EDITOR’S LETTER What is progress? What would a progressive society look like? These were a couple of the questions we asked ourselves as we discussed a theme for this issue of Artefact. We wanted to look at ways in which society is changing for the better — and ways in which it is standing still, or even getting worse. In doing so our writers examine a range of social issues, telling diverse stories of people from different classes, races and religions. Our cover is an illustration of change and progress from a mythical past to an imagined — but plausible — future. Inside the magazine, Elyse O’Donnell investigates the pressing problem of sexual harassment on university campuses, which is coming to the fore in the wake of the global #metoo campaign. In similar vein Defne Saricetin considers why the Women’s March received so little attention in the mainstream media and Valentina Curci asks why women have been erased from so much of art history. In another part of the art world Anjuman Rahman looks at artists and curators who are giving a voice to people from North Africa and to British Muslims. Danielle Anastasi looks at the controversial topic of white privilege and Carla Mbappe considers black male privilege in the music industry. Michale Ukaegbu celebrates recent films and television shows that feature black actors and characters in a positive light while Zaynah Butt writes a thought-provoking article on why cultural appropriation should be challenged and how it is an issue that is present and popular amongst celebrity culture. Diana Orfani exposes the obstacles society places in the way of disabled people who are looking for jobs while Alexandra Vislyeva reveals the reality of life for young people with incurable diseases. Breaking unattainable beauty standards that are placed amongst us through the media, Fiona Berbatovci explores how to redefine beauty through acne positivity, encouraging people to embrace their flaws. On a lighter note Isabel Ramirez Cintron takes a look at the secret life of adult Harry Styles fangirls. This magazine was written and produced by final-year students on the BA Journalism course at London College of Communication. We hope you enjoy it — tell us what you think by contacting us on email@example.com or via Twitter, Instagram or Facebook (details on opposite page).
CONTRIBUTORS Magazine Danielle Anastasi, Jesus Barrera Rodriguez, Fiona Berbatovci, Josie Collins, Valentina Curci, Elana Dickson, Natalia Faisal, Jennifer Freitas De Castro, Teresa Gottein, Charlotte Layton, Elyse O’Donnell, Diana Orfani, Anjuman Rahman, Alba Regidor Diaz, Defne Saricetin, Alysha Shariff, Michael Ukaegbu, James Underdown, Alexandra Vislyaeva, Flavia Wright
04 Black male privilege Carla Mbappe
52 Sleepover with Harry Styles Isabel Ramirez Cintron
05 Aryana Sayeed Diana Orfani
58 Girls, uninterrupted Alysha Shariff and Antoinette Wentworth-Smith
06 Harassment on campus Elyse O’Donnell 08 From Kabul to California Josephine Schulte
Social media Tayo Andoh, Molly Burgess, Zaynah Butt, Andrea-Maria Ciupitu, Christopher Forsythe, Rachel Garner, Bartosz Kielak, Danieka Lafayette, Apai-Ketuya Marchant, Carla Mbappe, Zoe Mundell, Virginia Pettitt, Luisa Rossi, Elsa Sanchez-Barbera, Emilia Slupecka, Pavel Troughton, Phali-Tavia Wakadima, Danyang Zheng
09 Women’s March 2.0 Defne Saricetin 10 Art from diverse viewpoints Anjuman Rahman and Fiona Berbatovci
Website Valentina Bulava, Charisse Chikwiri, Connor Davidson, Anna Dolgova, Omima Elmattawaa, Elizabeth Gillings, Jamie Hilferty, Edena Klimenti, Shannon Lyford, Danielle Mayall, Isabel Ramirez-Cintron, Phoebe Robinson, Josephine Schulte, Aino Silvennoinen, Antoinette Wentworth-Smith
70 Eating with anorexia Danyang Zheng
14 What is white privilege? Danielle Anastasi
72 A drug dealer speaks’ Anuuman Rahman
16 Putting Kosovo on the map Edena Kilmenti
73 ‘Twin Peaks’ lives Emilia Slupecka
18 The world of wearables Rachel Garner
74 Seizing the high street Danieka Lafayette
20 A life without a future Alexandra Vislyeva
75 Brown women’s culture is not a fashion accessory Zaynah Butt
30 Art’s forgotten females Valentina Curci 36 A brighter future for music Pavel Troughton 44 Finland’s gay champion Sara Silvennoinen
Instagram @artefactmag Feedback firstname.lastname@example.org Art Direction & Design Oswin Tickler, Smallfury
46 Penguins in prison Josie Collins Cover: Illustration by Hankzacle (YuXing Ke) hankzacle.com
66 Loot boxes in gaming Dan Marino
13 Living with labels Danyang Zheng
28 Eat and tweet your cake Edena Klimenti
65 Having my teacher’s baby Shannon Lyford
68 Gate crashing weddings Apai-Ketuya Marchant
24 More than skin deep Fiona Berbatovci
64 Light at the end of tunnel Alba Regidor Diaz
12 Battling discrimination Diana Orfani
22 The Great British Republic James Underdown
Tutors Simon Hinde (magazine) Vivienne Francis (social media) Russell Merryman (website)
62 Striking a blow for karate Charlotte Layton
76 The Authentic fakes Molly Burgess 77 Is Russian music becoming more popular in London? Valentina Bulava 78 LGBT in the older community Jennifer Freitas De Castro 80 Vox Pops Molly Burgess and Teresa Gottein 82 Celebrating the black narratives Michael Ukaegbu
“Sometimes the most fantastical stories make the biggest impact”
Published by London College of Communication, London SE1 6SB 3
Black male privilege in the music industry Why is the community reluctant to condemn men accused of sexual misconduct?
The exposure of Harvey Weinstein’s sexual abusive behaviour behind the scenes of cinema began a snowball effect. However, the eyes and ears of the music industry have remained shut when it comes to holding R&B/Hip-Hop artists accountable for their actions. A number of black rappers and singers have had allegations against them. Most female victims have dropped cases simply of not being believed. Large fan bases tend to label the women as gold diggers or assume they’re making false accusations. This often leads to women receiving online hate: the lack of support only reduces their faith in the judiciary system, or that they would win a case. Is there a reason the black community refuses to condemn and hold black male artists accountable for their actions? Especially when they encourage the negative perception of black males? For a long time almost every industry has been male dominated, the music industry included. Women have been pigeon-holed as sexual objects rather than performers, artists and writers. Male artists are praised for their talent and their misbehaviour and crimes are disregarded. Hip-hop has always had a tumultuous relationship with women. In July 2017 Rick Ross said in an interview for The Breakfast Club, that he has never thought about signing a female rapper “because I’d end up fucking them and fucking the business up”. Words reminiscent of Boogie Down’s 1987 lyrics, the dig at Juice Crew’s queen Roxanne Shante. The sexist diss became one of the most famous lines in diss song history.. Many women have endured “misogyny, sexism, constant bullying and relentless abuse”—Madonna in her ‘Woman of the Year’ speech at Billboard spoke about “women playing the industry’s game”. There is a heavy sexualisation of young girls in order to be successful, as Madonna put it: “you’re allowed to be pretty and sexy but don’t act too smart”. As hip-hop developed through the decades, women continued to be thrown into the center of male-driven rap wars. Kathy Iandoli at Complex explained that, degrading women has long been a trend “from ‘Yo mama’ jokes and lewd suggestions that someone’s girlfriend was being passed around”. Women on the other hand are often 4
shamed for embracing their sexuality and not conforming to society’s expectations. Female rappers are rarely credited for their work. Nicki Minaj in all her nominated wins speaks about not being able to catch a break, from people that claim she used sex as power moves. Within the African-American community when there’s an issue involving black men and black women, black men are always favoured. The great debate of “separating the art from the artist” is often posed when “our faves” do problematic things. Kanye West was known for behaving wildly on social media early 2016 before the release of his album The Life of Pablo: Chris Brown, Kodak Black, Rick Ross, XXXtentacion and more have all made wild remarks regarding women of colour. But while social media becomes outraged these artists’ large fan base remain. In yearning (race, gender and cultural politics) Bell Hooks explains that the black liberation movement supported and perpetuated sexism and male domination. When Rap usurped Jazz and the Blues it was an outlet and an outcry for young black males to testify their experience as the underclass. They were allowed to develop a critical voice, they used sexism in their music to incite fear. Rape was glamorised as a form of the black man’s weapon, used by black men to express their rage and struggle for power. The black women that wanted to support feminism in response to sexism would be considered traitors to the expression of their men.
Author: Carla Mbappe Image: Eva Rinaldi
Many black females rejected that paradigm. Today in black dominated genres, like R&B and Hip-Hop it has yet to be rejected by most black men (pop artists). Most black men especially artists, hold on to the idea ‘that the trauma of racist domination is really a loss of black manhood’. The cycle of the racist narrative that perpetuates the idea that all black men are rapists only continues. Giving them a pass when they’re eager to use sexual terrorism to express their rage. Identifying the central issues of black male privilege is one thing, but why has it continued for so long? Black men are so often used to being under attack and defend themselves with “look at all the ways in which I’m oppressed” outside of music. All this does is deflect the opportunity to build a stronger community. Robbing black men of a chance to actually take hold of the attributes that they have so that we can empower the community. Ignoring certain genres of music won’t change the fact that misogyny exists in the world.. Suggesting never listening to R&B or Rap wouldn’t ensure women never experience misogyny again. Educating young people about sexism is a starting point to stopping sexism.. Hollywood has been under fire for the sexual misconducts that has gone on behind the scenes. Women all over have come forward about the sexual abuse and inequality they have experienced in-order-to have successful careers. The music industry as a close friend of film should soon join the wave of equal opportunities for females in the music business. b
A Life in the Day: Aryana Sayeed The controversial Afghan pop singer on being a rising star in a male-dominated society
Words: Diana Orfani Images: Sharzaad Entertainment
Born in Kabul, Afghanistan, Aryana Sayeed, 32, grew up travelling in many different countries and now lives in London. She attended East Berkshire College where she was a student of Business Studies and shortly after decided to pursue a career in music. In 2008, she rose to fame with her single Masha’Allah’, which made her the first Afghan artist to have their song played on international TV. Over the years, she has spent much of her time in Afghanistan trying to bring hope to the lives of the people there, especially women. She gave Artefact a snapshot of her days in Afghanistan and in London, and how life for women differs in the two countries: “In Afghanistan, I’m usually up early as I normally have a lot of commitments. I have a cup of coffee every morning before I start my day. Without having it, I would feel like I have lost something. I will begin the day with my music commitments. I will be busy filming for certain TV shows like Afghan Star, as one of the judges of the show, or making a special guest appearance on some TV programme as well as performing concerts and attending events. When I am not busy with my music-related things, I am very much involved in my humanitarian work and will often be visiting orphans and children. As a Women’s Rights Activist, I visit Afghan women, try to hear out their problems and provide them guidance if possible. Life for women here is very difficult, they do not really have a voice of their own. I spend as much time as possible with some of these children, orphans and women to whose life I can bring a moment of joy. I absolutely adore children. I believe it is our duty to help each other, especially those who are influential and have the ability to make a difference. From time to time, I am privileged to assist some misfortunate families in need. It is really fulfilling. For lunch or dinner, I enjoy eating almost anything as we have the most delicious food here in Afghanistan. My favourite is ‘Shola’ then ‘Borani Bademjan’, known as Afghan Sticky Rice and Afghan Egg Plant dish. What with being a female singer in Afghanistan, I do not go out a lot and pretty much cannot. I simply do not have the freedom to do the same as an average
in Afghanistan. I occasionally prefer to wear our own traditional clothes when attending reality TV shows or concerts. Maybe now and again I’ll be working on filming a new music video as Afghanistan has some beautiful locations. I am extra cautious when I’m outside and I fully cover myself as I have some hardcore enemies in the form of extremists. But even that does not help at times—people still manage to recognise me—they gather for photos and just want to introduce themselves. Generally, I go around Kabul in a normal vehicle but after my recent movement—performing in the ‘Afghanistan Independence Day’ concert I literally had to go around in a bulletproof armoured car with bodyguards. All because I was receiving serious major death threats from many oppositionists on the day of the event. Many extreme mindset individuals just do not favour the artistic and cultural programs to take place in the country, particularly when a female takes part. I honestly thought that I would never stand on stage and sing again. It was a major blessing to be honoured with a ‘Bravery’ award given by an official Government entity—Ministry of Education and National Institute of Music after all the extreme intimidations, particularly during the historical concert on August 19. I felt really honoured. Many extreme mindset individuals tried to stop the Afghanistan Independence Day event but failed. It is probably the most valuable award of my entire artistic career. It definitely is something that gives me hope for a better future for Afghanistan. I acknowledge it as a step forward towards a better life for the women of the country. By nightfall, I tend to be exhausted as I normally come from the TV sets having filmed shows like Afghan Star or having finished performing a concert. Before sleeping, I might upload some photos on my social media page. I manage to go to bed in the late hours of the night and usually think about how I can push myself to take things to the next level as well as what can I do to bring a big change in the lives of Afghan women. Particularly now when I have achieved major recognition and appreciation for all that I do in Afghanistan especially in the music field. Life for me here in Afghanistan is empowering and fulfilling regardless of it being a challenge.” b
individual. In Afghanistan, a woman who challenges the norm and carries out certain initiatives like fighting for women’s rights and voice out major issues is in great risk of danger. Even when I attend TV shows I mostly avoid going outside the set. I am in my hotel room a lot and I am usually busy with my future projects. I will be working on making new songs and
“I visit Afghan women, try to hear out their problems and provide them guidance” compositions to empower the women of Afghanistan as I intend to use music for a cause. Either that or go on social media and interact with my beloved fans. I also try to think of ways in which I can make the situation of Afghanistan better for my people, especially for the women. The ladies here have to go through so much anguish and agony just to even go for a simple walk. Back in London, I normally go shopping, enjoy a nice meal at a restaurant and go to the movies. At home, I usually cook for my mother and go around for some walks. I love to have a stroll in the open air and have a moment to myself. When I do roam around outside it’s for very exceptional purposes. I often go shopping to buy clothes for any reality TV shows or concerts I’m a part of. I generally design my dresses myself then get them custom made by the talented tailors
Sexual harassment on campus What are universities doing to ensure a safe environment for all students?
Words: Elyse O’Donnell Images: Duncan C via Flickr
In the wake of the sexual assault claims against Harvey Weinstein, women have found the courage within themselves to out the monsters that have sexually harassed them; from famous movie stars such as Angelina Jolie to citizens on Facebook. The hashtag #MeToo has been used worldwide to encourage women to share their stories of harassment. In response to this, men are tweeting #HowIWillChange, which started with actor Mark Ruffalo who has expressed about men being part of the solution in ending rape culture. Responses to the hashtag include men promising to call out harassment and to speak up when they hear sexist statements. In a recent survey put together by Artefact, 100 people answered a series of questions on sexual harassment. From the findings, 87 percent of people who took the survey were female. 74 percent admitted that they have been sexually harassed at one point in their life, however, only 40 percent suffered this at work. Of the 100 respondents, 73 percent were between the age of 18-24. The results show what type of sexual harassment 90 of them experienced and they had the option to pick more than one. Nearly half said they never told anyone about the harassment with only five people skipping the question. The last question was whether they were happy with the response they got when they told someone, 22.5 percent said they were very unhappy with the response whilst only 11 percent were very happy. With more and more powerful figures being outed every week, Artefact wanted to see what the University of Arts London (UAL) has planned for helping people who have been affected in the same way. Katayoun Jalilipour, a Welfare Officer at the Student Union in High Holborn says they have recently started up consent campaigns that they want to make mandatory for students across all campuses.
about consent, what it means, legal definitions, talk about it on a more human level. People engage with each other, it also talks about liberation and LGBTQ+ issues. When I was elected one of my campaign points was about making these workshops more accessible because there have only been used to train societies and sports which is great but I think sex education is so minimal and almost useless. Universities are the last stage you can teach people about consent and people forget that in UAL we have 16-to-17-yearold students sometimes and its important for them to feel safe.
Harassment has always been a problem, but when did it become a much bigger priority? Scarlett Shaney was the welfare officer for two years prior and she started working on bringing up the issues of harassment to the university. It was kind of not spoken about much before she started 6
her role and so she talked about it more and then it turned into a big campaign and the university became way more aware of it, they started working towards making the services better. What has the university done since you’ve been welfare officer in-regardsto tackling sexual harassment? The university has now launched a new web page for reporting harassment, before this the only thing that UAL offered was one page that said if you’ve experienced harassment go to the police and that was it, so the student union was like ‘this is not OK’. We brought up a conver-
“People are definitely talking about it way more than in the 90s, but it doesn’t mean the work is done”
sation and now its a full page with useful information on what sexual harassment means, sexual violence, gender-based violence and the whole reporting system has been updated so now there’s an anonymous reporting. What made you start up the consent campaigns? I-Heart-Consent was a campaign that was nationwide by NUS that launched [in 2014] by Susuana Amoah. She launched this campaign and it was about bringing up a conversation about consent and consent workshops in education in universities. We work closely with them and three years ago when the campaign was launched we started using it for our Arts SU societies and sports training. It’s basically a workshop where you talk
Is it getting easier for people to speak up as you’ve gone on with these campaigns? I think in the university, yes, I’ve definitely seen a massive shift in the past five years of people’s engagement in the conversation. People want to talk about it and are being more open about it. So there’s been an improvement but I mean that’s not to say that this is something that’s happening in a wider sector, even other universities, they have very different experiences with it. I think we have some benefits with the advantages of being the kind of university we are, the dynamic of our students makes it a better ground for more improvement. However, on a wider scale, I don’t know, it’s difficult, people are definitely talking about it way more than in the 90s but it doesn’t mean the work is done. What’s the next step for you? I really wanted to make these workshops mandatory for the whole of UAL and we’ve been trailing the sessions. We’ve done some courses at LCF where it was on their timetable and hopefully for next year we’ll make them part of the induction period for foundation students. UAL has proved that they’re ready to end sexual harassment in whatever way they can. Artefact decided to look into different universities to see how they prevented harassment and sexual violence. In one case, a male student from the University of Liverpool manipulated and tricked fellow girls from his campus into modelling for a music album with hidden motives of sexual harassment and inappropriate fetish images. One student unbeknown of his hidden agendas agreed
to model for him in his house. After half an hour of shooting, he went the toilet and was gone for a while. Suspicious of why he was taking so long, the girl texted him to see if he was okay, he replied saying he was masturbating to her images. More girls came forward to speak to her about the same issue with the same boy. She decided she had to tell the university and they got a police investigation opened-up. They then asked him to leave university until further notice. Two months later he returned with a curfew of 8:00 pm to 8:00 am on campus, but the student told us it “made me fuming because that wouldn’t stop him or teach him a lesson” “They let me go through the humiliation of sharing my story over and over, without having any practical or positive
outcome to help the safety of other girls at university. They offered no further support on how we’d been affected by this, and we all had constant concerns we’d see his face in university again.” In Sheffield, there were a number of attempts at rape in the park near one of the libraries. It happened late at night when people were walking home from being out but also as early as 11:00 am. The student union provided free rape alarms for students and there was a women’s bus that picked people up from outside the Student Union building and took them home for £1. “They were really helpful and when it happened they blocked off the park numerous of times. They have a special number you ring if it happens on campus and there’s also a lot on the university
website including all the definitions, rapemyths, supporting friends and what to do next,” a student at Sheffield told Artefact. A survey produced by The Guardian in March 2017 revealed figures from universities that have reported staff-onstudent harassment. Goldsmiths and Nottingham take the lead with more than 10 allegations from 2011-12 to date. All allegations were investigated even though both universities had a relationship policy. However, no staff left after the investigations. Although it may be clear that some universities are willing to step up and help students now more than ever, it’s still a worry that sexual harassment is at epidemic levels. Even though there are no national guidelines on how universities should respond to these allegations, it is crucial that they start now. b 7
From Kabul to California Meet Shamayel Shalizi, the entrepreneur behind the jewellery brand Blingistan
A woman with long wavy hair, wearing a short, sexy dress, exposing a pair of long, bare legs, in high heels, carrying a Kalashnikov. This is the logo of the jewellery label Blingistan. The designer, Shamayel Shalizi, first drew inspiration for her designs from the dual, sometimes multiple identities, as she calls them, that she was brought up with. Conceived while completing her dissertation at London’s SOAS in 2016, her jewellery label Blingistan just launched its second collection. Shamayel also loves to paint and write, and produces multimedia art. She says that her artistic side gave her the ability to draw and finally do design jewellery. The artist and designer, who grew up in between Afghanistan, Russia and the US, remembers the very beginning of her idea. “I loved wearing hoops and still don’t really wear any other kind of earring, but how could I inject my love for Afghanistan into that?” At the time when this was going through her head, Shamayel was a teenager and living in Kabul, Afghanistan, the country where she is from but had never been to. When she finally went, she ultimately fell in love with it. She recounts never being able to find jewellery representing her, so the brand was in a way born out of her own necessity.“Sketching out a pair of hoops or a ring or anything was very simple. You take it to the local jeweller, toss him 1000 Afghanis (about $20 or £14.75) and bam! My personalised jewels! Labour is very cheap there,” she tells Artefact enthusiastically. “Let’s say downtown LA. Beautiful gold crosses, chunky earrings, ‘Bonita’ and ‘Sexy’ written on necklaces, but nothing of them had anything to do with my identity if you know what I mean, except of course sexy,” she laughs. However, there was no ‘Allah Akbar’ gold choker, Afghanistan map on a ring, or anything that came close to saying her name on it. Hence Shamayel created something for people that were being marginalised. “I wanted to create Blingistan so that everyone can wear something that means something close to their hearts.” Her first collection, Golden Identity Crisis S/S 17, came out at the beginning of 2017, it had, she believes, something in store for everyone. “My teenage cousin, who recently transitioned FTM, loves the ‘Pride and Patriarchy necklace’. My ex-boyfriend, 8
“In a time of political instability, Shamayel is tackling political issues through her craft” who is Irish and in his late thirties, loves when I wear the three-knuckle massive ‘OG Wataan Afghan Map’ ring. My Greek friend cannot get enough of the Barb Wire set, and girls named Jessica, Cindy and Rita are buying up my TSA Threat shirts because they are fun, yet it is aligned with something they believe in politically, you know?” The new, second collection is taking more chances, it is a bit riskier, and it makes more political statements, Shamayel explains. The brand is also switching metals to make the jewellery less expensive and more accessible. “I hate getting messages from people saying
Words: Josephine Schulte Image: Astra Pentaxia
‘I have to wait for my next paycheck. Is there any way you can hold this for me?’ I do not want to hear that, I want people to go to the website and just buy whatever the hell they want.” The production of Blingistan was also moved to Los Angeles, California, because of the uncertainty that comes with running a small business out of a third world country, says Shamayel. “You can‘t think that you are going to get stuff ready at a certain time and then, all of a sudden, the poor guy that you are working with factory got bombed”. The relocation also allows the brand to have a bigger percentage going to charities. “We have been discussing the fact of switching it with every collection because I believe in too many things to just limit it to one charity”. In a time of political instability, Shamayel is tackling political issues through her craft. And whether or not the jewellery is making political statements, Shamayel definitely is. What about the feedback? It has been fantastic, she says: “So much positivity! I wake up every morning to such lovely messages, it makes this so satisfying! Of course, there’s been some negative feedback, but barely any and it’s mostly from my mom who thinks the name of the brand is stupid!” b
Women’s march 2.0: uncovered? Thousands marched against gender inequality: yet the mainstream media didn’t seem interested
Words: Defne Saricetin Image: Lauren Dudley
Taking place opposite Downing Street, the 2018 Women’s March saw thousands of women—and men—joined together against gender inequality in London, as it did in several other cities across the world. However, many of the protesters stated that they felt the march got far less coverage compared to the previous year. The Women’s March in 2017 shut down central London and saw millions of people walking to protest in seven continents following Donald Trump’s inauguration. Protesters in London gathered by the memorial to women in the Second World War, chanting “Time’s up!” and “We want justice, not revenge” through the pouring rain, declaring that time is up on gender inequality, gender-based violence, sexual harassment and abuse. “Time’s up on the systematic and politically motivated underfunding of the services survivors depend on, time’s up on victimising survivors and allowing abusers to avoid accountability. Time’s up on the culture that tells men they are entitled to women’s bodies,” read their statement on Facebook. On top of this racism, prejudice, inequality of other marginalised groups, economic oppression of women, the climate of profit over people and denial of climate change were also listed as matters that they would be protesting against. This year’s protest was named ‘Time’s Up rally’ after the campaign launched in January by women in Hollywood to counter sexual harassment in the entertainment business and workplaces following the Weinstein scandal. The focus in London’s protests was “calling Time’s Up on everything that’s holding women back as a nation and as a society,” stated women’s rights activist and lawyer Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu, who co-organised the march. Speakers at the protest included women’s rights activist Dr Helen Pankhurst who is the great-grand-daughter of Emmeline Pankhurst, as well as the leader of the Women’s Equality Party, Sophie Walker, who gave speeches on equality for women, thoughts on Trump’s UK visit and about their own experiences with gender inequality and oppression. “I came to the women’s march because I think now is the time when we have to be stronger than ever. We have to be supportive of each other and show that support whenever we can,” said one
reasons for this year’s Women’s March receiving relatively little attention was partly because of having to compete with other news for the headlines (the government shutdown in the US) as well as having fewer attendees and thus not being as big this year. “The very fact that news coverage of Women’s March 2018 was so small in comparison to how big Women’s March was, is proof how needed it is,” said one protester. An open letter to Theresa May regarding ‘holding hands with Trump’ has also been published by the Women’s March London, as well as a list of ten calls to action such as “demand that your employer pays women and men equally, end period poverty by supporting Bloody Good Period, volunteer or donate to a rape crisis centre, women’s refuge, or a minority women’s charity”, advising supporters on how to get involved further following the march. b
protester, “these occasions are a great place to speak your voice and listen to the amazing, inspiring but often devastating stories of other women. You share your experiences and empower each other. That’s very important.” Women’s March London has tweeted that their appearance on the ITV show Good Morning Britain was cancelled, sparking debates around the coverage of the event. The presenter of the show, Piers Morgan replied: “The editors/producers didn’t think it was worth debating an event that was rather dull and attracted so little news coverage.” Protesters in other parts of the world, especially those who attended the main march in Washington, DC, also said they felt the marches were largely ignored by the mainstream media. Media Matters reported that the Sunday shows barely mentioned Saturday’s Women’s March. Commentators have stated that the
Art from different viewpoints An exhibition of North African pop art and a centre run by young Muslims tell stories about diverse communities
Words: Anjuman Rahman, Fiona Berbatovci Images: Omima Elmattawaa, Carmine Cartolano, Alla Budabbus, Mouad Aboulhana & Najlaa El-Ageli and Toufik Douib
Art has long been regarded as a potential threat to the stability of society because too often, it has been used as a form of peaceful protest, a revolt against the injustices experienced by its audience. Because of its attractiveness, it has the potential to draw people in and connect them during turbulent political times, forcing society to look at itself, and question what is going on around them. Britain has been known to be one the most diverse and culturally accepting countries in the world and nowhere is this better illustrated than in London. Two curators from North Africa, Najlaa El-Ageli and Toufik Douid, have brought together a collection of artwork by fifteen artists from countries such as Libya, Egypt, Syria, Morocco and Algeria all of whom were inspired by the ‘Pop Art’ movement. The exhibition titled Pop Art from North Africa included paintings, graphics, music, animation and street art. El-Ageli cited its diversity as part of London's appeal. She believes that “London is a city that always embraces different cultures” and due to the growing number of North Africans living in London and the UK, she felt a need to dispel myths about the people from the region. “We brought it [the exhibition] to London to put focus on the region besides just the doom and the gloom, [the idea] that there is no culture, that there is no art there, to really open up the audience’s eyes,” she told us. El-Ageli explains the importance of art for the people of North Africa: “A lot of people in the region are facing major identity issues, either through religion or what’s happening after the Arab spring, there’s a lot of questions of who we are. North Africa is quite interesting, there are a lot of underlays besides being an Arab and being Muslim, there’s more to it. I think the youth are asking all of these questions and looking back as a means to set some sort of identity, reaching out for it.” Hamida Zéd was one of the artists featured as part of the exhibition. She uses analogue photography and digital collage as her main mediums, her work focuses on reworking the colonial and military photography that was produced by the French during its one-hundred and thirty-two years of colonisation in Algeria. In her talk, The Story Behind the Image, Zéd explained how she uses her art to
With London’s population being made up of 13.2 per cent Asian or Asian-British, 10.1 per cent Black or Black-British and 3.5 per cent Chinese or other ethnic groups, according to the Office for National Statistics, it’s baffling how issues such as under-representation, misrepresentation, and discrimination still exist in London. Despite the population being as diverse as it is, finding places where individuals can be free to be themselves and express their feelings can be more challenging than finding a link for illicit drugs. And when living a busy city life where most of the week is occupied with exhaustive work and hard labour, leisure time is a rarity for many, it is easy to forget oneself in the chaos and neglect the very human need to express yourself. It is especially difficult when you find yourself unable to be a part of the mainstream population. Those who are considered too ‘foreign’, ‘different’ or ‘weird’ find it even more difficult to find a place to foster their creativity. A concept that many fail to understand is that diversity and cohesion isn’t about clumped, pocketed communities made up of just one ethnic group, a particular race, or religion being “allowed” to exist as a separate branch of society. Diversity and cohesion aren’t about people assimilating to the native customs and traditions of a place and in the process losing their own culture. Diversity and cohesion are about integration, it involves accepting all the differences that make people who they are without anybody having to constrain themselves in fear of being rejected. Enjoying each other’s company without restrictions standing in the way is what we need. But unfortunately, finding a place where differences are appreciated and celebrated and most importantly, spoken of and heard, is rare. Located in Kilburn, Rumi’s Cave aspires to be such a place. The cultural arts and events space, run by a group of young Muslims, is open to all and seeks to connect communities. The place is named after the thirteenth-century Persian poet, Jalaluddin Rumi. . Isa Noorudeen, 26, a member of the production staff at Rumi’s Cave, stresses the importance of taking control of your own narrative, particularly if your identity is constantly portrayed in a negative light. “Art and culture is essentially our narra-
challenge the Western Orientalist gaze that perceives the indigenous population as exotic but enslaved. With a particular focus on the Algerian women featured in the old French military photography, and also the other ‘masterpieces’ of the time which depicted them, she urges the audience to consider the wrongful and damaging appropriation of ‘Algerian’ and by extension that of all colonised people and cultures. With her art, she attempts to change the widely held views about her identity in a way which the audience can immediately relate to and understand. The influence of Western culture is apparent when observing the artworks on display. Many of the artists present subversions of ‘Pop Art’ classics while employing traditional symbols from their localities. Andy Warhol’s iconic Marilyn Monroe is seen sporting a traditional North African head scarf or ‘Hayek’ as they are known in the region. Warhol’s soup can has been reimagined to contain the North African ‘Harira’ a traditional Moroccan soup. The artists have looked a lot into the heritage and the traditions of their locality whilst presenting them in a form that the audience recognises and finds accessible.
tive in our story”, he explains, “without us claiming that narrative, other people will claim it. And that’s what the media does a lot, so art and culture is an essential part of how to keep our story ours, as opposed to letting other people talk about us. And I don’t even have to say the sort of stories people tell about us.” He comparing the purpose of the Rumi’s Cave, to that of mosques; a setting not designed for young people to hang out but a place of worship, “We’re trying to be a third space that’s serving the community, a place where anyone can turn up from any sort of denomination and just chill. So, one of the things about poetry evenings like the open mic nights is that it allows amateurs to express themselves, whatever’s on their mind to come and say it—unite people. This isn’t a ‘Muslim event’ even though Muslims organised it. A lot of non-Muslims come here regularly, and there’s a lot of common grounds, so it really brings the community together.” The institution is dedicated to nurturing everyone, regardless of age, race or religious background. As you go in, you are instantly overcome by a familiar feeling, that of returning home after a long day outside in the cold. Embroidered cushions are scattered across the carpeted floor, the room rinsed in purple and pink lights, helping to set a serene, intimate atmosphere. There is no theatrical stage, just a simple section at the front with a large, bold canvas set behind. It is the only wall that demands attention, the rest of the room is minimally decorated, featuring only a few small framed paintings. All the while, the atmosphere draws you into its indigo haze with calming music playing in the background. Shaking the stage that night, with his powerful, poetic words was the host himself, Rakin Niass: WHAT IS TRUTH? Is it what is spoken from the mouth, or is it much deeper than that? Is it what comes from the heart, or is that just part of it? Is it what your parents say, or is it what the eyes see, or can that be manipulated too easily? Is it what is said on the news, or is it darker than that? Everyone is looking for the truth… (Excerpt from the piece Rakin Niass performed, The Idea of Truth.)
As the manager of Rumi’s Cave, he emphasised the importance of having a safe space for the younger generations, especially now that the government has closed down so many youth centres: “We need safe spaces where we can actually talk and be able to listen to others and have others listen to our ideas to help each-other formulate our ideas.” There is a growing need for people to have access to places where they can relax and fully express themselves, without the fear of being made to feel uncomfortable, unwelcome, or unsafe hanging over them. Active in the music industry for more than 20 years, and having performed globally in countries including Sudan, Nigeria, USA, Sweden, Holland and France, Rakin Niass is known to be vocal about socio-political issues through his work in spoken poetry and rap. He believes in using art as a tool to teach as well as learn about the world and its events, notably those who suffer from it; the voices hardly heard: “You can learn a lot as well, you can learn a lot about cultures and how different people are feeling so, it’s also a way of teaching, it’s a way of getting your story out. We need to have more narratives—different narratives as well, not just the mainstream narratives, we need to hear it from different people, especially from the ethnic minorities.” Hanan Issa is an inspiring, Welsh spoken word artist based in Cardiff who also co-ordinates an open mic series: ‘Where I’m Coming From’. The talented poetess exercises her ‘fierce, female, Muslim voice’ to disrupt stereotyped preconceptions that many have of Muslim females. While highlighting the importance of being provided safe art spaces, she also acknowledges a division between an ‘art space’ and ‘safe space’:
“Not every art space is a safe space. It is unfortunate that freedom of expression and thought does not always romantically entwine itself with art the way we expect it to. She reflects on her own distressing moments as a performer, “I’ve been in uncomfortable situations where poets have used offensive language that is not theirs to use, I’ve had my name mangled more than once, I’ve quickly changed my mind about reading a particular piece in a particular setting.” In a society that has conditioned us all to bottle everything in, we associate strength with silence; a mentality spoken poetry proves otherwise: not only does this art liberate the poets themselves, but the audience too. Hanan Issa’s poetry bravely deals with and reminds everyone feminism is entirely vital and necessary. The poetess also stressed the relevance of showcasing art and expressing diverse creativity in Britain: “If we truly want to make Britain a society of multi-cultures then we need to confront difference.” Art exposes what many people are afraid to say. Art makes sense of the mess of the world and its unrest. In whatever form it may be; art comforts the odd, the poor and the victims.. And communication is key. As Hanan Issa poetically states; “Art, in all its forms, can help us sit with the uncomfortable, the unfamiliar, and try to understand it.” To explore further on the works of artists interviewed, follow their social media and websites below: Hanan Issa: Facebook – HananIsCreative Instagram – @hananiscreative Rakin Niass: Twitter – @RakinNiass Isa Noorudeen: isarts.com Rumi’s Cave: rumis.org Najlaa El-Ageli: noonartsprojects.com b 11
Battling discrimination One woman’s struggle to get a job in the face of prejudice
Words: Diana Orfani Pictures: Shani Dhanda, Scope
There she was, laying down on her gentle, comfy bed, with a chilled-out posture and a beaming smile drawn on her face, sipping away at a cup of warm tea while bravely recalling her moments of disappointment due to Osteogenesis Imperfecta. Shani Dhanda, a survivor of the brittle bone condition, became a victim of segregation and discrimination in a country one least expects, the UK. A new report from the charity Scope has revealed that more than a quarter of disabled people believe they have been turned down for a job due to their condition or impairment. Shani had finished high school. The years of agony and distress were finally over. However, for the Walsall resident, that was just the beginning of what life had in store for her., as an individual of an abnormally short stature. “It involved a lot of uncertainty,” she admitted. “I really had to fight for my freedom.” After her tough years, she still had a strong desire to progress further. Not wanting to be defined by her condition and with the Equality Act and Discrimination laws in place, Shani was keen on having a job while studying in college. “I’m a very driven and ambitious person and I wanted to be a contribution to society,” she confidently declared. The Equality Act 2010 ensures that disabled employees are not under-estimated due to their disability: whether it’s application forms, interview arrangements or job offers. The then 16-year-old high school graduate applied and applied, clearly stating her condition on every cover letter. The teen waited patiently for each response. “I had literally applied in 100 places and nothing. It wasn’t as if I wasn’t already limited with jobs,” she said. “It’s really disheartening.” “None of them even informed me saying I wasn’t successful or this role is no longer available. This soon made me realise that my rejections might probably be due to me stating my disability on the cover letters.” With the Conservative government in power since 2010, many disabled people have been among the hardest hit by the austerity cuts.. In the UK, 13.3 million people have some form of disability and they are more than twice as likely to be unemployed as non-disabled ones. “Society’s big misconception is that we, the disabled group, are constantly in pain and that’s it. Constantly suffering and that’s all we will ever be,” explained
er. “It’s a very public facing role. You’re dealing with members of the government, different venues, suppliers and things like that,” she explained. Her job also gives her the luxury of organising big events involving celebrities and public figures like boxing heavy-weight champion, Anthony Joshua. “I did an event for Floyd Mayweather in March. They are big events with the participation of celebrities. It’s not easy to get your foot in that kind of a field,” Shani said. “It’s really stressful. I think people think it’s a very glamorous job but it’s not. People only see the end result which is the event of the day. I’m not there having fun, I’m there working,” she admitted. “Imagine being three-footten and on your feet all day. It’s really draining.” Her parents, who once doubted their daughter’s capability, are now immensely happy as well as stunned. “We are really proud of her. She has really defied disability,” they told us. Despite Shani’s success, the current situation for most disabled people remains bleak. The government continues to make cuts instead of lending them a helping hand and giving them the self-confidence they need. Parliament itself lacks the involvement of disabled MPs and the employment system in regards to hiring still needs to be filtered through the whole industry. “At the current pace of change, the government is set to fail on its pledge to get a million more disabled people into work,” Mark Atkinson confirmed. “There aren’t any disabled people in parliament and we need positive representation of these individuals,” Shani added. “We may have the two ticks scheme or the disability confidence scheme, but it still seems to not be getting through to the hiring managers as I have applied for jobs, met the criteria and nothing.” Shani firmly believes more needs to be done and that disabled people should start with relying on themselves to bring these changes by challenging the government to see they mean business. “In order to be recognised, in order to be heard and in order to make some kind of change we need to come together. Be a collective voice. By doing that we’ll show people like the government we’re a strong group and we want change. We want good change!” she says. “I believe disability is a real slow topic that is going to change!” b
Shani. Even though society is trying to be open-minded, there is still a stigma in existence. Shani’s parents thought their daughter would not have the capability to do much. “Due to her condition and her history of being in the hospital for a long period of time, we were very worried about our daughter. We wanted to keep her safe, therefore we were reluctant to let her be independent,” her parents said. Shani became very resilient and was not going to accept defeat. “I’m not going to just sit at home and live my life within these four walls. People can’t just see me as a disabled person, there is a lot more to me than that,” she explained. Charities like Scope are dedicated to making the UK become a place where disabled people don’t feel deprived, and have the same opportunities as everyone else, including employment. They provide support, information, and advice to more than a quarter-of-a-million disabled people every year. “We have a huge amount of work to do to tackle the disability employment gap. Employers are missing out on the talent they badly need because they don’t have the right support in place or because of outdated attitudes towards disability,” said Mark Atkinson, Chief Executive at Scope. Ultimately, it fell on Shani’s shoulders to challenge the employment industries and define her disability. “I thought: I have to try something else. And that’s when I decided to take out my disability and it worked.” she exclaimed. Shani finally got a job in administration and telecommunications. Shani is now 30 and thriving as a successful international events manag-
Living with labels The way we describe people can unintentionally cause them real suffering
Words: Danyang Zheng
We live in a society where we are hard-wired to fit people into neat, perfect little boxes. We classify people as soon as we see them. Our world is obsessed with labels as we find it difficult to comprehend things that do not fit into the premade boxes that social norms provided us with. Labelling theory is the theory of how people self-identify and how the behaviour of individuals may be determined or influenced by the terms used to define and categorise them. It was developed by sociologists during the 1960s. Howard Saul Becker’s book Outsiders was influential in the development of labelling theory. It is also associated with the self-concept and stereotyping which focuses on the tendency of majorities to negatively label minorities or those seen as deviant from standard cultural norms. The most common tags appear on social media like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and are used to classify various groups of topics and highlight them. It normally shows negative influence and has an ironical tone which can certainly annoys people who seriously care about others’ opinion.. Paul Mu is a 30-year-old programmer in Tencent, China, and has specialised in Computer Science at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. After graduation, he gained a well-paid job and performed well in his work, becoming qualified as “IT Elite”. However, just because of this, he is labelled as “brogrammer” - a pejorative term for a mail computer programmer - by others even his friends. “Mostly, programmers are considered by the public as a group of people who are antisocial, acting with low EQ, wearing beer-bottle-like thick glasses, and isolated from fashion. Nevertheless, I think I am quite outgoing, optimistic and I have lots of friends as well,” he said. “The imperfection is that I do not have a girlfriend. The most conversation that has happened between girls and me are about letting me help fix their computers. That is the only value of my existence for them.” Girls seem to try their best to avoid having boyfriends who are programmers as they are usually assumed to be a “nerd” and “too straight” to have any fashion sense or please their girlfriends. Categorical labelling is a method
that humans use to resolve the impossible complexity of the environments we grapple to perceive. Like so many human faculties, it is adaptive and miraculous, but it is offensive and also contributes to mental problems. People do not hate the “terms” used to describe them but the judgement as well as the criticism that lies behind those simple words. In the video game League of Legends, there is a group of players with low skills called ‘Bronze V’ – it is the lowest rank in the League of Legends. People in this rank typically are bad players, who blame their teammates for their losses and bad actions, and can’t advance to higher rank levels. However, not all ‘Bronze V’ players are like this. As League of Legends needs five players to form a
of terms may affect the players’ mentality which makes them feel frustrated. Sevon J is called “DB” by his friends, which is the abbreviation of “Deadbeat”. Although it is a joke, it sounds harsh. Sevon has been married for three years. His work is to look after his daughter at home and cook for the family. “Deadbeat refers to the parent who has little income and contributes little financially to their family. Traditionally, it should be a woman’s responsibilities to look after babies and men are supposed to earn money for their families.” Sevon’s wife is a renowned solicitor and the major income source for the family. She is too busy to take care of the family under this situation. Because of this, they have an agreement that Sevon
team and defeat the opposite team for the victory, therefore, the communication and teamwork is the core element in the game and to a large extent can lead the team toward victory. Generally, in the game’s culture, the ‘Bronze V’ is generally used to describe the unskilled players who always cause the loss of the game and show a negative attitude as well as bad communication with their teammates. Players refuse to play with a teammate like that and the game experience is awful. Gradually, ‘Bronze V’ became a label for a group of players who continuously make mistakes or show unskilled behaviours in a game, even if they are not actually ‘Bronze V’, they are cynically called “Bronze V”, “noob” or “troller” by their teammates. One player in a North America server whose game ID is “Ic3 Bear” is a ‘Silver IV’ player and he said that it was not necessary to attack players who were not showing high skills on game playing. People play games for fun, and those kinds
plays a role as a house-husband to assist his wife in looking after their child. “It does in a way violate the standard social norms, but I don’t really care,” Sevon said, “I know that my friends sometimes make the joke and call me ‘DB’, and people may think that it is a sensitive topic for me to talk about, however, both I and my wife treat this in an original way. It is a kind of household allocation. It is quite homogeneous in our family, we respect each other and barely quarrel.” Audrey Arbogast, a researcher at Grand Valley University, has stated in her blog that the only label you should ever be given is your name. “We are complex beings with individual ideas, beliefs, preferences, and ideals. The day when society drops the labels and starts seeing people as unique individuals will be the day when we will no longer be divided. In all reality, this is much easier said than done. But for the time being, the only label you should be given is your name”. b 13
What is white privilege? It’s a contested term which sparks emotional discussions, especially amongst those who are discriminated against
“The first time I went round my boyfriend’s house, I set foot in the lounge to see his mother’s face drown with un-fulfillment. She strung a halfhearted sentence together asking: ‘Is this her? I thought Kira was a white girl’s name?’ The overwhelming feeling of wanting the ground to swallow me up surrounded me.” Shikira Porter, a 21-year-old Creative Writing and English Literature student at Greenwich University recounted her run-in with what people refer to as ‘white privilege’. “I frequently get told that I am the most ‘white black person’ that people have met. I get confused as to what this means: I am mixed of a White English and Black Caribbean background, so I am essentially both, however, I can’t help but shake the feeling that people are trying to belittle my black heritage when they say that. I get told that I talk very ‘white’ but I talk just as I was brought up to. I don’t see how the manner of which I speak can be labelled with a colour,” Shikira told us. The term ‘white privilege’ was coined to describe prejudice within social groups that benefit people only identified as white in Western countries. This is in contrast to the common experiences of non-white people, who are under the same social, political, or economic circumstances. But is that as far as we can go when explaining white privilege? Nicole Thomas, a 19-year-old mechanic for Mercedes thinks not. “White privilege is to carry out a mass shooting in Las Vegas, killing over 50 people and injuring 450, only to have authorities claim within minutes of the mass murder happening, that it was NOT an act of terrorism.” Nicole believes that the “term ‘terrorism’ is used too literally.” Indeed, Nicole questioned me, asking “What even is terrorism?” It’s a reflection of how the topic is so distorted in today’s society and the media. Usually, the term describes the “unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.” But if someone has no history of religious or political affiliations, and still carries out a mass murder of innocent people for their own personal reasons or aims, does that mean that we cannot brand it as ‘terrorism’? Only a few months after the horrific 14
Las Vegas mass shooting, the history of the gunman, Stephen Paddock, has shown that he was an atheist, as well as not even being a registered voter in the state of Nevada. But did the authorities of Las Vegas have this confirmed when they ruled terrorism out? I asked creative writer, Shikira, what her definition of white privilege is when linked with terrorism: “It is to inflict pain and suffering on others and not have to worry that a single person of your race or religion will face any backlash for your crime. It is to kill, rape, loot, plunder, or colonise and get away with it without any mention of irrelevant issues like religion, scripture, culture, theology or ideology in relation to your wrong-doings. It is to commit the largest mass murder and shooting in recent American history, and be referred to as a ‘retired grandfather’, who is remembered as enjoying ‘country music and living a quiet life’. This is also where the media is an enabler of white privilege.” So are the media to blame? Can all journalists be lumped in as enablers to this notion? And is it fair for all “white” people to be lumped into it too?
Words: Danielle Anastasi
It is an unspoken fact that some media outlets perpetuate racial biases daily. For example, the death of Sandra Bland—a 28-year-old black woman who had previously spoken out about police violence. She was arrested whilst in her car due to unpaid traffic tickets and later died in police custody. This was due to an alleged suicide, which if this is correct, is due to the Waller County jail not following required policies; including time checks on inmates and ensuring that employees had completed required mental health training. Despite this, NBC Chicago chose to frame the narrative this way: “Woman Found Dead in Jail Cell Had Prior RunIns with Law.” This paints Sandra Bland, who had been confronted by authorities a few times prior to this incident over failing to follow proper traffic stop procedures, as a criminal whose death is not one to dwell over. Yet criminals such as Brock Turner, a young white male, who raped an unconscious woman at a Stanford University frat party, got out of prison within three months, not even finishing his full six-month sentence. Meanwhile, media
outlets used his Stanford school photo to identify him when covering this story, and not his mugshot, as is common practice. Phrases such as “twenty-minutes of action should not ruin Brock’s life for the next twenty-years,” were a common theme within those articles. So yes, media outlets can be partly to blame when branded as influencing white privilege. But should the term ‘white privilege’ be aimed at white people as a whole having more benefits in life than any other races do? Lola Hickey, a 21-year-old English woman suggests not: “My Dad works hard to provide for my mother, my brother and I. He came from a family with very little money and work opportunities and started up his plumbing business himself with absolutely no help when he was just 23 years young.” Lola admits that she has been confronted with the term ‘white privilege’ on a number of occasions. “My friend, who is of an Indian background once said to me that ‘the only reason that I don’t have to work a normal job at my age is because my Dad earns enough for all of us, as people prefer and trust white plumbers over any other race.’ I have enough faith in my Dad to know that he gets all-of his jobs off the back of his hard work and skill set. I found it hard to hear that my family and I are only of our privileges because of our skin colour. It is not fair and I think that every person of different ethnicities has equal opportunities, especially in my Dad’s trade.” White Nonsense Roundup (also referred to as WNR), is a charity that was ‘created by white people to address our inherently racist society and stand up against racism in our own families, work
spaces, and communities.’ They believe that it is their responsibility to call out white friends, relatives, contacts, speakers, and authors who are contributing to structural racism and harming people of colour. Their Facebook page reads: “If you are a Person of Colour (POC), you have enough on your plate! It’s not your job to educate white people about privilege, racism, and what’s going on in the world. If a white person is filling your social media with white nonsense—anything from overt racism to well-intentioned problematic statements—tag us and a white person will come roundup our own. We welcome your involvement, resource suggestions, and will take your feedback seriously. We are also happy to boost the signal of voices of colour.” With 118,000 followers on Facebook, WNR’s co-founder Terri Kempton told us that she defines white privilege as “unearned benefits white people experience because of our skin colour. Because our society is based on white supremacy, this means our skin colour grants us access to communities, businesses, opportunities, and social capital that people of colour don’t often experience. White people see ourselves reflected in leadership positions and in the media as both heroes and love interests.” But is white privilege always that prominent in society? Terri believes it is: “Sometimes it’s a million small things that stack up. For example, white privilege is walking into a pharmacy and finding bandaids that match my skin colour and products for my type of hair. Other times it’s big life-and-death issues: white privilege means worrying about a traffic ticket when I get pulled over, but not if I
“White privilege is to inflict pain and suffering on others and not have to worry that a single person of your race or religion will face any backlash for your crime.”
will survive the incident. Or not having to worry about getting the best education for myself, or my kids.” A 19-year-old South Sudanese girl named Nyamal is a public figure on the social media platform Instagram. Not too long ago she decided to share a story with her 16,000 followers. “When I was 14 I was depressed and really hated my dark skin. From a young age, I was taught that the lighter your skin, the more beautiful you are so me desperately wanting to be viewed as beautiful, I decided to bleach my skin. Now this went on for about a year; I thought that changing my skin would change how I felt inside. But in-reality it didn’t, so when I was around 15 I decided to stop and started trying to find beauty in myself. I decided that as-long-as I live the only person that really needs to find me beautiful from the inside and outside is me.” This was followed by pictures of Nyamal; one before she started bleaching that shows her natural skin colour and one where her skin was substantially lighter from the bleaching. She told Artefact that she was surprised at “how whitewashed we have become that we do not see beauty in dark skin.” These stories are supported by the bigger picture. Statistics released by the UK government show that students of a Roma background are more than three times as likely to be excluded from school in comparison with white British children, and black Caribbean students are almost twice as likely to be excluded. Less than 60 per cent of black students will graduate school with A* to C grades in Maths and English by the time that they finish their GCSEs. However, White Gypsy and Roma students have the lowest level of attainment in this category, with just 10 per cent attaining A* to C grades. Meanwhile the number of ethnic minority students that go onto further education has dropped significantly in the last five years, from 804,920 in 2012 to just over 640,000 in 2016. These surprising statistics have shown the clear extent of racial discrimination in the education sector therefore, it is no wonder that some people of darker skin tones feel as though they are at a disadvantage sometimes. b 15
Putting Kosovo on the map Artefact explores personal stories of growing up as an Albanian-Kosovar in the UK
Words: Edena Kilmenti Images: Die Sächsische LOTTO-GmbH and A taste of Kosovo, both via Flickr
My whole family were sitting around the dinner table, loud voices talking over each other, excited about sharing some of the events of our busy days. At the center of the over-crowded dinner table, the most delicious traditional Albanian dish: Flija (a mouthwatering marriage of cheese and pastry). After talking about how the Victoria line is unbelievably packed on any work morning, my mother interrupts us all to announce “the most exciting news”. Dua Lipa, an ethnic Albanian singer from Kosovo, had just won the best new artist at the NME awards, something that clearly made her feel proud. We all felt proud. “She really is doing well isn’t she? Albanians are taking over!” My whole family, and other Albanians alike, share the same sense of patriotism when it comes to celebrating My mother enlightened us about the histories of growing up in Kosovo, and the struggles they faced in the upcoming years before the 1998 Yugoslavia war. She talks about how the form of escapism for them was music, and the way in which music united them in times of hardship still applies today, “We grew up with Sabri Fejzullahu, and Adelina Ismaili, they are still legends today.” I remember the first time Rita Ora broke through the British music scene, people would come up to me and say, “Didn’t you say you’re from Kosovo? That’s like Rita Ora.” I would think, finally people will know where Kosovo is, whilst also feeling very proud of Rita’s accomplishments. Rina Kastrati, a 21-year-old international politics student born in the UK, tells Artefact of her experience growing up as an Albanian from Kosovo. A story very similar to my own. “Although being born in London, from an early age my parents wanted me to become familiar with the Albanian-Kosovar culture. This meant learning the Albanian language before I learned English.” Rina recalls attending language lessons every Sunday as a child, where Albanian children growing up in the UK were taught how to read, write and speak Albanian fluently. “We called this Albanian club.” This club not only allowed Albanian children to learn about their culture, language and history, but it allowed them to meet people in the same situation. It was a home away from home. “It was also a way of meeting more Albanians and
celebrities have played in the growth of popularity for their home country. “Rita Ora, a singer from Kosovo, has definitely helped put Kosovo on the map, whenever I am asked now I usually just say ‘Kosovo, the same country as Rita Ora.’ However, the past year has seen two new emerging artists, Bebe Rexha and Dua Lipa, so my options are growing I guess.” Rina’s upbringing is very similar to many Albanians living in the UK and around the world. As a community we can only hope that the recognition for our nation grows in a positive way, even if this is through the popularity of artists and creatives. My mother continues describing our war-torn country as a work in progress, a place which is in desperate need of harmony within its politics, economy and communities in order to thrive. My family emigrated in 1997, just before the tragic war transformed into a fully blown blood bath, where thousands were brutally murdered. The horrific war meant that hundreds of thousands would be forced to leave. It is estimated that 700,000 Kosovars were forced to flee. The BBC reported that the deaths are only partially confirmed, because many bodies have still not been recovered, and many people are still listed as missing, although many are presumed to be dead. “More than 11,000 deaths have been reported to the ICTY, but only a fifth of these have been confirmed. Other reports are of around 5,000 Kosovar Albanians still missing, now presumed dead. So, it may be conjectured that the total numbers, or whatever figure can be established, may be somewhere between 5,000 and 12,000,” the report said. During the war, Albanian-Kosovars
becoming friends with them. Definitely a way in which I’d say our community remained close.” As a child, it can be unusual for people to not know where you are from, it leads you to think that you are different and do not quite belong, which is why community groups have benefited Albanian children throughout the years. Rina grew up in a community in North-London where many other Albanians from Kosovo also live. It was never difficult for her to socialise with Albanian people, as
“We can only hope that the recognition for our nation grows in a positive way, even if this is through the popularity of artists” they had so much in common and they understood each others histories. It was only when Rina started her first year at university that she realised Kosovo was not as well-known as she may have thought. “I remember one girl at university ask me ‘Costco?’, and all I thought was, well no I’m not from the super-market. It’s Kosovo.” Perhaps it is for this reason that many Albanians have recognised the role that International
emigrated to the United States, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and any location that resulted in safety, including other Albanian regions close by, if they were lucky enough to escape. Like many other families, we tried to make a life for ourselves in the UK, hoping and praying for news of our families left back home in Kosovo. Occasionally, we would receive hand written letters from my aunts and uncles, thankfully reassuring us of their safety. Our goal was to build our lives and work hard towards positive futures. For my parents, their main priority was getting me and my siblings successfully through school and making the most of the opportunities we were given. My siblings and I were constantly reminded as children that the people within our communities in Kosovo were not as lucky as we were, and many were not able to escape for the chance at a better life. Growing up in the UK meant that it was difficult to feel connected to my peers, as I could not always relate to their upbringing. It was not long before we realised we were continuously trying to ‘make room’ for ourselves in society. We were trying to carve our name into the world and allow people to understand and appreciate who we are. An essential part of an individual’s identity is where they come from, for it is this that determines how they see the world. So, it is not unusual that my mother would be irrationally proud of the international successes that have ‘broken through’ as they bring assurance and optimism to generations of people that have essentially been through so much over the years. Not only do they remind us that as a nation we have talent, determination and resilience, but they have have brought awareness to the Albanian communities. Albanians are very patriotic and proud people. So, finding our place in society and letting people know where we come from is very important. Which perhaps can be applied to any minority group. Growing up in the UK as an immigrant meant that I was subject to the numerous questions that my classmates, school teachers, friends and later in life work managers would ask me. They were clearly curious about what new wave of immigrants had swarmed their
country, not knowing what Kosovo is and eventually deciding that referring to us as ‘Kosovans’ would be the most appropriate, although this is not the politically correct term. This lack of knowledge only meant that I, along with other Albanians, would be forced to continuously explain where we are from. Despite all the reports about the separation of Yugoslavia, which resulted in three separate wars, the only way in which people became aware of Kosovo was through popular culture and music. Kosovo gained independence on February 17, 2008. Although this was an incredible milestone, this did not quite elevate the recognition of the country to a level that I personally was comfortable with. It was only through the successes of these artists that this level of recognition began to grow. Although Albanians are very proud of their heritage, to be able to share it and be appreciated by the rest of the world is an entirely different feeling of accomplishment. Our communities spread all over the UK support the amazing accomplishments of Albanians, and like a family, we praise each other regardless of the scale of our success. Some of the proudest moments come from listening to popular Albanian music in the UK, and being recognized as a nation for producing ‘amazing art.’ The Times recently reported that “Kosovo is producing the best female pop artists,” which draws recognition not only
to the successful individuals like Rita Ora, Dua Lipa and Bebe Rexha, but the entire nation itself. Although many of the wellknown artists that have put our nation on the map are singers, there are many other accomplishments that we are equally proud of. Within our communities, we have identified different ways in which we can support each other, with groups like The Shpresa Programme, created to support women in difficult situations, and Albanian language schools, for children and adults who wish to continue learning their history and heritage. This phenomenon of “putting a nation on the map” has been happening across other minority groups around the world for many years. It is not a new concept. Art all over the world has introduced people to different cultures and backgrounds. The likes of Dua Lipa, Rita Ora and Bebe Rexha are a token of hope for the Albanian communities around the world. We may have all heard of the term ‘putting us on the map’, which is exactly what these international successes have managed to achieve. This is constantly repeated and we can be introduced to new music and cultures through popular culture. So, we can’t help but consider what this says about popular culture in our modern society. Do we consider ourselves irrationally obsessed with the rich and the famous, or are these artists bringing a new and interesting culture to the music scenes around the world? b 17
The world of wearables New developments at the intersection of fashion and technology
“The future is wearable.” From the creation of the first ‘smart ring’ way back in the 17th century to the smart jackets that are still being developed today—advances in wearable technology have been, and are continuing to be, some of the most fascinating developments at the intersection of fashion and technology. Marija Butkovic, CEO of Women of Wearables and Francesca Rosella, CEO of CuteCircuit, took to the stage at the 2017 Tech Style—The World of Wearables event at the Savoy Place to discuss both the past and future of what exactly Wearable Technology means. Though the industry is still extremely male-dominated, Butkovic, who was the first speaker of the night, has created/co-founded two of her own wearable technology-based companies to date: “Women of Wearables is the first organisation for women in wearable technology and fashion technology. It has become a global movement.” Butkovic told us that she’d learned a lot about the evolution of the business through her journey into the industry. When people hear the words “Wearable Technology”—a sector that not many are very informed of, they often seem to think that it is something relatively new to come out into the market. Butkovic, however, explained to the London audience how wearable technology has been surrounding us for far longer than most would imagine. “The origins of it go back to the 17th Century, even earlier,” she explained. It was in the midst of the Qing Dynasty Era that the first ‘smart ring’ was pioneered—a 1.2 cm long and 0.7 cm wide metal ring. “One of the major breakthroughs, technological advancements at that time, was this abacus ring—the first smart ring,” Butkovic said. The abacus is a calculation tool that was mainly used in Europe, Russia, and China before the world adopted the written numeral system. “Let’s say, this was an early prototype of smart rings.” Years later in the 1880s, a troupe of ballet dancers had the idea to attach little electronic lights to their clothing, to catch the eyes of spectators. “The Electric girls—1884,” Butkovic explained. “Back in those days, a group of ballet dancers decided that having a regular ballet dance wasn’t good enough.” They decided to invent something new, and went on to put little bulbs and batteries under the skirts of their ballet dresses in order to 18
create a beautiful and more interesting performance. While their invention was only used in performances at first, it eventually led to the creation of the ‘Electric Girls Lighting Company’—a company that allowed people to hire girls wearing these lit-up dresses to ‘light up their homes’ for events, parties and so on. In Butkovic’s words: “This was an early prototype of smart textiles, so to say.” In 1907, the first wearable camera came about in the form of pigeon photography. Julius Neubronner, who wanted to track his carrier pigeons in flight, attached little cameras around the bird’s necks. “We could say it was an early version of a GoPro camera of today,” Butkovic said. On and on the creations went. In 1960, the first versions of VR experiences were developed. In 1961, the first wearable computer came in the form of
Words: Rachel Garner
a shoe (the inventors had wanted a way to cheat at roulette). In 1963, TV glasses were invented by Hugo Gernsback—a tiny screen inside glasses that would be strapped to your head. He had been certain that traditional TV sets would soon be replaced in favour of ‘TV glasses’. Fast forward 40-something years and we’re now at a stage where wearable technology is bigger and better than ever (or smaller, maybe?). In 2000, Bluetooth technology became mainstream, with 2004 came the GoPro, in 2009 we got the Fitbit fitness tracker, and with 2013 came Google Glass—which paved the way for other smart glasses such as Snapchat glasses—which are steadily becoming a popular wearable device. In 2014, the Apple watch was released and very quickly became the most sold wearable technological device in the whole world. And as if a switch was flicked on, as
2014 continued—the fashion world began to show more and more of an interest in wearable technology. Big brands such as Tommy Hilfiger collaborated with solar creator company ‘Pvilion’ in order to develop a range of solar powered jackets. It was a huge step into the industry of the world of wearable technology—and seemed to have set off the process of thought on how to integrate technology into fashion, and into our daily lives. In 2017, Google partnered with the international fashion label Levi Strauss in order to create a smart jacket. Using Jacquard fabric, a ‘commuter jacket’ was created. “When you pair it with your phone, you can use it to swipe in, swipe out, use double tap movements. Basically, you can monitor and navigate your phone without even having to pull it out of your jacket,” Butkovic explained. “One in six consumers own some kind of wearable technological device, and almost half of them are between the ages of 18 and 34. By 2020, it is estimated that there will be more than 50 billion internet-connected devices,” she told the audience. “So, what’s next? No one knows. We don’t know the future of wearable technology. If someone asked us ten years ago what would be the future, no one would know. Nobody could have predicted that devices like smartwatches would exist.” She concluded her speech on the journey through the history of wearable technology with a simple statement, that sometimes we must look at the past to see where the future can take us. And looking towards the future—one question remains: just how is wearable tech impacting the future of the fashion industry? The second speaker of the evening, Francesca Rosella, focused on just that. At the forefront of the wearable technology revolution, Rosella—alongside her long-time partner Ryan—founded CuteCircuit, an innovative clothing company that combines fashionable clothes with technology. “We design the future of fashion, but we make it happen now,” she told the audience. Speaking about her three collections she explained that her brand produces in three categories: haute couture—beautiful garments designed and made for the red carpet, the ‘special project’—‘blue sky’ projects, aspiring to be as innovative as possible—her crea-
“Women of Wearables is the first organisation for women in wearable technology and fashion technology. It has become a global movement.”
tions can be seen inside museums or in artist’s stages. Then, finally, ready to wear. (Which is pretty self-explanatory). For the past thirteen years, Rosella has focused on bringing wearable technology into the fashion world, aiming to develop a brand that focuses both on gorgeous fashion and what technology can do with it. “When I first started, I was a normal fashion designer. Back in 1998, I used to work at Valentino, it was my first job out of university,” she told us, explaining how she’d once suggested incorporating elements of technology into their designs. She said they’d looked at her like she “had three heads”. A few years later, she found herself working for Espirit—and once again ended up in a similar situation. She’d suggested handbags with built-in GPS devices, that would send an alert to the owner if they couldn’t find their bag.
Much like Valentino, unsurprisingly they weren’t too keen on the idea. So, taking a big step, she quit. One of her first creations was the ‘hug shirt’. Alongside Ryan, she developed a T-shirt that allows a person to hug someone else, no matter the distance. Put on the hug shirt, give yourself a squeeze, and sensors within the fabric of the shirt capture where you’re touching, how strong you’re touching, and for how long. In turn, a Bluetooth signal will be sent to your phone and then to the recipient to feel whenever they choose to. In 2006, Time magazine saw what Rosella had created, and awarded CuteCircuit with ‘one of the best inventions of the year.’ The only problem was that three million people then tried to come to their website to buy it, but it was still a prototype, so they only had two. However, it was this that prompted the duo to make the product a reality. If this was a sign of anything it was that there is significant interest out there. There is a desire for products that both look beautiful and actually do something. “This is sort of what we based the creation of our company on. We want to create garments that can really allow people who wear them to express themselves and communicate with other people,” Rosella explained. A major step forward for the brand occurred when American pop star Katy Perry saw one of CuteCircuit’s dresses in a museum. The dress had taken six months to create, embroidered with 24,000 mini lights that reacted to the environment around it. Katy just had to have one herself, and so Rosella put all hands to work, created a dress, flew to New York, and delivered it to Katy, who wore it to the Met gala. The dress was featured on the covers of newspapers, phones started ringing, and CuteCircuit went on to do a mini exclusive collection for Selfridges, and has worked with huge brands such as Converse and Chanel—and it’s not stopping. More and more mainstream and well-known brands are beginning to develop wearable technological items of clothing—and the future is only looking brighter! As both Butkovic and Rosella agree—if what has already happened is any indication of where this is all going— wearable technology may just be the future of the fashion industry. b 19
A life without a future What is it like to be a young adult with an incurable illness?
It really is like in the movies. A small room on the lower ground floor of a public hospital, chairs arranged in a circle, snacks on disposable tableware and way-too-welcoming hellos from the first-timers. No, it is not an overnight pyjama-party for teenagers, it is the typical setting of any support group meeting. This particular meeting is in the basement of one of London’s best hospitals. The group is a small one, as the subject for the general discussion is quite sensitive. The people have a type of cancer which is only seen in one per cent of cancer patients in the world; a small proportion, but one where the sufferers have found out their diagnosis is incurable. As soon as I approach the hospital building, I get this weird paranoia feeling. It’s like everyone knows exactly where I am going and for what reason. The feeling strengthens the closer I come to the meeting room. I am here to meet one of the community members, who preferred to remain anonymous. People start to come in. The meeting is informal, so they let me stay (either this or because I bring three large packs of crisps with me). If you have never been to a support group meeting, I hope you will never have a chance to. There are long pauses in between the topics, nurses nodding along with sad, tearful eyes, and the saddest cliché of all—the introductions at the start, which sound especially weird as soon as I understand that most of the visitors already know each other. The meeting lasts for two hours. A clinical nurse replaces a perfectly normal “goodbye” with a “hope to see you again” which, in this setting, changes the meaning entirely. I come out with the member I had gone along to meet and we head to a café just across the road. Noticeably, both of us seem quite relieved of getting out of the hospital basement. Emma, as I will call her, is 20. She is in the middle of her BA course at one of London’s best universities and has already decided on her Masters course right down to where, when and what. Her life has been perfectly planned out until recently. August 2017 proved to be a turning point where life became, least to say, chaotic. “My life is clearly divided into two parts now: before and after. Sure I can try and live a normal life while I still feel alright, but this diagnosis is always in the back of my mind.” Emma was told 20
she had approximately a year left to live. There are no visible symptoms of the disease now, but according to her doctor they will appear in “three months time”. All that is left now is to just wait. “I mean, our NHS is great in this respect. All the support they provided and the treatment they offered. Although they said that nothing they offered can actually help me, but still. I go to hospitals, I talk to people. I haven’t heard any major complaints from cancer patients yet,” says Emma. “There is just one thing for me to complain about. Since I’ve been diagnosed with such a rare disease I spend a lot of time online and read what others have to say about this. Especially stories of terminal patients. And guess what? Half of people who’ve been told they would die in a year are still perfectly alive in five years time. That’s of course a fortunate doctor’s mistake, but it still is a mistake!” Emma’s frustration is clear: “If you are not sure whether I’m going to die or not, don’t even mention the first option to me, because it’s going to ruin the rest of my life. However long it is.” Now, she says, all her planning is in chaos: “Do I make plans for the next summer? Do I apply for a serious long-term job? Do I spend a hundred pounds on a marathon that’s in six months time?” she asks. “If someone tells me that I’m going to die in a few months I can’t just hope that I am that fortunate mistake.” The biggest issue of living with a terminal disease is uncertainty. Although ‘terminal’ diagnoses are officially the ones that predict a patient no more than six months, doctors are unable to tell exactly how long the patient will survive. The amount of emotional support for people with this condition is immense, but most community centres divide the patients into two categories: the elderly and
“A clinical nurse replaces a perfectly normal ‘goodbye’ with a ‘hope to see you again’”
Words: Alexandra Vislyeva Image: Tae Park
children under 16 — what are considered to be the most vulnerable groups of our society. A big part of the lives of people in Emma’s situation comes from other peoples’ reactions. Unfortunately, there is no blueprint for this type of situation. “I am tired of seeing tears in the eyes of people. My friends’ reaction is completely different. They just refuse to believe it. Say it’s some sort of mistake. Doctors make mistakes, right? And strangers start to cry. My doctor cried, my clinical nurse, even my physiologist had tears in her eyes. Because they do trust me. I am so sick of this,” she says. “I am sick of hearing nothing but total silence. First time I came to a meeting like this, I was the worst case scenario. I usually am everywhere, but I expected to meet people like
me, who have the same prognosis. Which is less than a year, basically.” Among a vast amount of emotional support offered around the UK for people with cancer, there is hardly anything for young people with terminal diagnoses. “My psychologist has absolutely nothing to offer. I just think she was never actually taught how to respond to someone who is 20 and asking for hospice advice,” Emma adds. I smile intensely, thinking that I understand exactly what it is like– not knowing how to respond. “People keep saying that it is still all up to you, stop thinking about the negative, everything is in your hands. I’m fed up with this! I wish someone could tell me exactly how to behave in situations like this. I wish someone could just give me a clear blueprint for the rest of my
life. I need certainty. That’s all,” she says. That was the reason Emma went to the support group meeting in the first place. To meet someone who struggles with the same issues as she does. However, the general discussion was more about past treatment, future plans, surgery and rehabilitation, making her the ‘worst case for discussion’. “I honestly thought support groups would be helpful. But they just make it seem so real. And I am the worst there. I make people even more depressed by just talking to them, even though I am not crying or anything, everyone around me cries,” Emma explains. I sat across Emma for over an hour and tried to make myself conscious of the fact that she is sick. Although looking and feeling absolutely ‘normal’ she is
considered disabled by the government, receives prescriptions for free and has a vindicated right to sit on those priority seats on the tube. “I always thought that if someone would tell me I had a year to live, I would start doing all these crazy things, like go skydiving or try heroin. But now when it actually happened I just want to be left alone. I guess there is no right or wrong in this,” Emma concludes. After reading a few forums Emma mentioned to me, I found an interesting metaphor. Incurable disease is a Circle line on the London’s tube. The train on that line goes round and round in circles. But one day you might have to change the train and get on the one which leads to the terminus. The final destination. The aim is to stay on the Circle line as long as possible. b 21
The Great British republic As 2018 marks the Queen’s 65th year on the throne, Artefact re-opens the debate of monarchy versus republicanism
Words: James Underdown Image: The British Library via Flickr
The monarchy is as iconic and quintessentially British as cups of tea at almost any time of the day, or forming orderly queues at every possible opportunity. A King or Queen has ruled over their subjects on this rock in the sea for centuries on end. While the role of the monarchy has changed throughout history, from having complete control over law and order, to the now devolved role of a constitutional monarchy, its place in Great Britain and recently the Commonwealth is secure and supported by immense, and global, public support. There are, however, people who disagree with this most regal of institutions. They call themselves Republicans and they are the group fighting to remove the monarch. Abolition of the Royal family is nothing new. Much like Oliver Cromwell before them, and even Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn (whose somewhat progressive republican views came under ample scrutiny during the General Election in 2017), for as long as there has been a Head of State on the throne there have been factions of society who disagree with their reign. It may come as a shock to some,
luxury lifestyle. I think it’s hypocritical of the government to be putting austerity on very vulnerable people but paying for the Royal family to be living this ridiculously lavish lifestyle.” Pressing this further, we ask whether this has always been her belief. “I’ve always been a republican, there’s always been something that’s irked me that Prince George is set for life because he was born to certain parents. He gets a world class education, when other parents who work arguably much more than his parents will struggle to put food on the table for their kids. I have always found that incredibly unfair.” Peter Kellow and Anthony Rufus Isaacs are the leader and chairman, respectively, of the New Britain Reform Party, a figurehead in the fight to change the hierarchy of power in the UK from a political level. The party was founded in 2008, and while one of the focuses is on republicanism, Kellow stresses that it is not their only emphasis. He tells us about why he is against Britain being a monarchy: “I always say that I’m not very interested about the monarchy, what I’m very interested in is republicanism and the ideas behind it,
republicans included, that after wavering in scandal in late 1990s and early 2000s, a period which included the death of Princess Diana in 1997, support for Elizabeth II and her surrounding family is actually growing. Regardless of this apparent support, republicans are fighting to replace the Queen with a democratically elected Head of State, and this would make them re-electable if public support weakens. The argument for such a tectonic shift in the very fabric of British culture is a simple one: the monarchy is an outdated and broken institution. Artefact spoke to Kate Fairgrieve, a drama student at a coffee shop in Angel, north London. She lives in Islington, also north London, and home to the constituency of notorious republican Jeremy Corbyn. When asked why she’s against the monarchy, she elaborates: “I feel like monarchy is a very out-dated system, I feel like it belongs in the past. In the more theoretical sense I just don’t like the idea of someone leading a privileged life just because they were born in the right situation.” Pausing to take a sip of her coffee, she continues: “In the more current sense, I think it’s a drain on the taxpayer, I think it’s unfair to pay for that
which go back a long way in history; right back to Roman times. “There’s many problems with the monarchy as it stands, but one of the many things it stops us from doing is really having a democratic government; we want a president with power, and we will also have the House of Commons, so you have this balance of power. This is a fundamental principle of republicanism.” Kellow tells us they are not fighting for abolition, but rather dis-establishment. “The monarchy is a detail, you have to move it sideways, some people would want to abolish it, but we have our own strategy on that, which is just to dis-establish it; it would still be there, but have no constitutional role.” This is the end-game of most republican movements; Fairgrieve agrees, believing this would be the best alternative. “Preferably a head of state, like in Ireland, there’s a Prime Minister and the President, something similar, but they are separate bodies. They counteract each other, checks and balances, things like that.” In a survey conducted by Artefact, this option was also the most popular, with 40 per cent of people choosing this as the best alternative to a monarch. In the same survey, participants were asked whether they approved of the Royal Family, with the result coming back at 79 per cent in favour. Interestingly, these results reflect an Ipsos study carried out in 2016, during the Queen’s 90th birthday year. From a group of 1,001 people, they found support was at 76 per cent, up almost 10 points from its 2005 slump. In light of those figures, we asked Kate whether it felt like she was fighting a losing battle. “I don’t think abolishing the monarchy would happen, I would like it to but I don’t think it will. Because it’s so indoctrinated into our society. Like, so many people when I say I am for the abolishment of the monarchy are like “but the Queen is so lovely, do you hate the Queen?” Fairgrieve talks with a sense of realism, as if she knows it will never become a reality. “I don’t hate the Royal family as people, I don’t like the idea of it. I do feel like it’s very rare to find someone who shares my beliefs.” Isaacs, however, has a sense of optimism concerning the opinion polls. “I think with the new Momentum movement and the Labour party, with young people being much more interested in
“I don’t think British people have a clue what Republicanism is about. In this country, we don’t have any education about the Constitution.”
politics, I think that 25 per cent is up another 10 per cent.” Kellow interjects, believing that there is a lack of education on republicanism. “I don’t feel despondent because I don’t think British people have a clue what republicanism is about. If you ask them to choose between having a monarch or being a republic, they don’t have a clue about that. In this country, we don’t have any education about the constitution. In most countries, it’s considered absolutely normal. Your state, your government, want to keep you in ignorance about how your country runs.” It is believed the Royal family contributes £550 million a year to the UK economy from tourism. Asking Fairgrieve about whether this could justify having a monarchy, she believes that while the draw for tourists is undeniable it can be established without a living monarch. “I actually went to Austria recently, they are a republic but bring in a lot of tourism from when the royal family used to exist. They have royal palaces, royal riding school, they have all these hangovers from the imperial era, yet they are a republic. “I think we could do that, you don’t actually see the Queen when you visit, you see the palaces and the historical sites. Yes, they bring a lot of tourism, but
why don’t we focus on making a country that’s worth visiting, instead of parading these people around to get visitors?” Not only is the Queen the head of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, but also of the 52 Commonwealth countries, ranging from Canada to Botswana. It is an institution echoing what was the British Empire, which at its territorial peak in 1921 covered almost a quarter of all land on Earth. While there are no official trade agreements between Commonwealth countries, a report by the Royal Commonwealth Society discovered trade between Commonwealth members is up to 50 per cent more than with non-members. Surely, if the head of this collective was abolished, it would have a huge impact on the development of many Asian and African countries due to the risk of collapse. Raising this issue with Fairgrieve, she disagrees: “Having something similar to the Commonwealth, with trade deals would be very good and very beneficial. But, I think there is something very insulting if you go somewhere like Australia where the Aboriginal population was decimated by British imperialists and now still have the Queen as Head of State.” She references other atrocities committed by the British: “There’s no acknowledgement that many of these countries are impoverished because we stole their wealth from them, with the Empire. There’s no real acknowledgement of the crimes that were committed in the name of the British crown.” We asked whether anything would change Kate’s mind on the monarchy: “The social situation for the most vulnerable people would have to get a lot better, you see such social inequality, with the estates and private cars, yet the government says we can’t give food to people.” Asking the same of Kellow, he abruptly made his view clear. “Well, no. We are interested in a fundamental change.” The notion that we might one day become a republic state seems a far-fetched one, but despite this, the movement seems to be gaining traction as more and more people realise they aren’t the only ones with these republican ideologies. It has to be remembered there was once a time when leaving the European Union seemed like an improbable feat, and look where we are now. b 23
Words: Fiona Berbatovci Images: Elona Beqiraj
MORE THAN SKIN DEEP A young photographer’s work helps us to think differently about people with acne
According to The British Skin Foundation, acne affects as many as eight in ten individuals aged between 11 and 30 in the UK. While it occurs most commonly between the ages of 14 and 17 in girls, and between 16 and 19 in boys, for a small minority (about five per cent of women and one per cent of men) acne can continue into adulthood. Acne is something being faced by a large portion of our society, yet despite being a very common problem for many people in the UK and around the world, acne is still treated as a major taboo. Something too ghastly to be seen in the media, except in order to sell expensive skin treatments or to mock a celebrity who suffers from it. Pictures of Kendall Jenner at the Golden Globes were published in every major news outlet—but we weren’t interested in her clothes, we were focused on her skin and the acne visible underneath her makeup. The pictures proved to be a bit an ego boost for us—we’ve finally found something we have in common with a Victoria Secret Model. We found it inspiring when she posted an image of herself on Instagram, posing with her acne on the red carpet, captioning it: “Never let that shit stop you.” But it is still difficult for us to show that same confidence with our own skin. What the media labels on her as brave, it would label as disgusting on us; while attempting to sell us whatever the new cutting edge treatment is on offer this week. Attempting to change the perception of acne in society is Elona Beqiraj, a 20 year-old photographer, born and raised in
Germany. The young photographer, who is originally from Kosovo, has been working on an ongoing photo project which so far includes eight photographs of people with acne. With her photo project, ‘Redefining Beauty’, she hopes to help people embrace themselves, apart from the insecurities fuelled by the media and the notion that those living with acne have something to be ashamed of, that they must stay hidden and not be seen. The project is personal for Beqiraj who has lived with acne for two years, she says that having acne has never bothered her as much as it seemed to bother those around her. “I was still confident and did not try to cover my acne with makeup. I also never considered taking medicine to ‘treat’ my acne. I just could not understand why I should fill my body with chemicals and risk the health of my inner organs just to look good on the outside.” For her, it was always important to be herself regardless of the beauty standards being set around her. She is not interested in a ‘cure’ for her acne, she is perfectly content in her own skin and wants to help others to feel the same. One of the pictures Beqiraj has taken as part of the project is a self-portrait, she has said: “I want to tell the world and especially the people who share the same ‘struggle’ as I do, that we don’t have to hide. We are beautiful the way we have been created even if it doesn’t fit into the beauty standards that our society has set for us. We don’t harm anyone by embracing ourselves”. Her photos encourage people to have confidence in themselves, to feel 25
comfortable in their own skin. We are a society that is obsessed with perfect skin, and this obsession is growing with the worldwide skincare, beauty and cosmetics industry predicted to increase to be worth more than $675 billion (£473bn) by 2020. Of the cosmetic products, skin care has the highest market share. This is no doubt a result of our fixation with having perfect, pore less, blemish free skin and our need to fix or cover-up what we dislike about ourselves. Acne for many people is a source of insecurity, a survey taken in 2015 by the British Skin Foundation found that 95 per cent of acne sufferers said acne had an impact on their daily lives and 63 per cent reported a fall in self-confidence due to acne. Beqiraj was defiant when she first got acne: “I did not let my skin define who I am. I was happy with myself. The only thing that reminded me of my acne were the people who constantly mentioned it. That’s also why I started this project—to show people that acne is normal and a lot of people live with it. Acne is nothing to be ashamed of and nobody should be bullied because of it.” However, bullying is unfortunately something many acne sufferers face. The British Skin Foundation found that more than 40 per cent of those asked said that they have been bullied due to their condition. Additionally, more than half of acne sufferers have experienced verbal abuse from friends, family and other people due to their skin condition. Abuse is a too common problem faced by those suffering from acne. It is even more difficult to accept yourself when those around you don’t. She cites the negativity of society towards imperfections as the inspiration which led her to start the project, the reactions of people around her when she first developed acne stunned her. “I was surprised by all the negative comments that I started to get and it felt as if people started to reduce me on the basis of my skin as if I wasn’t more than my outer appearance. Instead of feeling down I used their reactions to turn this societal issue into art.” She uses her photography to challenge people’s attitude towards acne and those who have it. One of her models, Arbresha Uka, recalls some of the things that have been said to her in regard to her acne, “Ewww, what happened to your skin?” There’s often the suggestion that having acne is something abnormal and disgusting. “Why don’t you go to this doctor that I know? He’s very good,” that it is something you must cure or fix, or “maybe it’ll disappear soon”, that it is something that might easily just go away.
For those who suffer with this issue, comments like these contribute to a loss of confidence, more often than not it leads people to isolate themselves in order to avoid the offensive remarks of the people around them. Oketa Basha explains how she felt towards her acne: “For years I have felt shame and embarrassment because of my skin. I used to have a fringe so it would hide the spots on my forehead. I used to put on a lot of makeup just so I could feel a little prettier. I used to lock myself in the bathroom and cry in front of the mirror, wishing for a beautiful skin. For so long I have hated the way I look.” Her experiences are shared by many people with acne. The hostility faced by people with acne is no doubt a result of the many misunderstandings about the issue, they play a huge part in the stigma surrounding acne and the perception non sufferers have of the people who suffer from it. There’s this idea acne is as a result of uncleanliness, that those who have it don’t shower and are dirty, but acne is not caused by a lack of cleanliness, or a lack of cleaning your face. Acne can’t be cured by scrubbing it off and, in actuality, cleaning your face excessively has been found to exacerbate acne. By over cleansing the skin, you may be washing that excess oil off, but the body will seek to rebalance itself by producing even more oil often leading to more acne. Another common misconception is that people with acne are unhealthy and that they eat a lot of greasy fast food, but there has been no research that has been able to indisputably link diet and acne. Another myth that many people believe is that acne is a problem only faced by teenagers going through puberty and that it is something that you grow out of, but this is inaccurate. Whilst most of the people suffering from acne are indeed teenagers, a survey carried out by WhatClinic.com in 2015 found a 200 per cent rise in the number of adults seeking specialist acne treatment. Showing that acne is not an issue faced by teens exclusively but people of all ages. Acne is largely accepted to be as a result of hormonal imbalances, something that’s completely out of a person’s control so it is unfair to label those who have it as unclean or lazy. “I accepted myself with my acne long ago and I hoped that with this project I could help other people to do the same. I hoped that people would see the photos and realise that they are not alone and that acne is nothing to be ashamed of.” Beqiraj hopes that seeing others show confidence despite having acne would
help other sufferers to be more comfortable with their own skin. “I hoped that people who live with so-called ‘imperfections’ would see the photos and see that they are not alone. Maybe they could feel more confident if they could identify with the people in the photos. How can people with acne feel comfortable with themselves when they are surrounded by media that only shows them models with ‘perfect’ skin after hours of Photoshop edits?” Medina Mehmeti accepts that “it’s not easy to be that confident to go out without covering your acne. You have to be prepared to be confronted by different looks or also uncomfortable comments about your skin.” Although she also admits that once you stop caring about the opinions of others: “You realise that no other look or opinion is worth your freedom and your self-confidence. This is the best feeling ever existed!” It’s no secret that we live in a world obsessed with perfection. The celebrities and models we see daily on the pages of magazines are shown as being flawless, with perfect skin, body, and teeth. We aspire to be just like them despite knowing that those images have been retouched and altered to erase any imperfections. For some reason, we still compare ourselves to those unrealistic images and try to measure up to those insane standards—we will try anything and everything in order to be considered perfect like those we see in the magazines. It is difficult to remind ourselves that what we see in the media is not real, it is unattainable, at some point we have to realise that for as long as we try to compare ourselves to the doctored images we see in the media—we will never be happy. We can never be content while chasing unrealistic dreams, it is important to see images of real people who look like ourselves. These images act as an acknowledgment that we look perfectly normal, we have the right to exist and that we don’t have to hide away. Another model featured in the project was Blend Bytyqi, he describes how he was embarrassed by the appearance of his skin at first, but seeing others with the same problem as his own made him realise that isolating himself wouldn’t help him or his skin, “I decided to get on with my life despite these ‘ ‘flaws’ and remembering that being unique does not mean you’re abnormal, it just makes you different.” The message of this project is clear: having acne is okay. Acne doesn’t determine your worth or your capabilities. Everybody should be confident in the skin they’re in. b 27
How to have your cake and tweet it Bakers are making creative use of social media to market and sell their creations
Think of all your favourite desserts. Got one? Or possibly more than one? Perhaps you have an intense sweet tooth and have an endless list of guilty pleasures, or you may just prefer to stick to your one sacred sugary treat once in a while. In any case, these self-taught bakers are exploding all over social media, and they will most certainly do everything in their power to cater to your deepest and darkest sugary fantasies. They are taking your favourite chocolates and treats, draping them all over the largest and most eye-catching decadent cakes, pushing your sugary cravings to a whole new level. Each cake is forcing you to find any occasion that requires a huge celebration, just to get your taste buds one step closer to these artistic and drool-worthy creations. You will find yourself checking your calendar, trying to work out which family member has the closest birthday so you can find any excuse to indulge too. You will also most likely be “screen grabbing” every social media post they decide to grace us with, sending it to almost every contact in your phone as a public service announcement: “Hint, my birthday is on May 3rd and I want, no, I need this cake!” Arlinda Bala, is a 24-year-old baker who used her social media platforms to turn her passion for the art of baking into a very successful online business. Under the name of “eatwitharli” she used her love for cooking and baking as the perfect opportunity to start a food blog. Posting restaurant reviews, home-made recipes, and pictures of her decadent, out of this world cakes. Initially, Arlinda’s success began with frequently posting pictures of her insanely mouth-watering creations on all of her social media accounts. It was only when Arlinda’s creations received a significant amount of attention through her social media that she realised she could successfully create her own brand, and happily exercise her passion for baking. “My passion for baking began when I was a young girl, my Mum used to work in a bakery back in Albania so I’d always see her making traditional cakes and treats,” she told us. Using Twitter and Instagram, she graced the social media world with pictures of her cakes, cookies and even savoury meals, attracting attention from fanatic foodies all over the world. Arlinda told Artefact of the impor28
tance of a social media following when starting your own business and keeping a face behind a brand in order to add a personal touch: “Putting out content constantly helped. I live by the saying “You are your brand” so I didn’t have to take any specific steps and just did things naturally.” Arlinda tried to keep her online content natural and her relationship with her followers honest and real. By doing this she created a loyal following of food lovers everywhere who would refresh her page in anticipation, impatiently waiting for the next creation. An essential step in personalising your brand online is to keep a face behind your work, interact with followers and reward their loyalty as this will result in loyal customers who truly care for the future of your business. “I strongly believe that to keep people interested and intrigued you have to show who the person behind the cake is, so to speak. I’ve found that people like knowing who you are as a person, what you look like, your opinions on topics. For example, my Instagram is filled with pictures of me, holidays I’ve
Words: Edena Klimenti Images: @DripBakery and @EatWithArli
been on as well as my cakes and bakes.” This personal touch meant that Arlinda’s business had all the essential qualities that enabled her to gain life-long customers. Since giving her followers the option to order her cakes, Arlinda has sold 600 different types of cakes and treats through her social media portals. Using Instagram, Twitter, and her business email to open a dialogue with her followers. Arlinda told Artefact that loving what you do will make your business journey so much easier, as people will notice when you have a great passion for something, and when you put an incredible amount of effort into your work it is very apparent. “It’s my biggest creative outlet, making cakes is, to me, an art form. I’m able to express myself through my designs. I love trying new things and experimenting, so yeah, I’d say cake making is a great way to express my creative side.” Since selling her cakes, Arlinda has also used her social media to keep her
followers up to date with her latest creations, sometimes receiving outrageous new orders from customers, allowing her to creatively explore these requests. “My most popular order varies. When I first started it was the Ferrero Rocher cake. Recently it’s become my chocolate caramel Hennessy cake. A lot of people like customising their own cakes which is fun for me! My favourite is the tiramisu cake!” To top it off, Arlinda will hand deliver your cake to whichever location you suggest, cradling it and making sure it is in perfect condition for your event. The incredible service and dedication to her followers are the qualities which keep her customers coming back, dying for another taste. One of the biggest fears people have when thinking of starting their own businesses is the lack of customers, funding, and perhaps the fear that it just will not work out and they may end up in a mess of debt. In recent years, social media has opened the doorway for more advanced e-commerce businesses and has allowed them to thrive in ways they may not have had the opportunity to do so in the past. Existing businesses have also accepted and understood the importance of social media and the online relationship between consumers. Clothing stores have created online websites for shopping, and more recently YouTube has allowed people to create a comfortable living from their online video content. Advertisers also thrive, as they are able to launch brands online and work with influencers and entrepreneurs that are able to run businesses from the comfort of their own homes. Shadi is the 21-year-old creative mastermind behind Drip Bakery, a cake business she also started up using her social media platforms. Using her Twitter
“I strongly believe that to keep people interested and intrigued you have to show who the person behind the cake is” and Instagram, Shadi shared her passion for food and her own journey of teaching herself how to bake. During the early stages of her social media presence, Shadi made sure to constantly keep a dialogue open between herself and her supportive following, whilst drawing attention to her cakes with her large and ‘out there’ designs, making all of her followers’ drool in sync. “I started off by just posting pictures of the cakes I would bake and my followers were always so supportive and complimentary of my work. Twitter really played and still plays a big part in the growth of my brand.” The name Drip Bakery comes from the ‘drip’ style of her cakes, which most of her followers appreciated and recognised. Shadi explained to Artefact about her supportive followers, and how they recommended, or rather begged her to start selling her cakes. She said the attention she received was incredible, and everybody wanted a taste. By keeping a consistent level of content, Shadi created a larger following and allowed herself to continue improving her own skills whilst catering to the needs of her customers also. “Some customers provide me with the creative freedom to make their cakes however I want, which I love, that’s when the outcome is pretty much improvised. Other customers may know exactly what they want and how they want it which requires more planning for me to cater to their taste.”
Although Shadi felt pressured to find a typical graduate job after completing her degree, she now bakes full time and manages to support herself financially by doing what she loves. Dedicating herself completely to her passion allowed Shadi to focus on her brand and her own skills as a baker. “The most exciting part is that I get to do what I love every day and I also get to improve and work on my talent. Being able to make someone happy by providing them with a custom-made cake is also so exciting and rewarding.” Social media is giving many passionate artists, writers and creatives the opportunity to advertise and showcase their work. By doing so, they are able to turn their passions into businesses and give themselves opportunities that may have been near enough impossible without the internet. The internet age has also allowed companies to further develop their consumer palette, as they can reach wider audiences, ship goods to your doorstep, and open the door for an entirely new market of income. The rise of e-commerce (the term used for transactions taken online or income taken from online platforms) has given entrepreneurs the chance to further their ideas and reach a new audience. This new way of making money is also seen as an opportunity for individuals with unique business ideas who have not been able to receive funding, and therefore cannot execute their dreams. The Expert Business site also makes it clear that online transactions benefit companies financially more than regular face-to-face transactions. “There are various factors that can be attributed to the rise of e-commerce. For starters, lack of online taxation has led to the rise of e-commerce in a big way. Many products and services sold online are not taxed. To this effect, growth is not financially impaired,” they said. With the rise of social media, YouTube ad revenue, and many other online platforms, it is giving young creatives the chance to take a giant leap and take their creativity into their own hands. Creating a social media following and starting a business online can also lead to larger opportunities in the business world. In this case, we can only hope that bakeries with these mouth-watering cakes appear on our street corners. b 29
ART’S FORGOTTEN FEMALES From Artemisia to Guerrilla Girls, women artists have been neglected and ignored due to sexism, convention and outdated gender norms
Toyota Cressidas bolt through streets today stormed by gentrification and brought back to us as they were, in flashes of lost atmospheres, only by film made of foggy colours scratched by a gritty filigree filter. They leave behind bursts of smoke mixed with recklessness, a hint of punk and laissaiz-faire, amid ripped jeans and economic boom, while on the other side of the ocean the Soviet Union is falling into pieces. It is 1985—Aretha Franklin’s voice is declared one of Michigan’s natural resources, and the world gasps for innovation, heralding the new. Windows 1.0 is released, the first heart transplant with total artificial heart is completed. The US is a country in the works, in revolution: it is tax-cuts, Reagan’s ‘Star Wars’ and fighting recession. In New York, amid the outlawing of discrimination of LGBT people in certain social contexts, Madonna launches her Virgin Tour, and Memory still echoes in Broadway. It’s drugs, crime, it’s rebuilding, it’s dealing with inequalities. It is people Dancing in the Street(s) to Bowie and Jagger, and it is said streets getting plastered with graffiti, adverts and then some peculiar billboards— amid the more iconic ones— made in protest against women’s discrimination in the arts. Modelled on the pop-genre movement of a more Warhol-esque identity — as Warhol himself had challenged prejudices and conventions — New York is invaded with a new message printed on irreverent posters. It is the Guerrilla Girls who make them, an anonymous collective of women artists, on a mission to denounce the baffling injustices in the creative industry, which does not seem to have kept up with the rest of the world’s social emancipation. If you are strolling down the Southbank’s riverside walkway in London, and you pass by the Tate Modern, you could get a glimpse of these posters. Boiler House, Level 4 East: “How many women 30
had a one-person exhibition at NYC museums last year?” recites one flyer. The answer is one, at the Museum of Modern Art. Then they leave you to make of that what you want. Guerrilla Girls borrow from adverts, from mass production, making a subversive use of images. They’re just posters, but they’re sharp, critical, make noise, don’t need any form of subjective interpretation. They are just the harsh reality, and it means that the harsh reality is something to get indignant about. Guerrilla Girls’ public appearances require using pseudonyms that refer to past female artists and wearing gorilla masks, drawing from a coincidental as much as apt spelling mistake. If recurrent is, in conventional symbolism, the depiction of apes as captive creatures subjugated to men — who have institutional power on their side — the imagery also defies canonical expectations of beauty and femininity, at length controversial within the art world. Moving criticism towards museums, curators, media, and male artists who do not show solidarity, their loud ‘j’accuse’ is nothing more than necessity to fight sexism and racism and attempt to bridge the gap of inequality in the art community. From behind the gorilla mask comes an invite, much like Kafka’s primal original discourse in his A Report to an Academy, for women to embrace the need to break free, seek independence, follow the inner push for subversion. Often the 80s are perceived as that halo of open-minded attitude and transgression coming mostly from previous decades’ fights for freedom and emancipation, which builds a façade hiding parts of humanity—and their struggles— often ignored, that when something is inconvenient nobody wants to see. “My grandmother had to use her husband’s name to get space in a gallery in the early 80s. And that was in our small town, not
in the Uffizi,” says Elena*, a relative of an Italian female painter who has struggled significantly in making of art her career. “It has been draining, for her, to chase her dream of being an artist. You can imagine how it would be, when you experience disinterest and lack of support, but then a male name allows you to be taken seriously,” says Elena. The 80s might not be today, but are still decades after the implications of Frida Kahlo’s impact, aside from the tragic events of her life, proving that it is not, or — to stay politically correct — not only, a lack of talent preventing women to make it. She became one of the most prominent representatives of Surrealism, when Surrealism especially resonated with women, allowing them with an unjudged and unbiased expression of unexplored visions of reality, with personalities like Leonor Fini and Leonora Carrington contributing to the movement with equally beautiful work — overlooked as many other women’s flair production in art history programmes. Kahlo is, discouragingly, often the only predictable answer to “can you name any woman artist?”. I have asked, and other than that one answer I got several blank stares, embarrassed silences and a couple of timid “does Marina Abramović count?” It does. But then, does it really, if we remember the art or the artist only when it is controversial? The argument still stands in the case of baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi. We find her working hard in her father’s workshop, fighting for her place in the art world, damaged by a social environment where women were hardly, or never, accepted into intellectual communities or the royal courts’ circles of artists. We could remember her for her artistic production, for being the first woman to become a member of the Accademia di Arte del Disegno in Florence, yet it is the scandal that surrounds her life, and that
Words: Valentina Curci Images: All images ÂŠ Guerrilla Girls, courtesy guerrillagirls.com
Guerrilla Girls Guggenheim Demonstration, 1992 The Advantages Of Being A Woman Artist, 1989 31
Pop Quiz, 1990 Guerrilla Girl, Frida Kahlo with Tate Modern, 2006 32
brings to the table even more injustices towards women, what makes her name renowned. The 17th Century was not bright for women, and having a painter, Orazio Gentileschi as a father was both Artemisia’s fortune and misfortune. It allowed her to learn the art, but it put her into contact with Agostino Tassi, who, after being instructed to tutor her took advantage of the young painter. Artemisia’s father brought Tassi to trial, and she was tortured to verify her testimony. However, her work does not deserve accolades for matters of pity or social justice, or purely for being a woman’s product. Retracing determinate artistic forms, following Caravaggio’s school of chiaroscuro and agonising faces, especially women’s ones, she tries to fill the gaps of the lack of female figures in her life by showing female solidarity. In a world still on the trail of Renaissance painting and heavy female body idolisation, she put women as protagonists in action. Powerful, fierce, in charge. The Bible is, unsurprisingly, a recurring theme, but if women in Christianity are destined to suffer, she suffered with them. It is a tough job, to re-mould centuries of beliefs and customs about social roles and gender expectations. “If February is Black History Month and March is Women’s History Month, what happens to the rest of the year? Discrimination,” scream Guerrilla Girls, pressing on the notion that admitting there is a problem is not enough to solve it. Recognition and celebrations only suffice as much, when the causes are far more radicalised in history and in habits than it looks on the surface. We have rivers of words from Jane Austen informing us on the duties of a good woman in Georgian society. She needed to learn how to knit, play the piano, paint, but all for decorative and ludic purposes. She needed innocent and time-filling hobbies. It was something that girls had to do, as the stupor of Fanny Price’s cousins in Mansfield Park informs us. “Do you know, she says she does not want to learn either music or drawing,” they tell their aunt of Fanny, thinking they, instead, have mastered culture and knowledge, as if learning to play or draw would have brought them anywhere other than on the stool in front of their mansion’s piano, to both impress and entertain the first gentleman come to ask their hand. “For long period of times, speaking about humanities, the activity and the practice of literature and arts were saved for women who came from wealthy or noble families,” says Viviana Farina, History of Arts expert and lecturer in the History of Contemporary Art at the Academy of Fine Arts of Naples. “So, I believe that
Even though 51 per cent of visual artists are women, this is not reflected in exhibitions
arts, which are considered more ‘gentle’ subjects and therefore canonically suitable to the female world, for how it has been perceived for ages, were, even for those women who dedicated their lives to it, a contained activity, in the time they would spend on it and in the low expectations, since the intellectual subjects have always been men’s priorities,” she says. It is frustrating when a critical commentary on many women’s art, makes only a poor attempt at concealing stupor on socially active content or lack of kind, ‘feminine’ touches. “Who could think in fact that over a sheet so candid, a so brutal and terrible massacre could happen. A woman painted all this?” was said once of an Artemisia painting. As if women could only paint flowers while the duty and privilege to expressionism and explanation of the world through emotions, fears and symbolism was left to men’s monopoly. There is an ancient myth recalling the history of how art was invented. In the myth, the first artist was a woman. Kora, with her very ‘woman-y’ feelings, standing put in her social role, sketched the profile of her lover, who was going to war. Albeit relegated to be the one to wait and exhaust her tears in subordination to a man’s mundane actions, the legend makes her the first ever artist. And yet, it is not enough to fill the gap left by unawareness of other women in the field. There have been female artists who have fought and won battles of gender norms, there have been women who have set a precedent for their successors. Sofonisba Anguissola, one of the very first women to be accepted into artistic practice, won a battle for other women after her; Artemisia, Lavinia Fontana— another pioneer in studying and painting the female nude body. There was no paint in her blood already, not much money in her
family, yet she fought for her education, was hired to tutor the Spanish Queen but was called a handmaid, until she finally succeeded in becoming a court painter. We call these women pioneers, when they were doing the same thing males had been doing for centuries already. And although since 1985 and the start of Guerrilla Girls’ protests, the data can be updated with a better outturn, the National Museum of Women in the Arts says that even though 51 per cent of visual artists today are women, the percentage is not reflected in exhibitions. In London only five per cent of galleries have space equally shared by men and women. “I do not think I am saying something extremely provoking by stating that I believe women keep on having less opportunities than men. It is something rooted in history: for women artists, the studio practice was held in the father’s workshop. We are, therefore, almost always speaking about artist’s daughters, although it was still a lot more common to teach the job and the art to male progeny. Women had to stick to the domestic life,” explains Professor Farina, shedding a light on what those women had to endure just to be able to practice. As a result, stories of women having to disguise as men to even enter workshops, to get into intellectual circles became common. Maria Robusti — or Tintoretta —, talented daughter of the more famous Tintoretto, had to dress up as a young boy to practice in her father’s studio. History says Tintoretto was extremely fond of his daughter, taught her the art, made her his assistant, yet tapped her wings and forbade her from leaving to become court painter for Philip II of Spain. George Sand — though in a different field of creative practice — criticised for expressing political preferences (republican and appreciative of Lamen33
nais), turned socialist, dressed as a man and penned her work as George instead of Aurore, to see her literature treated with the same standards given to men’s. Yet we still manage to remember her for her love affair with the composer Frédéric Chopin. “If you think of Artemisia, her private situation crossed paths with her professional life, and that created an echo,” says Professor Farina. “I am not sure she would have managed to impose herself had she not had that chitchat around her character. Sofonisba Anguissola is not older than Artemisia, but we know she stayed a niche artist. We need to wait for the 19th Century to observe more important personalities, if not for the 20th, as it is more tied to the sexual and feminist revolution.” Women have responded differently to the stimuli that the world subjected them to. Just as they are neglected, their creations and the discourse their creations could have generated are also neglected. This fact itself is bringing in the open-air observations, raw feelings, new visions, expressive forces. Sex and gender need, for this reason, to be taken into account for the interpretation of women’s art, but in a cautious way, as usually a gendered reading only manages to lower or raise expectations towards a work of art. As much as we like to imagine we are in an emancipated world, we are still celebrating small victories for women in the wild field that is equality. Men must fight to make it, women must fight to make it and fight sexism and discrimination to make it, and still, it is almost a required field for a woman to make powerful, assertive statements because otherwise they just stay on par with the expectation of producing art that is just nice. “Women in the arts is seen sometimes as a cliché, or we are not taken seriously,” says Sophie, a former Fine Arts student. “Stemming from gender stereotypes of women being more creative and men being more logical, I find it incredibly stupefying that men are the ones dominating the art world. Is it because women are ‘predisposed to be artsy’, and men who do art are more ‘rare’?” she says. “I feel that the arts take women for granted sometimes.” So being a woman in the arts can in some respects be empowering, as it spurs one to fight and help reshape the general stance toward women perpetrated by art and entertainment by being able to choose the mean of expression and the message. Only the message, to exist, needs a receiver, a listener. “For me, as someone who left one creative sector like Fine Arts and transferred to another, I still find the prospect of finding a job 34
“It is stupefying that men dominate the art world. Is it because women are ‘predisposed to be artsy’ while male artists are ‘rare’?”
Guerrilla Girls, elles, Centre Pompidou, 2009
daunting. Who doesn’t? I don’t think I will struggle as woman in the world of creativity, but perhaps that is because as a female, I have been raised to be confident and to defy female stereotypes despite everyone else,” says Sophie. Late 1900 might have seen a surge in raising awareness over feminism, where feminist ideas can be discussed more publicly and freely, yet it is still to these days prominent the pressure unleashed upon women in conforming to conventional stereotypes of beauty and body image, since women are considered objects in most media, in arts, in advertising, in film. One of the most iconic Guerrilla Girls’ billboards asks: “Do women have to be naked to get into the Met Museum?” The statistics are disconcerting: five per cent of modern artists are female, as are 85 per cent of the nudes. “The art world is full of inequalities,” says Agnes, another Fine Arts student. “In the film industry, most of the persons holding the camera are males, but you don’t see any current movie without a close-up on a female body. “In the fashion industry, women are the best “mean” to sell products. Even at the time of Louis XIV, most of the paintings that were sold were often those representing female bodies or female characters. We can feel objectified, fetishised within and even outside of the art industry. We are constantly confronted to sexist images used to advertise products,” she says. It must be easy to ignore the damages, ignore the effects of how this perception of the woman has altered the way the woman is led to see herself and the representation of herself, letting images suffocate the beauty of self-consciousness, like oppressing demons. In between there has been the Christian view of females, the exploitation of female nudity, the banning of women from workshops, from studying the human body, the very few representations of women made by women. There are, therefore, years of identity missing, stolen and stamped upon. There is more often a matter of education and access to discuss, while the stagnant reality of social roles that could not be undermined until too late hindered women and watered down their aims, as too instilled was the awareness that they could not access significant roles. We have often ignored matters of sex, race and class when analysing issues within the arts world and today we fail to acknowledge to still have some residual prejudice or tendency to dismiss women’s work as shallow, which becomes daunting for women who want to make creativity their career path. “It is one thing to consider women’s position as artists and entirely another one to consider women’s
position as intellectuals within the arts. It’s two different things,” says Professor Farina. “Undeniably, from an artistic practice point of view, women had to wait until the 1950s or even 1970s to carve a self-sufficient role for themselves. Regarding the intellectual sector, I am probably biased in saying that it is still harder to receive attention, compared to the male gender. Even the great university professors had to be men, while women started to emancipate career-wise only in the 60s, and yet they were still a small percentage,” she tells us. “Women could only teach in primary school, as school jobs had a minor importance, and you would not overshadow your husband. Even if you had a top-notch degree you would not be able to reach a higher position than a man. And besides, school at the time would still finish at lunchtime. It was all very convenient.” Johan Joseph Zoffany’s 1771 painting portrays The Academicians of the Royal Academy. The portrait shows the drawing room at Old Somerset House, full of intellectuals — all men — engaging in an animated and enlightening conversation, probably setting up the class while male models are posing. There is no trace of women. “Teaching in this industry has always been complicated,” says prof. Farina who herself has faced discrimination in the arts’ teaching. “You need to be part of a certain group of people, it is useless to deceive yourself that you can make it on your own because it’s always gone one way. I believe we have yet to achieve equal opportunities in doing intellectual tasks,” she says. Founded in 1768, the British Royal Academy actually had two women amid their original 40 members: Angelica Kauffmann and Mary Moser. Kauffmann was active in circles of Neoclassicism painters, while Moser was one of two floral painters accepted in the academy. If you look closely, they indeed are in Zoffany’s painting; women were not allowed in the studio, not allowed to study the nude figure, and the two female founder members figure as two portraits on the walls of the room, a perplexing inception to reinforce the concept that women were better off as being subject of art. They can enjoy the role of muse and still model, look pretty while the more expert men discuss, study, analyse and produce. It only perpetuates the assumption about the role of a woman and her capability, that led to denying education abreast of men and access to public life, not to talk about teaching. They call them master-pieces, after all. “They will always prefer a man to a woman on work places,” says Giulia, who has studied Fine Arts and went into specialising in Set Design.
“Often a woman in an environment of mainly men is overlooked and never listened to. You must fight for your space, when men already have it. I feel it on my skin, be it when I am submitting an idea or when I am welding on set,” she says. “You always need to remind people to listen, to take your opinion into consideration. Only working you can really understand how this emancipation is only apparent. We earn less, we are overtaken even when we are in charge, just because we are women. And if you are a woman and you have success many will think that you used other ways to achieve that.” Another poster by Guerrilla Girls ironically pinpoints the advantages of being a woman artist: working without the pressure of success, having an escape from the art world in your four free-lance jobs, having the opportunity to choose between career and motherhood. It is important to talk of art not only as a mean of expression but also as a job, and to bang pans and pots about the difficulties of being a woman in an already difficult area of creativity. There’s need of reappraisal of talent, but there is a need for tutelage, when the main issue is that women are never enough. A report from Science states that young girls feel like they are less likely to be brilliant than their male counterparts. It grows within a woman, the feeling they have a baggage for being one, of being less smart, less strong, less capable. I used to watch this one anime when I was small. It was called The Rose of Versailles, and like many Japanese animes it was filled with incredible life lessons. It was the story of Oscar, the daughter of the leader of the palace guards in Louis XVI’s France. The opening song started with the enlightening lyrics “your dad wanted a boy, but disgracefully it was born you”, and the anime would narrate of how Oscar was raised as a boy and kept pretending to be one, to become commander of the Royal Guard. Many say it was a wonderful example of feminism, and for a long time I looked up to Oscar as my model of women’s power and emancipation. And she was empowering. I was small, and did not understand much about gender norms and equality, and just thought it would be cool for once to do like Oscar, to talk about football and be taken seriously. But then you realise that feeling proud of her is not the real victory, since hers was a defiant fight, but not a victory itself. It is not even a victory when you start to realise you should feel anger and indignation on her behalf. But, you could argue, it was the 1700s. Yes, it was. And that is why the real victory would be looking back and being able to say: “Look how far we’ve come”. b 35
Imogen Heapâ€™s manager has launched a new streaming platform
A BRIGHTER FUTURE FOR MUSIC How the technology behind Bitcoin can change how we listen, share and make music â€” and could even herald the end of piracy 36
Words: Pavel Troughton Images: Guus Krol and Ted Conference, both via Flickr
The way we communicate, buy, sell or send has all changed because of the internet. The internet has allowed us to connect with each other almost instantaneously. However, we are not truly connecting with each other but rather through ‘middle men’ or intermediaries. For instance if you want to send money you must go through a bank. If you have a desire to buy a particular song you don’t ask the artist, you go through Spotify or iTunes and if you need a ticket for a gig you go through Ticketmaster. These intermediaries that you use everyday have fundamental shortcomings: they are centralised, meaning they can be hacked, causing problems such as music piracy. They are slow, it takes days for money to travel through the banking system around the world. They are unreliable, as companies like Spotify have been accused of paying out unfair royalties to artists in accordance to streaming numbers. They also breach privacy, for example Amazon collects data on each user and builds a profile to better direct advertising based on their personal interests. The issues raised by these intermediaries are nowhere more transparent than in the music industry. Music has always been a tangible asset, be it vinyl or CD. Now both content producer and consumer need to adapt to safely release or stream an electronic copy of a song. Major reasons for slip-ups such as piracy, ticket touting and unfair royalties are outdated technologies on which intermediaries operate on. Technologies which are not strong enough to protect rights of consumers and artists alike. What if there was instantaneous communication, direct from user to user without the need of powerful intermediaries? Enter Blockchain—a technology which simply allows you to do just that, trade and communicate without the need of these ‘middle men’. Think of the possibilities this could create. There would be a direct link between music creator and music consumer. A fair trade to manifest on the music marketplace. The potential to solve the problem of correct royalty distribution. Creating greater freedoms in collaboration and content production. It can even allow you to pay fairly for the music you want to listen to rather than paying a flat rate for streaming. This technology will affect everyone in and out of the entertainment industry, this is its relevance. The Blockchain birth cycle has been researched in the form of an interconnected story by Philippe Rixhon, managing director at Aarya Ltd which strives to ‘connect content producers and participating customers’. He also conducts research at the UCL Centre for Blockchain Technologies. Here is his story of events. It stems from one of the most talked about headaches in the industry, music piracy. In 2010 Labour had just launched the Digital Economy Act enabling copyright holders to prosecute individuals who access or download web content illegally. It was the first real attempt to tackle the music industry's piracy problem. “With two colleagues I had to present the new laws to counter illegal peer-to-peer distribution of music,” Phillippe explains. “I was interrupted by a Chinese manager and he asked me if I think that the law be it Britain or in France, will solve the (piracy) problem? I immediately answered: ‘No’, because the technical disruption of the internet requires a technical answer and not only a legal answer.” At the same time, an important debate was being held at the European Parliament. “Two sides were
fighting each other on the principles of Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: everybody has the right to access content, every author has the right to be remunerated (paid for their content). The two sides were fighting each other as if you either get this or you get that.” Article 27, although created in 1948, was under question because of the disruption caused buy the internet. The internet was making it hard for both sides to work simultaneously because of technical loopholes which led to issues such as piracy. However, Philippe proposed to reconcile the two sides at the EU Parliament: “You can give everybody the right to access (data) and you can remunerate authors.” Their response was to ask how might this be done: “The first thing you need is technology, at that moment we did not have the technology to do that because the internet is made to share, it is not made to protect anything. If you have a new technology, then you can create new business models. That was my thesis. And only if you have new business models then you can have new policies and new laws, because laws of course, always follow the facts.” At the end of 2015, a leading software publisher asked Philippe to check if some of their Blockchain research could be applied to the music business. “The research was focused on: can Blockchain be useful to avoid touting of concert tickets. I’m from the music business, touting is an issue but it’s not the biggest one in ticketing. The management of the tickets, tracing the ticket etc. is much bigger.” This is the intended purpose of blockchain, tracing and recording transactions means trade can operate in a more precise and just way. “Then I got hit intellectually, six years after the 2010 challenge of Article 27, somebody showed me a technology which potentially could solve it.” The arrival of Blockchain provides a potential solution to the problems faced by the music business because of digitalisation. Intrigued by the potential applications of that technology, Philippe joined the UCL Centre for Blockchain Technologies. It had been founded in 2015 first to explore the effect of blockchain in finance. He realised that the use of blockchain in finance can be translated into the music world without much alteration. This is where it can get a little complicated; however we can narrow the crossovers from finance to music into three simple steps:
Major labels are losing importance in the world of the internet. Blockchain could take this even further
Firstly, the basis of blockchain is that all transactions are recorded into a distributed ledger (a register) for everyone to see. Philippe translated this to the music world: “Imagine a fan register: a digital asset (such as an MP3 file) changes holder through a transaction; you send me your copy of Beyonce’s latest song. The blockchain transaction is immediately recorded into the register. The register knows who is holding the digital asset and how it came to their holders.” The point of this fan register is to allow a particular artist to keep the contact details of a buyer. This will make it possible for the artist to contact them personally for commercial and creative opportunities. The second crossover is all about contacting the individuals who you have stored in the ‘fan register’. As Philippe learned at the UCL conference, blockchain allows for easy invites of shareholders to annual meetings (or general assembly), it also allows for them to send each other reports and sign-able documents much faster and completely direct. Translating that to music, Philippe says: “Imagine you have a fan register and I know who is holding a (particular artist’s) music. I can invite them to a concert just like I have invited them to my general assembly. I can send you news and alerts. I can sell you a concert ticket although the only thing I know about you is that you bought one song of that artist.” Blockchain allows for direct peer-to-peer payments without the need of a bank, and this allows artists to contact consumers directly. The possible accessibility is huge, changing the game in how we interact with artists and music. Finally Philippe talks about price strategy: “If you are at the stock market you set the current price of a share between demand and supply and then if demand and supply agree with the price you exchange that share, that’s more or less a perfect market. “Imagine a music market where between demand and supply they would set the price of a song by Beyonce slightly higher than a song by me. Then when the price is set it is exchanged. If you go to a music streaming site like Spotify the price is fixed by them.” How might this differ from what is available now? “Recorded media and entertainment is one of the few industries that does not know who their customers are. They have no contact because there are so many intermediaries. You buy the latest album from Taylor Swift from Tesco, Tesco knows you (if you pay with a credit card) if you buy it on Amazon, they know you. They know your address, credit card etc. so they start to build a profile. But Taylor Swift does not know you
Blockchain allows peer-to-peer payments without the need for a bank so artists can contact consumers directly 38
and because she does not know you, there are a lot of artistic and commercial opportunities being lost.” Imagine direct contact between you and Taylor Swift inviting you to concerts, offering latest albums and merchandise straight to you without the need of intermediaries. This works in both directions, so a customer could potentially contact an artist to ask them questions or to request merchandise etc. Essentially benefiting both parties involved. Blockchain can also help with artist-to-artist collaborations. “Artistically music is very creative and a lot of music is generated because people do mash ups: they hear something, they have an idea, they mix the two and they create a new piece. To mix you need to know who are the stakeholders,” Philippe told us. “Imagine with blockchain that suddenly I know all the stakeholders. Then much more music creativity is possible because I can mix much more things. I could even speak with them: ‘Ah you wrote that tune, could I adapt the second violin there?’” Knowing who holds the creative rights to a song will speed up and improve collaborations and remixes. Increased collaboration is a significant result of the use of blockchain technologies, but by far not the only one. Philippe discussed the case of Imogen Heap and Ujo Music—in 2015 the pair worked on a track called Tiny Humans, using blockchain to complete one major aim, which was to distribute royalties to the artist and a few people around her. “So what she’s doing is independent of everything. Crowdfunding to fund the next album. You can do your own distribution of your song and if you can do that you can bypass a lot of intermediaries,” Philippe said. We already see that major labels are losing importance in the world of the internet. Artists can be independent through online platforms like YouTube. Blockchain could take this independence even further. On the other side, this technology can help the big players like the labels and the streamers. As Philippe points out: “They will use Blockchain primarily for other reasons, reason one is smart contracts for royalty distribution. Because they want a system to simplify the distribution of rights. It is for them a headache too. It is not just the means to set up new business models, as pursued by Imogen Heap, it is also the possibility to drastically improve existing commercial models.” An associate of Imogen Heap, Peter Harris, formed a new audio streaming platform called Resonate based on Blockchain. “We are different in two fundamentally unique ways one is that we are owned by the community, we are a cooperative so everyone is a co-owner in the business. And so that means being able to vote in elections vote on issues, there’s democratic governance like all co-op’s have. That also means to be able to share in the profits if we are successful,” he told Artefact. “The other unique point is that we have a model called stream to own and this is a top-up system based on micro credits with a gradually increasing cost: the more times you listen to the same song the more you pay, until it equals the price of the download.” The company strives for a fair deal between consumer and producer, just like the price strategy outlined earlier. However there is no way of paying artists fairly: it always benefits some more over others. However the system excels that of current platforms like Spotify in terms of royalty distribution.
There are criticisms of the platform. For example, with the stream-to-own model consumers will actually end up paying more than that of a flat rate as in Spotify. Peter explains that through the numbers he’s seen, if you’re listening to new music the first time around it’s actually cheaper: “It’s only when you’re a heavy user and re-listening to the same music that it starts to get a little bit more expensive but also you’re owning the songs,” he said. “I think this really speaks to who our main market is. We’re really interested in serving the needs of fans that spend above average, who really care about independent music.” So how is blockchain used in this business model? “Blockchain has inspired this project and it will be a way that the service function but we’re also in beta right now,” Peter said. “There really is no point in trying to put that into a blockchain yet because you can design something based on theory and then it’s through real interaction that you find out how people actually use something,” Peter outlined some problems with Blockchain: “What if someone else gets their hands on the release first, what happens if the artist makes a mistake you can’t change it later. If you're talking about a blockchain system it gets much worse and creates a nightmare in terms of bad data, if it’s not designed well.” Resonate is by no means the only company to be using this technology as an inspiration for a more democratic music marketplace. “The whole industry is talking about it and looking at it so it’s not a question of if it’s a question of when with what tools and how are the systems designed,” Peter said. The change is coming, and with it a new way of interaction for consumer and artist. Even the larger players like Spotify have bought Mediachain, a blockchain company in New York and as Peter explains, “they’re looking at it, they understand it, they know it’s necessary and it’s really true for everybody.” One of the most prominent solutions found through Blockchain is correct royalty distribution for artists. It’s no secret that intermediaries like Spotify, Soundcloud and most infamous of all YouTube, are frankly awful at paying artists the correct money they
Words: Bartosz Kielak Images: Kinga Dulka, Sam Wilkinson
SAM & REGGIE: TIME FOR SAM WITHOUT REGGIE?
Sam Wilkinson, the filmmaker behind Reggie Yatesâ€™ documentaries, discusses his craft, his plans and his gear 40
On a sunny, autumnal morning, Artefact met with Sam Wilkinson, a south-London based documentary filmmaker. He is known for his extensive work with Reggie Yates, and with over 17 years of experience and successful TV work, Sam has much to tell about his journey so far — as well as where he’s heading. “I was born down the road, in Greenwich. My parents had a charity, like, all my life. It was for young and underprivileged kids from Lewisham. When I came back to London, I ended up with a girl who was living not far from where we are. I didn’t really like it here to be fair, it was just edgy. No-one was moving over here, everyone was in East London, but as the years have gone by everyone decided that house prices in East London are too expensive. Peckham became cool, and then Camberwell became cool, and then New Cross, and then Brockley. Well, it is cool — Reggie lives in Brockley, he just bought a house. It’s a small community of TV people that live in Brockley.” Do you ever get tired of London? “You can’t get tired of London with my job. I’m out of London so much that when I’m back I’m like ‘Whoaa, I love it’ and then I go ‘Byeee’ and I’m off again.” How did you get into documentaries? “I started in 2002. I graduated with a business degree, which I was bored of, to be fair. I came to London hoping to get into the advertising industry. 9/11 meant there was a complete advertising freeze, they weren’t employing any kind of work experience, or interns, or whatever.” Was it 9/11 that affected your career? “I guess so, if it wasn’t I’d probably be working in advertising and getting paid a lot more but… yeah, quite possibly. I was just cramming around, doing bits and pieces, filler jobs, bar jobs. I really didn’t want to work in TV. I was playing football with my cousin’s friends who worked in TV and they were like ‘Mate, you should work in TV, it’s so much fun’, and I was like ‘Really?’ It sounds like a fucking silly job to be fair.”
“I love the immersiveness and grittiness of documentaries”. How did you two meet? “In the slums, in Kenya. Yeah. In fact, if you read his book, there’s a whole chapter. I’m in most of his book.”
Can unpaid work experience be good for you? “Yeah. I mean, it’s tricky. I was sleeping on my cousin’s couch, they paid me 50 quid a week, it was expenses, work, experience. And that’s a bummer, they shouldn’t really do that. I took out a graduate loan when I first came to London, so I had a bit of cash in my pocket. I guess I was in a privileged position to be able to do work. I would say, if you can afford it, and not everyone can, then do it.” What’s the next big thing in your schedule? “I don’t know if I can say that, but I’m doing —” (A survival show shot on an island — Ed.) Is it only participants going through the survival exercise, or do you have to…? “It’s really, really strict as well. As cameramen, and directors, we don’t get any food, you have to kill your own food. They strip search you before you go, and they check every single thing, so you can’t take anything on with you. They don’t give you any kind of preferential treatment, at all. If you’re starving, you’re starving, that’s it, that’s part of the story.” Why? “So I can break the routine. ‘Cause the TV world I so, kind of, like… I went in for an interview the other day, it was for a job that I could do standing on my head. They were like, ‘Oh, I’m just looking at your CV. You haven’t done anything other than Reggie documentaries recently. Why is that? ‘Cause I enjoy them’, and they were like ‘Oh yeah, we don’t think you suit us’ I was like ‘I was doing this, like, six years ago, this kind of TV show’. So, I’m doing the new show just to kind of break away from ‘Oh, Sam & Reggie, Sam & Reggie, Sam & Reggie.’”
Did he consult you on the book? “He sent me a video note: ‘By the way, this is the introduction,’ and it was about me and Reggie going off on a shoot, and he talks about my white pastry legs— which I disagree with. I turned up wearing a pair of shorts, and white pasty legs, I didn’t… I had a very good tan. Oh, fuck no, I didn’t. “It was 2010, I did the, what was it called, Famous, Rich & In the Slums. I did the Famous, Rich & Jobless too—that was with Meg Mathews (Liam Gallagher’s ex-spouse). That was when I guess my career started going in the direction I wanted to, doing stuff that I really wanted to do. When you’re young and you’re in the TV crew, unless you’re super lucky, you’ll go ‘I was offered a job, I’m going to take it’. “I was relatively young in terms of making my own films. The first series we did in South Africa, Reggie was raw, we’ve both were kind of learning. He wasn’t arrogant, I won’t say that. He was confident in his ability. He’s got a character obviously, otherwise, he wouldn’t be doing it. He knew what he was doing so my job was to clean it, making “Psst!”. I think he and I have different stories about how he developed. Reggie’s polished version is that he learned on the job. I mean, we had loads of debates along the way. Like ‘Reggie, you just can’t say that’. “He came from Live. Live is basically, you go in. Three questions you need to ask. The producer goes ‘I need to get that point, that point, that point’. He would go in and do it, and then go ‘Are we done? Have we got it?’ I’d be like ‘Nah. Those are three points I want you to get, but not just ask those questions. I want you to kind of get the actual true essence of what those questions mean, bring out their character. And kind of fucking really make friends with those people.’”
He does it pretty well. Sam laughs. “He does now. Reggie’s fucking likeable at the end of the day. He has a charm, he has that kind of smiley face. If you don’t like Reggie then you don’t like people I think. “I’d say we’re very similar in the way we think about things, we have a very similar outlook on life. It means that you’re working in tandem. And it’s much, much easier. I have confidence that he’s gonna deliver and he has a confidence I’m gonna cover it well and make it look nice.” Is it all scripted? “The best thing about TV is that it’s not a script, so along that journey you may get an opportunity to veer off and get something amazing. I find it essential to keep your eyes and ears open. If you’re on an amazing, kind of, path and you go ‘Woah, that’s actually way more interesting’, and you have the gut to actually follow that story, you can see where that will steer the narrative at. Then you can take your storytelling to another level. There will be a better story than the one you planned.” Do you detach yourself emotionally from the subject? “You really can’t.” You’ve shared your life with the people on The Insider. “Oh yeah man, totally. That’s the difference between The Extreme and The Insider. The Extreme would be go in, film a scene, go off, have a lunch, maybe come back, meet, and go home to sleep, stay in your hotel. “The Insider is, you live, sleep, eat it. You rarely break from that. So, when we go to bed, we go to bed. And up till that point, we were filming all day. We go sit down with them, then eat and I film it, so I may not eat until I’ve finished, and I’ll eat what they’re eating. You sleep where they’re sleeping. You get a full understanding of where they come from, their background, their troubles, their thoughts. This is embedded, immersive.
“There is an element of Reggie, where he won’t embed himself emotionally. He’d have no recovery time. He has a therapist, which he sees quite often, after the shoot. And he doesn’t keep in contact with those people, where I have. “I love the immersiveness of documentaries, and kind of grittiness, the accomplishment of getting through these kinds of hard-core situations, meeting these people, getting their stories told, I love all of that. But if you do that for too long, then you kind of get burnt out, it does take its toll. You do comedy just for laugh. You can go ‘Let’s just have some fun with this’, this is a different kind of enjoyment, it’s one that actually lives.” What happens when someone with a machete or a huge knife asks you for a picture? “Hell yeah!” Do you still get nervous before the shoot? “If I’m going into prison, or if I’m going to Iraq, if I’m going into a slum where there’s going to be a reaction, and there’s gonna be people pissed off, initially there are nerves. It’s kind of like ‘Oh god, here we go, breathing in, let’s go’. Assuming you’re in that situation, all you’re thinking about is the film. If the scene is dull then you’ve not really got a scene, so you want people to get angry, you want people to be pissed off. If they’re pissed off at me, as long as it’s not detracting from the story then I don’t mind. You’ve got to suck it up.
“I guess the scariest was going into a jail because you’ve got no idea what to expect. They wouldn’t let us meet anyone before we went in, we had a rough idea what the topic was about—mental health in a prison system. We weren’t allowed to meet any characters. It could be me and people who instantly dislike me, so that was kind of scary. But when you go in, you want to be scared because you want to see this confrontational, interesting stuff on camera. If you’re not scared then the viewer is not scared, or the viewer is not engaged.” What’s your favourite country out of those visited? “I love Peru, Peru is brilliant, and amazing, and cool. I love Iraq. Iraq is great. But that means going into the war-zone. We were in Kurdistan, we weren’t allowed anywhere near Mosul, we had to, like, drive around it. It was beautiful, and the people were amazing. I mean, that was most surprisingly cool cause you always see how people’s perceptions are a little bit off. It blew my mind how friendly everyone was, how beautiful the scenery was.” What about the visual language then? “Starting with The Extreme series, I didn’t want it to look too polished. You want to feel that you’re in the moment. We were in among, kind of, the dodgiest situations, and you don’t want it to look like a glossy film. Certainly, some of Reggie’s latest stuff, the one they did in Chicago looks like an advert for a fucking milk tray or whatever. I mean it is good, but it kind of detracts from the story. Like, if it’s too pretty, all you do is ‘oh that’s a great shot, that’s a great shot, that’s really well framed’. It doesn’t feel like you’re actually there.”
How do you edit afterwards? “All you do is listen to the sync. The key is the sync, which tells the story. You start moving scenes around, as long as it doesn’t affect the story, I mean, um, how much detail can we go into. Within reason, they allow moving the scenes around. “In the episode of the Australia film that I didn’t edit or have anything to do with, they edited the scenes out of sequence. They put in one party where the Aboriginal people were drinking just after a wake. And it was really bad. The story behind it is that the director on location quit because he had a really bad time, he paralysed his arm because he was wearing a thin sack with loads of batteries in it. He didn’t get on with Reggie, kind of. Reggie needs to feel confident that you’ve got an ability to lead.” So, does it always go smoothly when you’re on the location? “One time, well, that was tricky. We went into a boring prison, basically. I flagged it the second I arrived in the prison and I just said ‘I don’t think it’s gonna work in here’. As we filmed, people were like ‘oh yeah, it’s great”, and what we felt between me and Reggie was ‘it’s alright. It’s not brilliant’. What about Mexico? “In Mexico, they were trying to limit us. We told them that we wanted to do a story about the Mexican army going into Acapulco, they had to take over from the police because of what was going on with the cartel’s activity. They were like ‘yeah, yeah, that’s fine’. When you’re filming with a big, big military organisation, the armed military, they wanna know what you’re gonna film, when, how long that’s gonna take, how long will you be filming. It’s restricting, and it’s not the way we normally make TV. “Their lawyers in Mexico City were talking to the BBC’s lawyers, with the production team in the middle. And I’m going ‘Any news?’ ‘No.’ ‘Hold fire, we can’t start’. They were giving us nothing, we still approached them the same way, but they were going ‘No, no, no. It’s already nice’ when we know for a fact that there’s naughty stuff going on. It was a long process of going back and forth, back and forth.
“They wouldn’t sign the contract’s agreement because they wanted editorial control, they wouldn’t allow us to talk about cartel activity, like ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa. We can’t do that’. We had to delay the shoot by a whole day for the BBC lawyers to tell them to go fuck themselves. We are the BBC and we’re not allowed to be dictated to on how we report.” Did you have to wear uniforms as well? “There was a debate about that, but we ended up not, no. I mean, it was dodgy. Whenever we left the barracks, we had our own security. They were paranoid as fuck, they actually had someone spying on us and listening to us.” Do you ever shoot on a short notice? “If somebody called me today and said, ‘Oh, we need you to go on the shoot’, I tell them I can’t, I’m sorry, I’ve got another job in a week so. I was in the USA, in Georgia when this hurricane was coming through, and if it had gone crazy in Georgia then I was prepared to call the BBC and go ‘All right’. In fact, my friend works for the military defence and he had access to the naval boats which were around the Barbuda, and so he was like ‘If you can get a channel interested we can give you access to these’, so I was prepared to do that.” How have drones changed your work? “My work? It means I don’t need someone else to do it. It means you’re freer to use it. I can get some amazing shots, which I would not necessarily be able to get before. You’d have to plan it and pay a lot of money, three or four thousand pounds for it. I can just chuck that up in the air and go for it.”
What is your dream camera? “The [Sony] Fs7, at the moment. What you want is something relatively light, sturdy as hell, relatively waterproof, with a good sensor, and lens-compatible. It shoots 4K, but I don’t mind 4K, I’m not shooting 4K. The first one I’ve shot in 4K was last week, and that was for a documentary that is coming out in 2021. “I decided three years ago to buy a Sony FS7 because the company that was making Extreme just kept sending us with Sony PMW 200, and I hated that camera. The most commonly used camera for like three years running was the Canon C300. It’s not really a camera, it’s one of those with an eyepiece. Anyway, I was about to order one, I just wanted my own kit, but my friend’s like ‘No, no, no, no! Wait, wait, wait, wait. Sony is bringing out a camera which is gonna blow away the C300. It’s out in like five months’. I’ve put myself on a waiting list, and I’ve got the 50th, my camera is number 50 in the UK. When I worked with it, everyone was like ‘What’s Fs7?’ but now it’s the most popularly used one. Production managers don’t know much about the actual camera side of it, they just go for simplicity. And the simplicity is that everyone’s using the same camera.” Saves money, saves time? “And that’s where there’s a bulk of an answer. The budget has strong, strong shrunk over the years, I’m now doing four jobs, a producer, a director, a cameraman, a soundman, quite often the runner, too. Shooting time is getting shorter and shorter, you used to get like four weeks to do the prepping and 10 days to do the filming. Now, it’s like two weeks for prep and it’s not enough.” Any solid advice? “You have to think on your feet, be resourceful. It’s one of the misconceptions that people working in TV have to have a media degree. When I was still quite young in the TV terms, I was speaking to somebody who was very experienced, and he worked on The Big Breakfast. He used to get sent thousands of CV’s ‘Media degree — no, media degree — no. Oh, That’s kind of interesting, a History of Arts degree or Economics’. Certainly, there was an idea that media degree was just… easy?” b
Finland’s gay, green champion Pekka Haavisto is making waves in the country’s presidential elections
Words and image: Sara Silvennoinen
He’s gay, Green and probably not the next President of Finland. Finns are progressive and all but we are just not there yet. Aside from that, he is a champion for many in a world where Green and gay politicians, not to mention presidential candidates, are a rare treat. Pekka Haavisto is back in the game after having been overthrown by Sauli Niinistö in the last presidential election six years ago. A devastating defeat? Yes. A failure? Definitely not. Rather, a victory—a breaking of glass ceilings of sorts. Once again, Haavisto is predicted to face off Niinistö as his main challenger. His outlook, it seems, is not what his voters would like it to be. In 2012, Haavisto made history by becoming the first Green European candidate to make it to the second round of a presidential election. His second place in the whole election was another remarkable first for Green candidates. Pekka’s success was a triumph for green ideals everywhere, as well as for tolerant and open-minded Finns. His performance in 2012 paved new ways for other Green party candidates. His result suggested more voters now considered Greens as capable leaders. Although Niinistö’s backing dropped, it looks like he’s receiving the most support from Finnish citizens. However, looking back at recent elections with surprising outcomes, anything is possible. In order for you to understand who Finland’s possible future president (fingers crossed) is, let’s look back at what he has achieved in life, privately and professionally. Pekka Olavi Haavisto was born in Helsinki in 1958, where he was raised a liberal by his mother, a chemistry teacher, and his father who was a principal. He boycotted the military, dropped out of university, had a brief career as a journalist and editor, became a politician and a member of parliament, married his current husband Antonio Flores and finally, ran for president. The President of Finland has joint responsibility over foreign policy matters together with the government. The president also serves as the commander-in-chief of the Finnish defense force. But most importantly, the president is the face of a country to the rest of the world. The position serves a moral role that
for both the climate and the Finnish nature,” the article read, and went to claim that when done right, nuclear power plants are low in emissions and safe to use. “Currently, it is completely clear that getting rid of fossil fuels is the most important goal,” they wrote. The controversy around nuclear power plants is an on-going debate between those who fear the power of a nuclear disaster similar to Chernobyl and Fukushima and those who worry about what will happen to the Earth if we don’t use nuclear power. In parliament Haavisto has voted against building more nuclear plants. He believes Finnish companies should invest in renewable energy such as biomass, solar power, geothermal heating and wind power. He won’t hesitant to hold on to his opinion despite what others in his own party may think or feel. In-light-of the new animal welfare law, out of the eight other presidential candidates, Haavisto was the only one who properly addressed the health and living conditions of farmed animals in Finland. “Animals should have any space to move around, the right to spend time outside all year around and sufficient feed and water,” he said. He was also one of the three candidates who voted in favour of ending fur farming in Finland. In addition, he has vowed to care for the environment, fight global warming and prioritise Finnish foreign and security policy—all matters that young people in Finland worry about the most, according to nuorisobarometri2016. Some suggest Haavisto’s success is a result of him down-playing his green credentials and reaching out to new voters outside the Green ‘bubble’. Others would say his long-standing experience makes him a trustworthy and secure candidate. In addition to being easy on both eyes and ears, Haavisto’s approachable personality, control of difficult issues and ability to articulate his opinion have gained him supporters. A survey from last year’s municipal elections shows that 18-29 year olds favour The Green Party over other parties while the last presidential election results found that Haavisto was most-liked among young people. I contacted a few millennials in an effort to find out more about why young people vote for Pekka. Tuomi Honkanen, 21, will be voting
needs to be filled by someone competent, calm and charismatic (translation: someone dissimilar to Donald Trump). Furthermore, a small country, like Finland, must be able to stand its ground to the big rulers and call out injustice when it happens. In Pekka’s words: “we should not just stand by when Trump decides to cut UN funding for women and girls, or when he suggests withdrawing from the Paris Agreement”. Haavisto is often associated with his work as a peace mediator. In 1999, he began working for the United Nations, where he led the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). He also took part in the Darfur peace discussions as a special representative of the European Union. The Greens of Finland, which Haavisto helped establish in 1987, are often associated with their work related to environmental matters such as preserving biodiversity, maintaining nature and cleanliness of air and water. Last year the party appeared in Forbes after publishing a co-written opinion piece that questioned the party’s long-established stance on nuclear power. The writers said Finland should reconsider the use of nuclear power to provide heating for Finnish households: “Current bio-energy policy is a disaster
“Animals should have any space to move around, the right to spend time outside all year around and sufficient feed and water”
in the presidential elections for the first time ever. Her admiration for Pekka began in 2012—the first time he ran for president. “Haavisto has long standing experience working with human rights issues and peace policy abroad. I appreciate Pekka for his position in The Koijärvi Movement (a Finnish environmental movement that started in the spring of 1979 with an aim to prevent the draining of lake Koijärvi, an important bird habitat) and the environmental work he has always done.” Honkanen would like to ask Pekka what he thinks would be the best option to solve the refugee crisis. Similarly, to Honkanen, Mimmi Mylly, 21, thinks Haavisto’s experience, especially in international politics, is a winning quality. “I think Pekka would be a presentable, knowledgeable and skilled head of state and front man in a modern Finland” she said. Like Haavisto, Mylly identifies with the LGBTQ+ community and wants to support Finland’s first gay presidential
candidate. Mylly would want to know whether Pekka thinks Finland should stop selling weapons to conflict areas. She would also like to know his thoughts on Brexit. Theo, 21, thinks Haavisto will focus on the right things as president, such as environmental problems and equality on a global scale. “He also has a good/wide view of the world and actually knows whats happening all over the world, not only Europe and Russia,” he said. He would ask Haavisto what his plans are when it comes to fighting environmental issues in Finland and globally, and whether Finland should take more responsibility when it comes to environmental matters. Another student, who is 21 but didn’t want to be named, said she will be casting her vote to Haavisto because of his important international connections. She also thinks of him as down-to-earth, open and internationally cooperative and representable. “We have discussed Pekka’s sexuality a lot amongst friends, and whether the world is “ready” to accept
him and his husband as the presidential couple. For example, in Russia people can be quite intolerant. I would like to ask Pekka whether his sexuality has affected his career and political relations,” she said. Kasper, 20, was first planning to vote for Niinistö, but changed his mind after seeing Pekka’s ad on Facebook asked “How is it possible for a man who hasn’t finished the army to be leading the defence forces?” He also finds Pekka’s work as a mediator important, and would like to know how what kind of projects Pekka would run in order to better Finland’s position as a peace mediator. Although the last election polls suggested that some voters didn’t want a gay president, and so decided to vote for Niinistö, for many Finns, Haavisto offers a new and fresh alternative to the same faces that have been roaming around in the past Finnish Presidential elections for several years. It remains to see whether Finns have grown more tolerant and environmentally friendly in the past six years. b 45
PENGUINS IN PRISON Investigating the darker side of conservation
Words: Josie Collins Images: Josie Collins and Antarctica Bound via flickr.com
Zoos are an opportunity to come face to face with wild animals, they are a place of refuge for creatures in danger, they provide education for the young, teaching them respect and admiration for wildlife. Zoos practice conservation efforts to save endangered species and provide scientists with invaluable data. This is the general consensus, but are they really sanctuaries or unnecessary prisons maintained for our entertainment? There is no denying the financial contributions zoos make to charities and organisations, the research on animals in captivity they supply which can contribute to aiding animals in the wild, and the wonder and inspiration they provide to children are important. However, it would be sensible to suggest that although a zoo may claim to be providing the best for its animals, and although keepers and trainers care deeply for them, common sense should not be ignored even if you love seeing animals up close as much as I do, and this applies to all establishments, even those in the UK. On London’s Southbank, the Sea Life centre has faced criticism over the care of its Gentoo penguins. YouTuber Lex Croucher started a petition three years ago arguing: “Sea Life and Merlin Entertainment are committing an act of cruelty by keeping penguins in this condition, and this needs to change.” However the petition fell short of its 150,000 signature goal at 42,275. Although Lex did manage to rally support and made valid arguments in her video, it seemed not much came of the petition even though some mainstream media outlets picked up on the story. The Captive Animals Protection Society have also released their own investigation of the various Sea Life centres, in a report called Sea Lies. From the branches they visited, the CAPS investigator found “evidence of stress-related disease, high mortality and repetitive behaviours indicative of an inability to cope with captive situations.” On my visit to the aquarium, I have witnessed the penguins underground in a tiny, bland enclosure with tacky painted walls and a small pool. The enclosure I felt was more for the public than the penguins. It was surrounded by glass and even had circular glass domes directly inside the animals’ environment so that children could poke their heads up and
see the penguins up close. Disheartened, my research after the visit uncovered the previous petitions and complaints. The enclosure had actually just undergone a revamp, it had apparently doubled in size with now a second pool, the dome, waterfall and underwater jets. If this was the reality of the situation now I dread how it must have been before. In response to my questions, a Sea Life representative said: “We are always seeking to improve our environments— both for our creatures and our viewing public. With this in mind, in 2016 we almost doubled the enclosure space, with more viewing windows for the public, more space for the creatures, and an additional pool and enrichment features such as a waterfall and underwater jets.” It can be seen from the images, the enclosure more or less resembles a shabby Santa’s grotto. The waterfall dripped miserably and the penguins all huddled in one corner. The lights had started to dim to mimic nightfall, however, the enclosure remained fairly dark throughout the day. The whole enclosure was surrounded with panels of glass with no privacy for the animals and the dome for children to crawl under and peer up at the penguins. There is nothing for the penguins to do all day, while. ironically, information around the enclosure boasted of the speed of the penguins and their more active behaviour in the wild. As you may hear in the clip, music is played loudly over the speakers all day, but while this creates a magical ambience for the children and families visiting, it interferes with the natural conditions which Sea Life claims to have replicated; hearing the same song played on repeat can’t be good for the penguins’ mental state either. I also found complaints from parents and visitors before the renovation, complaining they couldn’t see the animals and that the exhibit was dull and not interactive enough. “My complaint about this area had been that while it was an amazing opportunity to see the penguins, both in the water and above, the view was always blocked down low (the underwater view) by toddlers, and above by a barrier of their parents. Sea Life London Aquarium was great at taking my feedback and I was pleased to be invited back to see the 47
expanded Penguin Point zone,” said Laura Porter, a blogger. This raises the question of whether the exhibit is more for the entertainment of visitors than for the welfare of the animals and came two years after the petitions to help the Gentoo penguins. Not looking to condemn the organisation on appearances, I reached out to Sea Life to hear their reasoning of the enclosure. “The welfare of our animals is of utmost importance to us and we do not keep any species for which we cannot offer the highest levels of care; nobody is more committed to this than our team of expert keepers. The enclosure was designed by our Sea Life experts in collaboration with specialist vets.” 48
In relation to the enclosure underground with no air or windows, Sea Life reasons: “It enables us to carefully control temperature, light levels and humidity to reflect the penguins’ natural cycles—including moulting, nesting and breeding patterns; the fluctuating London climate would disrupt these vital annual cycles and would at times be far too warm and uncomfortable for an Antarctic species which is covered in a thick layer of blubber and insulating feathers. Additionally, outdoor enclosures which are open to the public and the elements can result in litter or natural debris, such as twigs from trees, falling into the enclosure which can be a health hazard to the birds.” Sea Life argued the penguins served a bigger purpose by residing at the cen-
tre: “Our Gentoo penguins are not here at Sea Life London purely for entertainment; they have a more important role as ambassadors for their wild counterparts and other marine species. Including as ambassadors for Falklands Conservation with whom Sea Life London Aquarium is supporting. “Penguins capture people’s imagination and we believe inspire people to care, so keeping them helps us enormously to educate about serious marine issues such as climate change, plastic pollution and overfishing. With the opportunity to influence over a million people from all over the world each year, we believe this is a positive.” Sea Life has made huge contributions to conservation as well as rescue and release programmes with their partner charity the Sea Life Trust. Some of their current projects include the ‘Wipeout Whaling’ campaign, coral propagation and ‘Bite-back’ shark conservation. Although they argue the penguins are an educational and awareness tool for the wider issues Gentoo penguins are facing, surely their happiness and well-being should not have to be sacrificed. If they cannot provide the best care for the animals then they should be given to an organisation that can. Whilst the positioning on the Southbank does mean that thousands of visitors from around the world learn about, and potentially donate to, the plight of Gentoo penguins is witnessing distressed animals in a dark, crowded room the right message to be sending kids and the public? CAPS has highlighted in a study that the majority of children (62 per cent) were deemed to show no change in learning or experienced negative learning during their trips to the zoo. Other observations from zoo exhibits have shown that people will view the animals for only a minute or so and rarely pay much attention to the written displays. It’s more the curiosity of first seeing the animal and then quickly moving onto the next. I contacted Falklands Conservation as Sea Life are representing the organisation whilst they house the penguins. Voicing my concerns on the penguins’ welfare, I received this comment: “Falklands Conservation considers very carefully who it builds relationships with (…) We carefully evaluate our associ-
“It can be argued keeping animals in captivity does very little for conservation and animal welfare might not be their priority” ation within displays or material produced on the conservation benefit gained to both parties and how it can help change the hearts and minds of visitors for the long term benefit of wildlife and the environment. “We work with the SeaLife London Aquarium and receive a small yearly donation from them (…) We understand that the SeaLife London Aquarium take their responsibilities on care and animal welfare very seriously and take help and advice from a wide range of specialists both in-house and from outside agencies,” the organisation said. “Gentoo penguins in the Falkland Islands are a very important part of the world’s population and so we hope visitors to the SeaLife London Aquarium are learning about them, and the Falkland Islands too. For many people their only opportunity to come face to face with certain species is within zoos, wildlife parks and aquariums.” The captivity of wild animals has been a hot topic for years, what exactly is their purpose? The first was royal menageries in Woodstock, the Tower of London and the Strand. ZSL was the first scientific zoo and in order to afford to stay afloat, opened up to the public in 1847. Zoos existed purely for entertainment and research but over the years progressed to create more natural enclosures and in 1966 the first safari park was built in Wiltshire, at Longleat. Thereafter, nature documentaries opened the public’s eyes to how animals live in the wild and the morality of keeping animals captive 49
was soon questioned and zoos challenged. In 1981 the Zoo Licensing Act meant you could no longer capture wild animals and the focus of zoos would be to educate. Conservation has been the most cited reason for the existence of zoos in recent years, although how effective they can really be on this issue is debated. Arguably the most well-known criticised case of the animal captivity of late is Sea World. The capture, breeding, training and displaying of wild orcas has been a hugely controversial issue due to the documentary Blackfish and death of trainers as a result of the animals captivity over the years. This is a great example of the complications of keeping wild animals in captivity. The trainers at Sea World dedicated years of their lives to caring for these whales and clearly felt love and respect for them. It has been said they weren’t correctly informed of the facts and science of their behaviour and so they believed no harm was done. Similarly, visitors to the park were told the environment was stimulating and appropriate for the whales, and the public who enjoyed seeing the animals up close chose to believe the information provided to them. On the other hand, Sea World has successfully participated in rescue and release programmes which proved beneficial to conservation and to animal welfare. An example of this is JJ the orphan grey whale. The abandoned whale was rescued and nursed back to health at Sea World and released back into the open ocean. The park attempted to prepare the whale for release as much as they could with his feeding and socialising. Though his tracker was lost there is no denying the park did all they could. The effort in releasing him might have been unique to his case due to the fact that the park would never have been able to cater for his size from the business owners’ perspective, however, it does demonstrate how capable zoos are of putting animals first and contradicts excuses for keeping animals for life. This is not the only case. There are many examples of zoos’ effective conservation work. The issues with captivity that have occurred at Sea Life can be applied to all 50
institutions. Our yearning to be close to wild animals may be blinding us to what is morally right for them. Trainers often believe they have a bond with their animals which is not often the case when commanding/training animals in exchange for food. If they do form a bond, however, this makes it difficult to release animals back into the wild or to replicate their natural conditions which supposedly zoos intend to do. Zoo animal welfare organisations such as Born Free and CAPS argue that to rely on captive populations draws attention from the threats such as global warming, poaching, overfishing, urbanisation and deforestation. It lulls us into a false sense of security to feel that the animals will remain safe whilst scientists can breed them in captivity when in reality these financial resources would be better used to tackle the issues head-on and take preventative action to ensure populations aren’t threatened in the first place. What is also surprising is that the majority of breeding programmes in zoos are not with endangered animals. In 2016, following the escape of a gorilla at London Zoo, Sir David Attenborough had criticised the enclosure for its glass windows and lack of privacy. “They are not just animals. They are related to us. They value their privacy. Just imagine what it’s like to be there,” he said. In regards to zoos, he appeared solemn on their existence: “It’s a pity they’re always in danger,” he said. “If we could get rid of that then perhaps there would be no need for zoos.” On top of this, Born Free argues: “The best animals for restocking wild populations are those from highly endangered species born in the wild (or, failing that, to wild-born parents), and kept in their natural habitat and social groups. The worst candidates are those species not in immediate threat of extinction, bred for generations in captivity, in environmental conditions very different from their natural habitat, especially those subjected to frequent relocation” High profile capture and release programmes were only initiated when populations were desperately low and since only a select few animals are bred together this can affect their genes. Moreover, as captive animals have no knowledge or association with pred-
ators they are less likely to survive in the wild. Animals become dependent on humans to survive, this is why the most successful capture and release programmes where with wild animals (like JJ the grey whale) and not captive born. The BBC recently reported on the rescue of damaged bears from circuses and zoos which had been placed in a sanctuary in Ukraine. This clearly demonstrated the extreme effects of captivity, the bears were anxiously shaking or pacing, behaviour that could be considered â€˜zoochosisâ€™. Though now in a safer more natural environment, the bears were still incapable of surviving without human intervention. Laws like the Zoo Licensing Act require zoos to be educational and to provide natural environments as well as to contribute to conservation or other aiding schemes. With the majority of breeding in zoos not with endangered animals and
with very few cases of animals being released back into the wild, it can be argued keeping animals in captivity does very little for conservation. In instances such as with the Gentoo penguins, it could be argued that animal welfare might not be the priority. Ultimately, the visitors of the zoo can shape the conditions provided. In fact, in the 1990s, surveys suggested three-quarters of Britons were opposed to keeping animals in captivity and London Zoo was months from closure after government funding cuts. If visitors are less passive and challenge the treatment of animals in zoos, these institutions will be ultimately forced to actively invest in the welfare of their animals. If zoos are to exist today they should provide animals with more than is necessary for them to survive, but for them to live a fulfilled and happy life. b 51
MY SLEEPOVER WITH HARRY STYLES Inside the secret life of an adult fangirl
Words and images: Isabel Ramirez Cintron
It’s 7:00am on a Monday morning, and we’re ready for our commute, but it isn’t to work—a sea of girls are huddled together, wrapped in duvets, pillows, and throws, chatting through their chattering teeth. Despite London’s cold, frosty weather, everyone is exchanging stories and photos, speaking of past experiences. Like the fisherman’s tale, the stories seem to be hyperbolic by nature, illustrated with sentiment and pantomime. There is still a twelve-hour wait and who are we waiting for? Harry Styles. The collected fans are dressed headto-toe in his album cover’s pastel pink, as others swoop around with gay pride flags fashioned around their necks like capes. Girls reach outside the venue in a blur, jumping on one another for hugs as they greet old and new friends. One girl sits, applying fake eyelashes for the first time as strangers she’s never met help her glue them on. Further down, an older girl with black painted lips and fishnet tights clips a dangling chain attached to her earrings to her nose ring to complete her look. While some are smoking cigarettes, others are grasping on to their mothers for warmth. Wide eyed with excitement, whether applying a new coat of lipstick or trying to shove their heads into a new Harry Styles sweater sold at the merchandising table. We have all come together as one, buzzing with grand emotion, with one common interest in mind, waiting underneath London’s Hammersmith Apollo. Harry Styles, former member of boyband One Direction, is making a name for himself as a solo artist. His debut album, released on May 12, climbed the Billboard 200 album chart with over 230,000 sales by the end of the launching week, and makes history for the biggest debut sales for a UK male artist, particularly in the United States. He has also made his acting debut in Christopher Nolan’s film Dunkirk. Spoiler alert—he outshines the actual main character of the film. He recently thanked The X-Factor for his big break. “It’s amazing every time to come back and I thank the show for birthing me and for having me back every time.” Harry Styles had two shows in London at the end of October. Girls attending the second show have been camping out since the night before, underneath the nearby bridge, in order to snag a front row spot inside the venue. You would
think having tickets for one of the most on demand concerts of the year would be sunshine and rainbows, but simply being in the same room as your idol isn’t enough. You have to be close enough to the front row in case of the event your idol sweats and you want to be blessed enough to be showered in it. But such fandom goes beyond sleeping under a bridge while the first show goes on. One of the security guards told me she has seen girls camping out since the previous Wednesday, nearly a week before the first show. “I have never seen someone do something to this extreme for a celebrity before. These girls are mental, but I respect their dedication,” she said. People complain that girls of this generation are ‘chaotic’, as ‘fangirls’ tend to sob or scream with hysteria. But the truth is it’s not chaos, rather pure joy and excitement branching out in the wispy air. Why is it such a crime to be a fangirl and have a celebrity obsession? In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Styles was asked if he was worried about “proving credibility to an older crowd”, to which he responded: “Who’s to say that young girls who like pop music — short for popular, right? — have worse musical taste than a 30-year-old hipster guy? That’s not up to you to say. Music is something that’s always changing. There’s no goal posts. Young girls like the Beatles. You gonna tell me they’re not serious? How can you say young girls don’t get it? They’re our future. Our future doctors, lawyers, mothers, presidents, they kind of keep the world going. Teenage-girl fans— they don’t lie. If they like you, they’re there. They don’t act ‘too cool.’ They like you, and they tell you. Which is sick.” His response supporting his “less credible fans” reawakened me as the fangirl I truly am. When someone says the word fangirl, you usually think of a someone aged 12-15 who is overly obsessed with a particular book, movie, science fiction, or music type. Despite the implication, your average fangirl is an adult. The lines for a midnight showing of Star Wars are usually filled with grown men. I remember in High School most of my 18-year-old friends were arguing who was Team Edward or Team Jacob. But even as I remember it, fans that rave about vampires and space aliens don’t 53
get as bad as a rep as those who rave over boybands. When someone collects comic books, it is seen as a hobby, but someone who collects CDs and magazine covers of their favourite artist is seen to be in a phase that will soon be outgrown. Well, let me tell you, as a 14-year-old I was obsessed with Harry Styles and eight years later, at 22, this obsession has not been outgrown—if anything it has grown with age. I wouldn't be lying if I said one of the reasons for me moving to London from North America was so that I could one day bump into Styles on the street and for him to fall head over heels with me with eyes filled with love at first sight—just like he’d always done in my head. I know every single word to all of One Direction’s songs and not just by the virtue of me being a 14-year-old sentient 54
human girl in 2010; I was obsessed. I enjoyed it immensely and if you put a gun to my head asking me to name who my favourite in the band member was I would say quicker than my beating heart: Harry Styles. As The Urban Dictionary likes to put it, “A rabid breed of human female who is obsessed with either a fictional character or an actor. Often seen as immature.” It’s funny when you hear someone talk about a ‘fangirl’ in a negative sense. But when people find out about my intense interest in Harry Styles, I beat them to the punch, by calling myself a fangirl. Is it immature to respect and admire someone as they openly share their journey with us? Yet, a man can casually maunder on about his love for Rihanna or Kayne West, without it being seen as immature or obsessive. I’m not telling you this so you can
make a judgment call on my moral sense of being. I need a chance to provide you with some substance on how I can shamelessly say that I am no longer a 14-year-old girl but a grown woman who still has a fully-fledged crush on Harry Styles. My mom said I would get over him in a year or two but she was wrong. In the eight years of my obsession, I have managed to ignore any kind of societal warnings to this unpreventable sickness—I still listen to One Direction’s songs so often that I sheepishly dim my brightness and hide my phone screen from peeping eyes on my commute. Like anyone, there are times I get a bit down and feel lonely. But whenever I watch or listen to Harry Styles strutting out into the world making things happen on his own terms, his indomitable spirit is therapeutic and the best type of healing any self-doubter can experience. After hearing One Direction's first single What Makes You Beautiful for the first time, I Googled the band on the spot. I remember being so upset in the car ride up to Disney World after finding out they had been a band on the hit UK show The X-Factor and had not truly made a name for themselves yet. I had that one song on repeat for the entire drive. I watched their music video and my eyes immediately drew attention to the curly-headed mop that belonged to the 15-year-old version of Harry Styles and my obsession began. I read everything about him. I utilised every possible thing I could get my hands on—YouTube, magazines,
tweets, interviews, photos—I needed to get inside the head of a boy who had such an impact on my own. The truth was, I followed everything he did, compulsively. The difference between then and now is my understanding of reality. My teenage self was consumed with this beautiful boy because I was hormonal; a lustful obsession. I was engrossed with his hair, his smile, his face, his tattoos as they rapidly grew. I imagined being in a relationship with him when real ones didn’t pan out. I wasn’t following the band for their music, but for Harry himself. But now instead of seeing him as a sex icon I truly admire Harry Styles because of his achievements and charisma as a celebrity. When I was younger I hated every other girl who shared my passion for Harry Styles, because I believed he was mine and only mine to enjoy. But now, I celebrate when I meet another brother or sister who shares my values. Every other girl was competition, now I see them as an excuse to make a new friend. I wish everyone loved and admired Styles as the beautiful kind-hearted human being he truly is. Everyone should live by his values. Now I look at him and thank him silently for everything he’s unknowingly given me. And when I listen to his old songs as a band or in his solo career, like a drug in my euphoria, I’m convinced all is right with the world. Somewhere in the deep depths of my room, I had found a diary from the year 2013. I quickly swept through the pages to find the entry about the day
“When he slithers his hand around my waist, it feels as if it belongs there and to my surprise his lips make contact with my blushing cheeks”
I had met Harry Styles. I should have burned it, but I’m sharing it now as a sweet memoir to my 18-year-old self: I had an unexplained form of energy that races through my body. It felt like jamming a knife into a circuit breaker, the jolts of electricity sparking through my veins. It made my hands shake, as well as my voice if I talk about it for too long. What I have assumed to feel like an eternity, the time has finally arrived. Every glance of time I took it seemed to be distorted, like it came straight from a Salvador Dali painting itself. I stood with more confidence than I knew I had, before I walked into the room where the boy band I have been obsessing over for nearly three years at the time stood only a few yards away. A sharp breath of air escaped my lungs the moment I glazed my eyes over my favourite band member, Harry Styles. His face held an effortless form of beauty, so imperfectly perfect. He did not seem to be real despite the fact he was right there. This was it, only minutes from now he would believe in love at first sight. Girls jumping and crying all around me. I praised myself for staying so collectively calm. The new reality I had conjured in my brain seemed to be coming to life, more than I had already believed. Those were the thoughts swimming in my head when I caught his eyes, his angelic face; I studied his expressions as they passed by—surprised, tender, bashful. My heart danced in my chest. I am next in line and I lose the motor control over the entirety of my body. I watch as he slowly approaches me. It is then when I gain control over my own limbs again. He hugs me tight as he whispers into the hug: “It is very nice to meet you”. His words flow as sweet as honey and feel so sincere, as if he was awaiting my arrival. I feel like he actually means it until my subconscious beckons me from the pink folds of my brain “he is getting paid to do this.” These voices fade away as I courageously ask him to hug me for the photo. Nervously I face the wrong direction of the camera, he teases me by saying “I think you want to be facing the camera, love.” When he slithers his hand around my waist, it feels as if it belongs there and to my surprise his lips make contact with my blushing cheek. When it does everyone in the room disappears. It is just 55
“He’s all in one! He loves his mum, cares for us his fans, sensitive, and he doesn’t care about his fame. I wouldn’t be surprise if he wasn’t even real” he and I, because I pay no attention to anyone else as I provide the camera the biggest most genuine smile I have ever given. With the adrenaline of the moment I spit out a quick goodbye and thank you before I am ushered out of the room. When I receive my picture a grin, ear to ear, is drawn on to my face. I dissect every inch, every detail I can find in the photo. The way he holds me, the grasp he has on my hip, the way his eyes are squinting in a smile as if he is examining me himself, but lastly the way he is smiling into the kiss. It makes it seem as if it is his pleasure instead of mine. The time seems to be rigid now and I await the desolation of the years of
hope collapse around me. The heartache of losing him when he was never actually mine. The idea of him, of him and I. How he did not fall head over heels as I was so sure it was going to happen. I look at the kiss over and over until the pain is strained and I relive all the moments that made my stomach flutter. I look back at that entry and it all sounds so prepubescent. As a grown woman, I would never over sensationalise a celebrity like that. I have bumped into many celebrities on the streets of London and never thought about asking for a photo. Instead, I simply pass by with the satisfaction of knowing these people exist. Now one question keeps repeat-
ing in my head and has been for almost the past 10 years over my own obsession with the 23-year-old soloist. What makes Harry Styles so desirable? How has he stolen the hearts of millions of girls without even meeting them? After befriending a small group of girls near my spot in line, they gladly agreed to keep my spot warm as I jumped the line to find the answer. Towards the front of the line I met two girls who had flown in all the way from Australia just to witness Harry’s first solo tour. “He wasn’t doing a tour in Australia and I had to see and support him on his first solo tour. I am so proud of him. The last time I saw Harry perform was in 2015 when he was in One Direction, and they did their last tour in Australia,” one of them tells me. Harry Styles’ slogan for his tour is “Treating People With Kindness” and around 3pm, on that Monday afternoon, he practices what he preaches. His fans are rewarded with hot chocolate and pizza, compliment of Harry himself for their dedication to withstand the elements and sacrifice their day just to see him perform for a few hours. Girls close to the barriers stand up so they can pass everyone down their line a slice of pizza before helping themselves. “We have to wait for the hot chocolate before we take a photo, it’ll ruin the aesthetic,” one girl raves. “I’m lactose intolerant but Harry bought this for me so I have to eat it. Love is pain,” another girl says almost in defeat. A shorter girl, shuffling in a pair of wedges that are too tall for her, handed me a Polaroid camera so I could take a photo of her underneath his ostentatious name with her pizza slice, “Can y’all believe Harry Styles bought ME hot chocolate and pizza? It’s almost as if we had a date.” She says this rather fast, as if she’s convincing herself she was the only one who got rewarded with pizza—ignoring the other 300 girls in the queue. “Why do you like Harry Styles so much?” I took this question around the queue. “This right here,” one says as she points at her pizza slice. “Because he’s a mama’s boy,” another reveals. “God, have you seen his hair? It belongs in a museum!” “Because he’s all in one! He loves his mum, cares for us his fans, sensitive, and he doesn’t care about his fame. I wouldn’t be surprised if he wasn’t even real. Probably some muppet crafted by the government to steal our money,” another
girl laughs. “He’s unbelievably charming. Every time I watch an interview with him I’m shocked to see how naturally flirty he is,” says someone else. “His love for us—no matter what, he seeks his best to support us” “His sense of humour. He’s not even a dad yet, but somehow his jokes are worse than my father’s.” I was shocked not one of them mentioned his looks. It is time to enter the venue and girls trip and slide to get to the front of the stage, like a can of sardines everyone’s stuck in one position with their arms up, camera in hand ready to document the night. Finally, the lights dim and our eardrums ring from the excitement. The stage is covered by a pink satin curtain, and the audience chants as Harry teases them with his silhouette shown through the fabric as he hums a few notes to his opening song. The theatrical curtain drops and there Harry Styles shines in his flamboyant golden suit with a hint of 70s rock ‘n roll flair. The light hits him perfectly portraying him as a glimmering star, making the girls push as far to the front as possible. For once the only tears that threaten my eyes are the ones from the same girl elbowing me in the ribcage. I have to stand on my tip toes just for a breath of air. It’s a game of tug-of-war, and if it were any other celebrity, this wouldn’t be worth it. He plays with the objects thrown on stage, slipping on kiwis, running around hysterically with a pride flag chasing close behind him while spitting water into the audience. They love it. Harry is not afraid to make a fool of himself. He mocks himself with a laughable grab at his own crotch while he performs the song From the Dining Room Table, which according to a discredited popular belief is about Harry “playing with himself” in a hotel room. Styles might be one of the biggest super stars on this planet but he is organic and gives the audience what they want—for example singing the same song Kiwi twice in one show, even if it strays away from the original production plan. Harry is someone girls would proudly bring home to their mothers. He’s down to earth, respectful, a clown all in all, but also has a cheeky devilish side and is not afraid to be a little X-rated. Unlike Justin Bieber, whose personal life is very publicised—which makes you think
he rebels just for the attention—or Taylor Swift, whose red lips and long list of ex-boyfriends tend to eclipse her music, Harry’s approach to his celebrity persona is very rare. He simply is, and it can be quite refreshing to see a person with such fame handle it in such a care-free manner. For his adult consumers, it’s a breath of fresh air to find a young artist who embodies carefree traits with an allure of mystery. He’s like Tom Hanks for the older generation of women. When you hear press about him, it’s usually about something nice he’s done for the public (such as pizza and hot chocolate). So, 14 songs and 17 fainting girls later, Harry’s show comes to an end. I could see why everyone is so keen over this rock star. Harry was no longer hidden amongst four other band members, but shone brightly as an individual in his golden suit. He seems to have the utmost respect for the people responsible for putting him on that stage. “I am so proud to be in your presence.” Harry says in the midst of his show. Such solemn integrity could be seen as a hackneyed old saying—which also might sound cloy, but you feel the appreciation—he means every word. Harry blows one final kiss before vanishing behind the stage, leaving us to herd ourselves out like cattle. Watching Harry Styles live was a religious experience, and by that I mean that when he sang What Makes You Beautiful my spirit had left my body and entered a new heavenly realm of pure innocent bliss. That night was a movie; one for the books. I know I will be singing Sign of Times at the top of my lungs in the shower and buying hard copies of every album he sells until I’m 93 and can no longer hear. And if he does a reunion concert in 50 years, you bet I’ll be breaking my hip trying to get front row. Because I can’t think of anything more sensible and adult-like than acknowledging and championing what you believe in with no shame. No matter who you’re fangirling (or fanboying) about, you know they have something to offer. Because your idol is creating something out there that matters to you. And it does matter to me. Will I ever be ashamed of being called a fangirl? Never. Instead, I will wear the title loud and proud along with my Harry Styles’ Tour T-shirt. b 57
GIRLS, UNINTERRUPTED The artists behind a feminist art show explain why women need more space in the art world
After an hour of standing in the cold and breathing in second-hand smoke, I was finally brought into the building. Walking into a perfect cross between a gallery and a club - paintings of bare nipples accompanied by electric dance music. Neon lighting bounced off of exposed pipes giving the basement a surrealistic red hue. I could barely even see the art due to the super trendy crowd, all so at home in a creative haven of Shoreditch, East London. Whilst there was a splash of millennial pink featured heavily, the exhibit was definitely not the mainstream version of ‘girl power’. Paintings, illustrations, and photography featured nude women, uncensored, unsexualised, and strong. Huddled together girls took selfies and pictures both with and of the art, which was a motivation for the show itself—creating a space for women. Girls, Uninterrupted is an art show curated by a 19-year-old illustration student Florence Given, in collaboration with artist platform Creative Debuts and record label Femme Culture. Given was motivated to work on the show after realising that both men and 58
women have misconstrued ideas about what feminism is. “It started with this thing burning inside of me that told me I had to let people know how it is, and that my art could be the catalyst for these ideas and observations I'd made,” she says. Matching her illustrations, dressed head to toe in bright vivid colours and bold textures, Given embodies every inch of a young creative as she buzzed around the exhibition taking in all of her hard work over the past few weeks. With a G&T in hand to calm her nerves, Florence was completely overwhelmed by it all. “There were hundreds of people already in a queue by 5 o’clock and the doors didn’t even open until 6! The queue went right around the block until it finished at 11”. DJs Elkka and Judo played back-toback beats as part of Given’s collaboration with Creative Debuts, which made the opening night seem like a scene from Skins. As the two artists danced together in their booth under artist Eve De Haan’s neon sign, so did everyone else, even Given herself. “We saw the show online and thought it would be something we would love to connect with and contribute to
Words: Alysha Shariff and Antoinette Wentworth-Smith Images: (photos) Antoinette Wentworth-Smith, (Artwork) Creative Debuts
so we got in touch and they were already aware of what we did—from there it was an obvious partnership”, said the duo, who do not bind themselves solely to art shows and claim that curating and playing at club nights is an entirely different enjoyment. “What we do love about playing at art installations is that we get to immerse ourselves in an environment where we're breathing, playing, and admiring art - all at the same time”. Priding themselves on being more than just a record label, Elkka and Ludo have organised photography exhibitions, film screenings and more through Femme Culture. “We admire and respect all the different manifestations of art so for us to perform at an installation means that we are exposed to something so similar but so different to our musical art... and it's beautifully inspiring”. With the combination of art and social media in the 21st century giving everyone a voice, the subject of feminism is a widely debated topic, even amongst feminists themselves. As global movements such as #MeToo and #TimesUp are gaining momentum, women are now opening up more about their experiences when it comes to sexual harassment, and society is starting to listen. Taking Given’s vision and turning it into a reality, the show would not have been possible without the backing from Creative Debuts. Priding themselves on “creating an inclusive space where everyone is welcome to come, see amazing art, have fun, let go and feel part of a creative community”, it is key to co-founders Calum Hall and Alex Rollings that their events are made as accessible as possible by making them free to attend (unless they are raising money for charity). Running at least 20 events a year, Creative Debuts started as an online platform for young emerging artists. “The digital landscape is really important these days, but there’s nothing like seeing art work in the flesh to really bring the piece to life… we see the events as a physical celebration of each artist’s work and our community as a lot of the artists have never exhibited before”.
Having previously collaborated with them for a show in April last year after finding them online, she stayed in close contact with the team throughout summer, but it was not until her first term of university at the London College of Fashion that they wanted her to put on her own exhibition. “It was a great relief working with Creative Debuts because they organised the stuff we needed for the night such as security, booze, music and of course the incredible space on Curtain Road. It was a great feeling knowing that they trusted me enough to do my own thing”. The team themselves are approachable and relatable, as I stood outside, on the street corner ‘smoking area’ chatting to a few of them. Being born out of the frustration the co-owners both experienced first hand as emerging artists, they now provide their artists with a risk-free playground to experiment and evolve their practice. As a company that profits only if and when their artists make money, it creates a reassurance and a bond between the artists and the platform that they are focused on changing the art world for the benefit of the artists. All the artists have one strong influence in common, themselves and their experiences. Photographer Kat Miller became a part of the show after seeing Given curating the show via social media and flew to London last minute from Ohio, USA to witness the show in person.
“I had been following Floss’s[Given] Instagram for a while and reached out too see if I could be involved at all. This is where the power of social media really shows it’s strength; I mean, ten years ago I wouldn’t have heard about the show and been able to be featured in it!” Miller’s portfolio has strong themes of young womanhood, in a style that is soft yet raw, achieved by using dreamy blue and purple hues. “The idea of girlhood is such an inspiration for me. Remembering the strange tensions and pure ideas from my childhood really come through in my work”. Miller also cites photographers Justine Kurland and Katy Grannan, and films - including the cult classic The Virgin Suicides. On the show, Miller says: “Showing within this amazing group of female artists was so special. It was such an important show in providing a space for our artwork to be shown uninterrupted.” With the euphoric sounds of Femme
“We admire and respect all the different manifestations of art ... it’s beautifully inspiring.”
Culture playing in the background, Libido’s contrast of pastel colours yet honest. When you see pink pastels, you normally think of the girly notions of innocence and sweetness whereas Libido's black comedy-esque illustrations are far from it. 'Venus Libido' was born after the south English artist began posting on Instagram: “I started illustrating at the start of 2017, but it was mainly just a form of release for me. I began to get messages saying how much people related to my drawings, and so I continued creating”. Drawing from her own body, Libido’s illustrations tend to come from dark places in her mind making her work personal and raw, which inspires her surrealist dick crushing illustrations. Libido says: “I tend to draw from the darkness in my life to make others feel better about their own”. After graduating, Libido went straight into full-time jobs within the art industry, where she experienced and witnessed various forms of sexual harassment and inequality; including verbal abuse, unequal pay and even witnessing sexual assault. 60
Speaking on the importance of women in art, both their place and role in the industry, Libido says: “No one ever told me it was ok to speak up, and say no when something wasn’t right. So I think it’s important to make it clear that you can use your voice and speak up and to not be silenced. Don’t sit back and be quiet, fucking do something about it”. Creative Debuts was born out of the frustration that both Hall and Rollings had as emerging artists, and it is this first-hand experience which makes their passion and drives so comforting. Tackling the problem head on, Hall explained how equality for women is not just a women’s issue but one for society as a whole: “Change requires a collaborative approach that opens up dialogue, so men have to be part of that process. As a platform we believe it’s important to shine a light on emerging talent, including female artists that often feel marginalised by the art world”. Girls, Uninterrupted is not the first feminist lead show Creative Debuts have curated. In September 2017, they successfully launched their Nasty Women art show with over 3,000 people attending the opening night alone. “We try to listen hard to our community and represent their views. Last year many of our female artists expressed the challenges they have faced in being recognised, exhibited and selling their work”. The negative stigma surrounding young artists didn’t hinder Given’s process of being a first-time curator, but instead further excelled her passion to create such a provocative space. “If there’s something you want to do or achieve in life as an artist especially, you just have to go out and do it”.
In her usual manner of being frank, Given simply described the curation as ‘very bloody hard’. “From start to finish of the planning process I got everything done on my own. That’s the poster, handling submissions, selecting artwork, getting works shipped from international countries and even printing and framing some artists work myself”. Given’s playful yet daring illustrations hung proudly on the white walls of Curtain Road gallery welcoming a crowd of shocked yet impressed viewers. Her artwork is audacious/brazen when it comes to portraying across her message, with captions like ‘still not asking for it’ and 'off for shag' printed firmly under a portrayal of your everyday women; nipples out, cigarettes lit, and full red lips making a statement.
Given's art stands out even in feminist circles, due to its raw content and striking, explicit phrases. The young artist takes inspiration from fashion illustrator Julie Verhoeven, who also depicts naked women and the celebratory element of it that encourages female empowerment. “If I want to empower women and make them change the way they think about themselves, I need to make it gripping … I think it’s important in this generation for things to be easily accessible and quick, in a world where we have fast food and instant-gratification from uploading a selfie to Instagram and seeing all the comments flood in, you only have a few seconds to get your point across, else people just won't listen”. “The more people tell you they believe in your message and what you’re doing, the more you’re encouraged to keep working on your game and empowering women”. Feminism has often received backlash in the past as it has not always been inclusive and intersectional. “The negative portrayal of feminism is that it’s only for white [cis]women. If your ‘feminism’ is only for white women who can’t get their nipples out, if you can’t get your head around people who are transgender, then you are not a feminist. If you are a ‘feminist’ but you shame other women for having lots of sex with lots of men, you are not a feminist”. Since the opening night less than two weeks ago, Florence has already had her work featured on Teen Vogue as well as GurlsTalks Instagram page, a social media account embodying the movement of women in art. With many artists selling their pieces at the show, the exhibition was a great networking event for like-minded talents with talks of future commissions and collaborations with other artists. Whilst exhibits will no longer be held at 115 Curtain Road, Creative Debuts lives on in their future exhibitions. Further supporting women, they plan to continue supporting the movement by joining forces with Nasty Women to celebrate the work of international feminist artists through Nasty Women Exhibition: Empowerment.” b 61
Striking a blow for karate A beautiful and underrated martial art finally becomes an Olympic sport
Words: Charlotte Layton Images: MartialArtsNomad via Flickr
For decades, officials in a variety of karate organisations, who specialise in a variety of styles, have fought to receive recognition from the Olympics to have this beautiful martial art added as an Olympic sport. The fight was seemingly endless, and many competitors within the sport believed that karate would never make it as an ‘elite sport’. After all, there are already two very striking sports within the Olympic Games—boxing and taekwondo. Karate has always been considered the underdog, whenever discussions around martial arts take place, yet the reasoning was never clear why. In the past, the Olympic movement put this down to the fact that, bringing another martial art to the table wouldn’t add anything new to the games. However, those who have been training with the England squad, and other elite groups, finally have something to celebrate. Karate has been dancing on the toes of the Olympics throughout the last few decades, and has finally become an Olympic sport, which will be one of the highlighted aspects of the next games, in Tokyo in 2020.
of those parents: “I put my children into karate primarily to learn self-defence and confidence. With my children growing up on an estate, especially when they were very young, was so worrying because of the gang activity. I needed them to know how to defend themselves as I didn’t know myself,” she told Artefact. “Seeing my son progress is such an amazing feeling. He has achieved more than I expected. Achieving his black belt was an absolute dream come true. Karate is definitely giving him confidence, and his fitness is fantastic! He has so much respect for others now and his teaching skills as sempi/sensei are improving.” It isn’t just Eva’s son who is doing well within the sport, her daughter, who is a lot younger, is doing just as well, finally achieving her purple one stripe belt. Despite her daughters’ age, her technique is rapidly improving, while her confidence in competing in relatively large competitions is improving too. Just like most parents whose children are progressing, Eva is extraordinarily pleased. “My daughter is mirroring my son and is achieving too. Although, she is re-
The Olympics has now given the sport an opportunity to show that it isn’t just a pretty presentation of hand and foot movements, but a genuine and strenuous martial art, worthy enough of the title of an Olympic sport. Nevertheless, when you do watch karate in motion, you see the full mind and body connection. It is beautiful, but more spectacular still, is the speed, power and sharpness of each individual's techniques, making both kumite and kata one of the most spectator-friendly of all martial arts. However, the 2020 Olympics has also given karate a way to spread the sports message a little further abroad. The martial art instils within its students the character building of self-esteem, self-respect and the art of confidence and discipline. It also aims to instil positivity and discipline in every aspect of its students, as well as fitness, and of course, the ability to defend themselves if they ever need to do so. The discipline, fitness and idea of self-defence is often why some parents decide to place their children into such a sport to begin with. Eva Williams is one
ally young at the moment,” she explains. “Karate is helping to build her confidence to compete in competitions and her skills are coming along, but there is still room for improvement. She is definitely committed to the sport.” It is clear to see, through the way in which Eva cheers along in karate classes and competitive environments, just how proud she is of her children’s achievements and successes. Even in their defeats, she keeps morale high and attempts to keep her children’s confidence as high as possible too. Like many parents, Eva has huge ambitions for her children, all of which are achievable. “My ambitions for them is to teach their kids self-defence, because I hate that I easily crumble in most situations. I hope that they keep up the sport for fitness, plus it’s a fun outlet. I also hope that they give back to the sport, just as much as their sensei gave to them,” Eva explains. Senseis put so much into their associations, as well as giving so much to their students, that for most parents and students alike, it feels almost a must that we put in just as much into the sport as we’ve taken away. For most parents, self-defence is the most important aspect of introducing their children to the beautiful world of karate. However, many do not realise that they could also be setting up their children to become a future athlete, just as easily as Eva’s children could become. Of course, once you’re attuned to compete, you are considered an athlete, but to compete in the karate championships, and in the 2020 Olympic Games, that would classify you in an entirely different league of athletes altogether. Obtaining that level of excellence doesn’t come overnight. It is something that requires a great deal of dedication, precision, practice and ambition, so it’s of no surprise that only the most dedicated and talented will be considered to enter the anticipated 2020 games. However, there is so much enthusiasm and such a deep love for the sport, from all students and sensei’s alike, that it isn’t surprising that there is such excitement surrounding the news that karate has been finalised as an Olympic sport. For Dave Levine, who began his training in the early eighties, and is now a
Third Dan Black Belt in Shotokan Karate, the anticipation of karate entering the Olympics has lasted many, many years. “I think it’s brilliant that karate is now an Olympic sport, it’s just taken so long to get there you know, with all the politics behind it, but karate, I think, is one of the better martial arts to watch. It’s exciting and beautiful you know, and it’s about time that karate is an Olympic sport,” Dave claims. “It’s taken so long because everybody wants to be a chief, and nobody wants to be an Indian you know. Everybody just wants to be the top dog or boss. In karate there are just so many associations and so many rules and I think there is a mentality of ‘my rules are better than your rules and I’m going to follow this rule’, with every association. It even comes down to the style that you’re trained in. So many associations are like ‘you can’t train in that style if you’re under our association’, and it shouldn’t be like that,” he adds. “If you’re training in karate, it should be one thing throughout the associations with the rules you know. I know some places that if you go and train with another club, they’ll kick you out of their club and association. The only thing that should happen is that you ask your sensei if you can try another club out of respect. With our club, nine out of ten times, they’ll say yeah go and train and
anything new you learn, come back and show us and that’s how it should be,” Dave explains. It isn’t just the petty politics that has hindered karate in becoming an Olympic sport. Karate is supported by a huge organisation and is extraordinarily technical. Each style of karate has its own point system, and each style has a variety of differences in the movements and techniques too. In competition, this can become relatively confusing, especially when different organisations and styles come together to compete. No wonder it has taken so long for karate to become an Olympic sport. However, it is surprising that karate is as pathetically political as it is, in which was an obviously large aspect to hindering karate’s achievements of becoming an Olympic sport to begin with. However, after 2020, there may not be another opportunity for karate to compete within the Olympic Games again. At the moment, the sport has only been approved for the upcoming Olympic event. In order to allow karate to become a regular Olympic sport such as gymnastics, karate officials would need to propose the sport again for any future Olympic events. However, this is such a historic moment. Millions of practitioners world-wide will have the opportunity to shine, and obtain Olympic glory. Karate, as a sport, definitely has something to celebrate. b 63
The light at the end of the tunnel A singer explains how a history of bullying turned him into a musician
Words: Alba Regidor Diaz Image: Mimzy via Pixabay
“My earliest memories about bullying were at the age of five. The teachers wouldn’t allow me to be seated next to the girls at the school, just with the boys”. I am in London talking to Angel Bae; he’s living in a modern-critical and diverse society, more demanding when it comes to values and rights. However, his childhood was profoundly distant from the tolerant-modern society of 2018. The beginning of this story brings us to a small rural-village in South-east Spain in the late 90’s, where Angel was born and grew up. He was a peculiar boy, different from the rest of the class and was an easy target for teasing, humiliation, and physical and verbal aggression. “My parents used to work a lot, and most of the time I was home alone or with my brothers,” he adds. Angel was completely different to his brothers, that is part of the reason why he never had a good relationship with them. “I never felt a connection with them, we still don’t have anything in common,” Angel admits. For the first few years of school, Angel felt protected and safe; this was thanks to the presents of his oldest and “cool brother” who was studying a few years above. “When my brother moved to a different school, the situation became worse and worse. I felt safe in class, that is why I didn’t go out during the breaks. Once I tried to leave the class and spend a break outdoors, some other kids started chasing me and they hit me for no
bullied me never messed with me again, I started to receive proper treatment.”. Angel is now an adult and he’s always kept his friendship with Betsie. “I can be natural and purely myself with her,” Angel admits happily. “A random summer night when I was depressed because I broke up with my boyfriend, I met up with Betsie and we ended up making our first song together.” Angel giggles. The summer had only just started and they spent lots of long nights indoors, singing and composing songs together. “We broke our silence,” Angel says, “thanks to a friend who worked for a music magazine and was able to promote our first songs as a band, as Leslie and Betsie.” Angel had barely left his rural life in Murcia, Spain, he didn’t really know what travelling was. His concerns about music and his slight knowledge of English were what triggered his move to London at 20 years old. “London has given me freedom,” he says. Now, when Angel goes back to Spain, the locals are more respectful though they still sometime make him feel uncomfortable about the fact that he is gay. “When I come to my town for vacations, I finally am who I really am, despite some people staring at me because I wear rings or because of my outfits. So, that is what London has given me; confidence in myself, trust in what I do and no longer depending on other people for approval or disapproval on something.” Despite the distance between Murcia and London, Angel and Betsie continue their musical career and have released their latest single called. Una Mujer Igual from their debut album. Leslie & Betsie’s lyrics are related to love, freedom of expression and to their experiences in childhood and adolescence. “I did not fit in anywhere, I was not a boy like the rest, and I was not a girl either. I was a feminine boy, and that marked me forever.” Their songs are mainly about celebrating the figure of the woman. They are also based on personal experiences, traumas, and being critical of the current society. ” In 2018 our society still has a warped image of what a woman is, as well as what they and their gender represent,” Angel adds concerned. Leslie & Betsie’s ELLISIMA tour is launching February of 2018 in Spain and UK tour dates coming up soon. b
reason in the middle of the playground. The fighting drew the attention and focus of everyone in the playground. Kids from different courses saw me in those cruel and embarrassing circumstances, and my brother wasn’t there to protect me.” At the age of eight, he made his first ever friendship, and this friendship became essential to his childhood. “Thanks to Betsie I could go outdoors with her, sing and dance to girlish songs and could play with dolls, which I adored”. There was a specific episode which marked his youth. “I remember I was at Betsie’s home with few of her friends, and we ended up playing the game “who likes who”. A friend of hers recorded my voice saying I like Tony, a boy from the school”. Angel tenses with a noticeable twitch in his hand. The days following were a nightmare. “That voice recording was spread by the children throughout the school”. Angel started progressively gaining respect from his contemporaries. He could now go outside of the classroom during the breaks. “When I was 14 I decided to come out of the closet. Although I did not have the courage to tell my dad.” “When I turned 18, I came out of the closet officially. I told my dad, too. I felt absolute liberation,” Angel chuckles. “After many years of oppression, I felt enough self-confidence and the bravery to tell my class, I even said that I was dating a guy. Since then, people who had always
I’m having my teacher’s baby One teenager tells us how she went through hell to be with the man she loves—her teacher
Mr Sands had that messy rugged look that girls died for back in 2013. He wore skinny jeans, and muscle-fitting shirts that showed off his tattoo sleeve—he was the coolest teacher I had ever set my eyes on. Passionate about everything he spoke about he had me hanging off every word he said and wasn’t like a regular 37-year-old man. He was cool and had something about him that just made him so different, and so attractive. He always spoke about his wife and son, about their little road trips off to the countryside at the weekend, and I couldn’t help but feel jealous and bitter of what his wife had. I knew he would never go near me, but I wouldn’t let that stop me. Confiding in my friend about how I felt about Mr Sands, she told me how wrong it was that I was sexually attracted to my tutor, but she also knew that I always got what I wanted. Whilst I ignored all of my friends warnings, I found myself staying behind during my lunch breaks, and at the end of college. Mr Sands understood me the way no other boy my age had. I still remember our first kiss like it was yesterday. It was a Wednesday evening in November and I had stayed behind to use the computer programming software in Mr Sands’ room. He'd offered to buy me Chinese whilst I finished my work. Sitting next to me, as we ate, he began to tell me about an argument he had with his wife the night before, and that she had left him. This was my chance! Leaning across the chicken curry between us I kissed him. As he pulled me closer I felt something switch inside me, I just wanted to be with him from that point. As the weeks went by, we developed a relationship. He had started renting a flat in town, after officially separating from his wife, and would invite me around at the weekends to watch new films he had found and I would clean the flat. But we couldn’t tell anyone about our relationship when I just wanted to scream it from the rooftops. As two years passed many people commented on how I would flirt with Mr Sands in lessons, or that he looked at me differently to the other girls, but there was no way I was going to confirm anything: we could lose our relationship, and he could lose his job. When I finished college I couldn’t help but just feel relieved. During the summer we didn’t see each other much,
instead he spent the summer with his son, and I focused on trying to find a job in the city. September drew in and I started my first job not far from Carnaby Street. The first Friday, at my new job, Mr Sands met me for cocktails, and to have a proper catch up—I thought he was going to end it with me. Instead, he passed a small box over to me, with a key inside and asked me if I wanted to move in, I was so surprised, all day I had been dreading meeting him and now he was taking our relationship to the next step! Of course, I agreed to it, and he posted a picture of me posing with the key on Facebook—and that was when it started. My family saw the pictures, my old teachers commented on it and I was getting constant messages from former classmates about it. The backlash was overwhelming. My parents contacted the police—they wanted me to tell themthat Mr Sands had groomed me and assaulted me, but that wasn’t the case at all. The fact that our relationship had been announced after I had left college and was 18 years-old, there was nothing they could do, and the investigation was closed. Mr Sands on the other hand was advised to hand his notice in and nothing would happen, he decided to leave teaching and began working as a professional barber not far from where I worked. For months, we had anonymous messages of abuse sent to us, we had people sniggering about us as we walked through the
Words: Shannon Lyford
town, and even had a phone call from a popular daytime television programme. Everyone knew about us, and everyone wanted to know the details. It took two years for our relationship to eventually be announced, and it was even worse when everyone knew about what was happening. When nobody knew about us, we were happy and we didn’t have anyone else peering into our relationship, and in the end, it all got too much—we moved far away from London to a sleepy seaside town not far from Bournemouth. It took us a while to settle into life away from home, but we were happy again, we made friends with all our neighbours, nobody would make comments about us, and everyone loved our little relationship. We are currently preparing for the birth of our first child, due to arrive in January 2018, and we could not be happier. Many people still ask me now if I regret the relationship, how I was sort of 'the other woman' for months whilst Mr Sands was married, and in any other case, that it would have been classed as child abuse and grooming, but I can sit here confidently and say that I found nothing wrong with our relationship then, and I still find nothing wrong with our relationship today, maybe if I was a lot younger, then yes, I would see something wrong, but I was in a consensual relationship with him. Now, I am having my teacher’s baby, and we are happily in love.” b 65
Loot boxes, gaming and greed Are video games becoming as expensive and addictive as online gambling?
Words: Dan Marino Image: Marco Verch via Flickr
Since the turn of the century, the video game industry has evolved from an expensive hobby enjoyed by a relatively niche audience, into one of the largest and highest consumed forms of entertainment on the planet. However, an emerging, lucrative form of in-game monetisation has caused a huge backlash and a great deal of scrutiny: the loot box. The loot box is a system within a game where a consumer can spend real-world money to open a crate or box to obtain an unknown quantity or quality of in-game items. In 2017, Triple-A games such as Star Wars Battlefront II, Overwatch, NBA 2K18, and Call of Duty WWII, games popular with those under the age 18, all included a loot box. Such systems are not entirely new. Since 2009, Electronic Arts (EA) have published the FIFA franchise, with the ability to purchase ‘packs’ containing different footballers, which can then be traded on an in-game marketplace. However, as the popularity of loot boxes has grown, so have fears about the similarities between paying to open a loot box and mainstream gambling, and the age of gamers who are engaging in it. Aaron*, 16, says he has been playing video games “since he could hold a controller”. His favourite is FIFA 18. “I’ve already spent £40-£50 on packs. In reality, the game isn’t fun unless you have good players, and you can’t get them without buying packs, unless you get lucky. All my friends play FIFA and we all spend money on packs. It’s exciting, every time you open a pack you get a rush ‘cause there’s a chance you might get a high-rated player.” When asked if opening packs were like gambling, Aaron replies: “It’s not gambling cause you’re guaranteed to get at least something, but it [opening packs] is addictive.” In February 2017, two men were convicted and fined over £250,000 for running a website that allowed users, predominantly children, to buy the in-game currency of the FIFA franchise—called ‘coins’—which can be found in loot boxes. Late in 2017, the Belgian Gambling Commission launched an investigation into the loot box system in video games and stated: “the mixing of money and addiction is gambling.” Koen Geens, Belgium’s Minister of Justice added: “Mixing gambling and gaming, especially at a
to be caught as licensable gambling activity,” meaning the commission would have no legal power to intervene in the UK. Miller does, however, recognise the concerns of parents who feel their children are at risk of exposure to gambling-like practices in video games. “The line between video gaming and gambling is becoming increasingly blurred. Where it does meet the definition of gambling it is our job to ensure that children are protected,” he says. Even though a significant number of the industry’s biggest publishers have integrated loot boxes into their flagship titles, not all creators agree with the model. CD Projekt Red, developers of 2015’s award-winning The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, stated that their newest project, Cyberpunk 2077, will not contain a loot box. Not only have loot boxes in video games been so controversial that legal action is being taken in some parts of the world, they are also dividing the creators of games themselves. Fears that children are being influenced or even directly involved by a type of gambling are widespread and in some cases, vindicated. The future of loot boxes in video games is still unclear, and the question of whether they are introducing children to gambling is yet to be definitively answered. However, one thing is certain—this is only the beginning of the loot box story.
young age, is dangerous for the mental health of the child.”. In China, gambling regulators forced Blizzard Entertainment, developers of Overwatch (which has an estimated player-base of 35 million worldwide), to reveal the exact odds of receiving items of varying quality. For example, an ‘epic’ item will appear once in every 5.5 loot boxes on average, whilst the rarest type of item— known as ‘legendary’ items—will only appear once in every 13.5 loot boxes. So far, such transparency is only required by Blizzard Entertainment for the Chinese version of the game. It is clear that a number of authorities see the loot box system within video games as a form of gambling that is accessible to children, and those authorities are already working towards regulating the practice or banning it altogether. Furthermore, an annual survey of youth gambling published at the end of 2017 by the UK Gambling Commission said 25,000 in the UK children are problem gamblers, with most of those learning to bet through video games or social media.The report says that Britain is “sleepwalking into a future public health storm”, and highlights how children are gambling in a “consequence-free environment”. Tim Miller, the UK Gambling Commission’s executive director explains that if the items obtained via loot boxes are only usable in-game and cannot be converted or “cashed-out” into real-world currency, loot box systems are “unlikely
* Name changed at the request of interviewee b
Exhibition | Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion The exhibition of Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion explores the innovative work of Spanish designer Cristóbal Balenciaga and how he has created a lasting impact on fashion today Once referred to as “the master of us all” by Christian Dior, the exhibition Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion explores the revolutionary designs of Cristóbal Balenciaga, and his lasting impact on fashion. The exhibition, situated in the dedicated fashion space at the Victoria and Albert Museum, is the first ever UK exhibition celebrating the couturier and marks the 100th anniversary of the opening of Balenciaga’s first fashion house in Spain and the 80th anniversary of his Paris fashion house. As you enter, the exhibition itself is split into sections looking closely at his craftsmanship and workrooms, as well as his client’s experiences—where you can find donated pieces from actress Ava Gardner and socialite Gloria Guinness—and his influence on the designers of today. Most of the pieces on display focus on his work during the 1950s and 1960s, the height of his career, and we get to see an up-close and personal view of some of Balenciaga’s most famous designs, from the envelope dress to the baby doll and sack dress. An alternative to Christian Dior’s new look in the 1950s, Balenciaga created new and unusual silhouettes and volumes. Pieces including the sack dress, which eradicated the waistline all together, was a style prediction by Balenciaga created long before its height of popularity in the 1960s: styles including the shift dress are still eminent in today’s fashion. Born in 1895 in Spain, Cristóbal Balenciaga is known for his architectural shapes and manipulation of textiles. Unlike most designers, Balenciaga began with the materials and drew sketches around them. “It is the fabric that decides,” he stated. Iconic garments including the one-seam coat, where a single seam ran under the arm alongside several darts, became so popular during the war, people would risk their lives travelling across Europe just to have one. One of the most dramatic features of the exhibition, however, which will give aspiring designers a field day is the digital X-Ray photography implemented to help break down the extraordinary structures. Thanks to the work of Nick Veasey we get a greater insight towards how Balenciaga created his unusual volumes and signature balloon skirt designs. Alongside this, another collaboration was made with students from London College of Fashion who created replica toiles of garments
to further break down the construction of designs. This is all joined alongside original sketches and fabric swatches that were taken from Balenciaga’s sketchbooks, allowing us to be immersed in the process of creation and uncover the mystery behind his innovative collections. As you follow the exhibition round in the low-lit space, you can see how he drew influence from his Spanish heritage with the use of florals, ruffles and sleeve details (turning a bullfighting clothing into evening gowns). It is no surprise that you might walk around and find it difficult to believe how women of the time would be seen wearing his pieces, considering the futuristic architectural structures. Although the space for his work is limited, you can still find yourself being transported back in time. It is the 1950s and you are a client invited to Balenciaga’s salon show. In this intimate setting, women are walking around a small room in his gowns, holding a number, displaying the collection to respective clients who are writing down the items they wish to order. Even in black and white his work is still mesmerising as it comes to life, rather than on a figure behind a thick glass screen. These shows were exclusive and even journalists were not allowed to view the collections until one month had passed. This was done to protect his designs from being copied. The dedication to his work and clients led Balenciaga’s couture house in Paris to be the most expensive and exclusive at the time. As you move to the upstairs floor
Words and image: Zoe Mundell
space of the exhibition, modernity sets in. You are first greeted by bright lights and luminous white backgrounds with distracting clips of his contemporaries being displayed on the surrounding walls. This is joined alongside a projection in the centre of the room, visually showing his work transforming into pieces from current designers, emphasizing how his legacy has transcended through to the fashion of today. The upstairs show space is filled with the work from his protégés including Oscar de la Renta, Paco Rabanne and Givenchy, to his devotees such as Sybilla and Yoki; as well as the work of the former creative director of Balenciaga, Nicolas Ghesquiere who reinvented Balenciaga’s iconic balloon silhouettes. You can see how each piece on display links to a fragment of Balenciaga’s work and styles. With designers including Gareth Pugh and Iris Van Herpen who continue Balenciaga’s experimentation with textiles, creating abstract shapes from PVC, rubber and thanks to new technological advancements, such as 3D printing. Cristóbal Balenciaga set the pace for designers of today. His influence still echoes through to the current collections including an off the shoulder ski jacket on display taken from the Autumn/ Winter ’16 collection by current creative directive Demna Gvasalia. The exhibition Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion explores the work of the master who set the tone for modern fashion and revolutionised femininity of today, from ready to wear collection to high-street fashion, his influence is injected throughout. b 67
Legends gate crashing weddings Artefact gets an insight into the art of ‘enjoyment ministers’ and one gains such a title
Legends are enjoyment ministers who gatecrash weddings Two-toned Malian mud cloths, tightly hand-crafted wefts of green and yellow Kente, checkered red and blue Kikoy and diamond studded lace brighten up the many banqueting halls of London every week as more and more beautiful Kings and Queens come together to celebrate their union in front of family, friends, friends of friends, legends and enjoyment ministers. With plentiful food, crates of drink and happy dancing aunties it is fair to say amusement, triumph and action are the few feelings that flourish in African traditional weddings. With guaranteed enjoyment who wants to miss out! KetuyaTalks and LovelyLizzyltg definitely don’t and have made weddings part of their hobby list. Not only do they find themselves socialising with old friends from school they get to meet up with new people, admire handsome Yoruba (Nigerian tribe) eye candy and turn right up… all the way to the top. They do not always know the bride and groom at the weddings they appear at. The definition of gate crashers: people who attend events that they are not invited to. For some it may be a little strange that fresh vibrant females in their 20’s would turn up at a wedding that they are not invited to but most African events have open doors and welcome people to enjoy with them. Traditional African weddings, in particular, can have up to 1,000 guests. According to studies at the University of Warick, in 2008, the black African born population of the UK was nearly at 0.5 million . ‘The Migration Observatory 2015’ at the University of Oxford released a chart of the top 10 countries of birth, of migrants in London, of which Nigeria held 4th place. So just imagine how many traditional weddings are taking place in London. Not to talk of Africans that marry other races and ethnic groups outside of Africa and still make sure that they have a traditional wedding. Between the ages of 12 and 15 I became the handbag lady for my older sister and her friends who were about 25 at the time. I was dragged up and down the capital while my sister and her friends partied away. I would basically hold the table for herself and her friends along with their bags and coats while 68
they fashioned their enjoyment like ministers! It never felt lonely as there were always aunties passing by and asking me if I wanted something to eat or drink. At times they would join me at the table and start insulting their husbands slyly. I remember being at a Sierra Leone wedding and an aunt said “my husband is so short I don’t know what to do with him.” I found it so funny and when she pointed him out I really couldn’t help but laugh. Just as I watched their bags and
coats they would also pile the free gifts you tend to get at these types of weddings. From wooden spoons to plastic trays, bottle openers and even tapper wear. Most of the kitchen utensils I have in my house have come from weddings. Now at 25 I honestly have no shame. At work the other day, two African girls were talking about a wedding and I asked them when and where the wedding was taking place because I was going to attend and enjoy! One of the girls said "that wedding is going to be to lit!" and I knew there was potential for a live band and a lot of money getting showered on the bride. Because enjoyment is ministered at weddings and I have the time of my life, I will also be ministering enjoyment when
Words and image: Apai-Ketuya Marchant
I get married and everyone is welcome to come and taste the ‘high time’ and ‘high life’. I thought I found my future husband at a wedding I attended last year. He was a tall Yoruba guy. What a shame. Not to worry I’m a legend, I will find one in the next couple of years. As a child, Andriana Patterson was transported from wedding to wedding. On average she attended a wedding every other month. As a child the vibrant and bold colours of African weddings mesmerised me. “I thought weddings were quite playful. Till this day I enjoy the fact that African weddings are so much fun. There are always people on the dancefloor shaking a leg. When I enter weddings, I am always very happy and it is equally the same when I leave them. “I have never been left hungry at a wedding. There is always food and on the odd occasion when the food is finished there is always so much drink to share. Afro beats are always played at these weddings and that style of music puts everyone in a happy place. Even if you have never heard the song that is playing in the background you can vibes away. “When I go to weddings of people I don’t know it’s so much more relaxing. I am not having to run around or help out (give food and drinks to guests). There are many cases when you come across someone you know but there also cases where you don’t really know anyone. In such cases, I sit back and enjoy the celebration around me. Gossip takes place in every community and I am conscious about this. If I go to weddings and see people I know I prepare myself to know there might be a chance someone may say something whether it’s good or bad. “On my wedding day, I want an enjoyable experience. Honestly, I most likely wouldn’t even know if there were people at my wedding that I don’t know just because I probably will be ecstatic and overwhelmed! But I would definitely let people I don’t know come in and enjoy the party. That’s what makes African weddings special. Even weddings that are not African celebrate the idea of not knowing who might be at your wedding, there are plenty of cases were the invite says ‘plus one’ so you won’t necessarily know who’s going to be there.” LoveLizzyltg’s first wedding experience was African but it was not a traditional wedding. “It was a Cameroo-
nian wedding in Leeds. Actually, this wedding was really good, the music was really good but it was done in a hotel, not a banqueting hall. Everything had to be done for a certain time frame and the wedding had to keep to a schedule which I’m not really used to. I remember we had a limited amount of time to eat the food but it was still good and lively with loads of Cameroonians and the bride and groom looked amazing. “The atmosphere, different colours, dancing, hype and enjoyment is what I love. Everybody just comes together and has fun. Unlike a rave there is no time for animosity at a wedding. Everybody is just there to literally vibes and celebrate two people coming together. “I have several reasons why I go to the weddings of people I don’t know. The first reason is that I am bored and like weddings. Secondly, it’s just part of our culture to go and celebrate at parties whether you know the person or not. I’ve even had parties where I don’t know the people who have turned up and I have never had an issue with it. As long as everyone is well behaved and respectful I do not see anything wrong with attending a wedding if you don’t know who is getting married. “My friend Ijay is the biggest plug for all weddings. She knows about everything in advance because she is a socialite “At my wedding everyone is welcome to come and celebrate my wedding with me as long as everyone is respectful well behaved and well-dressed everyone is welcome because, my wedding is going to be extravagant, it’s going to be amazing, it’s going to be sensational so everybody is welcome to come and experience an extravaganza!” Ijay laughs at Lizzy’s comment and goes on to say: “Weddings are free, you meet different people and the vibe is bubbly!” But she expresses she is not the plug and tells everyone who is reading this article that ‘they should not mind LovelyLizzyltg’. She says she knows about weddings because she also gets invited by friends. Like mentioned weddings in the African community are found out by family and friends. At that point, a wedding crasher will usually know the basics which could be whether it’s an ‘invite only’ function or an open-door
“I would definitely let people I don’t know come to my wedding and enjoy the party” function. This information is very key as you never want to get turfed at the door by a wedge shouldered security man. That is just embarassing, people will just be looking at you thinking why did you not stay at home. However, with so many people just turning up at weddings some couples have decided to keep their LIT weddings on an ‘invite only’ regime otherwise the venues can get over crowded (this does have a more Western approach because Africa weddings are open to all the neighbours and extended community). Wedding crashers dismiss this idea because they believe enjoyment and thrill are good for the mind, body and soul. This approach may be deemed selfish but every blessing is a great blessing on a wedding day. What’s the point of having an aunty at your wedding who you have never really liked but has to be there giving you the same side eye she always has when you can have strangers bring all that sparking energy to the table? The proceedings of African traditional weddings can vary from country to country but the concept is pretty much the same. One of the biggest factors is two families joining to become one. Once the couple has declared their love the groom will put in his request to the bride’s family. This is usually called ‘knock door’ or ‘permit’. The groom will usually come with members of his family and gifts and bride price money are presented. This is a serious negotiation and arguments have been known to take place. The essence is that the future groom has to declare how he is able to look after his future bride. Gifts can vary but in the Western region of Africa, it is very common for Palm wine and kola nut
to be included in the gifts given. If the family of the bride excepts the request of the groom the wedding planning begins. Aside from hiring a wedding co-ordinator and caterers for mountain heaps of food Ashwabe is held into account. ASHWABE: By definition Ashwabe is like a ‘cloth uniform’ that will be worn by most of those who will attend the event Ashwabe can be worn for church functions and funerals. The cloth is the choice of those hosting the event. In Western weddings the only ‘Ashwabe’ worn is by the bridesmaids - they are all in uniform and wear the same dress. The congregation wears what they have, of course, suited for a wedding. This can also be the case in African weddings, however, Ashwabe typically is an extra option. You can buy the cloth or material from the couple and have something sewn for yourself. This is seen as a way of showing support to the bride and groom, adding a new garment to your wardrobe, symbolises a memory of the couple’s wedding and adds a colourful uniform and theme. Some may sew very Western styles and others will stick to styles that are very African like; buba, Kaftans, wrapper, head tie, Kaba. Some traditional weddings are done at the home of the bride but the weddings that legends like to gatecrash are the weddings that are held in banqueting halls. On the day of the wedding, the sounds of traditional drums will play as the groom enters with his groomsmen in style soon followed by the bride and her brides’ maids. Words of wisdom and advice are given to the couple by community elders, pastors and parents. Quite similar to those words that may have been exchanged at the ‘knock door’ except the couple will be together. In Banyangi tradition (a tribe in Cameroon) when the bride comes into the venue she will look for her husband to be while holding palm wine. When she finds her husband she will give him the cup of palm wine to drink and the crowd will cheer. For those of you looking to also upgrade your enjoyment life and start attending weddings. It is not a problem. Start becoming familiar with your African sisters. Feel free to ask them if they know about any weddings coming up. Hashtag #traditionalweddings on a Friday and Saturday, you may be able to find the location on a geotag and join in the fun. b 69
Dinner with an anorexia patient A meal with a young woman whose life was almost ruined by the illness
Words: Danyang Zheng
“Brilliant! I am starving now. It is 22:00 in the evening, and I can go to bed instead of having dinner. I can lose so much weight this way, and let’s see tomorrow…” This is the sentence that I wrote down three years ago in my diary. The date on the page is February 4th 2015. That was the second year that I decided to lose weight. During that period I was making every effort to routinely starve myself. I did not notice that I had anorexia at that time, but the feeling now is so true and unforgettable. Surprisingly, I’m having dinner with my friend Tristina, a girl who is also an anorexia patient. She barely goes out for dinner, to be exact, she never has dinner since she began loosing weight. We are sat facing each other, me holding a bowl of rice in my hand and gobbling the food, Tristina is burying her head in her hands,
In China, a girl whose weight is over 110 lb (50 kg) will be considered as overweight. This is an abnormal unwritten rule, but girls in China agree with it— they hate their plump bodies. According to the NHS: “Anorexia is an eating disorder and serious mental health condition. Anorexia can also put your life at risk. It’s one of the leading causes of deaths related to mental health problems. Deaths from anorexia may be due to physical complications or suicide.” “I love food, more than anything else. To be honest, for the most part of my day, I think about what I want to eat,” Tristina admits. What keeps her away from food is the achievement of losing weight. “I weigh myself every morning before eating as my weight in the morning is supposed to be the lowest in a day.
watching me and ignoring the delicious food on the table. She developed anorexia by only eating vegetables and low-sugar fruits for the past six months. If I did not “beg” her to come out for dinner with me, she would definitely not come. She has totally lost her appetite and she seems to always refuse food, seeing them as simply 'calories'. Since she began, she has lost 66 lb (30 kg), dropping from 143 lb to 77 lb (65 to 35 kg). At 5"4' feet (163 cm), for her height, her weight is far below normal; she is clinically underweight and suffering from malnutrition. Despite this, nobody can force Tristina to eat anything unless she is willing to. “If I eat more than I expected, or feel full instead of starving, I will feel guilty and even get into a panic. I am so afraid of getting obese again,” Tristina said.
Every time I see the number decreasing on the weighing scale it brings me euphoria which makes me feel that the starvation that I am suffering is worth it, thus I am encouraged. Gradually, the decrease of the figure cannot satisfy me anymore, even worse, any rise of it could evoke the anxiety and depression. I move the focus on only the number of my weight instead of the shape of my body. That is a nightmare and no one can help me.” One could argue it’s not necessary for Tristina to keep slim, as she’s not a model nor an actress. Nor is she a celebrity who needs to keep a thin and charming body for a better look. She is a normal girl and does not need to be photogenic like superstars. She also knows that losing weight will damage her health; she told me that, at first, she just wanted to lose weight because when she saw herself in the mirror, she thought of herself as "too fat”. “I was desperate to get rid of my fleshy and round face, wide shoulders, chubby body and thick limbs. I wanted to beat myself when I looked in the mirror” she said. I cannot imagine what she looked like when she was 'fat'. Under the light, all I can see are her sunken cheeks and her collar bone sticking out. Her arms seem to be fragile and so slender that I tend to worry about breaking them if I pull too hard. The extra small T-shirt is still too large on her skeletal body. “For others, food is for enjoyment, but for me, it is just for maintaining life,” she says. I feel like I can relate to what she’s feeling, as I myself experienced the same thing. It brings back memories from about three years ago, when I did a lot of things in order to lose weight. I have used many extreme methods to starve myself. I counted the calories every single day of every single meal. It was not even a true meal to be honest, as for me a whole apple or a cup of semiskimmed milk was too much since the apple is a high-sugar fruit and semiskimmed milk still has fat in it. I have read diet books and kept a food diary. I also read the food labels on the packaging, measuring and weighing portions. I knew that the average intake of calories per person should be around 1,700 for girls and 2,300 for boys, so logically, if I burned off more calories than I ate every day, I could lose weight. At first, I ate twice a day without
having dinner and I was encouraged by the dramatic weight loss and became more strict about the amount of food intake which made me reduce even more. I ate only a sandwich or two bananas plus a bottle of skimmed milk for a day. I only ate low-fat meals which supply maximum 500 calories a day. I cut out carbohydrates like rice, noodles and even potatoes and ate as little as I could. Ice cream, cookies and bread were strictly prohibited on my menu. In order to reduce the intake of sodium and fat, there was no sauce in my dishes. In order to control my calorie intake, I smoked when I felt hungry as the tobacco helped suppress my hunger. During that period, every day was the same taste for me — insipidity. With an empty stomach, my bedtime became much shorter, and the quality of sleep
in the gym everyday to burn up 400 calories by running on the treadmill, after a month, I felt too tired to persist. I would rather eat less.” The lack of nutrition and energy over that long period exhausted her and made her feel dizzy and nervous. Sometimes she would “indulge” because she craved for the strong taste of food. She would eat some fried foods or chocolate cupcakes, but punish herself after by vomiting. “After I indulge myself, I will go to the toilet to make myself vomit. This is the only way to relieve anxiety,” she explains, “it is disgusting and torturous but if I do not throw up those ‘bad’ foods, it will become a spiritual pain instead, because I cannot forgive myself and my efforts will be ineffectual.” When weight loss has become an addiction and mental illness, it is hard for the patient to save herself. According to
“When your body doesn’t get the fuel it needs it goes into starvation mode...if self-starvation continues and more body fat is lost, medical complications pile up and your body and mind pay the price.” worsened. I found that I was unable to fall asleep after lying in bed at midnight, so the maximum sleeping time for me was five hours. I got up early, around 6:00 am, and began to mop up food in the kitchen like a hungry ghost—I only dared to stuff myself in the morning with breakfast. I was moody, my skin was a dark yellow, dry and rough. The sky I could see was grey. I lost motivation and interest in work or study, and nothing could make me happy. Fortunately, I realised it was making me feel suicidal and decided to try and pull myself back on to the right track. Something that Tristina hasn’t done. Tristina keeps doing exercise every day. She always does too much exercise in the gym which can consume her energy. “I force myself to spend two hours
HelpGuide.org; “While the causes of anorexia are uncertain, the physical effects are clear. When your body doesn’t get the fuel it needs to function normally, it goes into starvation mode and slows down to conserve energy. Essentially, your body begins to consume itself. If self-starvation continues and more body fat is lost, medical complications pile up and your body and mind pay the price.” “What stops me from hurting myself is my father’s words,” Tristina said, remembering the first time she saw her father cry. “He said that I am my parents only child, if I die, what about them.” Now, Tristina has agreed to accept medical treatment and will start to take pills. Although she is still not able to eat much, she has stopped counting calories and caring too much about her weight. b 71
‘Prison isn’t part of the plan, it’s part of the game’ A drug dealer gives an insight to his ‘business’
Words: Anjuman Rahman Image: Mike Cogh via Flickr
The interview began with him sitting across the table, comfortably leaning back against the chair, legs stretched and arms folded. He was ready. Kev is 18. He’s Asian, tall, slim and youthful. He had a high-fade haircut and was dressed in a crisp white T-shirt, khaki tracksuit bottoms and trainers. It was a location of his choice. Although Kev disclosed his addiction and acknowledged a few deficiencies since consuming the illicit drugs regularly, he was adamant it was not a ‘big deal’. Despite the serious psychiatric effects that can be induced by smoking it, from Kev’s perspective, weed is harmless because it doesn’t kill you. Habitual use of weed is associated with a range of long term developmental and social dangers. In 2014, a study by Northwest Medicine of teen marijuana illustrated how marijuana significantly impacts the brain activity causing it to decrease and look similar to the brains of people with schizophrenia. Drug use also leads to feelings of paranoia along with hallucinations, trouble in concentration, decreased ability to perform and complete tasks that require co-ordination. Kev is convinced he has the willpower and self-confidence to stop whenever, he quietly shrugged, “I just don’t want to right now ‘cos it’s not that deep.” He spoke of growing up thinking drugs were something too serious to even think about, but watching movies revolving around gang fights and drugs, he was intrigued by the glamorisation and thrill of it and again, coming to the conclusion that ‘it’s not that deep’. Noticing my laptop open, he leant forwardand reminded me for the umpteenth time: no voice recording, no pictures, no names. Once he was content with the setting again, he sat back down to continue his story: He began dealing at the age of 12 while attending a strictly religious school based in East London; not taking but selling, he began smoking and sniffing from year 10. He and several friends would hang around Brick Lane after school as ‘shotters'.Now he’s ‘gone up the ladder’, he’s progressed as the ‘middleman’ and so makes a lot more money. Demonstrating the ranking with his hands, he explained the hierarchy. The supplier grows the drugs which he sells to the middleman who sells it to the next shotter, who then finally sells to the ‘ordinary people’.
with a weapon on the premises. Although his mother has tried and failed to help, and then tried to kick him out of the house when he turned 18, he declared his value for family and repeated the love for his mother and two sisters. He was adamantly in denial of inflicting any trouble or stress at home and his family members, “I can love them and be doing my stuff at the same time “cos I don’t shit at where I live.” According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: “When a family member has a drug or alcohol addiction, they have a disease that has the power to affect and hurt their entire family, including parents, children, brothers, sisters, grandparents, or any family member who is a part of their life.” Kev’s mobile lit up as he received call from a private number: “Yo…again? Eyyy yeah I got it, cuz, I got it! Shout me later. I’ll bunk you there in an hour I ain’t about right now, yeah? Safe.” The phone call had him ecstatic, a buyer wanted 15g, an easy £100. Kev’s been involved with the police in several occasions, “The police are jokemen, they’re funny people, fuckin’ racist, I hate them because they lock up real niggas in prison!” He gives us graphical violent accounts; “I know someone who had 100 mans surrounding one guy’s yard because he owed money. Another guy got stabbed 22 times just ‘cause he owed £10.” Kev himself has stabbed, robbed and kidnapped. “I stabbed ‘cause an opp touched and smacked my bredrin’ with a hammer. And I kidnapped ‘cause he owed me pees, then he tried starting a fight so when we caught him slipping we dragged him in a car and took him far.” Leaning forward, waving his pointed fingers smirking: “Prison isn’t part of the plan, but it’s part of the game, and who wouldn’t wanna play such a fun game?” Since the phone call, he was distracted and conspicuously eager to leave. He would glance at his phone while talking and his humour that was present at the start slowly faded. In his denial and ignorance, Kev was contradicting everything he said. Not with what he was just saying, but also his expressions and pauses. Almost like he didn’t want to understand. Kev was a boy who grew up with a silver spoon, but he chose the rough ‘roadman’ lifestyle and communicates in raps more than words. b
Having started a partnership last year with his cousin Ray, 21, it was clear he wasn’t going to stop anytime soon. He told us that 25 per cent goes to Ray while 75 per cent is kept for himself. They both live in Camden and have the same connections across Brixton, Stepney and Tottenham. “I’m gonna keep buying and selling till I hit enough. You don’t involve emotions in business, all I’m doing for now is reinvesting in drugs. I’ll save the regret for the future,” he boasted. He provided an insight to his earnings: one gram sells for £10, 3.5g for £30, 7g for £60, 14g for £100, 28g for £200.
“The best thing I’ve spent my drug money on was my 18th birthday. I funded it all myself; a night at the Four Seasons and spent over £1,000 on flavs and alcohol. The most memorable night of my life!” The question which clearly took the most courage to answer, why did he start it? “To fit in, peer pressure, everyone around me was taking it, one way or another it’s always got to do with a friend but no-one wants to say that because they sound like pussies you know?” Kev lives with his mum and no longer communicates with his father. “He’s a crackhead, I hate him, a complete nitty. Mans who smoke crack are nitties, that’s passing the limit. I know of ‘em but I’ve never touched ’em.” Kev denies any childhood influence, the absence of a father figure in his life since the age of 11 has not affected him a single bit he says. His mother sent him to a private primary, a private secondary and employed private after-school tutors. “I’d be at Woodhouse College banging out A-stars if I didn’t get in to dealing. My ambition was to be successful, but now it’s all money, and it’s easier than all the stress of exams, you get me?” He revealed that he was expelled in his first year at college after being caught
‘Twin Peaks’ Lives Artefact meets the indie band who named themselves after one of the biggest cult shows of all time
Naming a band after one of the most beloved TV shows of all time might seem a little risky, but thankfully, for the Chicago lo-fi quartet Twin Peaks, their music gathered enough hype and has had such a positive reaction that they were able to drop out of school and pursue a full-time career as a band. Their youthful enthusiasm and energy fuels their tours and the band still tries to do shows at house parties in every city they visit; they are never deterred by a small crowd — the five-piece has seen the crowds turn out for what they do. Twin Peaks have so far released three very intimate and loose records. “I would hate to see you walk away, But I won’t cry or beg for you to stay,” sings Cadien Lake James in the opening track of the bands’ third album Down in Heaven. We spoke to Cadien and the bassist, Jack Dolan, the boys gave us an insight into their music and live shows. What’s your first memory of music? Cadien: I remember listening to The Cure’s greatest hits! Jack: My parents used to listen to The Beatles a lot, and my dad would sing me some Beatles songs before I went to sleep sometimes. Is there any particular message that you wanted to share with your last album Down in Heaven or would you rather the listener interpret your music however they please? Cadien: For me does not matter, take it what it means to you. We did not go into it with, like, a theme in mind, but it seems like a lot of heartbreak songs. Jack: It is funny, like, people do come up with their own interpretations. I guess what’s funny is that people always try to reference the music to their own life. I suppose that is just life or whatever, growing up. A lot of our music is based around there because we all still are growing. Cadien: I suppose the title gives it some frame to me, Down in Heaven. Things are going like you’re in heaven, but you are still feeling down. The bittersweet stuff, something like that. How did Baby Blue come about? Cadien: That’s my sister’s nickname. My brother wrote the lyrics for that. I
remember I was like 15-16 and it was just about my sister going to college. I missed her when she was gone, and we would just always talk on the phone. I realised that your music is divided between melancholic songs and super fun upbeat ones! Do you find sadness or happiness more inspiring to create? Or is it a mixture of both? Cadien: I usually write songs about the bad feelings. I guess it is just a better way to cope with them, to deal with the good feelings and just live your day-to-day life. But when I pick up my guitar it’s to translate sad emotions, perhaps. Jack: Yeah, no one really wants to hear about how you’re happy and chilled. Cadien: Yeah, true. (laughs) Your shows have a reputation of being extremely wild. What makes a good live show for you? Cadien: Surely, just an enthusiastic crowd and a decent sound on the stage so we can hear each other. That’s about it, to have people chill and have fun with us. Jack: And have a couple of beers. I guess you get asked this question a lot but what’s your favourite character from the Twin Peaks show? Cadien: I’m a fan! Clay and I wrote a comment the other day on Instagram about the new season. Jack: Do you not like it? Cadien: He doesn’t like it!
Words: Emilia Slupecka Image: Daniel Topete
Do you like it then? Cadien: Yeah, but he made a good point that I will like anything to do with David Lynch. Which made it hard to talk about because I just like everything he does! But I don’t know, there’s a lot of great characters, like the kid Tremond. He always makes me smile! Jack: I like Lucy Moran. I haven’t actually watched any of the new seasons yet. She’s great, and we met her cousin or something, recently. I’m also a big fan of Laura Palmer. Cadien: Ohhh, I didn’t wanna say who is my favourite character, but she’s my favourite character for sure! How does song writing process work with nearly all of you contributing to that front? Cadien: We always worked together on little parts here and there, but it used to be a bit more like adapting the song to the parts. Now we come to the studio with solid ideas all the time and just kind of play around with each other. What’s happening next for you? Are you going to release a new record anytime soon? Cadien: Right now, we’re doing this single series for the rest of the year. We’ve got a different seven-inch coming out about once a month for five or six months. We’re also building a studio in Chicago, and we’re going to work on some new stuff soon. Just keep making music! b 73
Seizing the high street An insight into getting the most out of high-street shopping this season
Words: Denieka Lafayette
For the majority of the population, when it comes to shopping for clothes the high street is where they turn to. It has been this way since the 70’s when some of the UK’s favourite brands like Aldo and Ann Summers were launched. Since then times have changed; but the public’s love for shopping remains. According to the Omnico retail gap barometer, physically browsing shops is still favoured despite a variety of alternative options offered by the internet. So, what exactly is it that continues to entice people to part with their money, causing them to splurge recklessly on that new coat which seemed like a bargain, but now catches dust at the back of the wardrobe? People love shopping, but shopping smart still appears out of reach. In order to shop smart, you have to be in tune with the tricks that retailers have set in place to entice you to splash the cash. This is a guide of top tips that will enable you to get the most out of shopping on the high street.
says Jennifer. Many retailers offer student discount so be sure to download the ‘Unidays’ app or carry your university pass when shopping. Another way to make use of discounts is sharing. If you have a friend who works for a high street brand arrange to borrow their discount. Nia also told us that when shopping, she heads straight to the sales. Sales are great. What isn’t great is buying random items you don’t need just because they are on sale. When shopping sales try to go in with a plan. Is there something you’ve had your eye on for a while? A shop that is normally out of your price range? Sales are a perfect time to pick up these items. An extra tip is get in there quick, or right at the end. Obviously if you make the first wave of the sale you’ll be left with more options. Failing that, right at the end of sales further reductions are made and occasionally additional lines are added. Get familiar with sale times. Most sales go on at the end of each season so retailers can get rid of the old stock and make way for new stock. According to MoneySavingExpert. com: “A few days before a sale, staff often re-sort garments by type. So, if you spot them fiddling with the racks, wait before purchasing.”
TIP ONE: VISUAL MERCHANDISING Don’t let the world of bloggers and social media influencers fool you. There are still many people out there who aren’t ‘fashionistas’ and when it comes to putting looks together they’re virtually clueless. We spoke to Nia (@Niathelight) a student and social media influencer who explained her love for shopping on the high street. “I love that I have the ability to see something and know how it will look on my body and pick it straight away based on the colour and texture!” For those like Nia who like to try before they buy, but don’t always have the time, mannequins can do their job well. Seeing items on a ‘body’ and in person can be far more striking. You are able to look at an item and envision it on your own body. Mannequins also help demonstrate how to put separate pieces together as one outfit. It is, however, important to bear in mind your own shape. No matter how fabulous the mannequin has those wet look trousers looking; you have to remember, she may not have that Kim K booty to squeeze in or those extra couple of inches of leg that God graced you with. These are all factors that can alter the fit of a garment and the overall look of an outfit. 74
Try to analyse what it is that you like about the look and how it’s been put together so you can recreate it.. Buying pieces that aren’t you is a big way to waste money and often when shopping on the high street we don’t realise just how much these little increments add up to a big cash loss.
TIP TWO: RETURNS AND EXCHANGES When shopping, don’t shy away from familiarising yourself with the returns policy. Jennifer (Instagram @jennifermendes) a graduate in fashion retail explains how often when shopping she tends to “pick up every single thing I like, if I really like it I won’t even try it on!”. For shoppers like Jennifer you may wish to make returns on items you later change your mind on. So, don’t lose your receipt, as wanting to make a return and having no idea where you placed your receipt is painful and irritating. A lot of shops offer email receipts. Grabbing one of these avoids that frustration of lost receipts, it’s also a lot easier to check when your receipt expires (expired receipts are also pretty problematic when attempting to get your money back). TIP THREE: SALES & DISCOUNTS When shopping on the high street, discounts are key to saving that coin and looking fabulous for less. “I’d pick Topshop over River Island because Topshop offers a student discount, so I’m saving,”
SHOP APP-Y Shoptaggr is another great app. It enables you to ‘favourite’ items. As soon as any reduction is made you’ll be notified, remember what I said about getting there first? Shoptaggr helps you do exactly that. That pretty much concludes our tips. So, ensure you remember them before grabbing your credit card, favourite tote and head to the high street (How could I forget, bring bags. Five pence saving is still a saving!) SOLO RIDER OR GROUP GLIDER? Both Nia and Jennifer said they have a preference for shopping alone. Are you the same, or do you need that moral support? Some company can give you a gentle reminder that you have ten tops exactly like that at home, or some encouragement that your curves look amazing in that body-con dress. Happy shopping! b
Brown womens’ culture is not a fashion accessory The bindi is being appropriated by white women
The bindi is traditionally a red dot worn in between the eyebrows by Hindu or Jain women. It represents the third eye of spiritual sight. It is also worn when women get married to show commitment to the long-life and well-being of their husbands. However, in more recent times the bindi has been worn by non-Asian white women, often as part of their festival looks or in YouTube tutorials. Celebrities like Kylie Jenner, Iggy Azalea and Gwen Stefani have donned bindis for their music videos, festival looks and even red carpet events. Many believe that wearing a bindi ignores the religious and cultural history behind it and that such actions are cultural appropriation and causes offence to many Asian women. It allows people to wear a bindi and yet remain prejudiced or at least complicit to its people and the injustices that they face. “The religious or cultural significance of South Asian aesthetics is quite vague at times and is often multi-cultured; a few cultures outside of South Asia wear bindis, for example, such as in South East Asia,” says Sharan Dhaliwal, the founder and editor-in-chief of the magazine Burnt Roti, which was founded in 2016 and focuses on celebrating South Asian talent. “Whether there is cultural significance or not, the main issue here is the erasure of a culture which is usually discriminated against. By adopting aesthetics, but erasing the culture it’s from, you’re choosing what suits your privilege at the time. This includes South Asians adopting black culture aesthetically without actively using their privilege to fight alongside them,” Dhaliwal said. During the 2013 MTV Movie Awards, Selena Gomez performed her single Come and Get It. While performing the song Gomez wore a bindi, South Asian dress and used Bollywood-themed choreography; the song itself has a Tabla beat and Bollywood themes. Gomez received criticism from Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, who said: “The bindi on the forehead is an ancient tradition in Hinduism and has religious significance, it is sometimes referred to as the third eye, and it is an auspicious religious and spiritual symbol.” Gomez defended herself, saying: “I think the song has that Hindu, tribal feel
and I wanted to translate that. I’ve been learning about my chakra and bindis and the culture — it’s beautiful.” Cultural appropriation has been heavily discussed on social media in recent years. While some say that it is all part of multiculturalism and wearing things from other cultures is a way of embracing the other culture, people fail to realise the struggles people within that culture face. The lack of South Asian representation, for example, is a not so widely discussed topic but a very important one. South Asian men regularly get the role of terrorists in film and TV. This plays into the stereotype that all Muslims are terrorists. South Asian women are seen even less in mainstream TV and media and often play into their own stereotype as well. Star Wars: Rogue One star Riz Ahmed spoke about diversity at the House of Commons in 2017. ‘’Its sometimes the most fantastical and unrealistic stories that make the biggest impact, but even in those stories what people are looking for is the message they belong that they are part of something that they are seen and heard and despite or perhaps because of the uniqueness of their experience they are valued they want to feel represented’’ Ahmed talked about the problems that lack of representation can present: “When we fail to represent people switch off, they switch off on telly, they switch off at the ballot box and they retreat to other fringe narratives which is sometimes very dangerous’’ Sharan Dhaliwal said: “Cultural appropriation for me is when somewhere
Words: Zaynah Butt Image: Tejal Patel via Flickr
like ASOS sells a tikka, renames it ‘head jewellery’, charges £20 and removes any association with south Asians. It’s profiting via privilege and erasure. One minute you’re called a curry scented bitch and the next minute, that very person is uploading a photo of them at a festival wearing bindis & henna’. “We can’t sit down with every person who wears cultural jewellery and find out about their stance on racial discrimination. But until racial and cultural equality becomes a widely practiced theory, it’s easier to assume that a cultures aesthetics are there’s and instead of adopting it, find a way to help these people gain the equality they’re fighting for on a daily basis. Especially since it’s all based on aesthetics, yet the things they’re wearing can sometimes have significant cultural meaning. Such as black women and their hair,” Dhaliwal continued. As a society, we need to understand the impact that cultural appropriation has on the people of the appropriated culture, regardless of whether it’s South Asian culture, Black culture or any minority culture. Sit down with your friends who are people of colour and discuss their culture, learn about their history and heritage and gain a better understanding of how you can appreciate and not appropriate. People should also speak out about the injustices that you see people of colour going through and if you aren’t sure about something ask, if you aren’t sure if something is offensive ask. The way forward is to actually learn about each other’s culture and not just appropriate them. b 75
The authentic fakes The world of phoney artefacts highlighted by CSM student Kiri Emmerson’s art performance
Fake artefacts surround us in our everyday life but we don’t realise it; whether it’s paintings, handbags, sculptures or watches, the 'fake' makes money. There are many websites, books, and blogs providing advice on how not to get scammed into buying fake items. But for some people, fake is good enough. Looking into the value of the fake, the unvalued, in the world, one Central St. Martins (CSM) student, Kiri Emmerson, recently staged an art performance based around fake artefacts and ‘fake realness’. The idea behind the performance was to prove that it is easy to create pieces that look very much like the real deal. The works closely resembled pieces which could have been potentially found in Egyptian, Scythian, Ancient Greek times; the artefacts looked very authentic, however they were made in her studio with easily accessible tools. The performance included several pieces which Emmerson presented very professionally such as placing the art on velvet cushions or wrapping them in silk adding to the realness of the fake. The inspiration for the fake artefacts art performance actually came from a friend who made a funny joke but it got the fine art student thinking about the world of fake artefacts and how simple they can be to recreate. “I was at this art exhibition opening where there were so many people, in amazing designer clothes as they do, milling around at the opening and I was with my friend and she turned to me and she said "Oh next year I’m going to come head to toe in fake Dior". Emmerson then went on to explain her thoughts on fake artefacts in terms of art and why she felt they were so individual: “When you look at artefacts in museums the artefacts have meaning you know, old, old things with history, with a past behind them that can be linked to certain context, cultural events, certain time periods and often you know they tell us a lot about people or places that we mayor might not have known another way.” The third year student has produced a variety of work in her time at CSM but has also previously made fake artefacts. Some of her previous props and replicas of old objects have been featured in films, pieces such as cigarette packets and an ‘Order of the Red Star’s’ certificate that was used in a Soviet-Russian film (made 76
by previous London College of Communication students). The pieces have been displayed in an old grandmother clock in the style of a 16th century curiosity cabinet: “I know a number of people in film class who graduated last year and I ended up making props for a lot of films. Props are really interesting because a lot of the time you’re making something almost exactly as it is in real life, like there’s props in films that function exactly as they do but they are never quite the thing that they are.” Although many people obsess over having the real deal when it comes to art for others the fake artefacts are just as good even though they don’t have the history and meaning. “Especially things with text, script writing is really amazing. But also, what materials things are made of because it is what those people had access to—how developed the tools that they had were to make these things and when you think about how much value these items hold, they kind of increase but as time goes on they incrementally increase because we’re getting further and further away from their point of conception.” One of Emmerson’s pieces was greatly inspired by Hesoid, one of the original ancient classical story tellers featuring lines from the poem, The Theogony. This famous work describes the origins and genealogies of the Greek Gods and was composed in 700 BCE. The Hesoid-inspired piece took main stage during the art show and was presented
Words and images: Molly Burgess
on a velvet cushion adding to the look of fake authenticity. To anyone not in the know about their art it would definitely look like a valuable piece. Other fake artefacts in the performance included little totems which are meant to bring good luck, one of the totems was made with some sheep wool from Wales which supposedly is ‘meant to catch evil thoughts in the net’. Many artefacts come with a history of background information, whether they are bringing good luck, protection or hold a power. Although fake artefacts ‘cannot have’ that exact same meaning it doesn’t change the connotations it delivers. The smaller pieces in the performance were all presented in a silk cloth only being handled with gloves on to add to the feeling of the performance, it made the viewers of the show respect the art more and made them seem more valuable. After being surrounded by so many pieces of ‘fake art’ which look incredible it makes you think about all of the fake items that are in everyday life of today. The majority of people will undoubtedly come into contact with fake items every day at some point or another whether they see people on the street with fake fashion brands, see fake art or artefacts being sold or own any themselves. Fake is almost becoming so common now that it is arguably more accepted. However, authentic pieces obviously still hold the most value and always will have more history behind them. b
The rise of Russian music? Contemporary Russian sounds are reaching new audiences
Words: Valentina Bulava Images: Pixabay & Sergei Valmon
As a Russian living in London, I visit Russian events and parties quite often. The fact that I see more and more international students attending these events and enjoying them, makes me ask: Is Russian music becoming more popular on an international scale? To try and answer this question, Artefact spoke to DJ Stylezz, awarded the best club DJ 2016 in Russia at the VKLYBE.TV Awards. He is known as a talented international DJ, performing in top clubs all over Russia, London, Dubai, Monte Carlo and many other locations around the world. The last time he performed in London was at a Russian Halloween party which included some international guests alongside the typical Russian crowd. DJ Stylezz tells us that Russian music makes up 70 per cent of his playlists, although there are obviously tours to European clubs where Russian music is not always his first choice. DJ Stylezz adds that in London, with all the Russian parties, Russian music has developed. “London nowadays follows the Russian music development, and it is nice to see “hot tracks”, which have only just made it into the music rotation in Moscow, become very well known to a London audience,” he shares. DJ Stylezz enjoys the fact that his music palate is eclectic, with Russian and international music playing a major role in his sets. As a DJ he notices that other nations really love and enjoy Russian music. Stylezz says that he notices other countries taking an interest in Russian dance
is still one of their primary languages, for example, Lithuania, Ukraine, Latvia, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan. “But if you speak about the countries that have never had Russian ancestry then, in my opinion, there is still a lot of room for development. And in order to grow in that direction Russian artists need to start singing their songs in English language, as this language dominates the music market,” DJ Allisone believes. He adds that there are examples of some Russian songs which have English re-makes, that have later become hits for many dance floors across the globe. Once again, an example from him is Welcome to St Tropez, by Timati, who originally released the song in Russian. Even though, he adds, that the foreign market is the place where you compete on a global stage with thousands of other artists. Speaking about the popularity of events, DJ Allisone says that success might depend on the Russian economy, especially if we are talking about concerts of Russian artists abroad. If the Russian market is doing well, then many venues will invite Russian performers to nightclubs in order to attract local Russian-speaking audiences to visit their venues. It is especially common in places where wealthy Russian speaking people either live or spend their holidays, e.g. Monaco, Dubai, and London. “At the end, I think the artists in Russia will eventually start singing their songs in English or at least write songs in both languages, in order to try their luck in foreign markets,” Allisone told us. As ever, it depends on demand, and demand, in this case, depends on the wealth of the public. DJ Allisone is sure that the main listeners of Russian artists will always remain a Russian-speaking crowd if the songs are sung in Russian. He thinks that if the music is written in English then there would be a better opportunity for global fame. But will Russian music lose its appeal? Although Russian music has a better chance at global fame with the translation of its songs, it could lose the value and culture of true Russian music, which is what draws people in so naturally. The Russian music industry has every chance of moving forward in the global market. b
and hip-hop music, especially in London and even in France now. He credits the track Welcome to St Tropez for the growth in this appreciation of Russian music. “It is pleasure to see that Russian Londoners are well adapted to Russian music which is in the taste of Moscow,” he adds. Lincoln Lim, a law student at the University of Hertfordshire who comes from Malaysia tells Artefact of his love for Russian music. Even though he does not understand the language, the music itself just speaks to him and he can picture stories playing out in his mind while listening to the songs. “Another reason would be because Russian music is lit,” he laughs. His favourite songs are Talisman and Monday Tuesday by MoT, a famous Russian rapper. After attending a Russian Christmas party, Stella, from Croatia, declared her love for Russian music and how it mixes in with US and UK hits. She recalls enjoying the party with a friend, and noting that she will definitely visit more, further evidence that Russian music is growing in popularity in London. Student Project, a community which organises Russian parties and events in London, is open to all students and other guests. Artefact spoke to DJ Allisone, CEO and Events Manager of Student Project London, to find out whether there is a growth in popularity of the Russian music culture. He tells us that the Russian music market is very large not just in Russia but also abroad. Generally, people from post-Soviet countries listen to Russian music because the Russian language
LGBT in the older community When a disease is capable of robbing you of your mind how do you find a way to stay visible?
Words: Jennifer Freitas De Castro Image: Johan via Flickr
Summer 2018 was announced as the deadline for a new government green paper on care and support for older people. Announced in November, last year, the paper proposes improvements for care and support for senior citizens; in particular, how the government plans to tackle the ageing population. This announcement comes at a crucial time for the social care sector and LGBT rights activists who have been endlessly campaigning to raise awareness and improve mental health services for all, especially, those in the community. Yet, there are many who intentionally stay out of the limelight resulting in a grey area of individuals who rarely, if ever, find the care they need. Senior members of society who identify themselves as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered have become part of an invisible class of citizens when it comes to life later on and especially when it comes to mental health issues. There are several factors that, according to professionals, contribute to this ‘silenced’ group of individuals including bullying and discrimination against LGBT individuals, lack of sufficient training for care workers, as well as a general stigma surrounding mental health. Damian Green, First Secretary of State and Minister for the Cabinet Office, acknowledges the difficulties faced by the social care sector: “An ageing population needs a long-term solution for care, but building a sustainable support system will require some big decisions.” However, when you are dealing with mental health illnesses such as dementia, a progressive neurological disorder, which overtime robs an individual of their memory, cognitive abilities as well as their ability to communicate, it soon becomes clear that a deeper understanding of the issue is required. For those from the LGBT community, facing a dementia diagnosis is life changing. In 2015, the Alzheimer’s Society reported more than eighty-five thousand people who were living with dementia in the UK alone. It is estimated that by 2025 the number of people living with dementia will rise above one million. Sally Knocker, a consultant trainer with Dementia Care Matters and an Opening Doors London Rainbow Cafe Co-ordinator, has never shied away from speaking out about mental health care for
the help they need and the government not having realistic data to help improve an already dire situation. Ageism also plays a role in the stereotyping and prejudice experienced by people in the community according to Sally. “Older people are not considered sexual beings let alone gay people. Your average young person would not be able to get their head around a 70-year-old being interested in sex. I had one lady who was 102 who was found regularly masturbating so the care home had to buy her a sex toy.” Speaking of the care workers, Sally told me, they could not believe a woman of her age still even thought about sex. Responses to incidents such as this serves to highlight the often “benign thoughtlessness” as Dr Julia Botsford, from Dementia UK, puts it, that older generations face. Although the Equality Act can defend people from being discriminated against it does not always mean it does not happen. “It should be about ensuring the right staff are employed and where there are problems they are addressed by the right people. Homophobia can potentially come, not only, from staff but also from other patients,” Julia said. Many people from older generations will have married heterosexual partners. Effectively, on paper they will appear heterosexual. This often leaves loved ones and care professionals at a loss in terms of providing individualised-targeted care. Personal beliefs, including religion, as well as culture and background can often conflict with those of LGBT patients. According to Sally the big elephant in the room is religion. “In my experience, a lot of the workforce [in the care sector] that come from Eastern-European and African countries have very strong religious and cultural beliefs. I have had people praying at the back of the room. In one incident as I started a training course one person asked me what causes this perversion and how to stop it.” So, where does one go from here? “People are so nervous about being accused of being racist that the whole topic becomes quite complex.” Sally told us. “Especially, in the post-Brexit era we find ourselves in, where we do not want to encourage any more prejudice or racism.” Stonewall, an LGBT rights charity, collates information and data to highlight
those in the LGBT community. For Sally dementia care for LGBT members is a complex issue and she goes on to highlight several factors including religion, language, sexuality and ageism. Understanding the background of an individual who would have grown up in the 60s and 80s is a harrowing reminder that not that long ago we lived in very different times. In fact, The Buggery Act 1533 was the country’s first civil sodomy law. The Act defined ‘buggery’ as an unnatural sexual act, that goes against the will of God and man, and it remained a capital offence until 1861.
“A lot of the older generation would have lived through a time when they would have been labelled mentally ill or criminal”
“When you think about it a lot of the older generation would have lived through a time where they would have been labelled mentally ill or criminal. Especially, in the case of gay men before 1967. They would have been in complete fear of losing their jobs, or losing their families. It is a history that those of us, who are gay and living in current times, could not even begin to contemplate,” Sally said. One of the biggest problems faced by government organisations is understanding the real numbers of people in the community. “People are not going to make themselves known to services,” Sally told us, “because of their past, they won’t actively seek out help.” This in turn generates a vicious circle of mental health sufferers not seeking
the struggles individuals face as well as providing tools and resources to educate. Their research document, from 2015, Unhealthy Attitudes, illustrates some of the problems faced by the care sector. In an in-depth survey, commissioned by Stonewall, found that of 3,001 health and social care staff, “LGBT bullying and discrimination are often left unchallenged, and there is too little understanding of LGBT health concerns across vital health and social care services.” Of the research conducted there were five key findings that helped support Sally Knocker and Dr Julia Botsford. The document found that there were severe cases of bullying and discrimination in the health and social care sector. With one-in-ten health and social care staff being aware of colleagues experiencing discrimination or poor treatment. There was also evidence to show that there was often failure to support LGBT patients—one-in-ten staff and patients said they had witnessed staff expressing the belief that someone can be ‘cured’. Many are afraid to speak up when witnessing bullying or discrimination.
In fact, the study found that one-in-six would not feel confident challenging colleagues who make negative remarks. On a positive note one third said that the NHS and social care services should be doing more to meet the needs of lesbian, gay and bisexual users. Actively making progress to improve the quality of support for LGBT equality. However, many felt that overall, staff were unequipped to challenge prejudice. Trans issues often remain unaddressed in training, with only one quarter of those trained reporting that the legal rights of trans staff and service users were included. “Assisting transgendered individuals currently seems to be more of an issue.” Dr Botsford told Artefact. “I’m not sure we’re getting it right.” In this instance, it appears to be vital to remember that sexuality is a single element of an individual’s personhood. The level of importance is dependent on each individual. “For some it is a very important part of their lives and for others, less so.” In an environment where people naturally feel reserved it can be hard to
judge how well services are tackling the issue. “The aim for providing good quality dementia care is to be able to fully support individuals as people by providing person-centred care.” Dr Botsford tells me that person-centred care utilises health and social services to plan, develop and monitor the care provided to an individual to ensure it is tailored to meet each person’s needs. As an individual’s dementia progresses organisations such as Dementia UK are faced with the struggle of getting people to think ahead. Advance Care Planning allows people to write down a ‘will’ of sorts that would permit loved ones, as well as care professionals to help those affected by a mental illness live their life how they would like to. It deals with the difficult subject of asking, “Who would I trust most to be asked about what I want?” “Building awareness,” according to Dr Botsford, “involves not tolerating where discrimination, intentional or otherwise, occurs. Information should be inclusive—not assumptive—that is where we can start to make a difference.” b
What does â€œprogressionâ€? mean? We asked UAL students what pops into their minds when thinking of the theme of this issue of Artefact
Andrea, 18, BA Photography student Gender equality and racism. These are two important issues.
Bartosz, 24, BA Journalism student More affordable housing.
Felix, 22, BA Graphic Design student Getting rid of Trump. And more hugs.
Hedda, 23, BA Film and Television student Environmental change.
Interviewers: Molly Burgess and Teresa Gottein Images: Teresa Gottein
Olivia, 25, MA Film student That we need to be more sustainable and respect both nature and ourselves.
Oliver, 18, BA Photography student More equality and to get rid of sexual harassment.
Eva, 44, MA Animation lecturer Acceptance and equality
Julia, 20, BA Animation student That people need to show more love to each other.
Kelly, 22, PG Dip Design for Visual Communications student Robotic technology. That would make life much easier.
Michael, 22, BA Journalism student Less ignorance and more open minds to other cultures and other types of people. Because everyone is different.
Celebrating the black narrative Finally the film and TV industry is making room for black actors on screen
Over the last two years we’ve seen a massive upsurge of black storylines in both film and TV. From Netflix shows like She’s Gotta Have It to network shows like Chewing Gum, Insecure and then movies like Moonlight, Get Out and Girls Trip, the spectrum of representation in black cinema has grown exponentially; and the success of these shows and films have shown just how long we’ve all been waiting for this. When I was younger I remember films that were regarded as ‘black’ were either slave films, movies set in ‘the hood’, comedies or straight-to-TV specials; now, in 2017, films that are thrown in that same ‘black’ movie category are breaking box office records and winnings awards on stages our faces have never before been seen at—to top it off Get Out was named the most profitable film of 2017 grossing $252.4 million (£181.6m) worldwide according to Time magazine. Winning Oscars and Emmys and breaking box office records over these past two years has truly been legendary for us as a community, especially after the #OscarsSoWhite fiasco. It’s important for the narrative to grow for both us as a people, and for other races also. This means younger generations will now have something to aspire to. I remember sitting through Moonlight, and being a bit confused. Seeing a young man like myself go through something that seemed so foreign to me and struggles that I just didn’t understand was almost uncomfortable for me; I remember going to watch the movie twice just to get a better understanding of it. I don’t think I’ve ever seen homosexuality explored in the black community before in my life, and being a straight man who grew up around straight men, I hadn’t experienced it in my day to day either. I can only imagine how powerful that film would be for gay black men. Through movies now discussing this topic, and highlighting the prejudice and the hardships young gay black men go through, especially when they're told as beautifully as Moonlight, will slowly result in us, as a community and as a people, opening our eyes and being a lot more accepting. I would say the biggest reason for the growth of the black narrative in mainstream media, is that now other races can see our everyday struggles too. 82
Through our eyes, not through the eyes of slaves or exaggerated thugs; but us in every shade and colour we come in; so, through the eyes of young black women navigating the working world in their 30s, or young black men having to deal with being broke, or just black people having to smile through the white ignorance we deal with every day. On February 14, we will see Marvel’s The Black Panther hitting our movie screens. You might be thinking that this is probably just another superhero movie, but in actual-fact this is a historic moment for the black narrative. Hollywood’s idea of a hero, or rather the worlds’ stereotypical view of a hero, is arguably a white guy with cool hair or a white guy in tights or a cape; which is great. We all love Superman and James Bond, but imagine being a young black kid and seeing all the heroes you look up to and realising none of them look like you, at Halloween you have no one to dress up as, no one who you could aspire to be like. The Black Panther movie will be the first time ever that we see a black lead in a big budget Hollywood superhero movie since Wesley Snipes’ Blade. If this movie is a success, hopefully the idea of black heroes will become a lot more common; and that will then open the door for other heroes of colour to be on the big stage: black female heroes, Asian heroes, Polynesian heroes, gay heroes, anything you could think of. Reports from the Motion Picture Association of America tell us
Words: Michael Ukaegbu Image: Gage Skidmore via Flickr
because of the growth of black characters in film, that the number of “frequent African-American moviegoers nearly doubled to 5.9 million last year” and that’s solely in America, imagine the number in the rest of the world. If we could do that last year, I’m sure we could double that number again and make The Black Panther a hit. It’s at times like these when we must band together as a community, and support each other in hopes to push the community forward. However, don’t get the point of this article confused: this is not to say we’re complacent with what we have. Our voice is still immensely under represented. Research by the BFI tells us that “Of around 45,000 roles credited to actors in the UK” from 2006 to 2016 “only 218 were lead roles played by British black actors, which means only 0.5 per cent of all the credited roles were black leads. In fact, you would only need to watch 47 films to catch 50 percent of all these performances”. As more research on this issue becomes public and the severe lack of representation becomes widely challenged, combined with all the success we’ve seen this year; hopefully this will incite a more rapid change in the industry. I hope that soon I will be able to go to the cinema or turn on my TV screen and see the demographic that makes up the audience be reflected accurately on the screen. Hollywood, you still have an extremely long way to go, but you’re on the right path, don’t screw this up. b
The Progression Essay