is in this country.” Food banks are not going to stop poverty; it’s down to the people who are higher up. Although there will always be some poverty in our country, it’s a national disgrace that people have to ask because they have no other source of help. It’s only one thing short of making people beg on the street, and that’s wrong. b 49


THE PATH OF THE PILGRIM People come from all over the world to travel the Way of St James through France and Spain Saint Jean Pied de Port, in the South of France, is nearly five hundred miles away from Santiago de Compostela, Galicia’s capital in north-western Spain. What makes it crucial for you to locate these two areas is that after reading the following stories you may want to pack your rucksack and set out on a journey on foot to draw a line on the map that unites both places. Year after year, pilgrims from all over the world have been doing just that not only with tradition but with a special energy hard to translate into words. Can you imagine yourself walking around five hours per day for over a month? Probably not, and neither could I the first time someone asked me the same 50

question. However, testimony after testimony ended up awakening my curiosity until I finally decided to find out myself what it is that makes people fall in love with The Way of Saint James. With its origins back in the ninth century, when the tomb of the apostle Saint James was found in Compostela, this walking path has slowly developed from a purely Christian event to one of the most popular in Europe. Six of the people who shared parts of my Camino de Santiago described their experiences —after all, what better way is there to catch the essence of an adventure than by hearing the words of those who have lived it?


ANTONIO, 40, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC “Twenty-three years after hearing about the Camino for the first time, it suddenly crossed my mind to walk it. I don’t know why. At first sight, there was no reason for it to pop into my head, but the Camino hides one for everyone. And whether you want it to or not, it marks a before and after in your existence. “The Camino is demanding. It takes us to the limit day after day, both physically and mentally, in a way that sometimes makes it hard to believe what we are capable of. Sometimes I felt amazed by myself and even though I was exhausted—again, physically and mentally—I cannot describe the level of satisfaction at the end of the day. For the lessons learned, for the inner peace that slowly started to show through, for the feeling of freedom that convinced me that each of us is unique in the universe. “On the Camino, things happen, and the shared walking becomes the driving force of new friendships, love stories, meetings, and farewells. There are conversations on the Camino that can change one’s life path. The relationships that were born are the most obvious proof of a universal conspiracy—let’s call it like this—that puts people on our way, on The Way of Saint James and on the way of life, because they are meant to be there. There are no barriers. “After days and days of walking in silence along different roads and tracks, the daily routine that often makes us forget who we are, where we are going to or what we are actually looking for, that routine, that stress, have no space anymore. They don’t exist. “I learned about my fears and to be more human, I experienced that people still help other people, and that silence and a smile are two very powerful weapons. A smile can solve a problem; silence can avoid it. I realised that it’s every person’s choice how to walk their life path.”

Words: Teresa Gottein Images: Jose Antonio Gil Martinez and Gus Taf via Flickr.com, Teresa Gottein

“It takes us to the limit day after day, both physicially and mentally.”

ANAÏS, 22, SPAIN “I didn’t really think much about how it would be, and then... wow. The experience was so fulfilling. And the landscapes... I thought they would be drier but it was very green. You were walking through all these trees.. “We were told many times that France’s first stage was very, very hard, that someone once died... and we almost canceled it. Then, Saint Jean Pied de Port ended up being our favourite village. It is simply beautiful. And when we started walking, it was extremely hard, and at the same time amazing. You would go up and up and at one point be above the clouds. “I was speaking to my mom and my friends sometimes, but other times I was walking alone. I couldn’t feel my legs but you always keep walking. And then, the feeling when you get to the next village; I cannot describe it in words. The environment is incomparable. We laughed a lot. We felt exceptional. It was beautiful. “Life is a pathway, you know? That’s what I lived there. What pops into my mind? Happiness, peacefulness, resilience, nice people, that you’re alone in life and you need to keep walking even if there are hard times, ugly times because the beauty always comes and after all the hard work there’s always something you get back from it.” 51


DAVE, 26, UK “The Way of Saint James is scary because it gives you so much time to look into yourself and forces you to confront negative feelings. I decided to walk the Camino after watching a film called The Way, by Emilio Estévez. It was a low point in my life, and I really wanted to get myself back on track. Emotionally, I expected to be kind of born again, when the reality is that the opposite happened. “A lot of feelings that I had been repressing for a long time came to the surface. I realised I was mentally not strong enough to deal with them, no matter how strong I was physically. And it pushed me to work on that. This photo is not my proudest, but it’s what got me out of bed every morning.”

‘‘It gives you so much time to look into yourself, forces you to confront negative feelins.”

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ALI, 21, USA “My Mom had done it a year earlier but didn’t feel like it was truly her Camino. She knew she needed to take me and that we would feel accomplished together. At first, my response was ‘no mom, I want to see Europe the normal, touristy way!’. I soon realised that I didn’t have that option and that walking Europe was still seeing Europe. “Our first night was one of my favourites and the one that introduced me to the spirit of the Way of Saint James. We stayed in a room with a duo who were back for their second Camino after meeting each other on their first one, and bonding over the loss of their spouses five years before. This was one of the most inspiring stories of my whole path because it showed me the longevity of the relationships formed there. “One day, shortly beyond Burgos, a twenty-year-old girl walked by my mother and me, alongside a man who was already in his sixties. We began walking together as the four of us. Then, we ran into a goofy, British guy who had stayed at our albergue the night before. The five of us ended up having lunch. Little did we know we would become a ‘Camino family’ and end up walking together for about the next week after that. They truly defined my Way of Saint James.”


HANNEKE, 52, NETHERLANDS “Once the Camino appears in your life, there’s no way back. Cheryl Strayed’s book Wild impressed me a lot, and I kept reading articles about the Camino de Santiago. It was like a virus that I could not get rid of. Family and friends often asked me why I wanted to do this. Most of them didn’t understand. The most common question was why I didn’t walk it with a girlfriend. Why alone? I found it a pleasure to walk alone, to think only for myself, to not take any other than myself into account for once. When I’m alone, I see more. I take the time to explore, to observe. I also noticed that I make stronger eye contact. When I’m part of a group I very often stay in the background, adapt easily and become a real follower. “Still, what contributed the most to making my Way of Saint James so special was ‘The Big Five’: Helene came from South Africa, Jaco from Namibia, Karl from Germany, Tom from Ireland and myself from the Netherlands. We created a strong bond but also left each other the space we all were looking for. “On my pilgrimage, I found it very liberating to see how happy I—and everyone—can be happy with little stuff. At home, you spend a lot of time, money and energy on things you don’t need to at all. What gives you real happiness is the love of the people who surround you.”

MIKE, 60, AUSTRALIA “My most special memory was created by a Brazilian guy who had no use of his arms. One day, on the path, I stopped to help him tie up his boots and I realized that all my problems were nothing compared to what this guy was achieving on his walk. After I left him, I had a cry, which was not like me. Walking the Camino on my own opened my eyes and made me understand different points of view on life’s problems and joys. People from all walks of life are kind and generous.” In 2016, more than 170 thousand people walked the French Way of Saint James, which is the path’s most popular version. Not all pilgrims made it to Santiago de Compostela, as some didn’t have the chance to leave their duties for over a month, but that doesn’t matter, as there are no rules on the Camino: every pilgrim has their own rhythm, their own intention, and their own aim. Whereas some walk it for religious reasons, as it mainly used to be centuries ago, others give it a go because of the sport and nature, and many see it as an opportunity to switch off from day-to-day life. All that really matters is to absorb everything the Camino offers mile after mile. You may not see it at first, but as the days go by, you will unavoidably feel it. b 53


Words: Valentina Bulava Images: Ryan Prince

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NASTY WOMEN Female photographers are using art to combat male violence

Paige Megan Hawley is a fine art photographer and curator of Nasty Women in London, an art movement created to demonstrate solidarity among artists from all over the world. Hawley recently organised an exhibition aimed to raise awareness for Rape Crisis UK and Women for Women. On the day of the first private view, the queue was so long that it reached the end of the street and turned in to another. Hawley used to study art, but then she decided to turn to photography, as it was something she enjoyed doing for a long time. She says she feels that it is very important to support the two charities, and women in general as she understands the pain endured by those the charities seek to help. “Rape crisis helped me through a lot and I know they would help many more like myself so I wanted to raise awareness for this, but it’s important that women worldwide are being supported also, so I chose to raise awareness for women for women charity as well,” Hawley says. She found it very difficult to open up at first, to share her own story. For a long time, she kept her photos to herself. She had to go through a trial at court, where she learnt a lot in terms of female victims and the way they are made to feel like criminals. It was devastating for her. “I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone, so I decided to expose my work and my story, hoping more women would reach out, as it’s important to talk about it. No woman should ever be silenced,” she adds. Creating and curating the Nasty Women Exhibition, she set herself the goal of helping women

gain a voice, nothing more, nothing less. She feels it is important for women to show the world that they are strong and make themselves feel powerful, by showing equality through the art. Hawley made a kind of protest for female rights through this exhibition and is continuing this movement to make victims of rape or any kind of violence feel safe and be able to express themselves and not be victimised any more. It is also a chance to share experiences by meeting other individuals who have been in similar, or even the same situations. “Let’s face it, every individual person who came to view the exhibition has their own story, as to why this interests them, and this to me was amazing, knowing I brought all of these people together to gain a voice or just to socialize with others like themselves,” Hawley says. She also adds that she found the experience incredible, and this is also why she has decided to continue this movement, even though around the globe others, sadly, are stopping. She believes it is time to establish more feminist art, with everything that is going on in the world, like the #metoo campaign and more and more women are coming forward with revelations of inappropriate behaviour. She hopes the exhibition will continue to bring people together and make a difference to society and also create a space and event for women to express themselves. Hawley believes feminist art is important. And that, even though it may shock audiences, every feminist artist has her own story to tell and a right to do so. Those artists 55


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have their own initiatives which reflect on the challenges we all face within society today and call out for change. Hawley herself had to find the courage to share her story. She tells Artefact that she found herself as an artist as a result of being raped. “I was angry, scared, disgusted. I wanted to express this, so I turned to the camera through the aftermath of what happened and also through the court hearing. I wanted to show that I hadn’t been silenced and the viewer of these images never to be silenced either.” She says that she wanted to use this horrific experience to help other women and to show that if she can capture the after effects of when she was raped, then they should not be silenced either. Hawley wanted to inspire other women, strengthen their minds, make sure that no one should ever feel alone in what they are going through, as

some find it hard to come forward or even tell a friend. At that time, Hawley came across the work of Francesca Woodman, an American photographer. She admits to be a massive fan of her work and she has been to many of her exhibitions which is when she started to collect her books. Woodman, before her suicide at 22, took 800 striking pictures. Mostly of herself, nude, in crumbling rooms, her self-documentation is very expressive and best known for her black and white pictures using film photography, featuring either herself or female models. Many of her photographs show women, naked or clothed, blurred (due to movement and long exposure times), merging with their surroundings, or with their faces obscured. “I think it is very important for women to share rape and violence stories. I can understand

“Every individual that has a voice is making society stronger.”

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It is a very difficult thing to do. I’ve been there, but every individual that has a voice is making society stronger into change happening,” says Hawley. She calls it a “bite back” to the rapist. This way the victim shows that she is not silenced by her horrific experience. It also demonstrates strength and allowing oneself to move forward and not let this ruin a life. Hawley’s motto throughout the projects has been to “turn this negative experience into something positive” and allow yourself to heal. While sharing a story, you get an opportunity to meet other individuals who have been through the same or similar. This is what she considers amazing because she has also worked with survivors who she has learnt a lot from, and gained more strength just from listening to their stories and knowing that she is not alone in this and there are others who understand because you think no one will, but they do. So how else does feminist art helped Hawley? She says that keeping herself busy made her stronger, as she had her main focus in her studies when she was completing her undergraduate degree in photography. “I knew that I wasn’t going to let him ruin my life as he’d already taken away my power to feel safe,” says Hawley confidently. She tells Artefact that her family, particularly her three-year-old brother at the time and her sister who was eleven encouraged her to pick herself up as did her parents and her partner, as well as friends who were all supportive and came to the court hearing. Through the feminist art, Hawley was not only sharing her story and damage which was caused to her, she was also trying to heal her family, which was hurting just as much. In her mind, she says the worst thing for her was seeing them all hurt, and she felt she had to be strong for them. At that time she was shooting and expressing her story on film and again turning this negative 58

experience into something positive, using the stages of development of the negatives as a way of defining the healing process. During the Nasty Women Exhibition many artists from all over the world showed their works. Hawley admits that she couldn’t say she had a favourite piece as they all were all amazing in their own way, with a range of different concepts within the feminist and ‘nasty women’ theme. “I enjoyed how we all came together and supported this fantastic movement, with all the voices that were heard it was great knowing that I pulled this event together and all of these individuals which all have their own story, and not just the artists but the public too, they all have their own reasons to which they have interest in this movement and maybe their own stories in the future they will share,” says the curator. And what does it actually take to create a strong feminist art project? According to Hawley you need to have inspiration not just from other artists but from the heart, as creating something you are passionate about is what makes such a powerful piece. If you’re passionate about feminism, women’s rights, art and you have your own ideas to portray this, whether it is from your own experience or just something you’ve read or seen, there’s inspiration everywhere. It’s about putting your stamp on your own work, and making it unique, making you stand out as an artist. “My journey continues! I am now doing a Masters degree in photography, I am currently creating new work which will be revealed next year, where Nasty Women: London will be exhibiting again,” Hawley says. In the light of the recent sexual assault reports on the news, with Harvey Weinstein and also the accusations of Westminster, Hawley feels now it is even more important for Nasty Women London Exhibit to continue making everyone’s voices louder. “Watch this space for more as we aren’t going anywhere!” she says. b


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Has the future arrived? The fantasies of science fiction are becoming reality

Last week, Uber revealed plans for their next venture in the world of mass transportation. UberAir is “the future of on-demand urban air transportation,” according to the project website. Uber is in the process of developing an aircraft, which looks like an over-sized drone, capable of operating as a ‘flying taxi’ in the airspace above the world’s busiest cities. The Electric Vertical TakeOff and Landing (EVTOL) aircraft is a real spectacle and the idea that the service will be as accessible as current Uber vehicles, seem to cement it firmly in the realms of science-fiction. But that’s the thing—this is not a scene from Blade Runner or Star Wars, this is happening right now. Uber has been working with former NASA employees, including Mark Moore, now director of engineering at UberAir, who said the project would “fundamentally change the way our cities function, and how we live in them.” UberAir plan to have the EVTOLs in full testing over Dallas Fort-Worth and Los Angeles—the two most congested cities in the US—by the year 2020. Crazier still, Uber’s chief product officer Jeff Hodden expects the ground-breaking service to be commercially available and be in “heavy use” by the time the Olympics comes to the City of Angels in 2028. UberAir’s fancy reveal video ends with a poignant yet accurate slogan: “Closer than you think.” Sure enough, within the next decade, we are looking what was once only a product of the imagination of some of Hollywood’s most visionary directors, is becoming a reality. That’s not to say that some of the ‘futuristic’ technology brought to the big screen in sci-fi films of the past hasn’t already made its way into our everyday lives. Stanley Kubrick's 1968 phenomenon 2001: A Space Odyssey depicted video calling as widely accessible; fifty-odd years later, Kubrick’s “PicturePhone” has become a reality in Apple's FaceTime and similar technologies. Driverless cars, seen in multiple films including 1993 classics Jurassic Park and Demolition Man, have been in development for years now, and just starting to become commercially available. Not without controversy, however with the first driverless shuttle bus crashing just two hours into its maiden drive in Las 60

Vegas (at the fault of the human driver, if you were wondering). Regarding military technology, the US Army expect to put their Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) into testing next year. According to Special Operations Command, TALOS will offer ballistic protection, increased strength and better reading of the wearer’s vital signs and improved communications— could this be the early version of a real-life Iron Man suit? The point is: the future is here. We are now living in it. The fact that the UberAir announcement has garnered little to no mainstream media attention is beyond surprising; it's

Words: Dan Marino

as if there is a degree of naivety towards the current technologies being the developments that were once ‘things from the future.’ If you're still unconvinced, Elon Musk—founder and CEO of boundary-pushing tech-companies Tesla and SpaceX—announced another new venture earlier this year. The company, eerily named Neuralink, plans to insert a “neural lace” inside your brain—for medical reasons of course. Neuralink hopes to combat neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's and epilepsy, in a similar way the electrodes in the brain are currently treated for Parkinson's disease. However, Musk hasn't denied that once the technology


UberAir would “fundamentally change the way our cities function, and how we live in them.”

is approved on medical grounds, there is no reason why the neural lace couldn't be modified for other purposes, such as accessing the internet or communicating with other Neuralink users. Musk explains the potential for sharing content across the Neuralink platform as being able to “essentially engage in consensual telepathy.” If the idea of being able to pop in and out of someone’s head isn’t enough proof that the future is already here, then nothing will be. Neuralink hopes to have a product available for the medical market by 2021, and a more commercial version of the product ready “within eight to ten” years. This ties in with a prediction from

Ray Kurzweil, Google’s director of engineering, who believes we will all have WiFi connections in our brains by the year 2030. His success rate at predicting the future is around 85 per cent. Fans for the 2028 Olympics in LA might not only travel to the events by a flying Uber, but they could have booked the taxi using only their brain. These are definitely exciting times, albeit slightly scary too—technology such as Neuralink is a real leap into the unknown. However, the endless possibilities of technological advances give us hope for a more eco-friendly, efficient and brighter new future, because the old future is already here. b 61


Copping not shopping Have streetwear brands such as Supreme redefined the way millennials purchase clothes?

First, you sign up to the mailing list. Then it’s 10am on a Monday morning and you get an e-mail revealing a secret location. Hundreds of people head there and join a queue, patiently waiting to be given a number. Finally, Thursday comes around, and after days of anticipation you can finally walk into a shop! All of that just to get hold of an item of clothing? How shopping has changed. If it’s big streetwear brands you desire, this is what you now need to be prepared to go through as a consumer. ‘Copping’, otherwise known as purchasing a highly desired item is an art and requires a lot of time and patience. Supreme is arguably one of the biggest streetwear brands in the world right now and requires customers to go through this lengthy process to get hold of their items. The brand, which was founded in 1994, has 11 stores worldwide, and only one of those is in the UK, in London. Other Supreme stores are based in Paris, Japan, where there are six, and the US, which has three. Every store goes through the same level of craziness every time the company brings out new stock. “Drop day” is always on a Thursday. This means new stock will always be for sale on a Thursday whether it is just solely a Supreme drop or a collaboration with another brand. In some cases, the streets have been filled the night before with streetwear lovers queuing up ready for the next morning so they could get the clothes they desired. However, this is now being stopped and there is a much more complex method to get into the store for that Thursday morning drop. Frequent streetwear buyer, Connor Hill, has given Artefact a detailed insight into the requirements needed to buy an item at the Supreme store on those crazy Thursday mornings. Apparently, it’s not as simple as walking in the shop, picking up your desired item, paying and leaving. “If you want to go into the store on a Thursday (drop day) you have to sign up to a mailing list, then on Monday at 10am a location is sent out telling you where the sign up is being held,” he said. The 22-year-old has been buying from streetwear brands for a while now and has seen the growth in demand as brands such as Supreme and Palace have exploded in popularity in the last two years or so. 62

“You go to the sign up and then wait in a queue till you get to the guy doing the sign up. You have to give him your ID and he will take your name down, then a random generator gives you a place in the queue for the drop day—the place in the queue will be between one and 400,” Hill explains. The sign ups in London this season have been held at Bay 66 skate park or the Oval Space. “You then get told to go to the Supreme shop on Thursday at an allocated time and you join the queue in the position the generator gave you,” . If you do head to the Supreme store first thing on a Thursday morning, the street will more than likely been flooded by a large amount of ‘hypebeasts’ —streetwear enthusiasts ranging from about 11 years-old upwards, all desperate to get their items. If you don’t fancy the mailing list to queueing business, you can always buy your Supreme items online but it is still “manic”, says Hill. “Stuff on-

Words: Molly Burgess Image: Eva Popovic

line still sells out in seconds so it is in no way the easier method. A good example is the Stone Island Supreme drop from a few weeks ago.” Looking at the statistics from this particular drop, items such as the Lamy Cover Stampato Puffy Jacket and the S/S Top were selling out in as little as eight seconds. With stock running out that quickly, buyers definitely need to know what they are doing in order to get what they want. “To cop online you either have to be really lucky or you have to have a bot that will check out for you in seconds. Most of the time online you’ll be lucky enough to get one item only let alone any more,” Hill tells us. There is obviously a reason as to why shopping for the major streetwear brand is such a hassle. Since being established in New York in 1994, Supreme has been part of famous collaborations, including work with The North Face, Louis Vuitton, Nike and Comme Des Garçons amongst others.


“Buying a T-shirt that retailed at $34 but now resells for $1,200 isn’t exactly fair”

These collaborations have such an intense build up with frequent leaks before drop days to allow consumers to get a sneak peek at what’s to come. Supreme alone is an expensive brand but when a big collaboration comes around, people will pay a lot of money for an item of clothing or a pair of shoes. However, Supreme is no longer about copping an item just for your own

personal use. Many consumers of the brand now buy items to sell on secondary markets to make a profit. “You’ve got your basic resell places such as eBay and Depop. You’ve also got Facebook communities and groups such as The Basement and Supreme Talk UK/EU which tend to be a lot friendlier and prices tend to be a lot fairer—although buying a t shirt that retailed at $34 but now resells for $1200

isn’t exactly fair”. Hill also has experience in buying stock being resold. Even if you decide to buy from someone who is reselling items there is a chance of getting scammed, which is a common occurrence. People selling items and not posting them to the buyer, or people selling fake items for the price of the real item are examples of such scams. However, there are ways to make sure you are safe before spending hundreds of pounds—such as buying through trusted sellers or through someone you have direct contact with. It is fair to say that copping items for worldwide streetwear brands is pretty much down to luck or being super quick to sign up/press the checkout button. To anyone not used to the ‘hypebeast world’ it seems a crazy concept, but it is becoming so popular it will undoubtedly become even harder to get hold of Supreme stock and other big names in the future. b 63


Words: Jesus Barrera Rodriguez Images: Alec Perkins and Alisdare Hickson both via Flickr.com

TURN TO THE RIGHT An alarming trend in global politics

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They do not look like skinheads, nor like angry Germans with a moustache. But they all share the same ideas of nationalism. In the last decade, democracies are becoming more and more authoritarian all over the world, and the xenophobia spread by some politicians is getting through the media into people’s minds. It could be the same poisonous message that made Germans vote for Adolf Hitler to be Chancellor in 1933. The nationalist Hindu, Narendra Modi has just got absolute majority in India; the “nation reborn� has happened in Japan under Shinzo Abe, there has been a rise of the authoritarian Erdogan in Turkey, while Marine Le Pen of the Front National came close to being President of the French Republic. In October, the right-

wing, in the form of the AfD (Alternative for Germany) party were back in the German Parliament for the first time since 1945. Similar movements are being seen even in countries like Sweden, Poland, Hungary and Austria that have been long considered immune to this trend. In contrast to what was considered in the Eighties and the Nineties as a flash in the pan emergence of the populist farright parties, they have been rallying for some time and today, are a solid presence in many countries of the world. September 11, 2001 was a starting point for the anti-Islam movement, and after the financial crisis of 2008, far-right parties multiplied their voters among the economically-secure and highly-educated regions of Europe. The established


parties, the ones on the moderate and centre-right and even some social democrats are gradually accepting particular aspects of right wing policies, or have even begun to implement some of the political solutions that are more likely fitting to authoritarian governments rather than modern democracies. Not many people look terrified, though when you see Theresa May asking the British public to stand by her side with a speech about migrants—far-right parties have managed to tilt both the conservatives and the social democrats towards the right. The leader of Liberal Democrats, Tim Farron accused May of spreading “poisonous propaganda” about immigrants that is directly leading to hate crimes. Geoffrey* is the external secretary of London Antifascist, a group affiliated to the Countrywide Antifascist Network: “Our position is militant anti-fascist, we are a collective of many different ‘left’ ideologies united to combat the far right in the UK, with a focus on London where we live. I started feeling the need to fight fascism since I was a child, my family were refugees from 1930’s European fascism. A lot of them died in the camps. It has always been at the core of my beliefs that we need to stamp out the threat before it begins to take a hold,” he told Artefact. In the UK, there was a breaking point with the EU referendum. UKIP has been the greatest winner of the European plebiscite. Their message was clear, to accuse immigration of causing Britain’s problems, to blame refugees for acts of terrorism and calling for Britain’s population to “take back control” of the country, as if someone was stealing it. In the 2015 general elections, UKIP had almost four million votes, giving it the third largest party in vote share. Along with UKIP, other parties such as Britain First and the British National Party have created a new and dangerous opinion that is taking hold of people’s ideologies and amplified within the bubbles of social media. The polemic former leader of UKIP, Nigel Farage is the spokesman for their right-wing propaganda. “I was asked if a group of Romanian men moved in next to you, would you be concerned? And if you lived in London, I think you would be,” he told LBC radio listeners. He was accused of “Nazi-style propaganda” because his campaign poster for the referendum vote, showing Syrian refugees travelling to Europe under the slogan “Breaking point”. The xenophobic messages targeting refugees and migrants, Islam as a religion, and Muslims as community, are spread by specific media channels that parties like UKIP are exploiting to get supporters. According to a Home Office report, after

the Brexit referendum the police recorded a 41 per cent increase in religious and racially-aggravated crimes, compared with the previous year. Alison Saunders, the Director of Public Prosecutions, said hate crimes have a corrosive effect in society. “We know hate crime is underreported and that is why we ran our recent #hatecrimematters campaign aimed at raising awareness of what hate crime is and what people can do about it,” she added. Today, fascist speech is part of our everyday life—you can watch it on YouTube, you can share it on Facebook, you can observe organised groups of people beating up others just because they are not white and this is happening in every European country. London Antifascist say they are seeing a huge growth of fascist movements in the UK: “The far right groups in the UK are still trying to link up and form a more cohesive group especially on a street level. The Football Lads Alliance is an opportunity for them to organize like in the 1970s on the football terraces, we have already seen a resurgence in hooligan-style groupings coming out into our communities,” Geoffrey explains. “It’s not just a “western” thing, especially when you look at countries that are fiercely nationalistic as Turkey and India, but with Trump in the States, he is only going to push the far-right further,” he adds. Geoffrey thinks that this problem is becoming a global issue: “The problems in the UK are the same as they are in the rest of the world, we live in a system that rewards the rich and places a boot on the neck of the working class.” In the USA, the number of people killed by white supremacist groups since 9/11 is about to equal the number of people died during that fatal day. Since 2009, the extreme right has experienced an resurgence in the US too. Nowadays is very common to hear about right-wing violence, plots, terror acts and conspiracies perpetrated by white supremacist and hate groups in America. The Oklahoma bombing in 1995, which killed 168 people, including 19 children, and indued another 500, marked the opening shot in a new kind of domestic extremism. The attacks by far-right terrorists have been increasing and since then, 129 plots, conspiracies, racist actions and violence have happened in America, and have potentially caused the death of 30,000 people. Not all of them were classed as terrorism acts but as hate crimes. The definition that the FBI use for hate crime is: “criminal offence against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orienta65


tion, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.” This definition could work for the far-right violence in a way but perhaps, it is a very poor description when we are talking about people who are motivated by white supremacist propaganda which obviously has political connotations. It could be beyond that, it seems more accurate to describe these violent acts and crimes as terror attacks rather than combining it with gender crimes and other kinds of violence. “Hate speech is not acceptable in any form, we need to ensure that we mobilize at every opportunity we have to prevent the far-right mobilizing in any form, we need to ensure that they are kept in their bubble and unable to go out in to our communities,” Geoffrey tells Artefact. “I have been the personal victim of hate crimes as a child, going to a Jewish school. I have had bottles thrown at me, threatened with a broken bottle for being gay,” Geoffrey confesses, when asked about his personal experiences. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the number of active hate groups in the USA is about to reach one thousand. The Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis, White-Nationalist and anti-Muslim groups are the more common categories spread across the entire country. In the last few years, and especially since the Trump administration took power, the number of hate crimes/terror attacks perpetrated by white supremacist and racist groups have been in rapid growth. The Orlando terror attack at the gay club Pulse in 2016. The Binghamton shootings at an immigration services center in New York, the massacre at a Las Vegas concert in October 2017, the violent attack in Charlottesville and the most recent terror attack in Texas are just the latest “hate crimes” perpetuated in the United States in the last year. Geoffrey thinks that the blame in this situation lies on “anyone who doesn’t stand and take a clear position that the fault is with the corrupt system and not with other working class people (migrants), we have more in common at the bottom than we do with the elites.” The Trump administration has opened the White House’s doors to the far-right agenda. Some of the President’s men are advisers and leaders who are enthusiastic to roll back civil rights and to create an anti-immigration and anti-Muslim atmosphere in the country. Stephen Bannon, Michael T. Flynn, Stephen Miller, Julie Kirchner, Michael Anton, Sebastian Gorka are some of the polemic advisers of Trump’s Administration, all of whom have advances extreme ideas and policies. Bannon was one of the ideologues behind the “Muslim ban” policy, with 66

his conclusions based in a conspiracy theory in which Islam is not considered a religion but a political faction close to Nazism, fascism and communism. “We are in an outright war against jihadist Islamic fascism,” he told a conference in the Vatican in 2014, and claimed: “It is a crisis of the underpinnings of the Judeo-Christian west and our beliefs.” Flynn has developed a long track record of relations with anti-Muslim extremists, particularly “ACT! For America”, an anti-Islamic, pro-Trump advocacy group. His career in the White House came to an end because of the FBI investigations of conspiracy with Russians. “I don’t see Islam as a religion. I see it as a political ideology that (...) hides behind and protect itself by what we call freedom of religion.” One of the most polemic Trump’s advisers is Sebastian Gorka, he was a Trump deputy assistant and foreign policy adviser. He and his family have longstanding ties to a Hungarian nationalist society, Vitézi Rend, that was allied with Nazi forces during World War II and had a history of anti-Semitic activity. “If 98 per cent of terrorists come from a certain faith community, have a certain ethnic background, have a certain travel pattern, and visit the same sites on the Internet, why are we patting down, you know, 82-year-old Episcopalian grandmothers?” Gorka once said. These politicians, advisors, along with particular media organisations have used the platform of the internet to spread extremist conspiracy theories that are touching millions of people every day. This messages have been also spread by the plethora of fake-news sites that more mainstream media are inadvertently echoing. People like Sebastian Gorka are reaching the highest political positions in democratic countries where most of them already occupied an elitist economic position and they reflect their xenophobic ideas through platforms like social media and internet sites that easily influence people. “The common theme is always that the blame is attributed to an ‘other’, it’s very easy to blame a person or at least an incarnation that people can focus on,” Geoffrey explains. “We need to be able to shut down this source of recruits, and focus people on the real threat which isn’t Muslims, Jews, Terrorists, Drugs, Gangs, etc. it’s the super-rich elite and big corporations who control the crooked system.” It would be a considerable mistake analysing these far-right wing parties and leaders as individual consequences of the culture and the situation of their countries. They share xenophobic messages on social media, they support their cam-


paigns abroad. There is a world-wide flow of authoritarian politics and many citizens are receiving the messages of far-right politicians without any warning. It is not a matter of a radical dictator blind with power. It is not about a civilisation’s clash between the Christian Occident and the Islam, the old concept of the “Clash of Civilisations”, but it is part of a generalised growth of right-wing, totalitarian politics all over the world. Geoffrey tries to answer why working class people are voting far-right parties: “They are disillusioned with how their lives are, but more so they are scared that the life they have is going to be taken away or downgraded further and they don’t have the energy or the resources to develop a critique on the entire capitalist/patriarchal system.” “They focus on the now, and now we have the entire machine blaming a single source and political leaders reinforcing this notion.” He adds: “Politicians can’t be trusted, the media present whatever they

want and everything is designed to keep the wheels of capital turning.” There are many reasons why people are electing the core ideas of these parties and it is difficult to simplify common causes and make explanations for every single case. But there is a pattern in western countries that far-right parties are taking advantage of. These include the effects of the economic crisis triggered in 2008 and the social and economic damage that societies are living through the last decade is the driving force, and the austerity measures that were then taken by Governments to control the deficit that have produced a bigger gap between the privileged elites and the rest. As a result, the damaged industrial working class are abandoning the traditional left-wing parties because they do not feel that social democratic parties are truly fighting for their rights. Other analysts suggest that the democratic crisis in Western Europe is cause for people to turn to the right. Most of the

democratic parties have adapted themselves to the interest of high finance and big corporations. There is also the historic democratic record, where an alternation between the central-right and central-left administrations have not offered a real solution to workers in a period where salaries, rights and benefits are being stripped away. Another relevant problem within political class lies in citizens witnessing numerous cases of corruption, fraud and electoral deception; as a result many people are cynical about politics, and believe that politicians seem to leave in a parallel world, closer to the privileged elite and the financial corporations rather than to ordinary people. All this repulsion against the main established parties, along with the xenophobic and anti-migrant speeches are generating a “turn to the right” of working class people who are being led to believe that these potential leaders now represent the only hope to improve their lives. b 67


Sharing is caring A new app is helping to cut food waste and bring communities together

Words: Josie Collins Images: Delphine Queme via Flickr CC

Leftover take-out you didn’t end up eating? That mountain of pasta you misjudged as one portion or those few last bruised apples all to go in the bin? Maybe you live in a flat or a shared house that doesn’t offer food bins or has no garden for compost. You might put it in a pot in the fridge and forget about it till it’s gross—it’s a waste really, a big waste. The latest figures by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) showed that the average household throws away £700 worth of food a year— that meant 4.4 million tonnes of food was thrown away in the UK in 2015 which WARP deemed to be ‘avoidable’ and effectively could have still been eaten. Britons are chucking out food that’s fine to eat. It’s odd, even potatoes—nearly half of all potatoes are thrown away daily, at a value of £230m a year. Deflation of food prices and a rise in wages may reduce the incentive for people to avoid wasting food. If you aren’t really friendly with your neighbours, there won’t always be friends

Saasha on the other hand, a daughter of ‘Iowa hippy entrepreneurs’, grew up very much embodying the ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’ motto. Her large family were partial to rescuing and revamping otherwise binned goods such as aluminium soda cans or plants from greenhouse bins. She was looking for an opportunity to start her own kind of waste/food business when she met Tessa in 2002. Running a business with your best friend sounds like a laugh but also a risk. Tessa appears to feel secure in their joint-management: “We met 15 years ago when we were both studying for our MBAs at Stanford Business school over in California. When we graduated we both moved back to London and we’ve been really good friends ever since. We see each other every week, go on holidays, we even had our first maternity leave at the same time. “What’s really great about that actually, is that you read all the facts about how one of the greatest sources of

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on standby to take your scraps, what can you do? OLIO is an innovative app looking to tackle food waste by offering a free service for users to give away their leftovers to neighbours and locals who want them, an idea that’s been welcomed considering the amount of waste the UK is currently generating. OLIO’s co-founders, Tessa Cook and Saasha Celestial-One shared a distaste for waste and a yearning for some way to save their unused goods. When she wasmoving house and frustrated there was no one willing to take Tessa’s leftovers, Saasha recalls thinking: “This is absolutely crazy, this food is delicious. Why isn’t there an app where I can share it with someone nearby who wants it?” From this came the spark for the beginning of the OLIO app. Raised on a dairy farm in North Yorkshire, Tessa understood the immense amount of effort that went into the production of food and naturally gained a firm belief that “food is meant to be eaten, not thrown away.”


start-up failure is actually co-founders falling out, but for us, because we have such a strong friendship that’s not really an option. We very much complement each other, we have different skillsets, we match each other really well,” Tessa explains. OLIO is not only aimed at the eco-warrior or waste-hater, however, but also for those on a budget; it’s a great source for students too. It’s important to note that many businesses are offering their leftovers to the app such as Pret-AManger, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons; there are around 100 different businesses with users of OLIO offering to volunteer to collect and post the goods, including heaps of pastries, sweet treats and sandwiches. For the moment, the company awaits its growth; the more users of the OLIO app, the more goods are available to exchange. At the moment, there are many areas of London, particularly West London, still out of reach which may be off-putting to a new customer when they see there is very little activity in their borough. With 401,208 items of food already shared and 260,534 users, these numbers are expected to rise quickly. Tessa says she owes the success of the company so far to her 14,000 volunteers, or ‘OLIO Ambassadors’. These volunteers can request physical marketing materials such as posters and flyers, which they can distribute in their local community. They also have access to a closed Facebook group where they can share tips and use an online hub where they can order more marketing materials, access press releases to deal with the local media and download presentations and speaking notes to speak at community events. “We’re really focussed on creating a community and platform that other people, who are passionate about our mission, can run within their local community. With re-distributing small quantities of surplus food, it doesn’t make sense to schlep it miles across the city, it just makes sense to share it with the immediate community,” Tessa told Artefact. One hurdle OLIO may face when recruiting new users is that, though you’d think it’s pretty difficult to turn down free food, there is a hesitance there and for fair reason. How can you be sure the food is safe in regards to hygiene or sell-

by dates and how can you ensure your personal safety when meeting strangers to collect? Tessa gives a reassuring response to this issue: “We’ve had over 400,000 portions of food shared and we’ve only had two complaints of the quality of the food. At the end of the day, the responsibility very clearly lies with the person whose collecting the item to ask any questions they may see fit about how the food was prepared and handled.” She explains that they tackle issues of safety the same as any other app that introduces strangers, such as Air Bnb, Uber or dating apps. Each user has a user profile and on that, you can see a photo and details about them; you can also see whether they’re a newbie or a champion (a champion is where someone has done more sharing), plus each user also has a rating. You only disclose your address once you’ve agreed on a pick-up with someone—the app doesn’t know your address it just shows approximately on the map where the pick-up location is. The company is run by like-minded people working towards the same goal, this makes it easier for Tessa and Saasha: “It’s a very strong environmental mission as food waste is the third largest source of climate change after USA and China and we don’t know how we’re going to feed the planet by 2050 because of our dramatic growth in the population. “Its really strong factors like that that really motivate people and also there’s the social thing as well. It’s also philosophical, our volunteers just believe from a very fundamental level that food is meant to be eaten not thrown away. In

this country, we have eight million people needing food and security so it’s absolutely bonkers that the average UK family is throwing away £700 worth of food each year,” they told us. Waste in the UK has been an issue for years, and the Government has implemented many schemes such as “Love Food, Hate Waste” and the Courtauld Agreement hoping to cut household waste five percent by 2015—however it has actually increased by 4.4 percent. It would appear everyone gets lazy, but the convenience of an app and possibility for meeting neighbours and the social side of things, means there is no excuse to chuck out your leftovers. OLIO is an impressive feat in such a small time-scale aiming to tackle a huge environmental problem in the UK—co-founder Tessa does all this whilst raising her kids. Asked how she manages to balance home and work, she explained: “I live out in Wiltshire and then go into London for two days a week, do all my face to face meetings in London back to back, and then I work from home for the rest of the week which is great because it means I can have lunch with my kids and take them to school and stuff like that; half-business, half-children so everyone’s a winner.” The OLIO App has also won awards such as the ‘Global Good’ award and two ‘Sparkie’ awards, they have also been runners-up 12 times, for achievements such as Facebook Start-Up of the Year and the Amazon Growing Business Awards (Innovator of the Year). Let’s hope this positive innovation inspires more Britons to go green and ditch the waste. b 69


How cryptocurrencies boost local economies Digital cash is a boon to shops and small business

Cryptocurrency is a digital cash system without a central entity, and that uses cryptography for security. The simplest definition is that it contains limited entries in a database no one can change without fulfilling specific conditions. An alluring feature is that it’s not issued by a central authority, rendering it theoretically immune to government interference or manipulation. This makes each transaction incredibly private and transfers money internationally in a cheaper and quicker way. One of the first cryptocurrencies was Bitcoin, which was launched in 2009 by an unknown individual under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto. By September 2015, there were over 14.6 million bitcoins in circulation with a total market value of £2.5 billion, and the cost of bitcoin has been rising quickly in recent months, hitting $10,000 (£7,460) at the end of November 2017. Due to Bitcoin’s success, a number of competing cryptocurrencies have been launched, and as of September 2017, more than a thousand cryptocurrency specifications exist. Within London, communities are coming together to produce their own cryptocurrency that primarily benefits local businesses, one example is the Brixton Pound (B£). It’s a type of physical currency that people can spend only in the businesses in Brixton. Launched in 2009 after the financial crisis, it helped small businesses who struggled to get credit from banks. The main aims are to raise community awareness of the Brixton economy and help protect local jobs and businesses. Although the Brixton Pound isn’t a digital currency, it still has the same vision as cryptocurrencies: that this alternative money is under your own control with no third-parties involved. In Brixton’s case, this means choosing to invest it back into the small, local businesses to support and encourage local trade and production. According to their website: “The B£ gives local traders and customers the chance to get together to support each other and maintain the diversity of the high street and strengthen pride in Brixton.” The Colu Local Network (CLN) is a blockchain (a secure list of payments) and a new payment network for local communities. It gives people the ability to exchange digital cash directly with one 70

another and encourage sustainable and equitable economic growth while supporting local businesses. In 2017, Colu released a digital wallet that currently has more than 50 thousand monthly transactions in the form of local payments. “Through the use of local currencies, more people shop local, eat local, buy local, and live local, strengthening the local economy, and keeping the control of money in everyone’s hands. We believe that change starts at the local level and spreads to the top. We are driving a global change in the economy and the meaning of money from the wallet up,” say the currency’s developers. Current communities that have joined Colu are Haifa and Tev Aviv in Israel, Liverpool in the UK and most recently East London. Each community has their own currency which is named after themselves, just like the Brixton Pound, although these currencies are digital and are accessed by using an app. The East London Pound not only connects you to the best cafes, restaurants, and bars but it also gives you the access to local events, discounts, and community activities. Grab The Hanger is a new clothing store that has just opened up on Cheshire Street, Brick Lane. Director Ronica Ruparelia said that she’s only been using Colu for a little over a week but is confident she made the right choice bringing it to her business. “It works out better for customers because whenever they transfer money into the app they get 10 per cent of that amount free, so therefore when something is £100, the customer would actually only end up paying £90 due to the free 10 per cent that got added to their digital wallet.” Although the payment structure is the same, each shop can decide for themselves how they choose to use Colu. Like PayPal, businesses have the option to withdraw their money from their account twice a month and use it however they want to, essentially cutting out the banks altogether. Another business that has started to use Colu is a small, creative, independent coffee shop called Quaker Street. Not only does it serve food and drinks but it also sells local people’s art pieces for a small fortune and has a recording studio in the back—this can be used by any new musician or producer who wants to make music. They have a record player in the

Words: Elyse O’Donnell Image: Charlie Waterhouse

‘‘We are driving a global change in the economy and the meaning of money from the wallet up.’’


corner playing local music and when a customer goes in they are asked whether they would donate £1 to help fund and promote these young artists. The shop has three partners, including Shaju, who manages the finance and accounting side of the business. He says they have been using Colu for about four months now and so far it’s been very beneficial: “The reason we use it is, for example, you know the way you bought your two iced coffees, by paying with your visa card the bank charges us 2.9 per cent. So from that £7, the bank automatically keeps 2.9 per cent but through Colu, it’s 0.9 per cent—still a percentage but so much lower and that percentage goes to Colu who are obviously here for us and not themselves.” Quaker Street not only helps aspiring artists but it sources all its products

from local suppliers. Some of which also use Colu and therefore Shaju can pay them through the app. When asked whether he’s telling his customers about it, he answers that he does but human behaviour towards downloading apps is lazy. “With any new app it takes time to grow, but then the immediate benefit as a small business is that people who already use Colu can find us on the app and people who support small businesses can look out for new independent ones.” The next step for Colu is that they have recently just announced plans for the sale of its CLN token. These tokens can be purchased or earned when you pay with Colu in your local community. The CLN token will support an ecosystem of services added over time for local banking

and financial needs such as currency exchange, payments, and lending services. The token will be used to pay for such services on the Colu network. Residents can own community currencies, allowing the entire community to aid its local economy. For the consumer, this acts as an incentive to buy locally while reinvesting back in businesses that they believe in. For the business owner, this circulation helps to reduce unnecessary fees, increase cash flow, and receive financial services via the Colu network. Colu has a vision of what the new financial system should look like and they want to encourage local consumption. The future they see is people having more control over their money and the fact that you can influence what happens in your city and community. b 71


Words: Charlotte Layton Images: Gauri Kumar

CREDIT Words: C

GAMING ADDICTION: YES, IT IS VERY REAL While a gaming addiction may not be considered a serious medical condition in the UK, it is a genuine problem for those it affects. Sat in a dimly lit bedroom with the chunky Xbox One controller held tightly between sweaty palms: Bioshock is back on the gaming agenda for a weekend bender of gaming. There’s just something satisfying about throwing a blast of fire out of the palm of your hand at a mentally unstable Splicer. What’s even more satis72

fying is watching it squirm helplessly, until it is nothing but an illuminous, charred body on the floor. That is, of course, if you’re not side-tracked by the unexplainable beauty of the underwater scenery where this masterpiece of a game is set. A deep blue sea, with scurries of fish whizzing past the glass bathysphere’s, glimmer


under the luminous underwater buildings that become blurred in the distance. Your immediate surroundings are something of a futuristic, technical hell, which no matter how hard you try, you cannot turn away from. In Rapture’s dishevelled state, the contrast between beauty and nightmare is one of a fascinating balance. The artwork is beautifully enticing. Another spliff heightens a sense of calm, and now Bioshock sounds just as great as it looks. The swooshing of the deep blue sea echoes not only in the clear glass corridors where your character, Jack, is heavily clunking along but flows into my bedroom as well. The whizzing sound of security bots attacks my mind until my head is whizzing too. A deep groan and heavy clank of metal echoes from the screen into the dingily small bedroom. ‘Where’s it coming from? Where’s it coming from? Where’s it coming from?’ My heart in my mouth as the sound gets closer and closer. Frantically looking

around, all that is available to see is the dying forests, which are now a dull greenbrown. How interesting it is that the game developers thought of everything. Even down to how one would breathe in an underwater utopia that has fallen into despair. Too late. A big chunky daddy throws himself at us, and Jack, our oddly compliable character, flies across the room, losing the majority of his health. Who’s health wouldn’t evaporate when a huge hunk of walking, groaning metal throws himself at you? Suddenly the alarm goes off, making me jump ten feet out of my skin. Guessing that this was it, the console gets shut down and put away. Time to be somewhat productive. But for some gamers, being able to put down the console and seep back into the real world without thinking twice about it, is almost impossible. Some gamers cannot put their consoles down at all, and for them, it is becoming a very real problem.

“Some gamers cannot put their consles down at all, and for them, it is becoming a very real problem.”

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Research by Chan and Vorderer in 2009, showed that 21 per cent of gamers develop a dependency on gaming and are at a risk of developing further psychological and behavioural problems. Another study by Oxford University suggests that 11 per cent of those report significant distress and anxiety when taken away from their consoles. Another study suggests that more than 80. Although an addiction like this may not be an actual problem, let alone considered an addiction by medical professionals here in the UK, those whose lives have been affected or interrupted by gaming can explain how much of an issue it can be, and how it has directly impacted their everyday life. For 26-year-old Lee, his casual interest in gaming definitely turned into something deeper: “I wouldn’t say I have an addiction, but my gaming is definitely an issue,” Lee tells Artefact. “My first console was the PlayStation One. I was about ten at the time and in the care system, so having a console of any kind was a bonus. At that age and being in care, the littlest of things mean so much. But to have a console, my mind was blown,” Lee explains. “Crash Bandicoot, Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee, Tomb Raider and Spyro the Dragon were the first set of games that I played, and even now, they are my nostalgia. I still have my first PlayStation and sometimes get it out just to play them. “Lee found himself in care after his mother died when he was just six-years-old.

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His father’s work meant that he couldn’t take care of Lee as he would have liked. “I don’t blame my Dad for not being there as much as both of us would have liked, but I think that’s where my problem with gaming comes from.” “When I was 16, I went to college and met Kelly, and we soon started dating. At 18, the care system helped me to get a place, and we moved in together. With Kelly, things seemed to get better. Our relationship was good, and we saw my Dad more often,” Lee explains. “Even though our relationship was good, to begin with, my love for gaming grew and grew. It gives me some sort of emotional support, something that I feel I’ve never got. It sounds ridiculous I know, but it’s the only way I can explain it.” As Lee’s depression grew, so did his problem with the love of his console and the love of gaming. “Neither of worked, so we were wrapped around each other all the time. I started playing more and more until I wouldn’t shower in days. I saw my Dad less too because I wouldn’t leave the house for weeks on end. My depression fed my gaming issues, and my gaming issues fed my depression.” His problem with gaming caused tensions within his relationship, and they started to argue on a day-to-day basis. “We were always arguing because I spent a lot of time on my consoles. Through arguments, Kelly would try and take my consoles and even broke several. It was really putting a strain on our relationship,” Lee explains. Kelly, towards the end of their relationship, convinced Lee to take her to Southend, where they would spend the weekend with his father. “We used to go to Southend a lot before my issues with gaming. I’m not proud of this, but on this occasion, I stole over four hundred quid from my Dad to buy a new PlayStation. To be honest, I could have probably just asked.” “Kelly left me after that and caused tensions between my Dad and me. I don’t speak to him now,” Lee explains disappointedly. For Lee, his addiction to gaming came at a great cost. He lost his girlfriend and his father for a life of gaming. In a recent study, it was suggested that a gaming addiction could often be linked to the person’s need for emotional affection, just as Lee himself suggested. The same study went on to suggest that, the need of emotional affection is stimulated by the act of gaming itself. The actual addiction, however, is seeded in the same regions of the brain responsible for craving alcohol or drugs in addicts. Just like Lee, 25 year-old Tom had a problem with playing: “I was a kid when I started playing video games. By 19, I had dropped out of college because of gaming,” Tom explains. Tom’s interest


“I’d spend three days straight playing games before I’d crash out and sleep.”

in consoles and video games started off innocently. He began with football games, and these are something of a throwback for him. “I’d spend three days straight playing games before I’d crash out and sleep. Football games will always be my nostalgia, but as my gaming addiction grew, so did my tastes for more intense games like Gears of War, Silent Hill and Bioshock.” Tom admits his addiction also caused tensions at home: “I stopped going out and helping out with chores around the house. I remember that I went up to a month without even having a shower,” he laughs in a disgusted way at himself. For his family, this concern for their son turned into resentment: “My Mum would always try to coach me away from my Xbox. I know they were concerned for me and at that time, I didn’t understand it because I couldn’t see that I had a problem.” “Eventually we were constantly arguing, and my Mum kicked me out. I kind of had no choice but to stop gaming then. I mean, I didn’t stay with one friend longer than two days, so of course, I couldn’t game. I became very angry and anxious because of it,” Tom explains. “Now I don’t game at all. I put myself back in college, and I started my first year

of university last year. I’m also back at my Mum’s house now too. I think I needed to be kicked out to realise I had a problem and that I needed to do something about it. It wasn’t easy because I didn’t get any professional help, but I started doing things for my future to distract myself from gaming. I’m on antidepressants now too, so that helps.” “Gaming isn’t seen as a proper addiction like gambling or drug addiction, so I’m surprised at myself for being surprised that I didn’t get any help. I’m happy now though, and that’s all that matters.” Unlike Lee, Tom saw that he had a problem and changed his behaviour to benefit himself. With something like gaming, it is extremely difficult to diagnose someone with an actual addiction, according to a study by the American Academy. According to their recent study, many of the symptoms that are associated with an addiction to video games, can also be found in a variety of mental health issues. Those who tend to play on their consoles show symptoms of anxiety, aggressive outbursts, tiredness and sleeplessness. These are symptoms that can often be related to depression, anxiety and borderline personality, according to the study. According to more recent studies, a video game addiction is a direct response to a mental health condition like depression. The study suggests that regulating the use of console time could help to prevent further addiction; it also suggests that direct help from therapists to help overcome depression could deter issues with gaming altogether. But what if, for argument’s sake, someone doesn’t suffer from anxiety or depression, yet still, has an issue with gaming? Unless someone with the addiction has an active diagnosis of a mental health condition, it is almost impossible to access help. For many like Tom, unless they are away from home on a permanent basis, or the console has been taken away altogether, (as suggested by UK Rehab Online), there is no help available to overcome the addiction. For drug addicts, sex addicts and gambling addicts, help is available through clinical counselling, interventions and rehab, all of which is available through the NHS. Rehab and counselling are all necessary components of recovery to those who are open to the idea of help and stability. But unless gaming is considered as a real issue, the 80,000 people in the UK are going to continue to suffer from their problems with gaming. Although, for the rest of us, gaming will be nothing more than a blissfully artistic world to escape to when it suits us. A recreational and social experience, away from a fast-paced lifestyle that is sweeping across the UK. b 75


The systematic slaughter of Muslim Rohingyans How a UK charity is fundraising to help thousands fleeing from Burma

Text: Anjuman Rahman

With more than 600,000 Rohingyans forced to cross into Bangladesh and seek refuge, the statistics on brutal attacks and aggression are outrageously increasing day by day, all due to the inter-communal violence, and extreme radicalisation inflicted by the Burmese army. This has resulted in the crisis becoming the fastest-growing refugee emergency in the world. It is no surprise they are described as “the world’s most persecuted minority.” They are an oppressed ethnic minority who have been revoked of their equal citizenship rights by the Buddhist-majority Burma (Myanmar), who regard the Rohingya Muslims as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. It’s an urgent humanitarian crisis as the Muslim population in the state of Rakhine continues to be denied access to basic human rights and the lack of international action is simply a disgrace. The UK based charity, Rafeequl Yateem, were one of the very first charities who responded to the major fundraising appeal to help the thousands of people fleeing violence in Burma. In collaboration with another non-profit organisation, UHTH (Ummah Helping the Ummah), they aim to raise awareness of the plight of the Rohingya people. On Friday, November 10, within minutes of reaching the borders of Cox’s Bazar’s Teknaf, and witnessing first-hand, the state of the refugee camp, it was too much of a tragic scene to be prepared for. Overwhelmed, an RY volunteer member impulsively made a direct call to one the founders Nazmin Chowdhury, “you won’t believe what we’re seeing here, they’re begging and pleading for just a bottle of water.” The team were ready to distribute aid and food packs, which included basic meals and water which he described as ‘a tiny drop in the ocean.’ The founder emphasised the urgency to Artefact: “You see, it’s a desperate situation. Two months ago, when the crisis was at its peak, the demand for food was so extreme, that any clothes that were given, they were just chucking it away. It was for food they begged for. They wanted food, they needed food.” A report released by The International Rescue Committee exposed an estimation of 75,000 people to have suffered from gender-based violence, 45 per cent of the Rohingya women have reported of such attacks from which Unicef have recorded, and there are 50,000 arriv-

the army attacked them. He worked as a farmer in the village of Bhondu cultivating potatoes and other farming. He spoke of having no choice but to leave the elderlies of the village behind as they were not fit to escape. “The army were shooting at us in one go—left and right, people died immediately. They grabbed and robbed the gold jewellery from the girls and tortured and raped them. They do this because they don’t see us as Rohingyans, they call us Bangladeshis, that’s why they’re killing us and forcing us out.” During his escape, the most difficult stage was crossing the river to reach the Bangladesh border. He spoke of his anguish at the risk of drowning after falling off the boat: “I suffered a lot. With a lot of effort, they (Bangladeshi guards) rescued me and got me back onto the boat. A lot of people that were in the same village as me have died.” Hasina too, stated this was the most difficult part of the escape, “we had to stay on the crossover for seven days and experienced a lot of suffering there as there was no food. This was the most difficult experience. When crossing over we had no choice but to walk through the water which was up to our chest and that was very hard.” Both refugees provided the same brief insight to the tormented lifestyle they endured under the corrupt Burmese government and military. They were restricted from attending prayers in the mosques and prohibited from announcing the Athaan (Muslim call to prayer). Their mosques were destroyed and access to schools was blocked. In addition, finding work was exhaustive, the work available was barely enough to earn little rice for the day. Since settling at the camps, they have received aid and food such as rice, lentils, oil, food and medication. After treating some of the refugees, Dr Abdullah Al-Mamun, a health physician, expressed his concern: “The state of their health is dangerous as diseases spread easily in very crowded areas such as, diarrhoea and respiratory diseases. They are in dire need of emergency aid as soon as possible.” In regard to any hope of returning back to Burma, both Hasina Begum and Mohammed Siddiq demand they be accepted as who they are: Muslim Rohingyans. Otherwise, shaking her hands and head, Hasina vows: “I’d rather risk my life than to ever go back if they don’t accept us as Rohinyans. I will never go back.” b

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ing pregnant everyday to the camp. Hasina Begum, 26, arrived traumatised bearing horrific accounts of massacre and assault at the hands of the Burmese soldiers during her escape from her village Korma. “There used to be a house we would take cover in when it was night time, but even there, the Burma Army used to give us problems. They used to bring us out of the house and torture the boys and then separate the girls to rape them up in the hills—the young, the unmarried, everyone. When anyone would try and protect the girls they would shoot them.”

India

Bangladesh

Myanmar

Hasina spoke of living in constant fear as she watched men slaughtered and her aunt’s arm chopped off; she says her aunt eventually died from the loss of blood. Recounting her fear to the head of the RY medical team, Dr Abdullah Al-Mamun, she said: “Even when we see them from 10 arm’s lengths away, we all got very scared. As soon as they came near us, we ran to escape but that’s when another lady was killed.” Despite the evidence of colossal damage and immense violence against the Muslim Rohingyans, the prime minister of Burma, Aung San Suu Kyi continues to turn a blind eye of the atrocities committed by the Burmese army labelling it as ‘fake news’ and blames the tragedies on ‘terrorists’. Hasina Begum condemns the Nobel Peace Prize-winner leader stating, “Suu Kyi is all talk, no actions. She let them torture us. The government didn’t facilitate anything for us, they are very bad.” The account of Hassina Begum is brutal, but unfortunately, not unique. Mohammed Siddiq, 60, escaped the village alongside his family, with nothing but the clothes they had on as soon as


I’m African and lesbian: get over it A Cameroonian blogger fights back against prejudice

Words: Apai-Ketuya Marchant Image: Bandy Kiki

Across most parts of Africa, the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) community is not something that is accepted; many people who fall into this category will express their sexual orientation behind closed doors. Even then, there is still a chance that neighbours or others may find out about the life of a homosexual and decide to take matters into their own hands. There have been cases where people who have been caught have been banished from villages, neighbourhoods and communities. They may face other punishment, from being publicly shamed to prison sentences of up to twelve years and even been killed. Culture, law and religion all play a huge role into why homosexuality is condemned across the continent. The ILGA (International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex association) produce a map that shows sexual orientation laws across the world. From this evidence, South Africa seems to be the only African state that recognises the LGBTQ community, although countries such as Angola and Botswana offer some protection. Bandy KiKi, is a young Cameroonian blogger based in the UK—her blog site may be the most visited one in the Cameroonian community worldwide—recently declared on her blog that she is a lesbian, posting this statement: “My fellow family, friends and frenemies. I’d like to take this unique opportunity to thank all those who are standing by me with regards to my recent acknowledgement of being a lesbian. For those who find it different and find me different, I still want to thank you for your stance. I was never meant to meet all your desires. In this life, the one thing we have authority over is the choices we make. Few of us are decisive; others are peer pressured and most are still undecided/ confused. For me: I have taken the stance to be WHO I AM and not WHAT they want me to be. I will be remembered for the things I did than those I didn’t do. And for the many others who find it hard to air their choices of life, I hope you can be inspired by my audacity. I am Bandy Kiki—and I’ll stand tall where and when all are seated.” Cameroonians expressed their opinions on what they thought of her coming out. One comment, however, stood out. The CEO and founder of CAMIFF (Cameroonian International Film Festival) wrote on Facebook (in Pidgin English):

explains that there were a good number of people who knew about her sexuality and started blackmailing her as her brand grew. Rather than hiding away and giving someone else the chance to reveal her truth, she decided to “liberate herself”. Knowing that Cameroonians can be very homophobic she expected the reaction of people to be worse. “I totally ignored the hate tirades and focused more on the LGBTQ community in Africa which reached out to me massively. Surprisingly, I also had hundreds of support messages from people my age and my parents’ age. This response has been emotional as well as humbling,” she told us. The Rainbow Equality Hub is a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that supports the LGBTQ community and has been supporting other organisations to help the LGBTQ community in Africa and Cameroon. Kiki will now be w orking with these groups as a Cameroonian LGBTQ activist and her goal is to use her voice to establish a platform that will include that community. Alice Nkom, a prominent lawyer in Cameroon, has been defending the rights of homosexuals since 2003. She has said in numerous debates and documentaries on homosexuality in Cameroon that “no one can legally arrest a homosexual” because “there are laws in place to defend the human rights of a homosexual,” those laws are “freedom and equality of treatment for all human beings.” Kiki is also very positive about being able to freely visit Cameroon. She says her family is supporting her, she continues to thank those that she went to college with for the amazing support they have shown her, especially Bibi Dzelen for her heart-warming support. Whereas Kiki is very positive about her freedom of movement, Issa Tchiroma who has served in the Cameroonian government as a transport and communication minister did say in an 2016 interview with Journeyman Pictures that “99 per cent of Cameroonians are against homosexuality” and went on to say that it was fact and therefore the head of state was only implementing the law. KiKi has also featured as a guest on Maa’ fuas podcast, where she expressed her views on homosexuality and used Africa as her case study and argued that Africa has more issues to worry about than the LGBTQ community. b

“Kiki Bandy you be lesbian because some correct man nova ever fuck you. If I catch you in Cameroon I will fuck you very well so that the demon of lesbianism actually goes out of you. Your mother would never accept this. I get plans for put you belleh (make pregnant). You go see something. Just touch your foot for Cameroon.”

She became tired of hiding her sexual inclinations as well as lying to people she cared about His words were not taken lightly. Many women in support of Kiki’s sexual orientation believed his words suggested the justification of rape and the abuse of females not only in Cameroon but globally. When asked what she thought of the comment,, Kiki simply wanted to thank Commy Musa and Enam Krystn (Friends of Kiki) for speaking up in her defence. She also believes that his comment will ruin his international projects and networking system. The UN women website states: “Around 120 million girls worldwide (slightly more than 1 in 10) have experienced forced sexual intercourse or sexual acts at some points in their lives.” Kiki explains that she became tired of hiding her sexual inclinations as well as lying to people she cared about. She also

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“If a universe can be imagined, it exists” Quantum mechanics and the “many worlds theory” could radically change our interpretation of reality

Physics is assumed to be an exact science. It is a field that seeks the truth and does not allow any place for uncertainty or illusions. In fact, many of us rely on physics to explain the very existence of us as human beings and the universe, of which we are a part of. Along with biology, it makes us travel deep inside ourselves and projects us upwards to the stars. However, even in a place of constant axioms and experimentation, discovery and rebuttal, there is a place for pure imagination. Every explicit truth that came to life was first just a thought, a theory in someone’s head that awaited to be proven. There is a theory that can stretch one’s reality a bit wider: “If a universe can be imagined, it exists “. No, we’re not referring to the new season of Stranger Things, that is a real statement by Professor M.R. Franks, a member of Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. For many of us it is a dream come true. Everything that has ever been imagined by anyone anywhere has a right to exist in a parallel universe. The ‘many worlds’ interpretation was first discussed in 1957 by Hugh Everett and has been experimented on ever since. To understand it from a scientific point of view one must know, and believe in, the term ‘quantum mechanics’, which itself is controversial. Even the physicists who study that science don’t agree with one another on what it means. This branch of physics relates to the smallest particles and their interaction with each other. The term ‘quantum’, that translates from the Latin as ‘how much’, already hints to the discrete nature of the studied objects. Unlike the ‘classical’ mechanics that deals with specific objects and time frames, quantum physics looks at probabilities. Eleanor Knox, a Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at King’s College claims that it is still “the most successful theory that ever existed. A huge amount of modern technology depends on it,” so we simply have no right to ignore it. What is known for sure is quantum mechanics helps us to understand the possibility of parallel universes. On a microscopic scale, it shows that two objects can exist at the same place and at the same time. A famous example would be Schrödinger’s experiment, even though it has never happened and always existed only on theoretical grounds. In this hypothetical experiment, a cat is placed in 78

a sealed box with no chance of the outer interference. In the same room, there is a device with radioactive substance that, if one atom decays, would break a flask with acid inside the box, which will most certainly kill the poor animal.However, there is an equal chance none of this happens and the cat is perfectly safe an hour later. So how can we know if it is dead or alive? In both outcomes, the box looks the same. It is a paradox. Can a cat be alive and dead at the same time? The thought experiment suggests that it can and it is the human observation that finally decides on the outcome. Before someone opens the box with a cat in an unidentified condition, the cat potentially exists in two states at the same time. Quantum mechanics has no ability to give any sort of predictions. It is based on several possibilities which go parallel with our everyday lives. Think of a person. Imagine what he or she might be doing right now. Give this action a possibility percentage. Let’s say it’s a 50/50 case. I can’t know for sure, but I assume there is a fifty per cent chance my family is having dinner right now. Because they usually are. But what if today they decided to postpone it? That’s why it’s not a 100 per cent. It’s a possibility. “When you think of it, it does sound very silly. But when you look at the data, it is still very silly. However, philosophers along with physicists have taken this idea very seriously,” Simon Saunders, professor of Philosophy of Physics at University of Oxford, believes the idea that two particles can exist at the same place at the same time. But if that is true for photons, can we apply it to a world of ‘large objects’? Sadly, if no-one has really experimented on a cat, there is a little chance this thesis would be applied on such sensitive creatures such as us. In fact, Schrödinger himself wanted to demonstrate the naivety of arguing about large objects in quantum states by his hypothetical experiment. To quote Richard Feynman, an American theoretical physicist: “If you think you understand quantum mechanics, you don’t understand quantum mechanics”. Professor Saunders agrees and adds that “something is still missing. There is still something we don’t understand,” and

Words: Alexandra Vislyeva Image: NASA/JPL-CalTech

so we are left with observing frequencies; repeating the experiment again and again until the theory can be described as realistic. But while realists invoke people to take physics seriously, philosophers urge the two to work together. In fact, they hope that the impact of the theory on our life would not be as immense as can be imagined. There is enough of chaos


around us anyway. At least it would help us to understand that the human being is not the centre of the universe and that it is not whole on its own. Apart from physics academics trying to move along their theories, there are others who have no doubts about the existence of other dimensions. Everyone has certainly heard, even if without a

will delve into the topic, about the astral world. Yes, the astral world does exist according to some theorists and is divided from us only by a thin layer. This layer is our consciousness. What distinguishes a physics theory from the more esoteric explanation is that the latter doesn’t demand the imagination to help in understanding other worlds.

They argue that it is as real as the main, physical reality we experience every day. Max Heindel studied occult science and astrology at the beginning on the 20th century. He spent several months in a semi-conscious state, when he was close to dying because of a severe heart problem. That was the experience that pushed him into esotericism more than before, upon his recovery. According to Heindel humans are creatures that have numerous bodies that exist on different layers of reality. As far as we can understand today the count stretches to seven, six of which always exist but without our realisation— not in a separate universe as in physician’s theory, but in our own. We can even glance into these worlds but only through the altered state of consciousness. Meditation, mantras and other techniques of training and sell-development, if used with right intention, can bring one closer to the anticipated reality. At least that’s what the occult teachings say. It is important here to compare the way in which two different theories want us to understand the parallel worlds. Physics has only one way in which a normal person can interpret their theories: that is intellectual development of an individual and the knowledge of natural laws of the universe. In contrast, people who study energy believe that anyone who can develop themselves spiritually can glance into different layers of our complex world. The trick is that no one can come further than their consciousness can let them. In other words, you can have two diplomas from Harvard and still not be able to look deeper than the simplest form of being, the material world. The most important overlap between the two is that both Heindel and Franks think that in the parallel world everything that can be imagined has a chance to exist. The more we can stretch the boundaries of impossible, the more we will be able to understand the ‘thin world’ or the infinite number of other universes. And if we still have not come to this realisation, it means that we still are on the basic level of our consciousness and there is still a long way for our minds to go. In fact, there is no finish line in understanding these boundaries. They are in our heads and that is something that anyone, without any knowledge of any theories at all, can agree on. b 79


Vox Pops

What is your new year’s resolution and why? We asked UAL students what about their hopes for 2018

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Agnese, Public Relations “Probably to be less pessimistic, also because I would like to travel and get away. Being less pessimistic I suppose is a way to save money and travel and do something that I would like to do.”

Anis, Graphics and media design “I think my new year’s resolution is to just do all my University work on time.”

Louise, Public Relations “My new year’s resolution is to not leave deadlines to the last minute, especially as the dissertation is looming.”

Pojdan, film and television “I do not have a new year’s resolution it has never been a thing. My parents don’t do it and my family doesn’t do it, I know that people do it generally but I have just never felt the need to.”


Interviewers: Apai-Ketuya Marchant, Zoe Mundell, Zaynah Butt Images: Zaynah Butt

Dijo, Design for art direction “I do not have a new year’s resolution and I have not thought about it. But if I am going to change anything in the new year it will be my time management for school and work.”

Federica, Public Relations “My new year’s resolution would try to be less stressed and anxious because anxiety is influencing my life right now.”

Yuming “I do not want to be procrastinating next year because I was doing everything at the last minute and I want to make sure I learn to manage my time.”

Tee, Graphic design, and branding identity “My new year’s resolution is to hopefully start something great at UAL and start a new society, which anyone can link up if you like music, DJ, and fashion.”

Will, Graphics and media design “Mine is to be better with more money and save more money because I am poor at the moment and am struggling a bit.”

Laura, Public Relations “I would like to manage to save more money and not spend it all on silly things. I would also like to think a little more about my future and eat healthier. One resolution I am not got going to think about is joining the gym, but if I will it’s not going to be because it’s a resolution, it’s going be because I need to focus on something for myself.” 81


Straight talking The LGBT community has always had its own language, but is it being appropriated?

What was once a subliminal code used by LGBT and queer people has now been thrust into the mainstream. Queer culture and drag has never been more popular and celebrated by gay and straight people alike. RuPaul’s Drag Race (a reality show where a group of drag queens compete to be crowned “America’s next drag superstar”) has been truly accepted and has turned into a highly popular television show. One would be mistaken for assuming this is a wholly positive shift of queer culture into the public consciousness. It is in fact a paradox. Many LGBTQ+ members of society believe this increased presence in the mainstream has been detrimental. Although LGBT people have never enjoyed a more liberal society, for many it has left them feeling like their culture has been appropriated by heterosexual people. The queer lexicon, historically called Polari, a term derived from the Italian phrase “to speak”, has been used by many subcultures throughout history; for example, circus show performers, prostitutes and criminals. However, it was adopted on a broader scale by the LGBT community during the 1950s and 60s. For years it served as a shield within the community. Enabling members to communicate and convey meaning or desire without fear of abuse or discrimination from heterosexual people, who wouldn’t understand the terminology. More recently, the language has shifted to more of a slang as the popularity of drag has increased and its importance has diminished. While there are still terms that many straight people may not understand; notably the sub-groups, or tribes, in which members of the gay male community fall into: bears, twinks, cubs and otters for example. There are also ones to convey sexual activity such as ‘cottaging’, ‘cruising’ and ‘HnH’. Many others have jumped the gap and are now vocalised cross community in an evolved and untraditional form. Cultural appropriation is a fairly new buzzword. Its meaning: people of a race or subculture applying motifs from a group they don’t belong to. Commonly, controversy surrounds people dressing or featuring elements of black, Asian or Native American culture. The issue here isn’t that LBGT people don’t want their culture to be understood. Because everything the community has strived, and fought for 82

“The queer lexicon has been used by many subcultures throughout history” in some cases, can be reduced down to a wish to be accepted for their sexuality or gender to be normalised. It’s more of a case that the gay sociolect has been incorporated into the heterosexual one too much—it has now gone past the boundaries of appreciation. Many straight people are now using terms like “werk” and “shade” without knowing the history behind it. A history that stems from the underground scene in New York City and has been plagued with death, discrimination and homophobia for decades. Popular documentaries such as Paris Is Burning and The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson both bringing light to this dark past while also being equally educational. Ultimately, queer history is one that deserves appreciation and understanding before these phrases can be fully incorporated into the lexis of the masses. b

Words: James Underdown Image: John Liu via flickr

A BRIEF GLOSSARY (COMMONLY USED BY LGBT AND STRAIGHT PEOPLE): Beat: To apply copious amounts of make-up, a term popularised by the rise of make-up tutorials on social media Clock: To notice something about someone Fierce: A compliment, usually to someone who owns something of beauty. Gag: To be shocked Hunty: A blend of “honey” and “cunt”, used as a term of endearment. Ki ki: Simply put, to gossip. Read/read for filth: exposing one’s flaws in a critical way. Serve: To present. Shade: Pointing out flaws, usually done in the manner of reading (see above). Slay: To be outstanding. Tea: Stating facts that are truthful. Werk: to convey something positive.


Profile for Artefact magazine

Artefact #15 – Dec 2017  

The Resolution Issue

Artefact #15 – Dec 2017  

The Resolution Issue

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