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EMPOWERING THE WORLD OF IMAGE MAKERS FOR 75 YEARS

CAIRO EGYPT 2003. PHOTOGRAPHED BY CHARNEYMAGRI.COM

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EDITORS’ LETTER Photographer: Narelle Autio

After many months of waiting and creating, we are delighted to present the latest incarnation of 8 magazine. And what better time to remember our origins way back in 1998… 10 years ago, Jon Levy founded a website for promoting photojournalism – foto8.com – a forum for photojournalists to share their stories. We sailed through the dot.com boom, bubble and burst – but then we were never exactly ecommercial – adding features, facilities and, most importantly, users. We developed steadily until now, 10 years on, as we’ve moved up to a much wider platform, from March this year, and, we’re pleased to say, traffic has already doubled. Foto8 has given birth not only to the magazine you hold in your hands today, but also to a lively London gallery called HOST. As well as critically acclaimed exhibitions and topical debates, HOST is proud to announce its first artist representation: Maurice Broomfield, whose work can be seen in an exclusive portfolio on pages 70-79. The first issue of 8 was published in June 2002 and its earliest stories are just as relevant today: Marie Dorigny’s project on clandestine immigration in Europe, for example, and a prescient piece on the pitfalls of intervention vis-à-vis Afghanistan. The inaugural editor’s letter pays tribute to the “work and dedication of photographers and writers around the globe who continue to pursue stories that they feel are important.” This mantra remains the driving force behind the magazine which has flourished against all odds, just like photojournalism itself (despite the death knell ringing year after year). For this, our 23rd issue, we’ve had a rethink, we are now publishing bi-annually and bringing new features into the mix. From works in progress to fiction, we now have more pages to print more photographs and writing. This issue’s theme is Tide, interpreted in a variety of ways by our loyal columnists and intrepid photographers. It’s tough to keep a magazine going that champions stories over ad sales (we do welcome ad sales, by the way!) but we’re still here. Please help us with your continued subscription and support so we can stick around. The Editors


Founder and Publisher

Marketing/Membership Director

Jon Levy

Lally Pearson

Editors

Online Development Directors

Lauren Heinz Max Houghton

Leo Hsu Grace Pattison

Contributing Editors

Intern John Illingworth

Flora Bathurst Sophie Batterbury Maurice Geller Art Direction

Daniel Baer Design

Michael Ives Illustrator Luke Wilson Editorial Board

Jassim Ahmed David Brittain Shannon Ghannam Ken Grant Colin Jacobson Jonathan Kaplan Guy Lane Steve Macleod Ailsa McWhinnie Tim Minogue John Vidal Editors’ Assistants

Guy Martin Rosie French Reprographics

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Disclaimer

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The views expressed in this publication are not necessarily the views of 8 or Foto8 Ltd. Copyright © 2008 Foto8 Ltd. All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be copied or reproduced without the prior written consent of the publisher or the editors.

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From selected gallery and museum bookshops and other specialist outlets. Price £14. Central Books: 020 8986 4854 ISSN: 1476-6817 EAN-13: 9771476681017-23 ISBN: 978-90-5330-5614 For further information on where to buy 8 magazine: www.foto8.com/bookshops +44 (0)20 7253 8801


Contents

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8 MAGAZINE ISSUE 23

07 M OMENTS 14 S POTLIGHT Christoph Bangert Teenie Harris Open Society Institute

20 I NTERVIEW Bill Jay by David Brittain

26 W ORK IN PROGRESS Jim Goldberg

132 I MAGING WAR Jonathan Kaplan

133 WALK THE LINE Max Houghton

136 F OREIGN AFFAIRS COLUMN Peter Beaumont

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138 M EDIA COLUMN Tim Minogue

140 A RTS COLUMN Corinne Sweet

FEATURES 34 I RAN

148 F ICTION The Footballer by Joe Stretch

Kaveh Golestan

52 S IGNING OFF Peter Granser

60 F ROZEN EXILE Ahmet Unver

70 H OST PORTFOLIO Maurice Broomfield

82 WATER COLOURS Narelle Autio

90 N OT NATASHA Dana Popa

104 C HINA DUST-STORM Benoit Aquin

112 O F THE MARITIME Vanessa Winship

COLUMNS 88 A DROP TO DRINK James Morrison

102 P IETY AND TORTURE John O’Farrell

124 T HE VANISHING SHORE Fiona Halliday

Reviews 142 B OOK SPOTLIGHT Russian Soul by Davide Monteleone

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150 B OOK REVIEWS The Memory of Pablo Escobar Typography of the Titanic Double Blind On the Beach Xui Xui My Brother’s Keeper The Ninth Floor As I Was Dying Darfur Archaeology in Reverse Flat Earth News 26 Different Endings The Park China

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164 E XHIBITION REVIEWS Helen Levitt Pursuit of Fiction Revolution in Photography Human Rights Watch Film Festival

168 M AGAZINE REPORT 178 O N MY SHELF Isabel Hilton

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Magazine Contributors Peter Beaumont Beaumont is the Observer’s Foreign Affairs Editor. In 2006, he won the George Orwell Prize and was a recipient of an Amnesty International National Newspaper Award. His first book, The Secret Life of War, is based on his experiences in the world’s conflict zones, and will be published in Spring 2009. David Brittain A research fellow at Manchester Metropolitan University, Brittain has been active in photographic circles for many years. He edited Creative Camera from 1991, which subsequently became DPICT, until funding was withdrawn in 2001. Brittain has contributed to many television documentaries about photography as well as curating exhibitions, including the recent Found, Shared: The Magazine Photowork at the Photographers’ Gallery in London. Fiona Halliday Halliday graduated from the MA Photojournalism at Westminster University in 2007. Originally from St Cyrus, Aberdeenshire, she has spent months with the fisherman of the rocky east coast of Scotland who became the inspiration for her photographs, historical research as well as her fiction writing. An excerpt from her, as yet unpublished, book can be read on the Foto8 website. Vanessa Winship A graduate of the former London College of Printing, Winship recently moved back to the UK after several years in Istanbul, which served as a base for her travels around the Black Sea. She is a World Press Award recipient in 2007, for her portrait of schoolchildren in rural Turkey. Born in a “one-horse-town” near Hull, Winship is looking forward to focusing her attention and her camera on the UK for the next few years.

on the web

www.foto8.com

People’s Park China | Kurt Tong

Megalopolis | Sarah Dominici

The World Wide Web has changed a lot since Foto8 first went online as a quarterly web journal in 1998. The waters of information have carved out paths that run deeper and faster every day. The concept of publishing has been entirely reinvented as the organisation of information becomes increasingly dynamic and as more people take part in more ways and for different reasons. Publishing is not, however, an end in itself. Foto8, the new website of the associated Foto8 projects, is not so much a destination as a waypoint between curiosity and knowledge, between interest and engagement, between information and communication, and between performance and participation. Foto8.com complements 8 magazine and HOST Gallery in London, broadening the context for our ongoing conversations about photojournalism, documentary and contemporary art photography. The aim is to include web users from around the world by displaying stories and providing commentary that lives not only in London but wherever there is interest in these ways of knowing and seeing the world. Leo Hsu

PHOTO STORIES

SHORT FILMS

PEOPLE’S PARK CHINA

Airsick

Kurt Tong

Lucas Oleniuk

THROUGH THE RIFT: KENYA’S AFTERMATH

911 MAGNUM

J Carrier

Magnum Photographers

RUBBER SOUL

DOUBLE BLIND

Andrea Dapueto

Paolo Pellegrin, Trolley Books

MAKOKO Jane Hahn

FICTION

MEGALOPOLIS

HUNGER IN A COLD SEASON

Sara Dominici

Fiona Halliday

Respiration Muette

KEEP STILL

Veronique Besnard

GJ Buckell

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section | title/author

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Moments | WORLD PRESS PHOTO 

MOMENTS ADAM BROOMBERG & OLIVER CHANARIN

This photograph, taken during the assassination of Benazir Bhutto in December 2007, captures the essence of the photojournalistic image as it was originally conceived by early pioneers like Robert Capa. Taken an instant after the bomb detonated, at a distance of just 10 meters from its epicentre, it is not really a photograph at all, but a blur, a piece of smudged evidence that testifies to the fact that our journalist was there, as close as he could possibly be to the lethal action, when the shutter opened and closed. Photographs hardly ever break the news these days. In Scotland Yard’s recent investigation into the series of events that lead to Bhutto’s death, videos taken on mobile phones, rather than the work of professional photojournalists (like this one above), were used as evidence. In recent years some of the most striking visual images of major news events, such as 9/11, Abu Ghraib, the Tsunami, and Hurricane Katrina, have been captured by ordinary people

who just happen to be there with their mobile phones or video cameras. Where does this leave the photojournalist who has been acting as our brave proxy, sending us reports from the front line of life since the Spanish Civil War? The World Press Photo has been handing out annual awards to professionals for the past 51 years, and has just announced its winners for 2007 (the photograph above won first prize for “spot news”). We were asked to participate as jury members in awarding the prizes this year; a good opportunity to gauge the vital signs of a photographic genre in crisis. It is interesting to look back at some of the photographs that over the course of judging received a great deal of attention and through them examine how we arrived at our final decision: narrowing down 81,000 images to one. » Assassination of Benazir Bhutto, Rawalpindi, Pakistan John Moore/US/Getty Images

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Moments 

Flicking through the 81,000 images originally submitted, a sense of déjà vu is inevitable. Again and again similar images are repeated, with only the actors and settings changing. The 12strong jury must endure a barrage of photographic clichés over a period of seven days and nights, in order to locate one single image, the World Press Photo of the Year. There are also prizes for photographs in a variety of categories, but one image gets the real attention. How do 12 people reach a consensus? And what criteria could possibly be used to nominate just one photograph? It’s easy to see why this image of a dead gorilla tied to a wooden stretcher, carried through the jungle in Eastern Congo by a group of men, was   appealing enough to make the final round. Its reference to Christian iconography, specifically the crucifixion, is striking. Nature here becomes the martyr, sacrificed for our greed. A convincing plea for this photograph by a renowned nature photographer and world expert on gorillas (who once spent 19 days in a tree waiting to photograph one) failed to convince other jury members to take it through. »

Evacuation of dead mountain gorillas, Virunga National Park, Eastern Congo Brent Stirton/Getty/Newsweek

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Moments 

A portrait of an exhausted soldier was taken during a battle in Afghanistan against Taliban forces. The blurred focus and pixelated JPEG compression make this image feel accidental and urgent, aesthetic codes that translate as “real”. For some members of the jury it was also “painterly” – a term often used to describe photographs that reference such techniques as the lighting of a Rembrandt portrait or Caravaggio’s chiaroscuro, the sublime light of a Turner or a Friedrich. This is a predictable World Press winner; an amalgam of all the images of war and death embedded in our memory. It recalls the terror of Don McCullin’s marine during the Battle of Hue in 1968, the resignation of the wounded marine in Larry Burrows’ image taken in South Vietnam in 1966, the urgency of Capa’s Republican soldier dying in 1936. It seems we are casting the world in the same mould over and over again. Tim Hetherington, who took this photograph, later told us an illuminating anecdote. His images were first published by Vanity Fair,which also happened to be running a feature on Francis Ford Coppola in the same edition. Both Tim’s photographs from Afghanistan and stills from Apocalypse Now were being printed on the office Xerox machine. A staff writer came to collect the fictional stills and accidentally walked away with the real thing. This image represents a nostalgia for the days of photojournalism at its sexiest, most lucrative and effective. In order to take a photograph like this these days the photographer must be embedded with the American forces. Although Hetherington told us he operated under no censorship by the US military, the US government still attempts to control representation of American casualties, bodybags, the funerals of servicemen and prisoners. Publications are offered access with a tacit understanding that certain images will not be reproduced. »

American soldier, Korengal Valley, Afghanistan, Tim Hetherington/Vanity Fair

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Moments 

In the European press there has been a deluge of images of immigrants trying to enter Europe – crammed into trucks, in overflowing rubber dinghies or languishing in asylum centres – images that serve to reinforce the European fear of a barbarian invasion by nameless hoards. The photographs of these huts, built by immigrants, were different. The photographer had employed a deceptively simple methodology; the hut dwellers themselves were not in the pictures and the huts were placed in the centre of each frame, at the same distance from the camera. These images operate within a more complex and sophisticated visual language and attest to a level of human ingenuity and a desperate need to survive. Within the tradition of the World Press Photo awards, and in the category of “news” in particular, there is the largely outdated expectation that a photograph should mirror the scene witnessed by the photographer – it must be unmediated. Yet the dubious relationship between photography and reality is by now widely accepted. After all, some of the most iconic “documentary” images etched in our minds have been staged for the camera. The author of these photographs is not playing the role of reliable witness, dutifully recording events without bias. He announces himself present at the scene, making a simple conceptual framework and a level of artifice visible that interrupts the idea of the photographer as invisible, and the photograph as evidence. This is refreshing.

This article is an abbreviated version of Broomberg and Chanarin’s full essay on their experience as judges for World Press Photo 2007, which can be found at www.foto8.com. Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin have been collaborating as documentary photographers for almost a decade. Their latest book, Fig, is published by Steidl. www.choppedliver.info

Makeshift huts of immigrants, Calais, France Jean Revillard/Rezo.ch

12


spotlight

Spotlight Christoph Bangert

14

Christoph Bangert is in the middle of the second big road trip of his life. Home in Germany for his mother’s 60th birthday, he’s interrupting a visit to Namibia, one stop on a journey by Land Rover that has encompassed Morocco, Mauritania, West and Central Africa, en route to his ultimate destination: South Africa. His intention is twofold: he hopes to make a photographic book of the trip – it will be his third publication – and also to bring a certain peace and sanity to the life he has chosen as a photographer drawn, like many, to conflict zones around the world. Bangert has received critical acclaim for Iraq: The Space Between, a book that was borne out of an inspired commission by Beth Flynn, the New York Times foreign picture editor in 2005, when he was just 27 years old. Since graduating from the ICP in 2003, Bangert had been creating portfolios of trips to Palestine and Darfur to show to the world’s most influential picture editors; an often frustrating experience: “They like everything in New York, or that’s what they say. ‘Come back if you do some more,’ they tell you, which

makes it so hard to know what your weaknesses are. In Germany, you’d just be told your work was rubbish! I showed my work constantly; I know I was the most annoying photographer!” “It was a big risk for the Times to send someone so young and inexperienced. But it paid off for everyone, including for the editor who took a professional risk: she ‘discovered’ me.” For over a year in Iraq, in a period when Western journalists were being kidnapped, Bangert, often working independently, documented the bloodshed and its effects on daily life. Two qualities make his photographs stand out: his unflinching gaze that doesn’t shy from the most gruesome of scenes and his lack of preconceived ideas about what war “should” look like. This results in an extraordinary body of work from abandoned playgrounds, desert battlefields and overstretched emergency rooms in Baghdad hospitals; among the injured children, the wounded soldiers, a single image of a horrifically burnt man is unforgettable. While it was not published in the New York Times, the


spotlight

harrowing photograph appears in the book, as well as an image of a virtually decapitated man, lying dead in a rubbish dump. Both men appear as nameless victims of the war, a brutal side effect of the challenge of working in Iraq as a Westerner, according to Bangert. “I was rushing in and out,” he says. “Kidnapping was such a threat it was incredibly difficult to stay anywhere for more than a few minutes at a time. The conditions were impossible really, and everybody’s pictures and text suffer because of this.” This is not whingeing. Bangert is “allergic to” the idea of the “suffering” of the photographer. “People ask me how I deal with it. So I tell them I get drunk and beat up my girlfriend,” he says, scathingly (in fact he neither drinks nor smokes and is marrying his longterm partner and collaborator Chiho this summer). “It’s not about whether it’s hard for me, not at all. It’s about the people in the pictures, people who are traumatised who are worthy of such discussion.” By comfortable Western standards,

Above left: During an early morning raid in Tal Afar terror suspects are detained and put inside an armoured personnel carrier to be transported to a local detention facility Above: A small dust storm sweeps over an American Army base 'Sykes' close to Tal Afar

Bangert hasn’t always had it easy. In his words, he “miserably failed” engineering school and quit photography school in Dortmund, Germany without graduating. Yet, inspired by a spell in Jerusalem on a university exchange programme, which saw him running around the West Bank and Gaza with a camera, he applied for a government scholarship to the ICP. He arrived in Brooklyn a week before class in his Land Rover, at the end of a six month trip from Buenos Aires to New York, a trip which kick started his new life in the US. It was, he believes, essential to his future success: “The trip helped me a lot. I’d been a troubled young man; school was a nightmare and so suddenly learning to live on my own really straightened out my thoughts.” Despite having the time of his life, ICP

didn’t live up to Bangert’s expectations, but that would have been impossible, he acknowledges: “No school in the world could be that good.” He found his fellow students more inspiring than the tutors, in particular Johan Spanner, a Danish photographer a year above him (the two later went to Iraq together). It was also the place where he carved out a photographic identity that reached beyond the aesthetic and ethics of photojournalism: early on, Bangert marked his territory as “a photographer who does not wear a scarf”. Others in the profession will know exactly what is meant by this sartorial decision. His Iraq book has just been published in Germany. “It’s important. I’m German,” he acknowledges. “I want to keep on making books, not because I like the discussion of war pornography, but because I think they can be meaningful... I want to leave something behind.” Max Houghton Christoph Bangert is represented by Laif Agency in Germany. His book Iraq: The Space Between is published by PowerHouse Books.

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spotlight

Spotlight Teenie Harris

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Charles “Teenie” Harris died on 2 July, 1998, having produced more than 80,000 images documenting AfricanAmerican life in Pittsburgh. His pictures were made over more than four decades, from the Depression through the end of segregation, integration, through the transformations that would follow the civil rights era. From 1936, when he began working as a freelance photographer for the Pittsburgh Courier, one of the nation’s main black newspapers, and even after his retirement in 1975, Harris produced a visual record of neighbourhoods and people that he loved. Unlike the many African-Americans drawn to the north seeking work in the Great Migration of the first part of the 20th century, Harris was born and raised in Pittsburgh’s Hill District where his parents owned a hotel. His brother

“Woogie”, a numbers runner, was a respected and influential figure in the community. Teenie worked for him, borrowed $300 from him to buy a 4x5 camera, then got out of illicit gambling. He worked for the Courier first as a freelance photographer and then on staff; he also opened a studio in 1938. From the 1930s onwards, Pittsburgh was a hub of black cultural life, producing jazz greats Lena Horne, Billy Eckstine, Billy Strayhorn and Earl Hines. The nightlife on Wylie Avenue was a regular stop on the national route for touring acts and attracted luminaries such as Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington. Teenie Harris photographed them all. He also photographed visiting presidents and sports greats: JFK, Mohammad Ali, and Jackie Robinson. But the great and the good were only subjects inasmuch as they were


spotlight

part of Harris’ story of the place. His affection for his local subjects in their neighbourhoods is obvious in the pictures. 40 years of such pictures makes for a powerful document. This is because Harris’ audience was the very community that he photographed, in the place where he lived his life. As a result, Harris’ story is not of the allegorical, mythical Pittsburgh that W Eugene Smith described. It’s more like Weegee’s witnessing of New York, though Harris was arguably closer to his subjects than Weegee. His work is also unlike that of the most regarded black American photographers who were his contemporaries. Roy DeCarava, James VanDerZee and Gordon Parks each told a story about black experience in America, but none of them told the kind of story that Teenie did, in a visual vernacular and never straying far from home. Technically, Teenie Harris did not leave his pictures behind when he died; their ownership was in fact being contested. In 1986 he sold his archive to an art entrepreneur for $3,000 and a share of royalties. The pictures then became part of a commercial archive. Not having received his royalties, and refused the return of his negatives when he asked for them, Harris sued in 1998, but died shortly afterwards. His family persisted with the lawsuit, and while the jury found in their favour, they settled out of court and offered the archive for sale to the Carnegie Museum of Art. Funded by the Heinz Endowment and the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Teenie Harris Archive Project at the CMOA has been cataloguing and digitising Harris’ negatives. Cataloguers make note of as much unique detail as possible: curtains, with roses or ships; wallpaper patterns; all of the ephemera and incidentals of the day to day are accounted for in the aid of resolving who the subjects are, and when the picture was made. The cataloguing and scanning process is time-consuming – on a good day each of the two scanners and two cataloguers get through about 80 images: 20,000 4x5 negatives remain to be scanned. The project has undertaken extensive outreach efforts. Two exhibits, in 2003 and 2006, invited residents to ID people in Harris’ pictures and books of photographs are also taken to community events, together resulting in

Left: Duke Ellington signing autographs in a crowd, 1940-1947 Above top: Hubert Ivey in the club room of the Hillside House, Beltzhoover, 1960-1965 Above middle: Little boy boxer, c 1949 Above bottom:Three men and three women seated at a table in a bar or restaurant, c 1959 All images © Carnegie Museum of Art

nearly 2,000 identifications. A database on the museum website has produced nearly a thousand IDs since the end of 2006. Archivist Kerin Shellenbarger notes that many of the identifications have been made by the same 20 or 30 people, who remember their parents’ friends and are also able to recognise figures from their own generation. For all the gaps in information that remain, the archive is nonetheless a coherent and powerful body of images, and has proven to be a major resource of images of black history in the United States. The Teenie Harris Archive Project has created conditions that allow these pictures to be appreciated as both public resource and deeply personal experience. Witness the experience of Hubert Ivey, a guard at the museum. In the early ’60s Ivey was president of the Pittsburgh chapter of an association of black tavern owners and protested Iron City Beer’s then-policy of not hiring black sales reps. Teenie made a picture of the 26-yearold Ivey and his partner in the bar they owned. In 2003 Ivey was visiting the first Teenie Harris exhibit. He turned around to find the picture of his bar, and of himself, on the wall behind him. Leo Hsu This year is the centenary of Teenie Harris’s birth. His work and life will be celebrated with a retrospective at the Carnegie in 2010.

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spotlight

Spotlight OSI Documentary Photography Project

18

The Documentary Photography Project of the Open Society Institute (OSI), started in 2003, offers two opportunities for documentary photographers with a completed project. Moving Walls is the curated selection of images shown in the New York offices of the OSI. The Distribution Grant is awarded to a photographer collaborating with a partner institution to disseminate an existing project in an original, innovative manner. An important selection criterion in both programs is that the project be relevant to the OSI’s goals and activities, and those of the associated Soros Foundations to promote the growth of civil society, to draw attention to the challenges faced in the transition to open societies, and “to shape public policy to promote democratic governance, human rights, and economic, legal, and social reform”. Moving Walls and the Distribution Grant address these goals in very different ways. Around five to seven projects are chosen every year for Moving Walls. Moving Walls 14 includes work by George Georgiou on cultural and national

identity in Turkey, Ed Kashi on oil in the Niger Delta, Dana Popa on sex trafficking in Moldova (see this issue, pages 90101), Jonathan Torgovnik on Rwandan victims of rape, and photographs by OSI’s Katrina Media Fellows. These images are currently on display throughout the OSI offices – from conference rooms to kitchens. Programme director Amy Yenkin recognises that images exhibited within OSI’s offices have limited public exposure. Presenting these works to an audience already sympathetic to the causes and issues is less about public education than it is about describing the world in which OSI works. Documentary photography, says Yenkin, puts a face on policy issues; it reminds the staff of what the work is for. And Susan Meiselas, who curates Moving Walls with Stuart Alexander, notes that the pictures on the walls inevitably become the focus of discussions among OSI’s visitors. Because these pictures have such a strong presence in OSI’s physical environment, it is crucial that the values expressed in the pictures are consonant


spotlight

with those of the organisation. The Distribution Grant is explicitly outwardly focused. The grant rewards photographers who not only have created a relevant body of work, but who have displayed dedication as an advocate. This commitment is demonstrated in part by the photographer’s relationship with an organisation focusing on the issue. Marcus Bleasdale, for example, collaborated with Human Rights Watch to produce a travelling exhibition of his work on resource exploitation in the DRC, while Nina Berman worked with several US nonprofit organisations to present her work on wounded US soldiers to young audiences in areas where there is active military recruitment. The Distribution Grant calls on the photographer to have a strong sense of the work’s audience, and of how the work’s significance can be most effectively conveyed to that audience. Eric Gottesman’s work with children affected by HIV in Ethiopia is a particularly striking example: Gottesman worked with Ethiopian collaborators to produce a travelling exhibit modelled on

Above left: Eric Gottesman’s travelling exhibition, made in collaboration with children affected by Aids in Ethiopia Above: Viva Favela, a collaborative of photojournalists documenting life in favelas, were awarded a grant to exhibit their images in favelas throughout Rio. A resident hangs a portrait of Pavaõ Pavaõzinho by Kita Pedrosa © Peter Lucas

an Ethiopian coffee ceremony in which pictures made by the children and letters addressed to parents who had died from Aids drew attention to the psychological impact of the virus and sought to dispel the stigma surrounding talk about HIV. In many cases, photographers chosen for Moving Walls later submitted successful Distribution Grant proposals, and vice versa. Selections from Moving Walls have travelled to Jordan, Syria, the UAE, Bahrain and Lebanon, in exhibitions integrated with the work of local photographers, and in cooperation with local institutions. This effort echoes OSI’s efforts to work with Central and Eastern European photographers in

the mid-1990s. And, photographers represented in Moving Walls have participated in OSI forums about both the issues in which they are engaged and the relationship between documentary photography and advocacy. These two complementary OSI programmes offer, against the background of OSI’s goals, a way for photographers to cooperate with institutions – both the partner nonprofit bodies and OSI itself – in a sustained way. Support from a partner organisation provides legitimacy that is useful for making the work effective as an intervention. Institutional paths are carved out where there is no map except for a convergence of concerns and will. By supporting photographers who have already proven themselves, OSI is able to further the life of their work in a way that fully recognises the photographer’s own commitment. Leo Hsu

See www.soros.org for more information about the OSI Documentary Photography Project.

19


INTERVIEW

Interview David Brittain in Conversation with Editor Bill JAY

The ’50s and ’60s were formative decades for photography. Everything from the aesthetic discussion around photography, to the shape of its institutions and its methods of teaching – seemed to be in a state of flux. It is this atmosphere of infinite possibility that makes photographers’ magazines of the period so exciting to read now. Early and eager adopters of the modernist aesthetic of formalism came in the shape of magazines edited by photographers. In Britain there was Creative Camera then the short-lived Album, founded and edited by Bill Jay. 20

David Brittain: To begin, can you describe the broad British context in which you were working in the 1960s, how it appeared to you and to the photographers... Bill Jay: To set the scene: back in the mid-’60s, there was not a single gallery in the whole of Britain regularly showing serious non-commercial photography – not one. There was not a single museum in the whole of Britain that collected photographs as photographs, rather than as documents of fashion, architecture or whatever. The Institute of Contemporary Arts had not exhibited a single show of


INTERVIEW

photography, as far as I am aware. There was not a single agency, organisation, council or company which provided grants to photographers for the pursuit of excellence in picture making; the Arts Council of Great Britain would not even consider applications from photographers for several years. There was not a single photographic magazine in Britain that emphasised non-commercial, nonhow-to-do-it, portfolios of images by committed photographers. Photography as “art” elicited snickers of embarrassment if not downright incredulity; schools of photography which included any aspect of the personal approach to picture-making as a part of its regular curriculum were rare (Guildford School of Art was an exception, especially when under the iconoclastic leadership of Ifor Thomas, an educator way ahead of his time). There were no workshops where young photographers could learn from accepted fine photographers. There were precious few lectures by famous photographers – I cannot remember a single one during the first year of Creative Camera’s production. There was no market at all for the sale of original prints to collectors; the notion of paying even £20 for a photograph, even by a well-known photographer, was considered ludicrous. That’s the bad news: the institutional foundations of photography in Britain were inert, inept and apathetic. Creative Camera attempted to change all that and light a fire under their collective rearends. I am being deliberately offensive here, because that was how we felt: offended. And if this remark is also reminiscent of ’60s anti-establishment rebellion, that too is appropriate. That’s also a part of the Zeitgeist; that’s who and what we were. In retrospect, and from the perspective of a more mellow, inclusive age, it also sounds a bit pompous. And there was a tinge, say it ever so softly, of conceit. We wanted to change the world, or at least that part of it that we most cared about – photography. But this revolutionary zeal did not spring out of nothing. There was a small but cohesive group of professional photographers, based in London, who were alert to and engaged in the very best of international imagemaking. They may not have enjoyed any institutional support but they were not without their own networks. In fact

the lack of official respect and sanction made these networks even stronger and more vital. The interchange of issues, ideas and images among these photographers was facilitated in several ways. And the most important of these occurred within the magazine and publishing world. DB: How did you find out what was happening outside the UK? BJ: Books were major sources of knowledge and inspiration. Since the publication of The Family of Man catalogue in 1955 – to take an arbitrary starting point – there was a small but steady stream of fine photography flowing into Britain which the whole photographic community could share as talismans of merit. By this time, most British photographers of any seriousness already owned important books of images by Edward Weston, Ansel Adams, Paul Strand, William Klein, Walker Evans, Robert Doisneau, and many others. Even on a meagre income, it was possible to acquire every worthwhile picture book on serious photography. To name just a few, published in the decade leading up to Creative Camera: Observations, Richard Avedon; The Americans, Robert Frank; Aaron Siskind Photographs (all 1959); Moments Preserved, Irving Penn (1960); Perspective on Nudes, Bill Brandt (1961); Ordeal by Roses, Eikoh Hosoe (1963); The Painter and the Photograph, Van Deren Coke (1964); A Way of Seeing, Helen Levitt (1965); Every Building on the Sunset Strip, Ed Ruscha (1966); House of Bondage, Ernest Cole (1967); The Bikeriders, Danny Lyon (1968). And there was always the “bookends” of the photographer’s shelf: The Decisive Moment, Henri Cartier-Bresson (1952), and Shadow of Light, Bill Brandt (1966). Like books, exhibition catalogues (usually imported from the US and many featuring the curatorial work of Nathan Lyons) provided British photographers with another access to what was going on internationally. We were very aware of every major exhibition at MoMA and of the issues raised by its curators, John Szarkowski and Peter Bunnell, through the catalogues’ articles, several of which were published in Creative Camera… In addition, the early colour supplements of the Sunday Times, the Observer, and the Daily Telegraph

were also publishing the work of such photographers as Lee Friedlander. In the same way, fine international photographers were regularly seen in Life (which stopped weekly publication in 1972), Look (which folded in 1971), Queen, which regularly assigned major features to Marc Riboud, Bruce Davidson, Brian Brake among similar photographers, Paris Match and many other international picture magazines which were eagerly scanned by involved photographers. And do not forget the yearbooks published by periodicals such as Photography and the British Journal of Photography. During the late 1950s Norman Hall, the editor of the former, was a true prophet of photography, a lone voice and a harbinger of things to come. He regularly published the work of then-unknown but later-acknowledged great photographers. That was even more true in his remarkable annuals, The Photography Year Books. In Europe we looked to the fine Swiss magazine Camera, edited by an American, Alan Porter, which showcased the best of ink reproduction available at that time and also published portfolios of fine photography of the past and present. I should also mention Photokina, held every two years in Cologne. Although primarily a trade show, it always included a cultural section of exhibitions, often by some of the best European photographers, organised for 20-plus years by Fritz Gruber, and accompanied by a handsome catalogue for those who could not attend in person. I must also mention the most important periodical of all – and it might come as something of a surprise: Popular Photography. True, this magazine carried a surfeit of advertisements, then as now, and its main readers were technoamateurs, but consistently, throughout the 1950s and ’60s, it published the most in-depth and comprehensive features on the greatest photographers. They remain some of the most important essays ever written about the major figures in the medium(and should be collated into an anthology). I would add, America was certainly experiencing the beginnings of a photographic upheaval in the early 1960s but its magnitude has been greatly exaggerated – as has its influence on Creative Camera in 1967-68. The truth » 21


INTERVIEW

After Colin had paid Stein one pound for the magazine’s name, we walked back to his offices on Doughty Street and there, to the cacophony of cooing pigeons, began a partnership which led to Creative Camera. Colin was publisher, I was editor is that the current emphasis on fineart photography in the US was just beginning. Let’s take the year 1963: only one university offered a Master of Fine Arts degree in photography; by 1972 there were 59 MFA programmes. Also in 1963, Norbert Klebert opened the Underground Gallery in the basement of his home in New York City. When Tony Ray-Jones and I arrived in 1968, it was still the only gallery (outside MoMA) devoted to serious photography – and even then it was only open at weekends and at night because Norbert was working full-time at a camera shop… America was not so far advanced in its patronage of photographers. The National Endowments of the Arts fellowships began in 1967, just as Creative Camera was getting started. More of the same would be tedious, but I wanted to emphasise that: 1) yes, institutional photography was a little more active in the US than in Britain but, 2) no, it was not as active as you might think. And, yes, we were well aware of what was going on. DB: Tell us the “creation story” of CC? How did you become editor? BJ: Since 1959 I had been writing regularly for practically all the photographic journals as well as any other interested periodicals. One of the photo-magazines to which I occasionally contributed was called Camera Owner. It was edited by Jurgen Schadeberg, a fine photojournalist who had worked with Tom Hopkinson in the great days of Drum in South Africa. But Camera Owner was nothing like Drum. It was sold through subscription leaflets enclosed with the packet of prints 22

that snap shooters picked up from the local chemist. It offered tips on how to photograph your pet or child; it was aimed at such a photographic novice that writers were told they could not mention f-stop numbers for fear of confusing the readers. One day Jurgen told me he was fed up with the chore of producing a monthly magazine – he was quitting. So I stepped up. It was not long before the publisher, Sylvester Stein, said the magazine was folding. I told him I had always wanted to edit my own magazine if he wanted to give it to me. I had no money and even less chance of acquiring any. While I was still pleading with Stein, a fairy godmother walked into my life, in the unlikely form of Colin Osman. Colin already published a successful journal for racing pigeon fanciers. After Colin had paid Stein one pound for the magazine’s name, we walked back to his offices on Doughty Street in central London and there, to the cacophony of cooing pigeons, began a partnership which led to Creative Camera. Colin was publisher, I was editor. The immediate problem was how to radically change the editorial content without instantly disenfranchising the snapshot subscribers – the change had to be gradual. Over a period of months the magazine moved away from snapshot appeal towards serious photography, and the name changed from Camera Owner to Creative Camera Owner, to Creative Camera. By January 1968, the editorial contents were on track. Only one other problem remained: our intended supporters – serious photographers – were too few in number to keep the magazine afloat…

I was forced to take full-time jobs, as European manager of Globe Photos, an international picture agency, and as picture editor of the Telegraph Magazine. But both jobs were short-lived; Creative Camera was my top priority. Without the constant injections of aid from Colin, Creative Camera would have folded within months. That it survived for more than 25 years is due largely to his early generosity and enthusiasm… These were frustrating, exhilarating, frantic times. There’s nothing like fighting for a cause to get the juices flowing. We tilted at windmills, we provoked and attacked photographic schools, the Royal Photographic Society, other publications, the Arts Council, the ICA, et al. Our constant hammering did seem to dent their armour on occasion and in a few cases breached their defences altogether. The images in Creative Camera were always raising hackles. It is difficult today to believe that our use of Jerry Uelsmann images prompted a barrage of abusive letters and verbal attacks. Sometimes inadvertently, we were causing conflict with every issue. We were even charged with obscenity – the offending photograph was of two nautilus shells by Edward Weston! Inhaling the Zeitgeist of the energetic ’60s, photographers, like all other aspects of society and culture, were beginning to question established values and traditions. Individuality and self-expression were the rallying cries. Nothing was sacred or could be taken for granted. Radicalism was not a political slogan but a state of mind. There was an excitement in the air that was invigorating. »


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INTERVIEW

DB: Reading the CC you edited now, one senses it is pulling in two directions at once – there’s a focus on “back-filling” the history of photography and then there’s a concern with contemporary work. Does this reflect the different personalities/passions of two editors, you and Osman? BJ: Not in two directions – in scores of directions! This was not a reflection of two different “editors”, Jay and Osman, because there was only one editor – me. I was adamant (or pig-headed, whatever) that I was the sole decision-maker as regards to content. The relationship with Colin was prickly. I saw a distinct divide between editor and publisher. Colin constantly wanted more editorial say. I refused. This led to increasing acrimony and eventually to him firing me. As to why the contents seem so broad, this was (rightly or wrongly) my deliberate decision: to reflect the medium’s past as well as present, its social/cultural presence, its links to other arts, its Art and its artisan roles, etc. It 24

Collage of frames from Robert Frank’s films (including Pull My Daisy, a collaboration with Jack Kerouac) in Creative Camera, July 1969. Having been absent from the scene since the early ’60s, Frank re-emerged by submitting a series of five illustrated ‘letters’ for CC

was eclectic, scrappy, reverential and rebellious, I hoped. None of these roles were reflected in other British photomags, so I wanted to provide samples and tastes of all that photography had been, was and could be. DB: Were you a word-oriented editor more than a picture-oriented one? BJ: For me this is still an impossible question to answer. If I like historical photographs as images I feel compelled to conduct research into who, why, where, how; if I am intrigued by a contemporary image, I want to talk/write about it; if an issue arises – eg, morality – I want to examine images as well as words and not only in the field, but also in politics, culture, society, history…

I can’t separate ideas (words) from emotion (images) – they are inextricably intertwined. DB: Who was the CC reader around the time you left? BJ: No idea! I hope they were young and committed photographers who derived support and encouragement from examples in its pages. But this is pure speculation. DB: Tell us about the creation of Album. BJ: In the autumn of 1969, over a pint at the local pub, Colin informed me that I would no longer be the editor of his magazine, Creative Camera. By this time the magazine had become “his” in reality. Although I initially had 51 per cent of the company, I was obliged to sell Colin my shares in exchange for a small monthly allowance until I had nothing left. Our relationship had grown increasingly testy. As I said earlier, Colin wanted greater editorial control. I did not respect his image judgments and refused. In


INTERVIEW

the end, I prepared each issue and sent it for publication before he could see it and fight about its contents. This caused tensions, not surprisingly. At the time, however, I was too young, brash, and committed to notice or care. Still, the parting was traumatic. There was nothing I wanted to do more than edit a magazine in which I believed, heart and mind. So I wanted another magazine, badly, although I had no prospects or reasonable hope of ever getting one… But the cosmic kaleidoscope had been shaken and the fragments were realigning themselves into a new pattern. The most important new element was Tristram Powell. He was a BBC television director and producer, son of the novelist Anthony Powell (A Dance to the Music of Time). I did not know any of that at the time; I presumed that when he telephoned he wanted me to see his photographs or publicise his latest movie. Over lunch he made a remarkable offer: he had £4,000 to “lose” and wanted to sink it in a fine photographic journal, was I interested? I was ecstatic. I came to greatly respect Tristram for his intellect, generosity and cultivated demeanour. He advised, never controlled, and he was the perfect socially privileged gentleman of the arts to my workingclass aggression. He has never received due acknowledgment for all his quiet, behind-the-scenes activism during this volatile period in British photography. We were joined by Aidan Ellis, a young accountant at Osman’s publishing company, whose job would be to keep track of the money, an aspect of publishing with which I had little interest and even less acumen. We moved Album into a cheap, damp basement, featuring flaky plaster and exposed pipes, at 70 Princedale Road, London W11 [Ed: just a few doors down from the notorious OZ magazine]. It was furnished with old benches, stools, a typewriter and, most important of all, a stuffed couch and a five-gallon jug of rough cider. Our first major decision was, in retrospect, the major cause of Album’s eventual demise. We decided to spend more than one half of our total assets (Tristram’s £4,000) into mailing the first issue to more than a thousand individuals across the world (names “borrowed” from

There was nothing I wanted to do more than edit a magazine in which I believed, heart and mind lists supplied by the George Eastman House, MoMA and elsewhere). The idea was that if these people saw the first issue, most of them would subscribe, meaning that we would break even immediately. Such faith! Such naivety! DB: But while it lasted, how was it – and what did Album achieve? BJ: On the editorial side, I was in seventh heaven. I was collaborating with photographers such as W Eugene Smith, Tony Ray-Jones, Thurston Hopkins, Cas Oorthuys, Les Krims, Imogen Cunningham, Emmet Gowin, John Claridge, Andrew Lanyon, George Rodger, David Hockney, Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Patrick Ward, Edouard Boubat, John Claridge, Elliott Erwitt, Don

McCullin, Naomi Savage… the list goes on. A glance through the pages of Album now releases memories of so many people and their generosities that it would need a book to give them full credit. But what is also evident is that my resources – time and money – were stretched way past breaking point. By the tenth issue of Album it was very clear that we were sinking financially. The time between issues was increased (even though Album was a monthly) to get more subscriptions to cover our printing bills. And Aidan Ellis was asked to leave; there’d been growing rifts leading up to this decision – like Colin, Aidan wanted more editorial input, and I refused to give it to him. And we had to abandon our basement in order to save rent and utilities. Learning that Album was homeless, Magnum photographer David Hurn said, in his nonchalant way, “why don’t you move in?” So I did. Even though my presence – not to mention the constant ringing of the door bell by potential contributors, the tying up of the telephone, the piles of prints and packing, the space commandeered for layouts, and the general hubbub – must have caused immense inconvenience in someone’s home, David, never once, gave me the feeling that I was other than wholly welcome. And I will never forget the conversations and printsharing among David, Patrick Ward, Don McCullin, lan Berry, Elliott Erwitt, Charles Harbutt, Leonard Freed or whoever happened to be there. They are cherished moments in my life. In the spring of 1971, Britain was in an economic slump. Our printers, Balding and Mansell, had given us a three-month grace period but now we owed them for the printing costs on three issues. During the financial squeeze they had no choice but to take full payment. It wiped us out. What did it achieve? Ironically, I think that the other activities – lectures, ICA photo study centre, etc – had more of an impact on the next phase of British photography than the magazine itself. But I think Album was instrumental in focusing the attention of the outside world on what was happening in British photography. To read David Brittain’s interview with Carl Chiarenza, editor of Contemporary Photographer, see www.foto8.com

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Work in Progress

work in progress Jim goldberg

Travelling away from his hometown is a reluctant choice for Jim Goldberg, a path he will follow in order to make the work that has sealed his reputation as one of the world’s most interesting and successful photographers. But after weeks or months on the road, he will always come home, back to San Francisco. For the past six years, his attention has been focused on the thousands of people around the world who are compelled to uproot, to leave their homes, whether to earn enough money to feed their families, or to escape oppression – or worse. The idea that migration is in some way a “natural” phenomenon is flawed. The complex reasons behind a decision to migrate are anything but “natural” and it is Goldberg’s intention with this new work to seek beyond the myths and misinformation that shroud this urgent subject. In order to present such an ambitious body of work, Goldberg has been grappling with its vastness, not only in deciding which countries to focus on but even in what to call the project. He has been searching for something metaphorical, or abstract, looking to poetry to find the right words. As 8 goes to press, he is playing with different permutations of Easy/Lucky/Free, a song title by American artist Bright Eyes, which Goldberg’s longterm collaborator (and curator of Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC), Philip Brookman, agreed was “interesting” – for now. Talking with Goldberg, it becomes evident that an element of collaboration is essential to him during works in progress. The reciprocal relationship with Brookman – who is also putting together his own book – in which the two men share ideas, play about with different edits and sequencing, provides a sense of perspective and can even lead to new ways of working. In the frenzy of creativity that inevitably precedes a visit from Brookman, a black and white collage was created unexpectedly. “I scanned a bunch of Polaroid contact sheets very quickly, because Philip was coming, and then put them all together. Looking at it, with the images right side and wrong side up, I realised it could be really interesting as a piece,” he says. The any-which-way faces look as though they were scooped up, shaken in a huge cosmic sack, and scattered back down

to earth, upside down and far away from home. Displayed as a montage, yet another layer reveals itself in Goldberg’s already densely layered work. His habit of inviting the subjects of his photographs to inscribe the Polaroids he makes with their own handwriting has a powerful resonance: “Look!” they shout. “This is what happened to me.” Goldberg is not just “giving voice” in the great humanist tradition of Magnum photographers (and others), but actually putting those voices to the forefront of his work. In the same way, he also gives a photograph to each of those he has photographed by way of thanks. The images you see on the following pages are fragments from Goldberg’s epic journey that has so far has encompassed Greece, Ukraine, India and Bangladesh. His intention is to show something of the cause as well as the effects of migration, in time for the scheduled exhibition of the work in April 2009 at the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson in Paris, and the alreadycommissioned book by Steidl. For now, to select images from an unfinished body of work for publication is a painstaking process, but a fruitful one too. In Ukraine, for example, the dreamy gaze of glue-sniffing street children suggests the susceptibility of these vulnerable young people to traffickers. Similarly, when we see the brick factory in Bangladesh, and imagine the physical labour involved in earning a dollar a day to feed a family of five, or the desperate embrace of a pimp and his whore in India, both suffering from HIV, Goldberg is offering up the idea that there might be reasons to leave. He shows us too the sorrow of leaving for those left behind; the anguish of the ageing father who knows he will not see his sons again before he dies. Such images provide a context in which to glimpse the altered lives of those who now live elsewhere. Young Huszin, from Somalia, has a new life in Greece. We don’t know what he experienced in his homeland, if it’s better, but it’s different. There is a sense that the fragility of human existence becomes briefly visible in Goldberg’s hands as he pursues a work that fuses fact and fiction in favour of storytelling. Max Houghton Jim Goldberg is represented by Magnum Photos.


Work in Progress

work in progress Jim goldberg

Travelling away from his hometown is a reluctant choice for Jim Goldberg, a path he will follow in order to make the work that has sealed his reputation as one of the world’s most interesting and successful photographers. But after weeks or months on the road, he will always come home, back to San Francisco. For the past six years, his attention has been focused on the thousands of people around the world who are compelled to uproot, to leave their homes, whether to earn enough money to feed their families, or to escape oppression – or worse. The idea that migration is in some way a “natural” phenomenon is flawed. The complex reasons behind a decision to migrate are anything but “natural” and it is Goldberg’s intention with this new work to seek beyond the myths and misinformation that shroud this urgent subject. In order to present such an ambitious body of work, Goldberg has been grappling with its vastness, not only in deciding which countries to focus on but even in what to call the project. He has been searching for something metaphorical, or abstract, looking to poetry to find the right words. As 8 goes to press, he is playing with different permutations of Easy/Lucky/Free, a song title by American artist Bright Eyes, which Goldberg’s longterm collaborator (and curator of Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC), Philip Brookman, agreed was “interesting” – for now. Talking with Goldberg, it becomes evident that an element of collaboration is essential to him during works in progress. The reciprocal relationship with Brookman – who is also putting together his own book – in which the two men share ideas, play about with different edits and sequencing, provides a sense of perspective and can even lead to new ways of working. In the frenzy of creativity that inevitably precedes a visit from Brookman, a black and white collage was created unexpectedly. “I scanned a bunch of Polaroid contact sheets very quickly, because Philip was coming, and then put them all together. Looking at it, with the images right side and wrong side up, I realised it could be really interesting as a piece,” he says. The any-which-way faces look as though they were scooped up, shaken in a huge cosmic sack, and scattered back down

to earth, upside down and far away from home. Displayed as a montage, yet another layer reveals itself in Goldberg’s already densely layered work. His habit of inviting the subjects of his photographs to inscribe the Polaroids he makes with their own handwriting has a powerful resonance: “Look!” they shout. “This is what happened to me.” Goldberg is not just “giving voice” in the great humanist tradition of Magnum photographers (and others), but actually putting those voices to the forefront of his work. In the same way, he also gives a photograph to each of those he has photographed by way of thanks. The images you see on the following pages are fragments from Goldberg’s epic journey that has so far has encompassed Greece, Ukraine, India and Bangladesh. His intention is to show something of the cause as well as the effects of migration, in time for the scheduled exhibition of the work in April 2009 at the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson in Paris, and the alreadycommissioned book by Steidl. For now, to select images from an unfinished body of work for publication is a painstaking process, but a fruitful one too. In Ukraine, for example, the dreamy gaze of glue-sniffing street children suggests the susceptibility of these vulnerable young people to traffickers. Similarly, when we see the brick factory in Bangladesh, and imagine the physical labour involved in earning a dollar a day to feed a family of five, or the desperate embrace of a pimp and his whore in India, both suffering from HIV, Goldberg is offering up the idea that there might be reasons to leave. He shows us too the sorrow of leaving for those left behind; the anguish of the ageing father who knows he will not see his sons again before he dies. Such images provide a context in which to glimpse the altered lives of those who now live elsewhere. Young Huszin, from Somalia, has a new life in Greece. We don’t know what he experienced in his homeland, if it’s better, but it’s different. There is a sense that the fragility of human existence becomes briefly visible in Goldberg’s hands as he pursues a work that fuses fact and fiction in favour of storytelling. Max Houghton Jim Goldberg is represented by Magnum Photos.


Work in Progress

work in progress Jim goldberg

Travelling away from his hometown is a reluctant choice for Jim Goldberg, a path he will follow in order to make the work that has sealed his reputation as one of the world’s most interesting and successful photographers. But after weeks or months on the road, he will always come home, back to San Francisco. For the past six years, his attention has been focused on the thousands of people around the world who are compelled to uproot, to leave their homes, whether to earn enough money to feed their families, or to escape oppression – or worse. The idea that migration is in some way a “natural” phenomenon is flawed. The complex reasons behind a decision to migrate are anything but “natural” and it is Goldberg’s intention with this new work to seek beyond the myths and misinformation that shroud this urgent subject. In order to present such an ambitious body of work, Goldberg has been grappling with its vastness, not only in deciding which countries to focus on but even in what to call the project. He has been searching for something metaphorical, or abstract, looking to poetry to find the right words. As 8 goes to press, he is playing with different permutations of Easy/Lucky/Free, a song title by American artist Bright Eyes, which Goldberg’s longterm collaborator (and curator of Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC), Philip Brookman, agreed was “interesting” – for now. Talking with Goldberg, it becomes evident that an element of collaboration is essential to him during works in progress. The reciprocal relationship with Brookman – who is also putting together his own book – in which the two men share ideas, play about with different edits and sequencing, provides a sense of perspective and can even lead to new ways of working. In the frenzy of creativity that inevitably precedes a visit from Brookman, a black and white collage was created unexpectedly. “I scanned a bunch of Polaroid contact sheets very quickly, because Philip was coming, and then put them all together. Looking at it, with the images right side and wrong side up, I realised it could be really interesting as a piece,” he says. The any-which-way faces look as though they were scooped up, shaken in a huge cosmic sack, and scattered back down

to earth, upside down and far away from home. Displayed as a montage, yet another layer reveals itself in Goldberg’s already densely layered work. His habit of inviting the subjects of his photographs to inscribe the Polaroids he makes with their own handwriting has a powerful resonance: “Look!” they shout. “This is what happened to me.” Goldberg is not just “giving voice” in the great humanist tradition of Magnum photographers (and others), but actually putting those voices to the forefront of his work. In the same way, he also gives a photograph to each of those he has photographed by way of thanks. The images you see on the following pages are fragments from Goldberg’s epic journey that has so far has encompassed Greece, Ukraine, India and Bangladesh. His intention is to show something of the cause as well as the effects of migration, in time for the scheduled exhibition of the work in April 2009 at the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson in Paris, and the alreadycommissioned book by Steidl. For now, to select images from an unfinished body of work for publication is a painstaking process, but a fruitful one too. In Ukraine, for example, the dreamy gaze of glue-sniffing street children suggests the susceptibility of these vulnerable young people to traffickers. Similarly, when we see the brick factory in Bangladesh, and imagine the physical labour involved in earning a dollar a day to feed a family of five, or the desperate embrace of a pimp and his whore in India, both suffering from HIV, Goldberg is offering up the idea that there might be reasons to leave. He shows us too the sorrow of leaving for those left behind; the anguish of the ageing father who knows he will not see his sons again before he dies. Such images provide a context in which to glimpse the altered lives of those who now live elsewhere. Young Huszin, from Somalia, has a new life in Greece. We don’t know what he experienced in his homeland, if it’s better, but it’s different. There is a sense that the fragility of human existence becomes briefly visible in Goldberg’s hands as he pursues a work that fuses fact and fiction in favour of storytelling. Max Houghton Jim Goldberg is represented by Magnum Photos.


Work in Progress

work in progress Jim goldberg

Travelling away from his hometown is a reluctant choice for Jim Goldberg, a path he will follow in order to make the work that has sealed his reputation as one of the world’s most interesting and successful photographers. But after weeks or months on the road, he will always come home, back to San Francisco. For the past six years, his attention has been focused on the thousands of people around the world who are compelled to uproot, to leave their homes, whether to earn enough money to feed their families, or to escape oppression – or worse. The idea that migration is in some way a “natural” phenomenon is flawed. The complex reasons behind a decision to migrate are anything but “natural” and it is Goldberg’s intention with this new work to seek beyond the myths and misinformation that shroud this urgent subject. In order to present such an ambitious body of work, Goldberg has been grappling with its vastness, not only in deciding which countries to focus on but even in what to call the project. He has been searching for something metaphorical, or abstract, looking to poetry to find the right words. As 8 goes to press, he is playing with different permutations of Easy/Lucky/Free, a song title by American artist Bright Eyes, which Goldberg’s longterm collaborator (and curator of Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC), Philip Brookman, agreed was “interesting” – for now. Talking with Goldberg, it becomes evident that an element of collaboration is essential to him during works in progress. The reciprocal relationship with Brookman – who is also putting together his own book – in which the two men share ideas, play about with different edits and sequencing, provides a sense of perspective and can even lead to new ways of working. In the frenzy of creativity that inevitably precedes a visit from Brookman, a black and white collage was created unexpectedly. “I scanned a bunch of Polaroid contact sheets very quickly, because Philip was coming, and then put them all together. Looking at it, with the images right side and wrong side up, I realised it could be really interesting as a piece,” he says. The any-which-way faces look as though they were scooped up, shaken in a huge cosmic sack, and scattered back down

to earth, upside down and far away from home. Displayed as a montage, yet another layer reveals itself in Goldberg’s already densely layered work. His habit of inviting the subjects of his photographs to inscribe the Polaroids he makes with their own handwriting has a powerful resonance: “Look!” they shout. “This is what happened to me.” Goldberg is not just “giving voice” in the great humanist tradition of Magnum photographers (and others), but actually putting those voices to the forefront of his work. In the same way, he also gives a photograph to each of those he has photographed by way of thanks. The images you see on the following pages are fragments from Goldberg’s epic journey that has so far has encompassed Greece, Ukraine, India and Bangladesh. His intention is to show something of the cause as well as the effects of migration, in time for the scheduled exhibition of the work in April 2009 at the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson in Paris, and the alreadycommissioned book by Steidl. For now, to select images from an unfinished body of work for publication is a painstaking process, but a fruitful one too. In Ukraine, for example, the dreamy gaze of glue-sniffing street children suggests the susceptibility of these vulnerable young people to traffickers. Similarly, when we see the brick factory in Bangladesh, and imagine the physical labour involved in earning a dollar a day to feed a family of five, or the desperate embrace of a pimp and his whore in India, both suffering from HIV, Goldberg is offering up the idea that there might be reasons to leave. He shows us too the sorrow of leaving for those left behind; the anguish of the ageing father who knows he will not see his sons again before he dies. Such images provide a context in which to glimpse the altered lives of those who now live elsewhere. Young Huszin, from Somalia, has a new life in Greece. We don’t know what he experienced in his homeland, if it’s better, but it’s different. There is a sense that the fragility of human existence becomes briefly visible in Goldberg’s hands as he pursues a work that fuses fact and fiction in favour of storytelling. Max Houghton Jim Goldberg is represented by Magnum Photos.


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IRAN

PHOTOGRAPHER Kaveh Golestan


He was Iran’s foremost photographer and cameraman. Perhaps we can only really appreciate and understand the work of Gilles Peress – whose book Telex Iran was groundbreaking for Western audiences – if first we know that of Kaveh Golestan. The son of a famous Iranian novelist and film-maker, his photographs of and interest in those that the Shah’s regime held beneath contempt marked out his territory early in his career. Golestan wanted to make visible the women who worked as prostitutes in Shahr-e No, mentally ill children abandoned and restrained in Tehran’s biggest mental hospital, and labourers who migrated from rural areas to cities only to live in poverty. Exhibitions of such subjects were banned by the Shah. Golestan was a patriot who raged against the injustice in society, against the repression and censorship that characterised the Shah’s reign, and how it was misreported in the West by an imperialist media that preferred to focus 36

on exotic Iranian art. When the ensuing revolution brought about what Golestan called “one of the darkest periods in its history”, he continued use his camera as a tool in the fight against oppression; a tool of truth. He was awarded the Robert Capa Gold Medal in 1979, but could not collect it until 13 years later, due to the political climate in his motherland. Over the years, his run-ins with the authorities became notorious, first with the “men in ties” – the Shah’s secret police – and later with “the unknown soldiers of Imam Mahdi” – the Islamic Republic’s secret police. His friend and collaborator Iranian film-maker Maziar Bahari relates a story that captures Golestan’s legendary charm, sense of mischief and commitment in equal measure: “ ‘You resort to histrionics unnecessarily, Mr Golestan,’ was the officials’ standard line whenever Kaveh asked for a permission to film something. “ ‘But I have reason to panic, sir! The whole world is waiting to hear about our

country and you’re asking me to keep quiet!’ Kaveh would answer as though his whole life depended on filming that day.” In many ways, Kaveh’s life did depend on being able to film, and to tell the truth. And his life ended when he was doing exactly that. He was filming on assignment in Kifri, Iraqi Kurdistan, on 2 April 2003, when he stepped on a landmine and was killed instantly. Nearly 30 years after the Iranian revolution, media censorship is still rife in Iran, according to Reporters Sans Frontieres. “Dozens” of journalists were arrested in 2006 for “criticising the authorities” and 12 media outlets were censored. Yet in countries in which the media is perceived to be free, yet is increasingly perverted by the stranglehold of PR, the values of Kaveh Golestan should always be remembered. Max Houghton Kaveh Golestan 1950-2003: Recording the Truth in Iran is published by Hatje Cantz.


Opening spread: Released prisoners from Ghasr Prison, Tehran. Political prisoners were freed the day the Shah left the country Above left: This protester in Tehran in 1979 holds up ‘hands of blood’, a symbol of martyrdom Above right: A demonstrator throws tear gas back at the police near Tehran University, 1978

REVOLUTION, IRAN 1978-80

The first slogan I heard was: ‘The blood on the sword is the true victor.’ I remember thinking it would make an amazing title. I was willing to put my life on it. The Revolution began when the people of Qom took to the streets in protest against a letter published in Ettela’at that was derogatory towards Ayatollah Khomeini. People holding newspapers gathered on Chahaar Mardan. The gathering, which soon turned into a full-blown demonstration, began heading towards Safaiyeh, an area of Qom where the Friday prayers take place. As it moved through the street and passed a police station, a rock thrown by someone in the crowd started a riot, and an ambulance was set alight. Both the fire brigade and the Shah’s army were called. The first arrived with water and hoses, while the latter came armed with batons and tear gas. 37


REVOLUTION, IRAN 1978-80

As these events unfolded, I didn’t have any contacts in political circles but a friend who lived in Qom alerted me to what was going on and I came to see it for myself. With my photos, I managed to capture the very first sparks of the Revolution. 38


Masked militiaman, Khuzestan, 1980


Burning archives, Tehran, 1979. Debris from ransacked offices includes official portraits of the Shah and Empress Farah

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A student mourns a friend shot outside Tehran University, 1979

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Tea and bread sustained a revolution. After soldiers joined the demonstrations, civilians brought provisions into the streets


IRAN-IRAQ WAR 1980-88

War was death felt by the living. Death was with you all the time. Everything was held in a fragile balance. I saw how easily people could die. In this situation, fear was no longer relevant, and I felt drawn to the phenomenon of war. I wanted to know why I stayed alive and others died. It was then that I realised in some ways I was the one who was closest to death. When a person experiences excitement, a chemical reaction takes place in their brain. I had become addicted to that rush and wanted it all the time. For me, it became a kind of obsessive behaviour. I often felt like a vulture, for I seemed to be traveling in helicopters to find the dead. Death had become my companion, and I was beginning to have psychological problems. The sound of explosions no longer scared me, as they had been reduced to a mathematical equation. I would try to calculate where it was coming from 44

and where it would land. Once on the frontline, during a sudden mortar attack, I jumped into a dug-out trench to shelter myself. I turned my head and saw that the trench was filled with the bloated and purple corpses of Iraqi soldiers. I was forced to hide in the trench for six hours with them – in the grave, in the world of death, ultimate annihilation. During the war, I kept a handkerchief with me that I used to cover my nose and mouth when the odor of death and decay was bad. To me, this handkerchief smelled of death. I have washed it and poured perfume on it many times. But it continues to reek of death. This smell will not vanish. After the war finished, I found that it had left me with a constant feeling of anxiety and unease. I do not have much emotion left to give. I have already seen the end.

Above: Many young boys volunteered to serve in Basij, a paramilitary force founded by Khomeini in 1979. Thousands participated in the ‘Human Wave’ attacks during the Iran-Iraq War Right: Ahvaz, Iran, 1983


Moment of martrydom during the Iran-Iraq War


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LABOURERS, TEHRAN 1977

These men, who were previously planting wheatfields, nowadays construct edifices shaped like wedding cakes for the nouveaux riches. They build skyscraper apartments without ever enjoying a hope of living there. Labourers like Rashid, who left his wife and two-month-old child and travelled to Tehran for the first time in his life, live and work under extraordinarily difficult circumstances – enduring excruciating physical labour, in dangerous conditions lacking the minimum health and safety protocols. Due to insufficient wages, they are often hungry and undernourished, forced to live in shoddy shacks with only nylon bags as roofing.


Identifying relatives, Bokan, Kurdistan, 1980 Kurdish boy with bandage, Kurdistan, 1980

UPRISING IN KURDISTAN 1988-89

Despite their rock-solid stamina, the Kurds live under brutal repression. Despite their bravery and willingness to die for their cause, they cannot solve their problems on their own. They are an impoverished people in immediate need of food and medicine. Right now at this

very moment, we can be certain that innocent blood is being shed somewhere in Kurdistan. Somewhere a Kurd is being executed or tortured; a Kurd is being bombed out of his home, or his village is being ‘scudded’. At this moment, a Kurd is being lied to and manipulated. I once

asked a seven-year-old Kurdish boy what he wanted to be when he grows up. He answered that he wasn’t sure if he was going to get the chance to grow up.

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SHAHR-E NO, TEHRAN 1975-77

The Shahr-e No (‘New City’) citadel has walled in Tehran’s prostitutes. Two parallel roads join together, leading to an iron entry gate behind which a maze of filthy alleyways can be seen. These alleyways branch out and expand to form the redlight district of Tehran. Visitors expecting glamorous surroundings are instead greeted by an area that resembles a waste ground or public toilet. A rotten stench flows through the streets, making it hard to breathe. At the centre of the citadel is a small courtyard, piled high with rotting dirty tissues – remnants of the day’s work. The problems are not petty ones such as the council’s inefficiency in cleaning the streets; neither are they tearful stories of young girls losing their innocence. The real problems are syphilis, heroin addiction, violence and degradation. 50


Signing off PHOTOGRAPHER Peter Granser 52


Here lies Texas, as the Bush era draws to a close. Peter Granser has sketched a portrait of a state, the spiritual home of the outgoing President, and in so doing has captured the state of mind of conservative America. During 2006-2007, Granser covered 20,000km in three trips to the Deep South, encountering the mega-churches and vast army bases that underpin the philosophy of the region: religiosity and militarism. Coiled tightly around these twin peaks runs the yellow ribbon of patriotism. The rhetoric of Truth

and Freedom pervades and defines the landscape of Texas, from restaurants to churches to billboards. Two simple words spell out the political future for the state, regardless of electoral victory: Never Hillary. Plastic cups pressed into the holes of a fence in front of supply containers spell out a welcome home for soldiers returning from Iraq: JOB WELL DONE. The Bush legacy, we see, will endure in his home state of Texas, as it will, no doubt, elsewhere in the world. Max Houghton

Peter Granser’s new book Signs is published by Hatje Cantz. He is represented by Galerie Mennour, Paris.

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Frozen exile PHOTOGRAPHER Ahmet unver Custom has it that the grounds left in a Turkish coffee cup can be read to disclose the fortune of the drinker. Among the expatriate Turks living in Stockholm, the old ladies – those gifted with prescience – often discern in the dried rivulets and tributaries the same message: one day you are going home. The idea of home – as a location, a cultural resource, a destination – haunts Ahmet Unver’s photographs of Sweden’s staunchly insular Turkish community. It is there in the prayer mats hung on the walls; in the framed photographs on the sideboards; and in the football posters pinned to the walls. Perhaps it haunts too Unver’s intensely mute portraits. “No one really connects… because I think everyone is just, maybe, feeling lonely. They are isolated”, he says, “isolated as a community and as individuals within that community. They are quite distant with each other, even though they live

very close. I think maybe it is because they are so close that they have to be distant from each other.” “Nothing’s really changed for them – they just moved to a different place. They speak Turkish and work in kebab shops that sell groceries or furniture from Turkey. They’ve got satellite dishes so they just watch Turkish TV.” Though his portraits are not intimate, they are informal and even familiar. After all, this is the community where Unver was born, grew up and, until recently, resided. His perspective though is no longer that of an insider. “I had to go away in order to see from the outside. Only by moving could I see and discover some of the things in the pictures. In a way it is a self-portrait, but of people that I don’t feel a part of any more.” Guy Lane Ahmet Unver is an independent photographer based in Turkey.

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Portfolio Maurice Broomfield Born in 1916, Maurice Broomfield left school aged 15 to work in a factory where he used the company darkroom to develop his photographic skills. He spent his evenings as a student in the Derby College of Art and, inspired by the drama of industry, he endeavoured to convey this atmosphere with photographs and sketches, bringing an insight to those who would never experience such things. In relation to his photography, Broomfield says, “I enjoy photographing people at work and the many experiences while doing this have enriched my life. To be living on this planet, is to me, the greatest gift possible.� In addition to his devotion to industrial portraiture and his pioneering work in photography from the 1940s to the present day, Broomfield is also an intrepid traveller most recently taking an around-the-world trip as a passenger aboard a container ship. Maurice Broomfield is represented by HOST Gallery in London and his signed, edition prints are available for purchase. hostgallery.co.uk

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Broomfield photographing in Pakistan using an MPP camera, 1961

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Crossing over the bridge across the Indus River near Nagar, north-west Pakistan

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Road building in Northwest Frontier, Pakistan, 1963

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Balancing a ship propeller, Yoker works of Bulls Metal and Marine, Glasgow 1956

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Taper roller bearing, Daventry works of British Timpkin, 1957

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Winding in the nets from sardine fishing, Portugal, 1956

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Boatman, Dacca, East Pakistan, 1961

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Yard foreman, ICI Slats Division Works, 1958

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Old people’s home, SOS Society, 1955

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your future creative heroes

Entries for 4Talent Awards 2008 now open channel4.com/4talentawards


Water colours 82 a drop to drink 88 not natasha 90 piety and torture 102 china dust-storm 104 of the maritime 112 the vanishing shore 124

Water colours PHOTOGRAPHER Narelle Autio

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Water colours PHOTOGRAPHER Narelle Autio

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Water Colours. As her title suggests, Narelle Autio’s underwater photographs of Australian swimmers and paddlers exhibit a set of formal, apparently artistic concerns. The water’s colours are sumptuous: from the clear-cut azure of the surface through every shade of turquoise, navy and aquamarine to the verdant depths beneath. The richness of the contrasts and fusions of her oceanic palette is intensified by the dramatic chiaroscuro that serves to structure many of the compositions. Indeed light – refracted, reflected, dappled or glancing; and in shafts, bubbles, depths or shallows – could be said to be as much as subject of the pictures as the swimmers themselves. 84

It’s no surprise to learn that Autio, born in a coastal suburb of Adelaide, went to art school to study painting, but emerged holding a camera. One of the traditional means by which art photography has sought to distance itself from documentary (and other grubby modes) is by minimising its own instrumental or informational potential. Or as Autio recently told an Australian interviewer, “I generally leave it up to the viewer what they should take from the images. I rarely put captions or explanations to help them along. I think with any art the fact that people make up their own mind is a great thing”. Less said, then, the better. Guy Lane

Narelle Autio is a staff photographer for the Sydney Morning Herald, and is represented by Agence Vu.


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A Drop to drink JAmes morrison It covers two-thirds of the Earth’s surface, and falls in increasingly torrential quantities across much of the planet – yet still we don’t have enough water to go around. Amid rising utility bills and petrol prices (and mounting concern about the environmental impact of energy consumption in the West and Far East) we’re forever being warned about oil shortages. But they’re as nothing compared to our depleting water supply. Every litre of conventional motor fuel requires 2.5 litres of water to generate, while it takes 1,000 to produce a single litre of bio-fuel, 4,000 to nurture a kilo of wheat, and 16,000 to nourish the cattle needed to yield the same quantity of beef. And while we Westerners send sprinklers arcing over manicured lawns, and wallow in our prolonged love affair with “designer” bottled H20, one in five of the world’s poorest people can’t fill a thimble with water that’s safe enough to drink. Given these alarming statistics, the World Economic Forum’s decision to put water at the top of the agenda at its recent Davos summit was long overdue. It surely can’t be right that, in an age when the world’s most affluent consume 3,000 litres of water a day, directly or indirectly, its most impoverished can’t bathe in a stream for fear of contamination or death. Of course, water was ever a capricious element. On the one hand, its healing properties are legend. Qi – the energy humans depend upon for their physical health and spiritual wellbeing – is best sourced by drinking pure water, according to devotees of Tai Chi. Biblical images of washing – notably of Jesus scrubbing his disciples’ feet – symbolise 88

the cleansing of the soul and the banishment of the ego. And history is awash with examples of how water has been harnessed for mankind’s wellbeing. For millennia it’s been a source of power and sustenance – alleviating drought, feeding crops, fuelling homes, farms and factories, and providing inspiration for artists from Shakespeare through Turner to Indian-Canadian filmmaker Deepa Mehta. More prosaically, when not downing our skinny frappuccinos, we Westerners have spent recent years marvelling at the hydrating effects of spring water – as if awakened to them for the first time by skillful branding. A report last year by environmental group Sustain threatened to dislodge the Emperor’s New Clothes by pointing out that most spring water is no better for us than that from the average tap (some is less so, if laced with excess sodium or toxins). Yet Britons alone spend £2 billion a year on the stuff. To return to Tai Chi philosophy momentarily, for every yin there’s a yang. So it is with water. Since the sinking of Atlantis and the Great Flood, it’s been linked with storms and cataclysm – from burst banks in Oxfordshire to the Asian Tsunami and Hurricane Katrina. Its deadliness is also glimpsed through its absence. The African famines of the past quarter-century provide the starkest illustration of this, while during the so-called Bolivian “water war” tens of thousands suffered from scarcity caused not by drought but hard-nosed economics. A “structural adjustment programme” imposed on the country by the International Monetary Fund and World Bank forced its government to

privatise tap water, leading to a nearovernight tripling in price. Then there’s water-borne pollution and disease. Mugabe’s Zimbabwe suffers from politically created water shortages in major cities, and diarrhoea and dysentery epidemics caused by the discharge of industrial waste into Lake Chivero. The World Health Organisation has long warned of the dangers of mothers in developing countries feeding their infants with powdered milk in the absence of clean freshwater supplies. It’s as if nature is exacting revenge for our commoditisation of its resources. But why should this justifiable wrath be so random, so woefully ill-targeted? Literature and folklore provide numerous arresting images of water’s arbitrary destructiveness. The sea is depicted as aggressor (Homer’s whirlpool-generating mouth, Charybdis; The Tempest); as harbourer of evolutionary monstrosities (the Kraken, Moby Dick); and as agent of isolation and barbarism (Heart of Darkness; Golding’s Lord of the Flies). And what good did its vaunted curative properties do Macbeth (“out damned spot”)? But it’s smaller-scale stories that best convey its elemental brutality. The deaths of Steerforth and Ham Peggotty at sea in David Copperfield, and the tumultuous denouement of Eliot’s The Mill on the Floss, in which Maggie Tulliver drowns with her brother, Tom, while rescuing him from a flood. Human tragedy aside, what of water’s more subtly destructive properties? As an archaeology graduate, I’m fascinated by its paradoxical nature as an agent of both preservation and decay. The depth and expanse of our oceans have long shielded from plunder many


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Has the tide turned against us forever? Is it drought, decay and demolition from here on in?

of the treasures they are reputed to harbour (until, that is, the new wave of commercial prospectors acquired the technology needed to detect them). By contrast, the bombast of pyramids and Neolithic tombs seems to invite grave-robbers. At certain temperatures, water helps preserve artefacts. Viking long ships dredged from Scandinavian fjords are often excavated whole, unlike other historic vessels – including ones dug out of the earth, like Sutton Hoo’s ship burials – thanks to the coldness of the water from which they are rescued. In most contexts, though, waterlogged remains are fragile and incomplete. I recently interviewed several maritime archaeologists for an article focusing on a series of major new conservation projects, and was struck again by the power of water to thwart our attempts to assemble a coherent picture of our past. Ships and boats are inherently difficult to preserve, even if largely intact when acquired by museums, because of the battering they endured in their working lives. Saltwater corrosion afflicts timber and iron – the core building-blocks of many seagoing vessels. And the sheer size of a ship makes it peculiarly problematic to house indoors. For this reason, the SS Great Britain, HMS Victory et al are moored in harbours, leading to further exposure to the elements and, inevitably, decay. Both the Cutty Sark and SS Great Britain are undergoing conservation projects to safeguard them from future deterioration (each will be encased by a “glass bubble” kept at carefully controlled ambient temperatures). The Mary Rose, which marked the 25th

anniversary of her salvage from the Solent last October, was awarded £21m by the Heritage Lottery Fund in January to aid her preservation (she’s already continuously sprayed with polyethylene glycol – a chemical designed to “replace” the saltwater clogging her timbers to stop them collapsing). But, shorn of public investment, others flounder: the Cutty Sark’s sister ship, HMS Carrick, lies rotting on an Ayrshire slipway, its punitive upkeep costs threatening to sink its owner, the Scottish Maritime Museum. So, as nature pursues its destructive course, as global warming ushers in rising sea levels and endless monsoon seasons in some regions while others become deserts, has the tide turned against us forever? Is it drought, decay and demolition from here on in? Perhaps not. Water has been tamed and rerouted before – the Yangtze Dam and the Dutch flood barriers attest to this – so we can surely control it again. As Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the WEF, said recently: “It is not a catastrophe yet. It lies within our collective grasp to find the solutions.” James Morrison is a freelance journalist and writer, and former arts and media correspondent of the Independent on Sunday.

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not natasha PHOTOGRAPHER Dana Popa

Of all the countries that once made up the Soviet Union, the Republic of Moldova is the poorest. In an effort to escape from hardship a growing number of Moldovans are choosing to emigrate, lured by the promise or prospect of work abroad. Women and girls from impoverished rural areas are particularly susceptible. For many, their hopes are misplaced – cruelly so. The establishment of a market economy in post-communist Moldova boosted the circulation and exchange of commodities, as would be expected. Less predictable was that women and children should be among the goods on offer. Many of those who leave the country find, on arrival, that they have been sold into virtual slavery – at worst sex-trafficked. Popa’s series of photographs, Not Natasha – “Natasha” is a slang name for prostitutes – is a record of the people and lives she encountered in a Moldovan shelter for victims of sex trafficking.

Some women chose anonymity; some chose frank disclosure. Nadia was sold by her mother; Dalia by her fiancée. One bares self-inflicted scars; another breastfeeds contentedly. Popa has photographed vulnerable, unstable, ravaged yet resolute women. This is not comfortable territory and she knows – “I am an intruder, am I not?” – the dangers she is courting. The conviction of her photographs, though, attests to her undertaking, and is matched only by the accounts offered by the women themselves. “The quotes are very important because this is their contribution. The pictures are my contribution; but these are their words, their experience. This is what brings us back to reality in a way. Back to what is in their souls.” Guy Lane Dana Popa’s work is included in the Moving Walls 14 exhibition. She is represented by Anzenberger Agency.

‘I thought I would work purely as a vendor at the market in Moscow for $200. The same day I accepted the offer, I arrived in Russia, with no passport. The guy who offered the job took me and two other girls to a woman called Raisa and she bought us train tickets to Moscow. She arranged everything. Traffickers always buy all the seats in the number four and seven wagons and have deals with the conductors. Raisa’s husband was waiting for us in Moscow and he drove us to a one-bedroom apartment packed with 15 girls. I never thought it would happen to me. Two, three, four, even five clients a day, for one month, then he sold me to Olguta – a female pimp. She had 40 girls at work. We were all sleeping on the floor and covering ourselves with our own clothes. It was cold. The food was very little and extremely bad. We could never keep any coins that the clients would leave for us; she would search us all the time. A client set my friend and I free. I never told my family what happened to me. When I was working I was allowed to wear a wig. I still have it’ – Elena, 23

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‘My husband-to-be sold me for $2200. The pimp tried to induce an abortion by administering pills, but it did not work. So I was carrying a dead foetus in my womb for two months. I was still forced to do three, four clients a day. Only the thought of my baby daughter back home stopped me from taking my life’ – Dalia, 20

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‘A scrapbook... that is all I have got from my daughter. I don’t know where she is’ – Mihai

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First meeting with the family after being trafficked. The three siblings, Ana, Cristina and Ion were forced to work on a farm in Ukraine for over a year without any payment

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Elena (above left) without her wig Back from Turkey, Dalia (above) waits for a gynaecological examination, at the International Organisation for Migration in Chisinau, Moldova Clarisa, 21 (left) shows scars from self harming. She was sex trafficked to Turkey for two months. Her best friend sold her for $800

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‘My husband’s family in Romania obliged me to work as a prostitute. The Romanian social services took my three month-old baby daughter away. I came back to Moldova and I regained the rights of bringing her up as her mother. I met my daughter for the first time in four years, three days ago’ – Olea, 23 ‘I was 12 years old. I don’t want to talk about it’ – Alina (above right) An ad in a local newspaper (right) offers well paid work in Japan for young girls. But can it be legitimate? And how can they tell?

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Clarisa and Dalia, one month after Dalia escaped sexual slavery. They were both forced into prostitution in Turkey

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PIETY ANd torture john o’farrell Depending on the depth of the water, a mountain peak can be a small island. Viewed through the Perspex windows of a carrier jet, one of the most haunting vistas is a range of mountains bathed in clouds, bubbling like a geyser pool in Iceland or Yosemite, crops of rocks among the steam. Ideas can act in such a manner. There are ideas that seemed as solid and forbidding as the clarity of being on a hill above a plain. Then the tide comes in and all that is left is the memory of when that idea’s time had come, and held sway over millions of souls. There are those, the true believers, who can never leave the comfort of the summit. Despite the isolation of being historical castaways, they sit and wait and sit and wait for the water to recede and open paths for new acolytes. Thus has been the life stories of, say, the heirs of Leon Trotsky, a sliver of the left that is in turn splintered into hundreds of groupuscules, tendencies, factions, fractions and personality cults whose formal titles must include at least two of the following nouns: Workers; Socialist; Revolutionary; Popular; Front; Resistance; International or (still) Communist. Since the icepick of history terminated their hero in 1940, Trotskyists were elbowed onto the fringes by the swaggering Stalinists, and their own tendencies towards self-indulgence, selfworship and splitting over the tiny tots or commas of ideological minutiae. Occasionally, the Red Sea parts, and they find themselves in the centre of huge events by virtue of simply staying put. 1968 was one such spring tide. For a generation who were radicalised, most drifted away into the narcissism of the 102

How must the French exiles of the OAS felt as they watched their Argentinian students succeed in doing what they failed to do in Algeria?

baby boomers, but those who stayed pure, who fought and lost every battle from the mid-’70s on, suddenly found themselves at the head of the largest demonstrations in European history. In February 2003, 15-20 million people marched through the cities of Europe (with millions everywhere else) to stop the Iraq war. Imagine that. Then, imagine the comedown as the war commenced and the follow-up demos were shadows of what marched before. The tide of apathy had returned. There are, however, other ways that ideas can continue. All you need is patience and planning, but a little money and power as collateral is a good start. In Giles Tremlett’s examination of a country’s memory, Ghosts of Spain, he describes going apartment-hunting in one of Madrid’s better neighbourhoods. “Walking into the sitting room, I found myself gasping, involuntarily, with shock. The room was dominated by a life-size oil portrait of a man in a Second World War German military uniform. Adolf Hitler stared out at me, a slight smile under his trademark moustache.” Looking around the room, Tremlett realised that he had stumbled into a cave protected from the 21st century, possessed by a troglodyte Francoist. Theirs was a generation of Catholics who felt a moral duty to defeat communism. In retrospect, the 20th century crusade of the Vatican and its shock troops on five continents was “the conversion of Russia”, as the Blessed Virgin of Fatima ordered three illiterate peasant children in 1917, a fable still believed by millions of credulous Catholics. Franco’s Spain formed a hub for this counter-reformation, and it was


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in Madrid in 1962 that French officers formed the OAS, a terrorist plot to stop Algerian independence by any means, including the assassination of President de Gaulle. The plotters failed to kill the General, but succeeded in murdering hundreds in bombing and shootings in Algeria and France, before being routed, arrested and, for some traitors, executed. The OAS chaplin, Fr Georges Grasset, organised the scarpering of OAS members, on a route from Paris to Spain and finally to Argentina. Grasset arrived in 1962 in Buenos Aires to take charge of the Argentine branch of the Cité Catholique. This clerical fascist cult brought to Argentina a doctrine of counter-revolutionary warfare and torture, justified as part of Thomist dogmatism, expounded in a tract called Le Marxisme-Léninisme by Jean Ousset. He wrote that Marxists could only be crushed by “a profound faith, an unlimited obedience to the Holy Father, and a thorough knowledge of the Church’s doctrines.” The 1961 Argentinian edition had a prologue by Archbishop Caggiano of Buenos Aires, in which he preached that Marxism was born of “the negation of Christ and his Church put into practice by the Revolution” and spoke of a Marxist conspiracy to take over the world, for which it was necessary to “prepare for the decisive battle,” although the enemy had not yet “taken up arms”. According to Jean Ousset, “the revolutionary apparatus is ideological before it is political, and political before it is military.” Other Cité Catholique exiles had expounded similar ideas, from their losing experiences in Vietnam and

Algeria. Roger Trinquier had theorised the systemic use of torture in counterinsurgency in Modern Warfare: A French View of Counterinsurgency (1961) and along with Colonel Jean Gardes, the Army’s expert in psychological warfare, Ousset developed the concept of “subversion”. Gardes was employed by the Argentinian navy to give courses in countering “subversion” at EMSA, the naval school that would become the main holding centre for “subversives” after the 1976 coup. The naval cadets had learnt lessons from Algeria, including the refinements of torture and disappearance, such as the method of drugging victims and dropping their weighted living bodies into the south Atlantic, a method known as Crevettes Bigeard, in honour of General Marcel Bigeard, a torturer depicted in The Battle of Algiers, a film repeatedly screened at EMSA. Graduates of these French traitors went onto create Plan Condor, a continental conspiracy dedicated to the “struggle against subversion.” Military juntas from Brazil, Chile, Bolivia, Uruguay and Paraguay adapted the ideology and methods of the Cité Catholique think-tank. Henry Kissinger knew, and approved. General Jorge Videla, who became dictator in 1976 (and hosted the 1978 World Cup Finals), had an easy conscience. His personal confessor was Fr Grasset. Around 30,000 “subversives” disappeared in Argentina alone between 1976 and 1983. Ideas have a weird way of turning up in odd places. How must the French exiles of the OAS felt as they watched their Argentinian students succeed in

doing what they failed to do in Algeria? The significant tide of this story is the stream that links doing God’s work through torture and terror. What is especially disturbing is that the few EMSA graduates charged with crimes displayed pristinely clear consciences. The closest contemporary equivalents are the video valedictions of jihadi suicide bombers or their fan clubs on the internet. In spring 2007, US and Iraqi troops raided a torture cell used by Al Queda in Mesopotamia, and found a detailed full colour manual graphically explaining the best methods of “information retrieval” to be used on what are clearly Shia Muslims. Since 2003, Iraq has acted as a training school for a generation of Martyrs-in-Waiting who are itching for the chance of a bit of torture before their divine appointment with 72 virgins. Those who performed jihad and were not killed or captured and tortured themselves, are back “home”, in every country in the Middle East and scattered across Europe and Asia. They number in the high hundreds, possibly in the low thousands. And they are waiting for the tide to come in. John O’Farrell is Communications Officer with the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, based in Belfast.

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P H O T O G R A P H E R • B E N O I T • A Q U I N

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“People are surprised to see a desert in China,” says Canadian photographer Benoit Aquin. “People in our countries are not aware that the second largest desert in the world is in China. And that they have dust storms in Beijing.” After assaulting the capital the vast yellow clouds blow eastwards on to Korea, Japan and even as far as North America. Despite the efforts of, among others, the Chinese government, the World Bank, and the UN, desertification – the reduction of fertile land to dust bowl – continues on an unimaginable scale: in just one night last year 330,000 tonnes of dust hit Beijing. “It’s man-made,” says Aquin. “Most of the time it’s non-viable farming practices that are making the desert advance. After the Revolution, Mao sent people to occupy territory in the remotest regions; but those arid lands cannot bear too much pressure on the environment. Elsewhere there is the overgrazing of arable areas, and with nothing to protect the land any more the wind just blows the topsoil away.” Faced with the prospect of tens of millions of “ecological refugees” the 106

I don’t think our leaders are taking the right action –­ they don’t realise one day the Yellow River could run dry

government has initiated a relocation programme. The town of Hongsibao has been built in Ningxia province solely to house thousands of displaced agricultural workers. But when Aquin arrived he found it deserted – literally. “The main square is the size of Tiananmen, but everybody was inside because of the dust storms. The issues are much more urgent than most of us realise. And I don’t think that our leaders are taking the right action – we’re not moving fast enough to confront the environmental issues.” He fears that even the Chinese left homeless and workless may not register the magnitude of the crisis: “Though they live through those dust storms, I don’t think they realise that one day the Yellow River could run dry”. Guy Lane Benoit Aquin is an independent photographer based in Montreal.


Daily life during the ‘dusty weather season’ of January-May (opening spread) in the town of Sanggen Dalai, amid the Hunshandake Sandland. The rangelands in that arid expanse of the Xilingol steppe have nearly disappeared

The train heading north from Lanzhou (following spread, top left) up to deserts and oases of the Hexi Corridor, first crosses a dry but fertile narrow valley irrigated by the Yellow River, where fields give way to factories

Hongsibao and its 42 satellite villages (above left) were created from scratch 11 years ago. Previously, only the cannons of the People’s Liberation Army rolled over the soil of this immense gravel expanse. Since then, Honsibao has become inhabited by 200,000 peasants and herders who moved there from the mountains

Teams of workers (bottom left) plant trees and shrubs and lay bundles of straw to protect the new highway crossing the Hunshandake Sandland on to Xilinhot. These efforts fall within the ‘Great Green Wall of China’ project, a 4,000km long forest belt program launched in 1978 to curb desertification

A huge statue of Genghis Khan, the Mongolian conqueror (above), seems to be battling against the dust storm that blankets Xilinhot City, capital of the Xilingol steppe

Trees bend during a dust storm (top right) from the winds that sweep out of Siberia into China A herder walking during a dust storm (bottom right) in Wuwei Oasis, at the edge of the Tengger Desert. Beyond, shelterbelts are planted to break the winds that blow away the dry fertile soil

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Theme Column | james morrison

Farmer Xu Li Song, 62, laments that the water table is already too low on his land. ‘Trees around here are withering, they are halfdead,’ says the former Communist Party village leader. Together with his neighbours he plants watermelons, laying plastic film on the soil to retain moisture and save water

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OF THE MARITIME PHOTOGRAPHER VANESSA WINSHIP

Ira sang like an angel and swam like a fish


Myth and fairy tales, those essential forms of storytelling, are often bracketed together. Yet there is an important difference. In myth, the characters never escape their fate, no matter how they might try. Orpheus was always going to look back to Eurydice, Oedipus was always going to marry his mother and kill his father, Persephone was always going to eat the pomegranate. In fairy tales, Cinderella escapes her fate as scullery maid to her two ugly sisters, and marries the Prince. Red Riding Hood is certainly not eaten by the Wolf. And while Sleeping Beauty does prick her hand on a spindle, she doesn’t die but sleeps for one hundred years to be awoken by a kiss from her valiant prince. It is somewhere between these overlapping planes of storytelling traditions that Vanessa Winship’s timeless images find their home. From her far-reaching travels around the Black Sea, she has brought back photographic treasures. It is as though she has been 114

Sat in the crowd, the girl radiated with the luminosity of her youth. But the weight of her place had set her expression

circling the region for generations, appearing at different moments in time to capture a glimpse of the eternal, to grasp a memory and hold on to it. Like the Black Sea itself, the sea of paradoxes, Winship’s work operates on two levels: one of fiction where the tides of truth and change flow freely and one of “reality”, of war, where one man’s truth is another man’s heresy. Winship’s breadth of vision can encompass a time before politics, when only the sea would have constituted a border between lands. It can equally incorporate the idea of a state – Sochi – displaying the skittishness of a terrorist or a search for an Albanian epic poem that only exists in oral form. And all the while, the scent of “The Land of Green Ginger”, her own hometown near Hull, in northeast England, pervades each frame with a subjectivity years living in the East could never suppress (and would never wish to do so). The world’s best and most enduring stories are repeated in different


ways in different countries, their meanings changing slightly each time they shift. We might believe the small man with the unforgettable face walking by the sea is someone’s dear and cherished prince. We may see the fate of the luminous young girl already etched into her youthful features. What is the gigantic beast crashing into the Georgian harbour – a contemporary cruise liner or an Ichthysaurus, a sea monster of yore? We may traverse the borders constantly from myth to fairy tale, from fact to fiction, from one state to another. Like the sea lapping the shore, it becomes hard to tell where one ends and the other begins. Max Houghton

Vanessa Winship’s project on the Black Sea region was commissioned by Mare and is published in book form as Schwarzes Meer. She is represented by Agence Vu.

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They teased and cajoled, but he just closed his eyes and lost himself to his song

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A young woman with other places to go stopped briefly and passed only one comment. ‘Why, he looks like a toad,’ she said. Forgive me but you are mistaken, he’s not a toad but a frog. And, don’t you know, frogs turn into princes?

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Gloria hosted her guests with the promise of three meals a day. Everyone hovered by the dining room in anticipation. Her promise kept, nothing was left behind 120


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It was raining as the train pulled in at the station in Sochi. A song played over and over on the tannoy, ‘Sochi, oh Sochi, its a wonderful town.’ Two young soldiers bullied a small group of rough sleepers, possible terrorists...

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Column | THEME theme Column | fiona halliday

the vanishing shore FionA Halliday

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theme Column | fiona halliday

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In Scotland a right of salmon-fishing is a separate heritable estate... The right is not of the nature of a franchise, monopoly, or exclusive privilege, but is emphatically an heritable estate. Stewart’s Treatise on the Law of Scotland

Step into the dark old fishermen’s bothy where a grey mass of nets is piled to the ceiling and mice-chewed oilskins hang from blackened beams. Imagine a lost generation, an old nation of superstitious storytellers and sea dwellers. The netting industry is dead. The hard life is done. Only a few intrepid salmon netters return to the sea every year. A few decades ago, salmon netting was a major coastal Scottish industry and netting stations – bothies – dotted the dreich rocky east coast. Now only a handful of netting stations remain. In the face of strong opposition from fishery boards and government legislation, the netting season which once followed the ancient term and quarter days from Candlemas to Michelmas – the start of February to the end of September – now extends only from 1 May to 31 August. It is likely that the next year or two will see many more fishing stations close. Due to over-fishing, changing sea-temperatures and net buy-outs, netting catches have declined by about 70 per cent since the 1960s. In quondam days, salmon in the North Esk were so numerous you could walk across the river on their thronging backs. (It is joked that Christ was not the only one who could walk on water.) The loss of salmon netting is not just commercial but cultural. There are linguistic and superstitious oddities attached to netting that hint at a worldview more remote to mainstream thought than the Nanuk of Outer Siberia. If the nets are no longer put up every spring, then who will remember the old Doric-Norse patois, of “heid eeks” and “cleek eeks”? Who will remember that it is the seventh son of the seventh son who has the power to lure salmon 126

The salmon coble (opening spread) is a keelless, high-prowed boat. The Joseph Johnstons cobles were always grey A 1776 map of St Cyrus (above) Portlethen crew, c 1950 (facing page, top); fishing the Annat fly (bottom left); skipper Lan Birse and crew, St Cyrus beach c 1950 (reprinted with kind permission of Penrose Lindsay)

inshore and he retains that power so long as he does not kill a fish? Mike Smith, salmon fisher since 1969, who fishes from St Cyrus bothy, conjures a world of rolling hitches, sheepshanks and snead ropes, where the mists that sweep off the sea with the malevolent Easterlies, rendering everything indistinct, are called haar. Such old salt-scoured Norse words hark back to a time of old malefic magic when onions were removed from the houses of dying men and pine branches protected the cots of new born infants from the fairies. And somewhere out there in the haar, where the air blurs to water, the spectral shapes of the salmon nets rise up like the skeletal remains of those old high-prowed Norse boats. You imagine the nets to be big-bellied, spangled with silver scales. But of course they are not. They are all but empty, bedraggled only with bladderwrack and the trailing tentacles of trapped red jellyfish. This is the law of diminishing returns. Mike and Bob are seeing the culmination of a long downward trend in catches. Mike remembers netting 2,000 grilse in a single day from the mouth of the North Esk. Now they are lucky to get 30. And many of the grilse they catch are skeletally thin and fall through the net mesh like eels in a flurry of white scales as soft and white as petals. Salmo salar is a migratory fish. It is a fish of extraordinary beauty: from its flared tail to its unblinking lidless eye, its silver skin is as smooth as cooled glass. Up the gravelled golden redds where the water is the colour of Baltic amber, it is spawned in the heart of winter, conjured by some pollen-drift dream of distant spring. It grows into a six-inch smolt


theme Column | fiona halliday

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and the smolts find themselves borne seawards, poured out with the tides into the cold vast expanse of the North Sea. From there, through the darkened catacombs of the sea, they make their way northwards to Greenland to feast below ice shelves and grow into grilse. Their flesh ripens and reddens as they feast on krill at the edges of the tundralands. When they are of sufficient size they make the return journey to spawn in the headwaters of their birth rivers. Nobody knows how they navigate the journey between spawning and feeding grounds. I found in some archives a note from Dr Jorgen Nielsen of the Ministeriet for Greenland about the recapture of a salmon tagged at the North Esk and retaken on the south-west coast of Greenland. It was released and tagged on 23 November 1965 and was recaptured in Eqaluq Fjord, south of Sukkertoppen, Greenland on 15 October 1966. The distance travelled between tagging site and recapture site is about 1,730 miles. “The fishing wind is the wind which comes up with the sun and moves around with it – the money wind.” 128

I was scolded for whistling on the beach. Whistling was thought to bring bad winds. Bob Ritchie, a 63-year-old, third generation salmon-netsman who fishes from Montrose Bay, recounts the superstitions he heard growing up: don’t whistle on the beach, never point at a salmon net, don’t count the number of fish in a net, don’t cross a minister’s path, (or “the sky pilot”, as the minister was always known) and crucially, never cross a pig nor mention it by its name. Even Bob, who dismisses the superstitions as old wives’ tales speaks of “curly tails” not pigs. He recounts a story from his youth when a rival boat crew nailed the bloodied wisp of a pig’s tail under a particularly superstitious skipper’s seat and in retaliation a pig’s head was mounted on a pole outside their bothy. Salmon were powerful omens of bad luck and to avoid invoking these potentially fatal powers, they were called “the reid stuff” by lobster and white fishermen. Their secret name was also useful in radio broadcasts to avoid alerting the coastguard to their illegal catch. White and lobster fishers did on

occasion manage to overcome their aversion and poach salmon; a lucrative business during the 1960s and ’70s which gave rise to The Drift Net Wars. Even within the ranks of the police lurked the occasional poacher – one of whom was found drowned in his own net, poaching during a storm. During the 1960s, the Salmon Boards of the Don, Dee, Bervie, Esks, Tweed joined forces to wage war “from Duncansby Head to the Farne Islands” against the piratical Drift netters. A retired naval officer, Michael ForsythGrant, known as “The Commander” and his mighty floating bath tub the Trafalgar which was equipped with two outboard engines and WWII-style searchlights to sweep the sea, headed their endeavours. At the height of the enmities, he was kidnapped by the dread “salmon pirates” and threatened to be drowned at sea until the coastguard rescued him. His car was also nearly tipped into the harbour (with him in it) by incensed locals. In the harbour of Johnshaven, the salmon coble was called “a cauld boat” and no boat would moor alongside it. Bob shrugs and says he can’t really


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explain what they meant by “cold boat” but the way he says it lifts hairs on my arms. Shipwrights claimed they could foretell the luck of the boat by the way in which a certain “spehl” or chip of wood came off when they built it. At Nairn it was said that a boat built of “she-wood” sailed faster by night than by day. Down the coast from Bob and Mike’s bothies lies the derelict fishing village of Usan, home to retired netsman Davy Pullar, whose sons and grandsons fish bag nets from Usan’s natural harbour. Usan was once a thriving fishing community with its own schoolhouse and coastguard watchtower. Now it is a derelict huddle of ruins where garden roses run wild. The village was believed to be originally settled by Danes in the 12th century and called Ulysses Haven – a poetic enough name for a place from which epic wanderings are made daily, and the cliffs around Usan are as steep as those mythical cliffs of Ithaca to which Ulysses returned. Davy Pullar, like many fishermen, is a magpie. The bothy in which he lives is cluttered with 650 accordions. There is a blue jay in his

Sweeping haar (above left) brought by Easterly winds renders the jumper nets at St Cyrus indistinct. During these haar days, an ominous quiet descends upon the sands of St Cyrus and Lunan, apart from the sooch of the sea and the imagination takes a morbid turn The Pullars of Usan (above) haul in a lobster cage with a boat gaff from where it lies in the natural harbour of Usan to keep the lobsters fresh

freezer, and a short-eared owl alongside the frozen peas. He remembers during the Cold War when Polish “red” trawlers were anchored off the coast and the fishermen used to smuggle a notoriously undrinkable Polish vodka called Spiritus in false-bottomed fish boxes past the coastguard. (Suspicions were aired in local papers that this may have been how Russian spies received their intelligence.) This particular season of netting saw some of the most changeable weather and wind conditions in recent years. Spates of malevolent Easterlies wrecked nets and scattered them high up the dunes. A dead Minke whale was beached on Montrose Bay. Plagues of red jellyfish and “green sleet” weighed down the storm-bedraggled nets. Given that women can be bad luck, especially in boats, it was suggested that the presence of the female photographer (nicknamed Jonah) may have, alongside rising sea temperatures, been a contributing factor to the adverse conditions and poor catch. Fiona Halliday is a photographer and writer. Photographs by Fiona Halliday.

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8 May – 7 June 2008 Shanghai Adam Hinton China is transforming itself into the world’s leading economy. Adam Hinton presents his new work from Shanghai that provides a compelling visual insight into one element of this new phase. His photographs document the emergence of an aggressive consumer society in which the new proletariat of “communist” China come to terms with living under the surreal haze of fluorescent lights and the constant gaze of advertising images.

July – August 2008 Foto8 Summer Show Foto8 and HOST Gallery are proud to announce the first annual Foto8 Summer Show: a photographic print fair, exhibition and award open to all photographers. Over 100 prints selected from entries will be curated by the award-winning team at Foto8, with one image awarded “best in show”, and exhibited by London’s only dedicated photojournalism gallery, HOST. The exhibition will be open to the public for viewing, voting and purchasing of the works on display. For information on how to submit your work for consideration for the Summer Show please see www.foto8.com


Columns 132 Book Spotlight 142 Fiction 148 book Reviews 150 Exhibition Reviews 164 Magazine report 168 Listings 170 On my shelf 178

The Back

WALK THE LINE max houghton The question of which images are fit for publication on the grounds of taste is one with which picture editors grapple on a daily basis. Of course taste isn’t the only consideration, and the more you think about the subject, the more it becomes clear that the very ethics of photography is at stake in such discussions. We all know that dead American soldiers are a no-no for the US press, yet the image of a war-battered American soldier sweeps to victory at the World Press Photo Awards. My mind is always drawn back to the front page of the Guardian in July 2003 when the decapitated heads of Uday and Qusay, Saddam’s sons, were displayed as trophy images. As a member of a society that does not regularly behead its subjects, I was shocked by the action and the more so by its (triumphant?) reproduction. An invisible line had been crossed, but this line was evidently personal to me. At a recent conference in Leeds, in the north of England, Picturing Atrocity: Reading Photographs in Crisis, a cohort of American academics discussed (among other things) the image now referred to as The Falling Man. After a long day looking at disturbing images, one declared she just couldn’t look at this particular photograph. She issued a plea for the family of the “jumper”. Yet the same plea had not been issued on behalf of the family of the dead Taliban » 133


IMAGInG WAR

IMAGING WAR JONATHAN KAPLAN Turning a doctor into a surgeon has traditionally been a practical, hands-on business. It was considered in Britain to require 21,000 hours of specialist training, mostly spent examining patients in the emergency room and treating them in the operating theatre. The aim of this training is to instil the skills – part learned, part intuitive – of how to handle instruments and human tissue, and to comprehend the intimate three-dimensional relationships of organs and body structures, so that you know in the depths of a wound what nerve or vessel your operating scissors will cut through if you close them a millimetre more. It teaches the process of constantly comparing what you are doing with your intended surgical outcome: anticipating complications; planning for contingencies; responding to problems. The first systematic practice of surgery involved treating the stabs, bullet holes and bludgeonings caused by human conflict, and the first great reference book on the subject used as its frontispiece the iconic image of the Wound Man, his head and body sprouting arrows, perforated by gunfire, split with sabre and battleaxe, pierced through from every side by spear and pike and javelin. A new speciality of trauma illustration arose, from intricate anatomical renderings to graphic depictions of the effects of “gunpowder poisoning” and delicate watercolours showing the skin-tints of gangrene. But like many textbooks their uses were limited; some things cannot be taught by theory alone, and as the 16th century physician Paracelsus advised: “To learn the art of surgery go to war.” Perhaps there are similarities in the 132

assimilation of the practice of photojournalism. A certain amount can be learned by studying images, to see how the maestros work, but in the end you need to go there; not necessarily to war, but somewhere to be immersed in the intense apprenticeship of shooting pictures. If your pictures aren’t good enough, it may be because you aren’t close enough. But there are also problems with being too close. I work periodically as a surgeon in war zones, trying to treat the victims of conflict without becoming one myself. The characteristics of war injuries are their suddenness and violence. In the minds of each of us exists an idealised image of the body – its proportions, lines and limbs. Wounds cause monstrous disruptions of that image, a horror great enough to disrupt thought. That paralysis must be overcome, for there is work to do. You have to be able to deal with the bullet in the neck that comes out through the eye, or the arrival of a truck-full of soldiers hit by the same shell, where some of their injuries have been caused by flying pieces of other men. Cases need to be prioritised according to available resources, the number of casualties expected, the length of time an operation might last and the possibility of imminent evacuation. These medical assignments are voluntary and unpaid, with a tendency to last longer than expected. Over the years I’ve discovered that my closeness to events, immersions in war, has meant that I might interest a foreign editor in a story and a couple of photographs filed from some obscure conflict, which on my return I could sometimes parlay into a magazine feature with a better rate of

pay. Then I’d be asked to come in and show my pictures to the photo editor. “But,” he’d object, “where are the images of you operating?” Graphic depictions of surgical gore do exist, but I feel queasy about their use as medical pornography. Such faintheartedness is not going to trouble the commercial media, eager to commodify whatever sells. Reality surgery is huge entertainment, while the globalisation of war makes it likely that images of forensic prurience will continue to be in demand. Global instability is bringing other changes, in the teaching of doctors. This is the emerging field of Conflict Medicine, with a need for expertise and instruction. Militarism and extremism are back in favour, bombs could detonate at any time on city streets spreading mutilation and blood and doctors must be trained to deal with this. But there is an increasing shortage of people with the sort of general experience useful for dealing with such disasters. Over the past decade surgical training in the UK has been cut back – it has now been decided that a surgeon requires 9,500 hours to be competent – and has become super-specialised, with the time spent in the area in which the surgeon will practise. even medical school has become streamlined, and students with pre-existing degrees in diverse fields can now become doctors after three-and-a-half year’s study. Many of these changes in training have been made possible by the introduction of imaging technology. Anatomy can be taught on virtual bodies – replacing a year’s painstaking dissection classes – which also allows


IMAGInG WAR

If your pictures aren’t good enough, it may be because you aren’t close enough. But there are also problems with being too close

Wound-man, 16th century © Wellcome Library, London

surgery to be rehearsed and simulated. Representation of the body has become the latest medical advance, concentrating on ways of making it more realistic through the use of 3-D visualisation, remote-control instruments and forcefeedback manipulation. Computergenerated digital casualties can give the military surgeon a range of injuries and complications to treat, while the same technology is being applied in reverse: the US army is looking at the development of “remote telepresence surgery modules”, in which emergency operations can be performed by a surgeon based at a distant hospital using video links and robotically manipulated surgical instruments. Already, the most advanced technique

of radical surgery for prostate cancer is carried out entirely by a robot operator that follows the contours of a hyperresolution, 3-D MRI scan of the patient’s pelvis, cutting away every vestige of disease. And the transmission of televised surgery is booming: soon every celeb will have their breast enhancement or the video-colonoscopy voyage up their own arsehole viewable by millions on YouTube. So, where are the limits on what we might wish to be shown? A couple of years ago I was asked to contribute to a photographic book on landmines; the editor had read an account in one of my books of working in Angola in Kuito, a besieged town. I submitted a description of amputation for landmine injury and documentary, black and white photographs of the surgery. The editor wanted to use them, but at a publishers’ meeting in Berlin – the dummy was beautifully produced, with studies of mine-clearance teams at work, photographs of landmines and portraits of their victims – it was decided that my pictures should be dropped. What if someone should pick up the book in a shop, asked the designer, and open it at such violent images; they would be put off and would not buy it, missing the value of the rest of the publication. In this instance, I agree with designer’s decision. The question of what kind of images of the human body are considered suitable for publication is one that rightfully persists. Jonathan Kaplan’s books The Dressing Station and Contact Wounds are published by Picador.

WALK THE LINE MAX HOUGHTON The question of which images are fit for publication on the grounds of taste is one with which picture editors grapple on a daily basis. Of course taste isn’t the only consideration, and the more you think about the subject, the more it becomes clear that the very ethics of photography is at stake in such discussions. We all know that dead American soldiers are a no-no for the US press, yet the image of a war-battered American soldier sweeps to victory at the World Press Photo Awards. My mind is always drawn back to the front page of the Guardian in July 2003 when the decapitated heads of Uday and Qusay, Saddam’s sons, were displayed as trophy images. As a member of a society that does not regularly behead its subjects, I was shocked by the action and the more so by its (triumphant?) reproduction. An invisible line had been crossed, but this line was evidently personal to me. At a recent conference in Leeds, in the north of england, Picturing Atrocity: Reading Photographs in Crisis, a cohort of American academics discussed (among other things) the image now referred to as The Falling Man. After a long day looking at disturbing images, one declared she just couldn’t look at this particular photograph. She issued a plea for the family of the “jumper”. Yet the same plea had not been issued on behalf of the family of the dead Taliban » 133


Comment

The Observer spread from 10 February 2008

soldier, artfully photographed by Luc Delahaye. Jonathan Kaplan, the war surgeon, author and photographer, whose words precede these agreed with the decision of the designer of the landmine book, not to publish his surgery images of amputation operations. I have since seen those images, and I instinctively concurred, too. “I usually find that the goriest pictures don’t actually tell the story very well,” said Sophie Batterbury, picture editor of the Independent on Sunday and a contributing editor to 8, since its launch. “The gore tends to distract from any emotion or feeling other than basic revulsion at the image rather than the tragedy that is being illustrated.” Greg Whitmore, picture editor of the Observer, used a particularly hardhitting image that George Phicipas, a photographer in Kenya filed to Reuters in February. As you can see in the spread reproduced above, the image shows a 134

mother bleeding to death in front of her visibly distressed infant son. This image was used in black and white earlier in the week by the Daily Telegraph. To use such a harrowing image again – and in colour – several days later in that Sunday’s Observer needed justification. Whitmore was entirely confident of that justification. The original image had inspired Observer journalist Tracy McVeigh to investigate the story further. Who was the woman? The caption didn’t say. McVeigh felt she should not be a nameless victim of the latest violence to erupt in Kenya. The journalist, says Whitmore, opened more than 30 body bags in a bid to identify the woman, which McVeigh eventually managed to accomplish: her name was Grace Mungai. After that, she was able to find her husband and son and tell the story of what happened. The shocking image was now more than merely illustrative. It received but one complaint at the Guardian and Observer Group.

The invisible line for Observer staff made an appearance most recently when reports came out that al-Qa’ida were using people with Downs Syndrome as suicide bombers. “We were all straining our eyes as the pictures came down the wires, trying to look at the facial features on the bombers,” said Whitmore. “Bear in mind that whenever a suicide bomber hits, we always receive pictures of the severed heads, but we never publish them. There are also always pictures of crowds of locals taking pictures of the severed heads on their mobiles.” “It was impossible to say anything at all about the facial features of the bomber, and all that any of the images seemed to prove is what a ghoulish society we’ve become. We didn’t publish it. A line was drawn.”


FoReIGn AFFAIRS CoLUMn

FOREIGN AFFAIRS PETER BEAUMONT

Journalists, the women in particular, always say how beautiful her face is. But it is not that. What strikes me about the face of Benazir Bhutto – BB – is the number of the changes it goes through. I think of it as unfixed and malleable. Frame by frame, it appears to adopt different aspects. I am surprised sometimes how square and heavy it appears as she shouts through the sunroof. At other times it appears tired and jowly as I follow her around during the State of emergency imposed by President Pervez Musharraf that sees her confined in two periods of house arrest – in Islamabad and Lahore. Musharraf says without irony that it is “for her own safety”. There are some faces of BB that are deliberate masks. The faces of a politician. I see her now framed by arms and heads and cameras sitting in the darkness of her car. Still by a force of will amid the chaos. It strikes me looking at that picture now that she is slyly aware that the face she wears is the one which will be beamed around the world. It is her soft face. Vulnerable. The face of a solitary woman. Beatific in its strange calculating way. I realise at last that BB’s faces are a tool. But then she always played the journalists – flattering and flirting, ever accessible. It is why I find it hard to summon up much warmth towards her. I listen to the local Pakistani journalists who, while they loathe Musharraf, are cynical about Bhutto. They tell me a game is being played out between Musharraf and BB. In truth she does not try very hard to escape the compounds she is blocked into by the police, or to avoid these inevitable confrontations. 136

Her supporters appear from time to time to try to push past the riot police and the grim faced men from the “agencies” in their shalwar kameez, clutching in their hands their little slips of papers on which they write down names and events. BB’s supporters are arrested. The agency men write down another name or two. And as they are driven away I am aware that we become part of the performance too, chasing the police paddy wagons for a shot or a view inside. A few shouted words. But despite the sense of observing a ritual of Pakistani politics, there is a knowledge too that this is only one version of the political game, and that what we see reflects a darker reality that we have no access to – the real arrests of lawyers and party activists at their homes across the country. That process

is not being played out with such wellcalibrated rules. A friend, a human rights activist in Lahore, collates the arrests and beatings all the while wondering if he too will be hauled in. His brother, a wealthy businessman close to Musharraf and the ISI – the “agencies” – comes to visit while I am staying at his home. The two men josh each other across their ideological divide and a warning is delivered: quiet down unless you want to be arrested too. I am looking for an echo of the deeper reality of Pakistan. not BB’s masks but the real and private faces she keeps hidden. My friend is smuggled in to see her in Lahore. over his dinner table he talks of her peevishness that mass demonstrations have not come out to support her during her house arrest.


Foreign Affairs Column

I see her now framed by arms and heads and cameras sitting in the darkness of her car. Still by a force of will amid the chaos

Where is civil society, she demands? Under arrest or the threat of it, he tells her brutally. It is around the edges that I begin to see what I am looking for. It is not the dignitaries of the People’s Party being arrested publicly because they have to, politely parking up their cars, and handing over the keys for someone else to drive away. It is those sneaking in to burn tyres or throw stones and flee. In Lahore a car load of youths drives up and tries to burn some tyres too close to their car. The petrol they throw – and the fumes – wash back into the car and fill it with flames. The boys escape, barely, as its gas tank explodes. The hidden reality is something we speak about – a potential for a real and devastating violence that we know, after the bomb attacks on Bhutto on her

Benazir Bhutto arrives in a convoy outside chief justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudry’s house to call for his release. After a brief scuffle in which police blocking the entrance to the judge’s house were pelted with stones, Bhutto emerged from the car to call for his release Members of Benazir Bhutto’s People’s Party are arrested during demonstrations the morning after she was put under house arrest. Pakistan’s security ‘agencies’ flooded the area to scoop up any protesters trying to reach Bhutto’s house

return from exile in Karachi barely weeks before, almost killed BB and slaughtered many others. We should be careful. It is the refrain I hear from friends like the Guardian’s Declan Walsh and AP’s David Guttenfelder when we find ourselves too close to BB. We decide another bombing is inevitable. So we scuttle back for a while before being drawn back for our glimpses of Bhutto. In the end none of us is there when she is finally murdered at a rally in Rawalpindi. In London I look at the images taken by John Moore of the moment of her killing. They are jerky. Shaken. Real. Bringing down a curtain on BB’s long performance. A reminder of Pakistan’s reality. Peter Beaumont is foreign affairs editor of the Observer. Photographs © Peter Beaumont

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MEDIA COLUMN

MEDIA TIM MINOGUE

In the late 1980s, after Rupert Murdoch smashed the power of the unions at Wapping, there was much optimism among journalists about the future of newspapers. The sight of “scabs” being driven, cowering, in buses past angry mobs of out-of-work printers into a fortified compound that looked more like a prison camp than a newspaper office was depressing, and the bitterness caused by the dispute lives on to this day. But the power and corruption of the print unions was such that Something Had to Give if the new computer technology was going to be harnessed to enable papers to become bigger and better and survive into the new century. The print unions appeared intent on clinging on to every fiddle, dodge and absurd “Spanish practice” as the newspaper industry sank – so most journalists, even union members, were secretly glad when Murdoch apparently threw them a life raft. We hacks believed that, although smashing the unions would increase Big Bad Rupert’s profits, the rest of us would benefit, too. Getting our hands on the computer keyboards would increase editorial independence – and journalists’ pay. And, inspiringly, the new technology, because it was relatively cheap and did not come chained to a massive wages bill, would “let 100 flowers bloom”. New titles would appear, leading to an exciting new era in which quality reporting, writing and photography would be restored to their rightful place. The years immediately after Wapping saw the launch of new titles including Today, the Sunday Correspondent, the Independent, the London Daily News, News on Sunday, the 138

Murdoch buys the Wall Street Journal, February 2007 © Rick Maiman/Polaris/eyevine

Post, the European and the Independent on Sunday. Where, as they say, are they now? Only the two Independent titles survive, precariously, and at the price of having lost their “independence” long ago. As in Mao’s China in 1956, “letting 100 flowers bloom” was a false dawn. Two of the failed titles, Today and the short-lived Post, were launched by a regional newspaper publisher, Eddie Shah, who discovered the hard way that to survive in the newspaper industry you need talent, experience and deep pockets, not just a big ego. His papers

were lousy and deserved to fail. Robert Maxwell launched first the London Daily News and then the European as sidelines to his main business of ruining the Daily Mirror, editorially and financially, while robbing its pensioners. Both titles failed. The best of the bunch, apart from the Independent, was the Sunday Correspondent, but that was brought down by the hubris of the Independent’s founders who, flushed with their early success, decided to launch the Independent on Sunday in order to see off the upstart Corrie. There wasn’t room for two new quality Sundays and the Correspondent soon expired – after having the distinction of being Britain’s


MEDIA COLUMN

If the ’80s and ’90s were the days of the launch, this is the era of the relaunch

first tabloid quality paper, more than a decade before the Independent took the credit for being the first to go “compact”. After all those brave hopes of new newspapers were dashed we were, and are, left with a press in which the stranglehold of the biggest, toughest and meanest of the established newspaper groups – Murdoch’s News International and Associated Newspapers, owners of the Daily Mail – is tighter than ever. Papers may be bigger than a generation ago, but one cannot say they are better. A new book by the veteran investigative reporter Nick Davies, Flat Earth News (see Reviews), reveals the extent to which, aided by the internet, many papers have almost abandoned “news” reporting in the sense of journalists going about and talking to people and finding out new stuff about the world, in favour of recycling unchecked “stories” that have already appeared elsewhere. They look like newspapers, they feel like newspapers, but they are not the real thing any more. If the ’80s and ’90s were the days of the launch, this is the era of the relaunch. Some titles have seen more makeovers than Trinny and Susannah. Changing the packaging doesn’t work if its only purpose is to disguise the fact that the content is no longer up to scratch. Happily, 8’s new look does not come into that category. I think it’s fair to say that the magazine’s appeal, whether or not it succeeds every time, is because photography and writing come first, rather than marketing strategy or pandering to advertisers. That’s a rare thing in journalism these days and I applaud it. The answer to junk journalism is in your hands.

AND ANOTHER THING... In 1988, as a foolish youth, I was persuaded to go and work for the Post, Eddie Shah’s second attempt at breaking the mould of British journalism, which was billed as “Britain’s first non-sleazy tabloid”. The fact that it was edited by the late Lloyd Turner, a former editor of the Daily Star, should have been a clue that this was an unlikely boast. The second issue led with the astonishing revelation that Princess Diana wore pyjamas in bed. Other early headlines included “Nookie in the nick”, “I made love to six coppers” and “Tyson boasts of 24 women in one night”. So, hardly a new kind of newspaper. One of Lloyd’s wheezes was to give away aphrodisiac beer as a competition prize. He had read about a Strasbourg brewery which claimed its lager contained a special mix of herbs that had quite the opposite effect to brewer’s droop. Four-packs of the naughty nectar were offered as prizes in a phonein competition. Then it was realised that the stuff could not be delivered to London in time for the happy competition winners to be photographed the next week, as Lloyd wanted. Who could be spared to fetch it? And who spoke good French? Our 20-year-old features secretary, Rebekah, who had given up a course at the Sorbonne to come and type memos at the Post in the hope of breaking into journalism, volunteered to drive to

Strasbourg over a weekend to fetch two crates of the love potion. Her adventures included being chased round a desk by a brewer who had faith in his product (“Eet is working for me – would you like me to prove it?”) and being turned over by Customs in the small hours at Folkestone on the way home. Rebekah was looking distinctly hollow-eyed after driving 900 miles in 48 hours. Customs were not much impressed with her tale of ooh-la-lager and searched her car thoroughly for drugs of a less romantic nature before letting her proceed. Rebekah was clearly an ambitious girl, though, which is probably why now, nearly 20 years later, she is the editor of The Sun, while other people eke out a living on small circulation (but distinguished) magazines. But we are not bitter. PS: After Rebekah’s return the beer never was dispatched to the competition winners. Over the weeks it mysteriously vanished, late at night, bottle by bottle. No outbreak of priapism was recorded among the staff, however, so to this day the identity of those responsible remains a mystery. Hic. Tim Minogue writes for Private Eye.

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ARTS COLUMN

ARTS CORINNE SWEET The Iron Curtain. As a child growing up under the chilling clouds of a Cold War world, the term “Iron Curtain” hung heavy in my young consciousness. I literally imagined a metal monolith dividing West from East, behind which lurked dark, strange and sinister things. Certainly, adults got very heated round the dinner table when they attempted to discuss the “Communist Threat” behind “The Wall”, which had been built in 1961 to stop the post-War flood of East Germans apparently fleeing to the West. Stark TV images of people shot while “escaping” only confused further. What were they escaping from? Why were they shot? It seemed the “Eastern Bloc” was a nasty, unfriendly place shrouded in murderous gloom. Finally, travelling in my teens, I snuck excitedly across “Checkpoint Charlie”. Leaving OTT West Berlin, which was all neon, nightclubs and capitalist blah, for the uncommercial austerity of the East was a shock. I found myself in a vast, bleak hinterland strewn with Stalinesque statues and posters exhorting workers to be proud, wondering what on earth was life like beyond. Needless to say, I was not allowed to wander around alone and was sternly warned not to go off track by my pofaced “guide”. I came away with an impression of a harsh, secretive urban landscape, populated by wary, grimfaced people – such a bizarre and obvious contrast to West Berlin which had a vibrant, if over-indulged, pulse. Only when it was hacked down in 1989 did the realities of life behind the Wall begin to filter through. Having lived and worked in Germany myself, I know the Wall’s demise did not lead

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to overnight integration. Indeed, many West Germans resented the “invasion” of their Eastern siblings, while many East Germans felt they got a raw deal as they were treated like second class citizens. So what was life like behind the so-called “Iron Curtain”? Was it so harsh and strictly regulated, with one informer for every five members of the general populace, or did the “socialist experiment” really work? The must-see 2006 film The Lives of Others has drawn a fascinated international audience due to its unblinking portrayal of people struggling against the cold control of a post-war totalitarian regime. Now, a touring exhibition of East German photographers shows us what life was really like before the Wall came down. Do Not Refreeze, which has taken four years to bring to Britain, shows extraordinary work by nine photographers, seven of them women: Arno Fischer, Sybille Bergemann, Helga Paris, Evelyn Richter, Maria Sewcz, Erasmus Schroeter, Gundula SchulzeEldowy, Ulrich Wüst and Ursula Arnold. Matthew Shaul, head of programming and operations at the University of Hertfordshire and curator of the exhibition, first caught the photographers’ work at Art of the GDR, an exhibition in Berlin in 2003. “Most of the exhibition predictably comprised of awful paintings of banner waving peasants and ecstatic tractor drivers. The last room however was devoted to a group of photographers… easily comparable to the best known artists, such as Robert Capa, Henri CartierBresson, Lee Miller or Eve Arnold. [Yet] these photographers were completely unknown outside eastern Germany”.

The exhibition raises a central issue for the audience to consider, says Shaul: “How did such an insightful and democratic documentary photographic tradition come into being in a state committed to socialist discipline – and prepared to back this up with coercion?” Indeed, the photographers managed to be utterly subversive, showing the paucity of peoples’ lives, the pomposity and laziness of officialdom, the claustrophobia and monotony of everyday existence. That they managed so cleverly to continue to take their photographs was often due to the fact that the Stasi – the secret police – dismissed photography as an art form. In a documentary made for German TV, Paris, Bergemann and SchulzeEldowy candidly explain their film was sometimes ripped from their cameras if they were thought to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. But, as SchulzeEldowy explains “the power of the Stasi was the small-minded unworldliness of GDR society”. Thus, even when state censorship bore down on an exhibition of her work, the Stasi would be satisfied if a few obvious images were removed (such as a fat man, a dead person, a naked body), only to leave the most subversive images on show. On the whole, these courageous and talented photographers managed to circumnavigate a rigid system of censorship by sticking closely to a mantra of “realism” dictated by the state. They managed, however, to cleverly subvert the mantra, to personalise it. Shaul believes, “had they been painters, sculptors, authors or playwrights, these photographers would have been arrested or imprisoned for


ARTS COLUMN

Only when the Wall was hacked down in 1989 did the realities of life behind it begin to filter through

Hoppenrade, 1975 © Sybille Bergemann Do Not Refreeze is on at the Wolverhampton Art Gallery from 10 May – 28 June. www.wolverhamptonart.org.uk

their brazen portrayals of the underbelly of the socialist experiment”. Indeed, Schulze-Eldowy’s photostory (Tamerlan 1978-1987) of an elderly homeless woman smoker going from life on a park bench, to the state nursing home, to her grave, gradually losing her breasts and legs to cancer, is a graphic depiction of heartless decrepitude. Photojournalist Richter delves into the tense psychology experienced through bans, intimidation and interference with her work, as she touched deeply critical chords about life in the GDR. Eingang zum Plegheim (Entrance to the Nursing Home, Leipzig) could have been shot in 1926 or 1946. The caption shocks: 1986. Many of the street images, especially by Paris and Schroeter, seem stuck in a time warp. The cars, houses, clothes, militia, even the mood belongs more to the era of The Third Man rather than The Man from Uncle, given the depiction of mystery, isolation, vigilance, and poverty which pervades. The realism of Arnold, Schroeter and Fischer carries a stark reminder of oppression and deprivation. Yet, there are also moments of black humour, quiet humanity, of human connection and self-deprecation as in Schulze-Eldowy’s Aktportrats (Nudes). I was not only shocked and fascinated by the photographs in Do Not Refreeze, but also humbled to think that while I was working away freely in West Germany, these talented photographers were risking their freedom, even their lives, to produce some of the most stunning and enduring images about the reality of life behind the Berlin Wall. Corinne Sweet is an author, broadcaster and psychologist.

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Book spotlight

Russian Soul Davide Monteleone 142


Book spotlight

This season’s Book Spotlight is Russian Soul by Italianborn photographer Davide Monteleone, who moved to Moscow in 2005. Often working with writer Margherita Belgiojoso, the pair spent days on end together “taking endless train rides, nibbling on dried cuttlefish and drinking tea prepared by the dezhurnaya, the ruthless guardians of the Russian railways”. Through faceless Soviet-era tower

blocks, frozen roads to nowhere, the desolate beaches of winter, Monteleone has blazed a crimson trail to the heart of the dusha: the spirit of the motherland. The texts used here are from Viktor Erofeev’s essay in the book.

Russian Soul is published by Postcart (www.postcart.com). Davide Monteleone is represented by Contrasto.

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Book spotlight

At one time central Russia was filled with estates with columns, parks and hot-houses. Pineapples and peacocks. In some lived the Occidentalists, in others the Slavophiles. They read French novels, created libraries and built observatories; they ate, lived dissolutely, flogged the servants, hunted wolves, and sailed their boats through the water-lilies. The czar was rotten to the core, but life on the estates was the only organic life of Russia 144


Book spotlight

I am convinced that Moscow is the most interesting city in the world. Except that it has a dirty aura. The air is dirty. Its thoughts are dirty. Moscow has told too many lies and continues to do so. It wears heavy make-up. It is a city of shameless advertising. The women wear fur coats and no underwear

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Book spotlight

How does one get to the border? – I ask a policemen with a machine gun. I face him dressed in my brown wool jacket – What? He looks at me suspiciously, as if I had sworn. He’s wondering – should I answer or not? Without answering, he points distractedly with his hand. I don’t even bother to ask my second question, which is how far we are from the border. I get into the car and in silence go where my eye reaches. After a couple of minutes, I find myself at the border 146


Book spotlight

When travelling through Russia, one has the sense of entering into a great open space where the only company is huge trucks streaking past like meteorites. People say that Moscow is not Russia. It is like oil and water. The greasy stain that is Moscow is lost amid the forests on the outskirts of the capital. Moscow is ruled by time, Russia by eternity

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FICTION

The footballer Joe Stretch Someone must have seduced the Footballer, for without having intended to, he woke one fine morning feeling sexually drained and surrounded by snapped, white lingerie. It was unlike this Footballer to find himself in such a situation and it was with some alarm and even a slight shame that he noted the empty bottles of vodka on the coffee table and the cocaine stained mirror broken at his feet. The Footballer rubbed his eyes. He recalled his mother who was sadly dead and then got slowly to his feet. Wearing only his black football shirt the Footballer made his way over to the large patio windows that looked out onto the enormous garden at the rear of his Cheshire mansion. At the far end of the garden, beyond the lawn and the flowerbeds, lay the Mediterranean Sea. He’d had the Mediterranean Sea installed after it became clear his career in Manchester was secure and would be lucrative. It had cost a great deal of money and had been a logistical nightmare for all involved. But at the time the Footballer had thought, Fuck it. That fine morning, the Footballer closed his eyes and pressed his forehead against the cold glass. In his mind he saw the olive groves of his childhood, those dry and endless fields near to his home where he had hunted for lizards to behead with his pen knife. He saw the barely inflated footballs and the sun beaten sandy courtyards and the blisters he would acquire on his smooth brown feet after a summer’s day spent playing with his friends. The Footballer opened his eyes. He could see his reflection ghosting in the window pane. Me, he thought. Me, without any real sense of recognition. Then out loud in his mother tongue the Footballer said, “I wonder who she was.” 148

The Footballer turned from the window and set about locating a football. It wasn’t difficult. As well as installing the Mediterranean Sea the Footballer had ensured that the house was filled with balls. Within a second he found one and began dribbling at pace through the ground floor of the house, first chipping it over an armchair and then running round to volley it as hard as he could in the direction of the dining room. The Footballer was very talented. Arriving in the TV room triggered a series of thoughts in the Footballer’s head. Am I meant to be playing? He thought. What day is it today? His head was still fuzzy and he couldn’t answer either of these questions and instead he switched the television on. The television, I should say, was great. Sometimes when the Footballer lost the remote control he would receive phone calls from people in Moscow or Shanghai telling him that they had, without explanation, found it. When the pundit on the screen said that the Footballer was indeed meant to be playing a game today the Footballer grew angry. He picked up the football at his feet and goal-kicked it into the very stylish oblivion that the architects had installed at one end of the TV room. The Footballer had been assured that such oblivions were all the rage in houses of this size. The ball bounced away to nowhere and on the screen the pundit was saying, “He hasn’t turned up, the Footballer hasn’t turned up!” The Footballer felt uneasy. He had a kneeknocking sense of not existing. In a little bit of a panic by now, the Footballer noticed the woman’s black silk dress on the floor beneath the television and next to it a glittering and highheeled blue shoe. I must have taken her dress off in here then chased her into the

lounge, thought the Footballer. So unlike me, he thought. And the night before a big game, too. Why? And where is she now? The Footballer hoped above all that she hadn’t run off into the fashionable oblivion thinking perhaps that it was the bathroom. Or that she hadn’t gone into the garden to swim in the Mediterranean Sea and frozen to death or drowned. What was her name? He wracked his brain. No names came until, after a while, the Footballer said to himself, “In England, can a woman be called Fucking Fit?” Suddenly unsure of his own name the Footballer craned his neck and strained to read the name that he assumed would be printed on the rear of his shirt. For a few silly seconds he chased the back of his shirt like a cat chases its tail, desperate to discover that the name tallied with the one being mentioned on TV. It was useless. In the end he ran to a mirror in the hallway which he turned his back on before peering over his shoulder. His number was 8. His name wasn’t there. The letters had been unpicked and only the broken stitching remained. The Footballer’s anxiety had been growing steadily since he woke up but he suddenly heard something that began to ease his mind a little. He heard a tapping sound coming from upstairs. It’s the woman, he thought, it’s Fucking Fit or whatever her name is. It’s the woman who seduced me, upstairs tapping out optimistic lines of early morning cocaine. No doubt she’ll leave soon. Great. Coked up, she’ll traipse around the house collecting underwear and her other clothes and then she’ll leave me in peace to shower and remember my name. Sadly this wasn’t the case. On arriving in one of the upstairs bedrooms the Footballer discovered that the tapping sound was in fact the sound of a young


FICTION 

man beating away at a joy-pad, perched on the end of a stripped bed, playing a football computer game. The man could not have been more than 20 though he was halfway to being old and his face had been invaded by a blotchy and evil ginger. “Where are the bedclothes?” asked the Footballer. The young man just grunted. “Where is Fucking Fit?” The young man giggled and then nodded frantically at the screen and said, “Look mate, I’m you! Look. I’m you!” The Footballer looked at the screen and was surprised to see himself dribbling the ball down the wing, apparently being controlled by the ginger-faced man. “Wait, I’ll have a shot,” said the man. And he did, but the footballer on the screen ballooned the ball high over the crossbar and back in the room, the Footballer turned away. And when the young man dropped his joy-pad and shoved dripping severed fingers up each of his nostrils and turned grinning to the doorway, the Footballer was already gone. The Footballer was on the landing and he hated being on the landing. All those doors. There were thousands of bedrooms in the Footballer’s house and he was scared to open some of the doors. Sometimes he heard screams coming from parts of the house he had never been to. Women’s and men’s. The Footballer thought about the young man in the bedroom. Did he know him? Often there were people round who he’d never met. But then it came to him. He had stared into the yellow eyes of the ginger-faced man only last night, as the two of them fucked away at an object between them. It could have been the woman, Fucking Fit. But it could have been anything. It could have been absolutely anything! I only remember the pleasure, thought the Footballer. But it wasn’t pleasure now. Life is so difficult. The Footballer was red-faced and tearful with regrets as he raced downstairs. He found a ball and dribbled it at pace to the TV room. He stared up at the screen. The match was about to begin. He watched as, on the screen, he himself strode out ahead of his team. He had a football in one hand and a little child’s hand in the other. When the Footballer was as young as the child, he was already a millionaire. I was, thought the Footballer, I have been loaded for so long. But how can I be in my massive

The screams were muffled because they were coming from the fridge. Tiny shoppers ran towards him. He grabbed the head and shut the door house but also on live TV? And where is that screaming coming from? The kitchen. The screaming was coming from the kitchen and having performed a skilful turn the Footballer began dribbling in that direction. The closer he got to the kitchen the more muffled the screams sounded. This was because they were coming from the fridge. On realising this, the Footballer sighed. He didn’t like to open his fridge. The rumour was that the fridge led all the way to a local shopping centre and the Footballer feared that this was true and that he’d be mobbed and would have to spend hours signing autographs and declining no-holes-barred sex with 15-year-old people. Opening his fridge just wasn’t worth it, not even for some strawberry yoghurt or a cold beer. On this occasion however, on account of the screaming, the Footballer did dare to open the fridge. And yes, sure enough, beyond the white carcass of Fucking Fit and beyond her screaming severed head, the Footballer, when he squinted, could just make out the sight of people shopping in the distance. He returned his gaze from the distant shoppers to the head of Fucking Fit which thankfully had stopped screaming. The Footballer looked at her and shook his head. “I’m sorry,” he said.

“It’s fine,” said the head. And then with very sexy pupils under lowering lids, she said, “we’re all very complex now. Look at you, darling. Look at me!” Noticing that some of the tiny shoppers had recognised him and had begun to run hysterically towards the butter dish and the smoked salmon and the yogurt and the human carcass, the Footballer grabbed the severed head and slammed the fridge door shut. The Footballer returned to the lounge. The severed head of Fucking Fit winked up at him when she recognised the place where they’d first had sex the previous evening. A tear fell from the Footballer’s eye. Fucking Fit tried to console him with a sympathetic smile. “Don’t worry,” said the head. “I won’t tell anyone.” But the severed head didn’t get it. It had no idea about the depth of the Footballer’s despair. He turned on his small lounge television and watched himself making a penetrating run into the penalty area, watched the crowd get to their feet with faces of desperate expectation. There was so much the Footballer didn’t understand. It got him down. He didn’t make sense to himself. It must have been mid-afternoon because football was on TV and because outside in the garden the Mediterranean Sea was making its way across the lawn towards the patio doors. The Footballer hated this time of day. When the tides rose he always grew depressed. Because when the tides rose all the memories, limbs and other things were washed up by the sea. Waves would break on the rear of his house and in the waves he’d see the heads and the hands, skin translucent, the cunts and the feet and it broke the Footballer’s heart. “Don’t cry,” said Fucking Fit, whom he was holding tightly to his chest. “Don’t’ cry,” she implored. “Play with me.” “Really?” the Footballer replied. “Really,” she said. The Footballer sighed then nodded his thanks. And as the first waves lapped at the patio doors, the Footballer wasn’t there to see the body parts dancing in the wash. He was dribbling the polite and severed head through the house, round the furniture, round imagined opposition, flicking it and kicking it. Just playing. Joe Stretch’s first novel Friction is published by Vintage, March 2008.

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The Memory of Pablo Escobar James Mollison Published by Chris Boot Books www.chrisboot.com £29.95 (368pp Hardback)

So much for being one of the world’s most wanted. If you were evil before the dawn of the internet, you usually had to rely on a single, iconographic photo – of the Wanted poster variety – to cunningly prove to the world your skills in dodging the camera. It’s fitting then, that very few visual records of Pablo Escobar exist online – a handful of images duplicating that Wanted poster and a couple of videos reinforcing his outlaw status, in hiding, flanked by compadres, Wild West style – only on motorbikes casually cruising through the jungle. Too many contradictory stories abound about who Pablo Escobar really was for any one account to be entirely reliable. His reputation spawned a multiplicity of fictions all laced with as much surreality, human absurdity and simple horror as any of the magical realist novels that his homeland, Colombia, is equally famous for. Given 150

this slippery fiction of a man, Mollison attempts to expose a different angle about this complex figure by examining the hard, documentary evidence. It’s an extremely ambitious journalistic exercise in a country where procuring a simple document can result in labyrinthine complications. Here is a 350-page compendium of scribbled notes, photographic evidence of roadside shootings, assassinations, bombings and cocaine production outfits that act as roughs of the author’s research as much as chart a partial, incomplete but fundamentally intriguing picture of the drug lord himself. There’s a lot to weigh up. Though Escobar started out as a hard-working entrepreneur determined to rescue his family from a life of poverty, at 15 he was reportedly selling stolen tombstones, before becoming a car thief, a hired assassin, working later as a courier, then smuggler of cocaine imported from Peru and Bolivia. In a series of small steps, Escobar evolved rapidly from petty criminal to billionaire drugs baron at the head of a global cocaine empire, with an extraordinarily lavish lifestyle to match. In its heyday, the Medellin Cartel reportedly distributed 80 per cent of the world’s cocaine supply. Despite becoming the “visible figurehead” of a gargantuan operation (US business magazine Forbes declared him the 7th richest man in the world in 1989), Escobar largely evaded the law and dramatically took it into his own hands. His crimes unfold here at an alarming pace, pinging from episode to episode like a stray bullet in a bar. The bombing of a passenger aeroplane and Department of Security building in Bogota, the assassination of presidential candidates and ministers, high court judges and police too numerous to

count, kidnappings, death threats, the storming of Colombia’s Supreme Court... There’s Escobar’s other side too: his fervent nationalism, building homes and football pitches for poor neighbourhoods, funding chapels which curried favour with the Catholic Church. While hiding from the authorities, Escobar assiduously propagated a charitable public face – as a uniquely South American Robin Hood figure, concertedly meting out justice to the poor at the expense of the landed classes, politicians and judiciary. Approaching Escobar as a cultural and political icon is problematic given the immense catalogue of his social crimes (he is an undisputed folk hero to many in Colombia and beyond). Mollison side steps this by literally putting all the evidence down in front of you. It’s unsettling reading. Though finally gunned down by marksmen aged 44, Escobar crammed an unbelievable amount of mafia lunacy into his short life and the pictures struggle to keep up. The photographic evidence is never quite enough; something always slips out of the frame. This is why the history of Escobar suits the speed of film so well; both Oliver Stone and Joe Carnahan are producing Hollywood features due for release in 2009. That said, Mollison dramatically recreates the chaos that Escobar controlled during his terror-driven reign, his photographic testament acting as a series of stills, capturing the madness in slow-mo. You’re left reeling in wonder at how one man could have so swiftly and violently become king of all that he surveyed. For Escobar’s story really is, in the end, the stuff of picture books... Colette Meacher


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Typography of the Titanic Kai-Olaf Hesse Published by Expose Verlag and Belfast Exposed Photography www.belfastexposed.org £15 (80pp Softback)

You can buy a T-shirt in Belfast that comments on that city’s self-regarding mythos about the Titanic: “It sailed. It sank. Get over it.” Ever since James Cameron propped two cute starlets on the prow of the CGI’ed Titanic in his movie, the burghers of Belfast have got it into their heads that there is a huge market out there for Titanic trivia. There are plans afoot, for example, to build a light rail network for Belfast that will terminate at the shipyard. There is not much there at present, but the area is earmarked for a billion-plus quid in urban regeneration. The usual promises of chic apartment living and high-tech start-ups and art galleries and cafes with canopies are sketched and spread across the local newspapers. It will, of course, be called The Titanic Quarter. I am not sure that the world is that interested. I think that the huge audiences that flocked to see Kate’n’Leo canoodle and drown were less interested in where the Titanic came from than where it was headed. It’s like the burghers of Hamburg expecting a tourism and investment boom after the success of Sink the Bismarck!. Belfast Exposed, the city’s finest gallery of photography, has, in a sense, fallen for the same delusion.

Nevertheless, it has produced an attractive book which mixes sharp essays, interviews with local Titanophiles and ex-shipyard workers and arresting archive images. The core of the book is the collection of fiercely objective snaps by Kai-Olaf Hesse. These are not for the sentimental eye. Belfast is a cold house in these pictures. It is always about to rain. One can feel the chill wind skirting across the vacant lot that remains of a place that one employed over 30,000 skilled men. In the words of Donald Rumsfeld, it starkly shows evidence of absence. The life absent from the pictures was exported to places like South Korea where the medium-level skills to build bulk container ships are abundant and cheap. The “troubles” did not damage Harland & Wolff. In fact, the company kept the shipyard in a bubble of UK government orders which postponed the impact of global competition. Royal Navy contracts would be announced on the eve of some political initiative that need unionist support. As the peace process progressed, the hopes of the shipyard workers diminished. Finally, it was sold for a song to Fred Olsen Energy, a Norwegian shipping and oil drilling business. When the hoped-for orders never materialised, Olsens was sold 135 acres of land “in order to secure its interests”. What no one in the government seemed to have noticed was that Olsens also had a division specialising in commercial real estate. Within two years, the land was flogged to a Dublinbased property company for a total gain of over £30 million. In short, a vast and viable brownfield site within a mile of Belfast city centre was hived of from public ownership to a Norwegian

property company on the promise that a couple of ships might be built. This might explain the bleakness of Hesse’s photographs, taken in 2003. He is taking pictures of a corpse which is in the process of having its grave robbed as well. In his essay, David Bate asks: “How can you photograph a trace of a trace?” He contrasts the historical images with living souls in the frame, albeit shrunken by the massive scale of the ships they were building with the complete absence of humanity in Hesse’s pictures. Such was and is the fate of the shipyard, a place with potent memories among its living ex-workers and of a gaunt symbolism for Ulster’s unionists. From partition on, Harland & Wolff symbolised the political and commercial success of Belfast and Northern Ireland in contrast to the rural and faith-based failure of the Republic of Ireland. What globalisation has wrought in the North, it has granted glad tidings in the South. From massive ships to microchips, that is the one-line version of the Irish Story of the past 30 years, and of the shift in fortunes that has left adrift more than a few life rafts. John O’Farrell

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Double BlinD Paolo Pellegrin Published by Trolley Books www.trolleybooks.com £24.99 (144pp Softback)

There’s a small vignette I remember in Anthony Loyd’s My War Gone By, I Miss it So – his trenchant account as the Times correspondent in Bosnia then Chechnya – that attempts to articulate the moment when war finally happens. A sudden and dislocating condition, it seems arbitrary – an eruption that draws screaming, white noise and eventually a helpless keening from a ruined people. Loyd also notes a sense of irreverence amongst wait-weary journalists, who fall silent as the attack – becoming too real – envelops and perishes with an illogical and indiscriminate force. In Paolo Pellegrin’s Double Blind, such incredulity crosses the pages of a book that follows a brief but dreadful timeline over one violent month in 2006. After the abduction of two soldiers by Hezbollah during a raid on an Israeli outpost, a battle engaged that was to shatter whole districts of Southern Lebanon. The relentless bombing and following acts of retribution were shocking – not only for their impact, but for the use of the remote and unseen methods of warfare 152

that contemporary conflict has come to employ as standard. Throughout the month, Pellegrin and journalist Scott Anderson recorded the effects of the attacks on a civilian population caught between battle lines. Their dispatches for news magazines form the foundation of this book and, as such, it has become an earnest account of a chain of events that impacted heavily on regional stability. The transition to a more cohesive book format is engaging and provokes questions about the challenges of moving from the journals of a daily unravelling world to a more permanent artefact. The design of Double Blind is handsome and simple. Almost magazinelike, it’s malleable – as an urgent report might be. Black and white photographs of artillery-pocked architecture and the wounded or discarded stretch across gutters or meet as dense, inkrich couplets. Black double-pages carry Anderson’s grey text narrative, in which he attempts to understand and map the irrational while threading detail beyond the suggestive mannerism of the photographs. Black always seems at the heart of Pellegrin’s work. (See also the review of his collected works As I Was Dying on page 157.) In limited light, details often merge or are lost, giving priority to the anxious gestures of stranded residents and the possessed stares of desperate rescue workers. Skies are heavily treated in the print, sometimes drawing a veil of soot over the tips of housing blocks or rendering rooms free of all but their inhabitants. Blood, logically, is a regular presence in the pictures, moving through nearly abstract frames like oil-black fissures. The use of metaphor in the work, the unfocused, oblique or “camera-shook”, punctuates the book as regularly as the

text, drawing upon dramas that Pellegrin has come to employ regularly as loose interjections; smashed, burning cars and once-agile men – now crippled by dust and smoke – are rendered poetically against a stable, detail-driven text that emphasises the management and costs of war. Anderson also articulates the two authors’ attempts to negotiate such a process, beyond the unpredictability of what unfolds. His writing becomes a more measured, detailed foil for Pellegrin’s poetic impressions. Expanding on such abstractions, Anderson relates the sprinkling of sand over smeared blood, minutes after two young bikeriders were killed outside a candy-store. They are harsh incidentals, confounding and all too regular. There can be constraints in returning to earlier styles. Previously, Pellegrin’s book Kosovo: Flight of Reason used shadow and reflection to relate the ferocious burning out of villages across the region, and the consequent bitter leaving of nearly a million people. His response was emotive and complicated, and the work held a richness that was I’m sure in keeping with a two-year involvement in the area. Beyond the dynamic, there was a lightness of touch and risk-taking within the frame that produced a deeply affecting sense of both the people and the territory beyond the book’s text-driven interludes. Similar strategies recur in Double Blind, with clouds layering the vulnerable as they attempt to leave Southern Lebanon. Yet despite its coherent rationale, the brevity of the engagement in the region and the return to the successful earlier strategy seem to amplify a number of great photographs beyond the ultimate success of the book. Ken Grant


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On the Beach Richard Misrach Published by Aperture www.aperture.org $85 (80pp Hardback)

“It’s not the end of the world at all”, he said. “It’s only the end of us. The world will go on just the same, only we shan’t be in it. I dare say it will get along all right without us ” On the Beach – Nevil Shute The characters in Nevil Shute’s Cold War bestseller On the Beach are living out the last days of humankind. A radiological war fought with thermonuclear weapons and cobalt bombs has extinguished life in the northern hemisphere. Now a lethal airborne front of radiation drifts inevitably and inexorably southwards. There is no reprieve. Most choose suicide. “We’re all going to get it,” he said. “Every living thing. Dogs and cats and babies – everyone. I’m going to get it. You’re going to get it.” At first glance it is not altogether clear why Richard Misrach should have explicitly adopted Shute’s title for his own recently completed series of photographs. Admittedly they are all pictures of beaches or seaside; but the limitless expanses of Hawaiian sand, the ravishing colours and the crystal Pacific waters do not immediately conjure a dystopia. Indeed, taken individually, they could be smuggled with ease into

a luxury travel supplement. “I get called by all the travel magazines wanting to use them in a context like that,” he says, “and I just say no.” The photographs are all taken from the same elevated viewpoint (a hotel balcony) and feature human figures dwarfed by the epic scale of the beaches and seascapes against which they are set. Though there are several more crowded compositions, the most effective and compelling images are of lone bathers or couples. The disjunction in scale between figure and vista is enhanced by the size of the reproductions, the largest of which measures almost one metre across. The book is not so much big as it is vast. A cumulative effect of Misrach’s deliberate attenuation – but not elimination – of any human presence is, on the one hand, an impression of insignificance and vulnerability. And on the other, a sense of the sublime – the awe and even terror felt in the face of overwhelming power – pervades the work. This is augmented by the marked impotence of the bathers. The swimmers don’t swim; their bodies float upturned, arms outstretched. And the sunbathers lie lifeless beneath towelling shrouds. The combination of Misrach’s aerial vantage point and the astonishing detail achieved by use of an 8 x 10 Deardorff camera often works here to confound the conventions of perspectival recession. So, in some of the book’s most powerful pictures, the human figures appear strangely dislocated from their surroundings. Two floating bathers, when viewed from above, appear to be falling with arms and hair outspread. Likewise, a prostrate sunbather could be in headlong freefall. Such effects are intentional. Misrach

started the series while haunted by photographs of Americans jumping from the stricken World Trade Centre: “The world was changed after 9/11 for me… and I had on my studio wall the pictures of people falling from the towers. Those gestures of the people falling – I suddenly saw them everywhere.” Further, he was struck by the disparity between the apparently cataclysmic events of contemporary history and the prosaic routines of life on the beach. “Nevil Shute’s book is very much about that – you know a lot of people in it end up going picnicking or going to the beach in the face of imminent death. I mean they all knew they were going to die. They knew it was coming: it was just a matter of time. And in the end it reverts to: ‘Well, what are you going to do?’ You could either commit suicide or go and enjoy the simple pleasures of life. And, to me, it was right after 9/11 and everybody was traumatised by it, you know. But yes, people were able to go to the beach and enjoy themselves as if nothing had happened.” The frequently stunning images in On the Beach resist easy categorisation. Whatever the topicality of Misrach’s concerns, the pictures are manifestly not political statements. Neither wholly documentary nor art, his photographs derive their richness from the ambiguities, the complexities and the subtleties of their fusion of moral content, aesthetic quality and historical contingency. Guy Lane

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Xiu Xiu: The polaroid project: The Book David Horvitz Published by Mark Batty Publishers www.markbattypublisher.com £12.95 (128pp Hardback)

It must be tough, being a rock star on tour. After being cheered on stage by adoring fans night after night, the requirement to strip naked and thrash your guitar wildly (not a euphemism) on the motel bed or to climb inside the toilet bowl in order to urinate must become a little de trop at times. The reality of life on the road, one suspects, is rather more mundane, and it is this overriding sense of boredom, as well as the keray-zee moments described above, that underpins Xiu Xiu, The Polaroid Project. Ex-roadie David Horvitz conceived the idea to invite indie-band Xiu Xiu’s fans to bring a box of Polaroid film and an SAE to gigs. Horvitz, or band members, would then shoot the film and post off the results. Some 1,800 Polaroids, a selection of which make up the book of the project described here, exist “somewhere in the world” as Horvitz describes it. This sense of randomness is replicated in the disparate images included, from infinite horizons to signs in the landscape, more of which shortly. The space of a Polaroid is an especially intimate one. While it is possible to stage a scene, we think of the Polaroid as the ultimate snapshot. It’s as close as most fans are going to get to the antics of the motel room. As well as the nudity and “golden showers” described earlier, the fans, and now the wider public, get to witness the band sporting cosmetic face masks, jumping up and down with a pillow stuffed down their fronts or wearing a polythene bag on their head (don’t try this at home, kidz). And though it is easy to sound dismissive of such horseplay (and the resulting photographs), there is no reason why a field study of a band on tour is any less interesting than a thousand other photographic documentary proposals. 154

Also, there is something appealing about this inclusive use of photographs, as a means to create a network of people who collectively own a complete body of work. In this case the sum of the parts is probably greater than the whole, but that’s not such a bad thing (it just contradicts the habitual locution). Boredom as an art form has its own charm, however. Strange tubular shapes in the sand, animalistic outlines in the bushes, liminal shadows on parched earth: all provide a welcome distraction for the bored. Likewise, signs in the landscape take on a new and special significance. Does the Zoning Law signposted in the village of Champlain directly result in Slow Children, as the welcoming side-by-side signs would suggest? Are we really only allowed to be Happy for one Hour between 5 and 6? The surreal quality of everyday life is rightly highlighted in Boredom Art; as is the ubiquity of the Golden Arches, and the nowhereness of the sky. Photographs of people – presumably band members, though uncaptioned: we can never be sure – punctuate the listless landscapes: people drinking, eating, staring out to sea. The whole project recalled Douglas Copeland’s novel Polaroids from the Edge, a similarly lacklustre, yet quietly persistent work. This one comes with a free CD, though, which I confess I expected to be a total abomination. With its odd (as in peculiar) cello solos, urban street chatter and ambient electronica, it was actually quite haunting, interesting, and intelligent. For me, this was a neat lesson in why spending time with lowkey publications from smaller publishing houses is rarely a totally boring exercise. Max Houghton


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My Brother’s Keeper: Documentary Photographers and Human Rights Published by Contrasto www.contrastobooks.com £30 (320pp Hardback)

This ol’ world has an immense capacity for inflicting and taking pain. The last century has a body count that numbs the mind’s capacity to take in the extent of suffering and sorrow that is our common inheritance and guilt. A former lecturer of mine, Martin Croghan, told a story about how he found himself at a conference of anthropologists, and was jammed between two “experts” on terrorism. Both the American and German scholars agreed that when it came to dishing it out, the Irish were just the worst – it was innate, part of their DNA. My lecturer responded with a simple equation: “You’re German, and you’re American, and I’m Irish, right? OK, let’s count corpses.” Now, it is easy to treat such remarks as flip, or even offensive, but there is a point being made by Professor Croghan that is too often overlooked, especially in books like My Brother’s Keeper. And it isn’t just the position of the apostrophe.

Twenty photographers of world status are featured here, short collections that will be well-known to readers of magazines such as this one, from Jacob Riis in the slums of New York to the chaos of the Chinese Cultural Revolution by Li Zhensheng to Ulrik’s Jantzen’s strangely dignifying portraits of acidscorched women in Bangladesh. The problem is the presentation, and the randomness, that these things just happen to unfortunate people. There is little context beyond the plight of victims, there is too much aftermath and all we are left with is the consequences, the pieces that cannot be picked up. There is little sense of agency, in other words. This book and its mealy-mouthed introduction by Susie Linfield tries to have its cake and eat it, right in front of the starving. It is a totally sincere exercise in trying to see horror without making a friend of horror. Yet it falls into the same trap that so many good people and organisations have fallen into in recent years. It is the moral swamp exemplified by this quote from Walter Benjamin: “There is no document of civilisation which is not at the same time a document of barbarism.” Is that deep shit, or weasel words? I think the latter, but I don’t blame Benjy. Lovers of Heine and Strauss had forced him into exile, flight and eventually a state of such terror of his fellow Germans that he killed himself rather than face capture. The sub-theme of that quotation and its use among a plethora of on-theother-hand quotes by Linfield is that everyone suffers, that all are victims. What is absent, largely, is the sense that something is responsible for the carnage that spills across the beautifully laid-out pages of this book. The same narrative

void is at the heart of the Amnestys and Human Rights Watches spiel these days. Look at the pain. Don’t point fingers at who causes the pain, because things get really messy then. There are exceptions in the selection. Philip Jones Griffiths’ Vietnam Inc is a finger-pointing exercise, one that unflinchingly faces unpleasant facts and makes a clear judgment. Or Josef Koudelka’s raw imprints of the Soviet crushing of the 1968 Prague Spring. These photographs are not a dialectic; They are a rant and all the better for it. The Russian and East German tankies are portrayed as soulless thugs. The citizens of Prague are angry and defiant and possessed of a power that is beyond the reach of an AK-47 or a T-72. The image of one young man confronting a soldier, opening his jacket to bare his chest and rage at a Russian with a gun pointed at him is one of the purest images of good versus evil ever captured. It is messy and foul-mouthed. It says, like little else since Martin Luther: “Here I stand. Fuck you.”  John O’Farrell

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The Ninth Floor Jessica Dimmock Published by Contrasto www.contrastobooks.com Eur35 (164pp Hardback)

They’re everywhere. On the street on the way to work, on the steps outside the office block I stumble in on. They lurk in the car park after dark for shelter – where the local council have installed needle drop-off boxes for “sharps”. Yet they’re glamorised too. A form of selfharm, chorus the media, while shooting every punch-up, every blood droplet spilt by Amy Winehouse or Pete Doherty. The age of the bohemian junkie, written about by Burroughs, filmed by Warhol and personal muse to Lou Reed, has surely passed; heroin has given way to the more socially acceptable use of cocaine. But the media can’t decide whether to turn its back on them or record every puncture wound while the tracks are still fresh. I don’t know what to do either. With this book, that is. Should I drop it off at my local drop-in centre, where it could equally serve either as a health warning or pawn shop token to buy someone their next fix? Because, yes: the images 156

taken by Dimmock over three years on the ninth floor of a Manhattan housing block are unexpectedly compelling photo stories of the lives of everyday addicts. Yet they’re also a grotesque, disturbing, invariably depressing and sometimes scary document of the grip that this drug exerts over its ill-fated users. Grainy, gloomy and asphyxiating, Dimmock achieves something extraordinary in portraying her subjects – grimacing, punching, sleeping, wasted, wasting away – as sadly ordinary; their lives punctuated by repetitive cycles of eating, sex, survival and rest. Moments of reprieve do emerge both between the subjects and between the addicts and the photographer; but nothing close to the redemptively beautiful or tragically iconic single shot ever shines through as it does in, say, Nan Goldin’s autobiographical work. If there’s a failure in Dimmock’s exposé, it’s that she never exposes quite enough. Winner of the International Award for Concerned Photography, she, too, is complicit in the sorry state of affairs. From her initial introduction (courtesy of a stranger called Jim Diamond, a cocaine dealer who approaches her on the street and offers his world up to her lens), she constantly covers her tracks and conceals a good deal of what she becomes party to. Her decision to turn a spontaneous foray into lower Manhattan’s underground economy into a large-scale study shares all the ethical dilemmas of the urban anthropologist, the photodocumentarist’s shoot and run – of the fragile dependencies swiftly made and broken and confidentiality pact tacitly established. Having peered through the crack of the door, the viewer too can’t help but want to see more.

Dimmock lends you a sense of this uneasy immediacy through her portrayal of two couples who come alive on the page, no longer mere shadows on the walls. But her familiarity also debars her from revealing the more sensitive elements of life on the ninth floor. No one knows what goes on behind closed doors, they say, and it’s only within the appendix that you come to learn of the “septic hush” draping the fetid air. Here Natasha slept in a closet, a dead cat lay unnoticed in the bathroom for two weeks, people openly had sex in the living room, Rachel’s eye infection resulted in brain surgery and old Joe, a former antiques dealer and owner of the flat turned squat, lay in permanent repose on a soiled sofa, too old to inject, until he was finally stretchered him out. Horrible, you shudder; yet you can’t help but feel she missed a trick or two in not turning her lens to any of this truly raw material to fully reveal the very lack of glamour that lies behind the junkie’s life. Does the photographer become implicated in the aestheticisation of heroin abuse by choosing to omit the truly gory details of subsistence in this decrepit, shambolic reality? Or has Dimmock chosen to save us from the bleaker aspects to allay criticisms of sensationalising her subject matter? Reading the postscript finally reveals something about Dimmock which explains her fascination and need to document this twilight world: her parents were addicts once upon a time, too. If her study serves a function, it’s sadly this: to heed the wasted years that come out of an apparent nowhere and lead back to precisely that, leaving behind a photo album for those unable to make it for themselves.  Colette Meacher


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As I was Dying Paolo Pellegrin Published by Dewi Lewis Publishing www.dewilewispublishing.com £25 (140pp Hardback)

As I Was Dying, the new book by the Magnum photographer Paolo Pellegrin, could be seen in some ways as a riposte to James Nachtwey’s monumental summation of the horrors of the 1990s, Inferno. The cover is stark and simple, featureless except for the title. This prepares the viewer for the reverential tone needed to approach the book; the subject matter is essentially the shadow cast by death on the world. In 67 brooding images, each printed double page, we are taken on a journey into darkness and pain. However, unlike

Nachtwey’s opus, with its blinding intensity and clarity of vision, this journey is a more uncertain one, with images of confusion, darkness and flux, but with powerful emotions at its core. One image from Kosovo typifies Pellegrin’s journalistic, visual and emotional strategy, in focusing the viewer’s attention on one individual, caught up in a greater enterprise. The dark, brooding nature of the chiaroscuro lighting, the reflections implying a world outside of the photograph, the dislocated framing, the sense of visual depth, and above all the isolation of the main actor in the image yet still related to his environment are all characteristic of his output over the last decade. While the complex, fractured compositions of this book echo those of the other leading figure from the earlier generation, Gilles Peress, Pellegrin’s have a drama and darkness that does not generally feature in Peress’ work, but that is more akin to the images of Joseph Koudelka, and in their focus on picking out the emotional experience of an individual are almost more reminiscent of W Eugene Smith. But perhaps the greatest influence in combining all of these is the work of Robert Frank. Pellegrin’s book, like The Americans, is a kind of odyssey too, even if driven by a news agenda rather than a personal one, and he has the same ability to find an emotional point of contact in a situation and capture this in an image. Like Frank, many of his photographs operate at the boundaries of exposure. The result of this working with marginal light conditions is that many of his images are blurred and out of focus, but they are capable of heightening the drama and expressiveness of the scene. That this makes Pellegrin’s images

less complete in their narrative function actually enhances his message. He is not trying to show the “truth” of a situation, or even try to explain it in any depth, but rather to seek a bridge between the viewer and the subject, to open up a space that interaction can take place, a “hole in reality” through which the audience can try to enter the world of the characters in his dramas. He openly acknowledges that he is an outsider, but an outsider who can act as an entry point for western audiences into the world of the “other”. The images are presented without captions, and in a sequence that leaps from the Middle East to the Balkans, from Indonesia to Africa, and then back again from conflict and violence to natural disasters. This discontinuous narrative has a serious flaw. Although ostensibly a book about the moment of death in general, in essence it is at heart a book about the violence of man to man, and conflating natural disasters and the death of a pope, say, with images from manmade conflicts seeming to weaken the force of the message. His approach does however signal a shift in emphasis from the concentration on visual complexity for its own sake, and his work stands as a more emotive and psychological response to the new political landscape of the 21st century, a response that seeks to engage the audience’s imagination as well as their understanding. Perhaps this focus on a more generic category of human suffering, on the universality of human cruelty rather than its uniqueness, is a powerful moral answer to the attempts of governments to pretend that incidents of brutality such as Abu Ghraib are the exceptions to the rule. Paul Lowe 157


reviews | books

Darfur: Twenty Years of War and Genocide in Sudan Published by powerHouse Books www.powerhousebooks.com $45 (120pp Hardback)

There’s been a terrible indifference to the tragic unravelling of safety and stability in the Darfur region of Sudan. There is conflict, yet one that has little effect on the stability of the West. There are acts of atrocity, debasement and the displacement of generations to the limbo of refugee camps at the edges of the country. There have, of course, been those who have campaigned, lobbied and attempted to re-align the news agenda. But it would seem we’re not in the era of unity or revolution, and we seem particularly sedentary when asked to act to assuage crises elsewhere. The tone, then, of the book published under the wing of Proof (an organisation set up “to encourage social change through the use of photography”) is one of a call to action. It’s a recent publication from the eclectic powerHouse organisation, itself becoming better known for its confident and dynamic use of design. In its directness, Darfur is a consistent (if not subtle) addition to the catalogue. The cold statistics are awful: the region holds 3.5 million starving and 2.5 million violently displaced people. Inaction seems to proliferate amongst politicians too, with George Bush putting his name to a bill to end the 158

violence only recently, in 2006. Amnesty International have voiced frustration at such lethargy, and use this book to offer succinct and emotive suggestions about how world powers can act to make an immediate difference (and because the webs of financial engagement, military hardware and arms trading have been suspended, we presume). It’s a call that the reader hears too – in the form of leaflets dropped inside the book that encourage them to hold an event, contact an MP or do something else… anything. Darfur lays out a thorough and awful timeline, tracing over the events of two decades, an era of unrest that entered a new and troubling phase in 2003. At that point, in response to the marginalisation of the region, the Sudan Liberation Army took up arms against the government. The government’s reaction was unmeasured and heartless. By allowing the Arab Janjaweed militia to turn their horses and guns on the region’s villages, a sustained period of killing, abduction and defilement began. Drawing upon diverse practitioners from Agence Vu, Magnum, VII and other agencies, a number of seasoned photographers and dedicated support workers offer their accounts through half-page testimonies throughout the book. They are earnest and evocative texts. Colin Finlay, for example, hints at the emotional challenges encountered while in the region. His account of the stillness, of the dignity and silence among those too weak to cry is written with an eloquence that lingers beyond the pictures. The pictures chosen to illustrate the book are the most immediate kind of photojournalism – rich in gesture and the solutions that have become so familiar

to us. They are the motifs of famine and civil unrest, rife with emaciation and exhaustion. They touch upon the hopeless waiting through the hours that drag in the emergency settlements of Chad and at the edge of Darfur. Another rib-lined baby is latched to a mother’s withered breast, and families attempt to maintain dignity while moving through the landscape. It seems indecent to look at these pictures and feel nonchalant, unmoved – but the regular devices of the genre clog any spark in me. I should be ashamed perhaps, as these situations are heartbreaking, yet there’s something about this familiarity and the bold design that I find difficult to reconcile in the book. There are few surprises: black and white images bleed with colour and reach the gutter of the book, binding disparate images or in echoing repetition. Such a design binds the work together, draining a frame of its individual discretion. If there is space on the page beyond the picture it is a black, varnished void or the space for the frail and haunted accounts of those who have witnessed or endured atrocity. Yet within the book, there are pictures that seem to reach deeper. A picture of a soldier standing watchful as a woman chops wood stays with me. He has turned his back, almost as if awarding privacy to a woman who has little else left. Through sharp eyes he watches the horizon and does little, remaining still yet preoccupied, very clearly knowing this war is far from over. Ken Grant


reviews | books

Archaeology in Reverse Stephen Gill Published by Nobody www.stephengill.co.uk £30 (104pp Hardback)

Three years ago, to critical acclaim, Stephen Gill published his photographic study Hackney Wick. But Gill, who lives in East London, felt that he “just couldn’t stop” revisiting the area. Earlier this year he published Buried, a literally mudencrusted collection of images made from prints that had been left to decay on the Wick. Now he adds two further

titles to the Hackney series – Archaeology in Reverse and Hackney Flowers. Of the two, Archaeology is most clearly – in content, format and design – the sequel to Hackney Wick. Wick opened with a photograph of a River Lea swan passing beneath the graffiti’d concrete of a dual carriageway. And Archaeology’s first photograph is also of a swan floating in the unmistakably urban Wick waterways. This time though the swan is dead – adrift in a slick of turbid crap. In his brief afterword to Hackney Wick Gill had pointed to the area’s imminent redevelopment ahead of the bid for the 2012 Olympics: “The Games will bring many good things to the area… But there will be losses too.” That equivocation is replaced in Archaeology by the outrage of Iain Sinclair’s trenchant accompanying essay. If Hackney Wick offered some kind of raucous immersion and caustic celebration, Archaeology is more circumspect. The bargain hunters, hagglers and scavengers are gone, replaced now by a cast of surveyors and soil mechanics, haulage contractors and – the horror! the horror! – Sebastian Coe and David Cameron. The billboards and signs read, “Back the Bid”, “We Buy Gold” and “Hackney’s With You All the Way”. The earth has been banked up, the trees cut down and the undergrowth cleared. The book’s title suggests the parallel of a malfunctioning archaeological dig: the mission here is not to unearth, preserve and cherish, but to excavate and obliterate. What distinguishes Gill’s project though is not the scepticism with which he views Hackney’s brave tomorrow. It is the nuanced and varied character of the photographs – by turn appalled, contemplative, wry and even optimistic

– that sets them apart. Maybe, more than any other quality, they share a resolute gallows humour. For every example of ruination Gill counterposes his own moments of poetry: a shadow of the Cross falls on a wheelie bin; buttercups echo the colour of a discarded jacket; sprayed red dots mark trees for felling. The pictures are also distinguished by the singular formal properties that result from his use of a plastic Coronet camera bought at the Wick market for 50p. “In the late ’90s and early 2000s the idea of quality and technique became so important… and conversations around photography were often very much about dpi and megapixels. Part of me was letting go and rebelling against this stage that photography had reached,” he explains. In Hackney Flowers Gill’s propensity for wombling achieves its fullest expression. Plants, flowers, seeds and ephemera – all collected while on Hackney field trips – are positioned on top of selected photos (most of which have some level of floral content) and the resulting collage is rephotographed. The seductive and often playful images that result are structured around the interplay of collaged element and photographic backdrop: the wings of a dead butterfly merge with a Hawaiian shirt in one picture; the same insect – now monstrously large – hovers over a market crowd in another. Oh, and with carbon footprints in mind, in the year that Vanity Fair flew Annie Leibovitz 47,835 miles (yes) to shoot a cover, there is something to be said for producing three quality books from material found 10 minutes from the front door. Guy Lane

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Flat Earth News Nick Davies Published by Chatto and Windus www.randomhouse.co.uk £17.99 (320pp Hardback)

This book about the corruption and dishonesty of the British press is brave and timely. Brave because not many journalists are prepared to discuss openly what many of us know about our own trade. And brave because Davies must have known he was going to annoy a lot of people. The former editor of the Observer, Roger Alton, in an interview in Press Gazette, the journalists’ trade paper, threatened to “punch his [Davies’s] face in” if the book impugned the integrity of the Observer’s former political editor, Kamal Ahmed. Flat Earth News tells how Ahmed came to rely heavily on one contact – Alastair Campbell, former prime minister Tony Blair’s press secretary. A colleague described Ahmed as “Alastair’s jug” because “Alastair poured stuff into him, and he poured 160

it out into the Observer”. None of this would have mattered much if not for Iraq. Davies alleges that the Obs bigged up the case for war while ignoring stories undermining the government line, such as a well-sourced one, more than six months before the invasion, that the CIA knew Saddam did not possess weapons of mass destruction. Integrity impugned? I’ll say. But so far Davies remains unpunched. Then there is the Daily Mail, a paper which champions “law and order” while its hacks, according to FEN, bribe policemen, civil servants and others to supply people’s personal details such as medical records and credit card statements. A senior figure there has decreed, according to 8’s sources, that Davies “deserves a good kicking”. He has been threatened with libel proceedings by solicitors acting for David Leppard, a Sunday Times reporter who, according to FEN, some colleagues “dismiss… as a ruthless charlatan who cheats his sources and makes up stories”. I could not possibly comment. Senior figures at the BBC, the Press Association and broadsheet newspapers have denounced the book (but Davies has had scores of supportive emails from front-line journalists). There is plenty in the final “case study” chapters that will enrage those hacks named and shamed therein. But just as interesting are the sections on the everyday nuts and bolts of how the press works, and how it came to be in the state it is today. We learn how commercial pressures have given rise to “churnalism” – how underpaid and overworked youngsters, particularly in the regional press and on websites, have no time to check whether the stories they recycle are true; and how PR persons operating on behalf of

business and government take advantage of this to shape the “news” we read. Nick Davies started in journalism on 6 September 1976, on the Mirror Group’s former graduate training scheme in Plymouth – the same day as me. I remember an idealistic young man, inspired by the film All the President’s Men, about how Washington Post reporters Woodward and Bernstein exposed the truth about Watergate and brought down President Nixon. Davies believed journalism could be used to achieve a better world. Since then he has written many brilliant stories, mostly for the Guardian, exposing miscarriages of justice, investigating the criminal underworld and unpicking accepted wisdoms on subjects as diverse as drugs, education and the criminal justice system. Alas, the world has not changed for the better, and one senses the idealistic young man of 30 years ago is tired, sickened by his “corrupted profession”. If journalists like Nick Davies really are becoming an endangered species, then the world is going to become an even darker and more dangerous place. Tim Minogue


reviews | books

26 Different Endings

Mark Power Published by Photoworks www.photoworksuk.org £40 (64pp Hardback)

The roads are empty, the houses dilapidated and boarded up. Nobody is to be seen, anywhere. The harsh, sober daylight leaves you blinking in confusion. Have you somehow entered a post-apocalyptic world bereft of all forms of life? Perhaps, indeed, you have. Welcome to the unloved outer suburbs of London; the forgotten hinterlands which slumber on with dreams of redevelopment, impossible fantasies of Olympic town-planners and cultural bids, Arts Council grants and community purpose. Welcome to the place of dead roads, a place that takes precedence over those that populate it, where the landscape is characterised by fields of rusting cars, and yet more dead cars, smashed up and abandoned in rained-on scrap-yards.

Travel to the end of the road with Mark Power, who has made a determined mission to expose what lies hidden within these apparently cultureless outposts of British civilisation, that might trendily be referred to as terrains vagues or non-places. Making Phyllis Pearsall his muse (the geographer/cartographer who travelled 3,000 miles on foot to chart what we familiarly refer to as the A-Z of London), Power sets out to visually fill in those marks that Pearsall’s bestseller omits, the folds in the grid that smudge and blur both the demarcations of place and the characters that define it. By photographing physical sites which have fallen off the map but not recording any human presence encountered there, Power recreates the peculiar sense that

their inhabitants have been forgotten or have mysteriously disappeared as a consequence of this cartographic oversight too. The result is eerie: a catalogue of the bleak, desolate, fraying edgelands of London – images snagged on the tidelines of the urban environment, where all the flotsam and jetsam of city life washes up in unwanted aggregates of rusting metal, abandoned tennis courts and often derelict, deserted conurbations. The landscape of Power does violence to purpose, not to mention beauty and hope. After a wander through this vivid sadness, you don’t carry away the imprint of a single image but are left with the lurking memory of a murky journey to provinces you’d rather forget – flashes of monochrome (though Power shoots in full, less-than-glorious colour) distinguished by a prevailing sense of melancholia. All is not lost. Reading Will Self’s Psychogeography columns or JG Ballard’s fiction in tandem with Power’s photo-book might work to fill these images with the colour, noise and surreal weirdness they are so bereft of but absolutely invite. That way, you may indeed read 26 different endings into Power’s narrative-less cul de sac. Otherwise, you may never figure out quite how the story ends... Colette Meacher

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reviews | books

The Park

Kohei Yoshiyuki Published by Hatje Cantz www.hatjecantz.com Eur39.80 (128pp Hardback)

Rarely has the relationship between photography, sexuality and voyeurism been addressed as directly as it is in the work of Kohei Yoshiyuki. Equipped with infrared film, separation filters and flashes, he stalked the parks of nighttime 1970s Tokyo seeking out a marginal world of furtive but public sexual couplings, and more. The pictures he took have been described as among the strangest photographs ever made. The Park collates three bodies of work from the period. The first series, featuring heterosexual encounters, was taken in the Shinjuku and Yoyogi parks between 1971 and 1973. The subject of the second, more explicit, series taken in Aoyama Park in 1979 is the activities of homosexual couples and groups. And the final section “Love Hotel” is comprised of nearly indecipherable pornographic 162

video stills. But the most extraordinary scenes are the least graphic. The parks favoured by heterosexuals, it turns out, were also frequented by groups of lurking and predatory voyeurs who encroached on, and sometimes joined in with, the ardent couples. All are illuminated by the unearthly bleached light of Yoshiyuki’s infrared flash. In an accompanying interview by Nobuyoshi Araki (go figure!) from 1979 Yoshiyuki explained that the flash would produce a momentary red glow – like the lights of a passing car – that would usually go undetected by the otherwise engaged subjects. In one frame a voyeur on all fours crawls towards an embracing couple while two figures (one of whom zips up – or unzips – his flies) watch from the bushes. In another, no less than eight

men can be counted – bright against the ink black sky – as they watch a pair of lovers and a riding-up skirt. The Park is an extraordinary but unsettling collection of pictures. It is by no means obvious, for example, that the acts performed are all consensual – they certainly do not all look to be so. Nor is it apparent whether the sex is volunteered or paid for. And the nature of Yoshiyuki’s complicity and even participation is left unclear. Moreover it is evident that the pictures of homosexuals in Aoyama park, while more explicit, are markedly less intrusive – there are none of the close-ups of tangled limbs and crotches for instance. One conclusion might be that most voyeuristic and intrusive pictures are dependent on the availability of a defenceless female body, powerless to resist Yoshiyuki’s lens and flash. Perhaps the abiding value of the provocative nature of his work is that it foregrounds such issues to the extent that they become unavoidable. Guy Lane


reviews | books

China Ángel Marcos Published by Actar D www.actar-d.com Eur72 (136pp Hardback)

The late-emerging, self-taught artist Ángel Marcos is yet another contemporary photographer who has turned his camera to China’s megalopolises. His latest photography project was part of a trip he made during January 2007 around the major drivers of Chinese economic expansion – Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai. The resulting photographs bear witness to the glaring opposition between past and present, old and new, through advertising slogans, juxtapositions of different types of architecture and the clash of metropolitan landscapes. His photographs are traces of things that will soon be swept up by the tide of modernisation and progress; steaming foodstands on the street corner, parked bicycles on the pavement, pagodas, little temples, washing hung out to dry on a tangled mess of telephone wires are often seen overshadowed by slick high rises that loom large in the background. Similarly modern bridge constructions collide with the more historical Chinese urbanisms, poignantly exacerbating their vulnerability. For Marcos, China also represents a part of a wider body of work, rounding off a trilogy he began six years earlier in New York and continued in Havana in 2004. Though the locations are

completely different he has followed the same intellectual itinerary through his dialogues with the various cities in an attempt to project his personal vision of the contrast between the powers that be and the realities and desires of the people that are governed by them. Around the Dream, the first part of the trilogy, was carried out in New York in 2001. In this series the photographer pondered the use of the billboards that dominate the vista of Manhattan as symbols of desire embodied by the city. A desire for success and power that, in direct contrast, encounters piles of rubbish, homeless people and countless stories of life disappointment and dissatisfaction. With In Cuba (2004-06) he again worked with slogans, but this time they were those belonging to the Socialist Revolution instead of the logos and catchphrases coined for consumerism. The choice of China as his final destination is especially fitting: what was previously a Communist regime but has now given way to unbridled capitalism. It is a conceptual amalgam of his two previous investigations and as he plunged himself into this distant Eastern reality he reflected what was happening all around him and has returned with a unique take on today’s complex and contradictory China.  Tim Clark

LOOK OUT FOR THESE NEW RELEASES Fig by Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin Steidl February 2008 When it Changed by Joel Sternfeld Steidl February 2008 Darfur – A Silent Genocide by Jan Grarup Trolley Books March 2008 Middle Years by Phillip Jones Griffiths Trolley Books March 2008 Our World Now by Reuters Thames and Hudson March 2008 East Anzenberger May 2008 Homeland by Nina Berman Trolley Books May 2008 Invasion Pague 68 by Josef Koudelka Thames and Hudson May 2008

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reviews | eXHIBITIONs

Helen Levitt

Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson 12 September – 23 December 2007 www.henricartierbresson.org

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On the first floor of the Cartier-Bresson Foundation, a Helen Levitt photograph from 1945 is placed alone. Set apart from the main exhibition space, it’s similar in design to Cartier-Bresson’s own picture of a young wine-carrier, who would dance through the frame like the cat with the cream in rue Mouffetard nearly a decade later. Levitt’s teenage girl laden with milk is equally joyful, despite her errand, yet in scraps of shoes she hurries through a somewhat tenser world. Behind her and heavily pregnant, a slightly older girl stands watchful. The encounter occurs in the sharp sun that snaps New York streets in half – cold and warm, bleach and ink, neighbourly and remote… a light that cuts across the lives that Levitt has been drawn to photograph for nearly 70 years. Levitt’s photography has always returned to consistent themes: mothers, watchful and wary of what passes their cluttered tenement steps; children, negotiating the worn edges of upper Manhattan; pictures of emotions, among people whose lives turn publicly upon the platform of the street. The work gathered for this showing omitted some of the more familiar pictures and instead usefully emphasised two distinct phases in the photographer’s career. Pictures from the 1940s dominated the first room while a second room dwelt on later and less celebrated colour work that serves to position Levitt among the most

progressive colour street photography of the 1960s and ’70s. Strong photography can sometimes reveal its depth slowly. Some of these photographs seem to speak of the future while they wrap themselves in a busy moment. In 1942, a boy mischievously holds up a girl’s skirt as she, in turn, pushes another girl against a smogdarkened New York wall. Her legs are supple and too slight for the rag knickers that, rudely revealed, hang from her under-nourished body. For all her agility and assertion, the exposed child against the City is disquieting. In the second room, Levitt’s later work is built with colour and often moves away from the sanctuary of childhood. The work is gentle and appreciative, suggesting something of the patience and immersion this kind of photography will always need and reward. My favourite Levitt didn’t make the cut. It shows the flicker of a return to youth as an old man steadies and smiles after being swirled into a street dance by children ring-a-rosy-ing across a sidewalk. In compensation, there was a screening of In the Street, the pianodriven short film collaboration between Levitt, James Agee and Janice Loeb and, on leaving, the screams and joyful playing in the adjacent schoolyard made this showing of an important and rightly celebrated photographer complete. Ken Grant


reviews | eXHIBITIONs

Pursuit of Fiction

Kathrin Kur Photofusion 18 January – 23 February 2008 www.photofusion.org

Fiction, it’s often said, can reveal a reality that factual material can only tackle superficially. Creating a purely objective account of an event is not only an impossible task, but one that is not always sought, and the photojournalism/ documentary film community have begun to use fiction to their advantage. A recent festival in London for documentary filmmakers, Crossing the Line, took this as its starting point, examining the extent to which documentaries use fiction to more accurately convey the underlying truths behind their films. This newly blurred boundary between fact and fiction has resulted in the creation of a new generation of films, such as Nick Broomfield’s Ghosts. Kathrin Kur’s pursuit of fiction is a different one, however. She has used, in this series of images recently exhibited at Photofusion, documentary photography to expose the source of certain fictions – the unreal constructed world that forms the backbone of much of our common reality. She went behind the scenes of television studios and film sets, used to film news, TV dramas and motion pictures, revealing what is hidden from the cameras. The glowing green walls at some unnamed studio, the rows of robotic lights occupying every available inch of ceiling in “Studio D” and the motion capture studio resembling a bright red

basketball court: so much steel, mirror and vibrant colour that the landscape appears to be completely devoid of the human. A fictional landscape indeed. Kur’s point of view, is also one that is unfamiliar, in that most images are taken from a high vantage point either looking down or across the length of the space. While the images are large format and quite detailed, Kur does not attempt to provide an all-encompassing look at the industry, rather a cross section of the various guises a studio or set can take. The sumptuously printed, glossy images are in a way more about art than documentary and that’s not just because of the hefty price tag. Perhaps her point would have been made clearer with more images but one cannot help to think that while they are documenting, these images themselves are a fiction, in that they are landscapes that most will probably never see (in a similar vein to Simon Norfolk’s Super Computers series). Documentary has a lot to gain from fiction and while fiction may not necessarily welcome the attention from documentary it is still quite a profound relationship that photographers and filmmakers alike will continue to explore. Lauren Heinz

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reviews | eXHIBITIONs

Revolution in photography

Alexander Rodchenko Hayward Gallery 7 February – 27 April 2008 www.haywardgallery.org.uk

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Revolutions rumble and explode through this stunning and extensive exhibition, organised by the Moscow House of Photography, curated by its director, Olgar Sviblova. Mirroring the arch of idealism under Lenin into the repression of Stalin, the show reveals how Alexander Rodchenko worked with and against hardening Communist values between the years of 1923 and 1938. As a young man, artist and designer, Rodchenko was a full believer in the Russian Revolution, seeing fertile ground unfurling for artists of all kinds. Photomontage was the medium which Lenin saw as the most powerful agent for propaganda, and Rodchenko was its pioneer and champion. Rodchenko’s early montages reflect a joyous sense of freedom and fun. He culls images from newspapers and magazines, and in what was to be the start of life-long collaboration with poet Vladimir Mayakovsky, illustrates his poem, “About That”. Each panel contains the glory of modernity – cities, trains, aeroplanes, telephones, bridges, but also creatures from the natural world, dinosaurs and polar bears on great sheets of ice, plus the human presence of Mayakovsky and his lover, Lili Brik. It conveys the idea that images aren’t sacred; that you can cut out and paste together unconnected things to create something new – surreal and energised. Together Mayakovsky and Rodchenko

formed New LEF (Left Front of the Arts). A series of covers show their striking pattern of black and white, with one primary colour. Steep angles, close-ups, arrows, lines and a bold typeface are uniquely incorporated. The style can be traced throughout the history of 20th century book and magazine design. There is a large and very different section to the exhibition with portraits that Rodchenko took concurrently with his work for New LEF, cinema and the state. Once the camera was in his hands, his urge for experimentation with light, angles, framing and subject matter, knew no bounds. Until, that is, repressive Communist paranoia took hold. By 1928 Rodchenko was being criticised for the petty bourgeois crime of “formalism”. He is ordered to move into photo-reportage, although with strict restrictions. The 1930s produce the famous “Pioneer” series, and eventually soft-focused images of state entertainment – the Bolshoi Ballet and State Circus. Rodchenko’s work here spans 15 intense years of artistic, photographic and political change. The images are chosen and arranged as to honour the photography and design which Rodchenko advanced, and to weave them into the political context with which they were inextricably linked, yet also lived a vital life of their own.  Ruth Hedges


reviews | FILM FESTIVAL

Human Rights Watch International Film Festival

12 – 21 March 2008 www.hrw.org/iff/

Now in its 12th year, the Human Rights Watch International Film Festival in London has grown into quite a notable event in the diary of Londoners. What’s brilliant about the festival is its ability to draw in such a wide range of people, helped in part by its media partnership with Time Out. And the films vary from animation (this year’s headlining film, Persepolis) and drama to documentary. There are far too many to list here so I will focus on one particular documentary, and also the one most suitable for this publication, about the photography of Edward Burtynsky: Manufactured Landscapes. The film begins with the slow and careful panning through rows of green desks and workstations with yellowuniformed workers hunched over or standing at their assembly lines. It slowly continues like this for the first six minutes – endless rows of thousands of workers, eerily quiet apart from the melodic, ambient noise of humming and puffing machines. This is the Chinese factory which is the setting for a series of photographs from Burtynsky’s recent publication, China. Most readers will have been familiar with Burtynsky’s work – his large format images, almost, dare I say it, Gurskyesque, depicting stunning landscapes, unreal in scale, of former mines and quarries, the Three Gorges Dam and industry across the People’s Republic.

There’s also a striking 20-minute sequence, set in Bangladesh, focusing on the shipbreakers of Chittagong. Most people will also be aware of the economic surge gushing throughout China: everything is made in China, as we know. But to actually see this process in moving image is quite arresting, as agile hands rapidly assemble unrecognisable plastic pieces which will be handed on to form a tiny part of a toy or appliance. The filming of the workers and ex-residents driven out by the Three Gorges dam is approached in the same manner – be it meticulously working on the structure of the dam or painstakingly having to tear down your own city, brick by brick, before it becomes completely flooded to make way for a new system of transporting all the goods produced here. The film-makers are not overtly campaigning but have used Burtynsky’s work to show what is happening. He too is not here to advocate or criticise nor to celebrate or glorify, just to document. The film becomes a stunning portrayal of not only Burtynsky’s images but the landscape of China and Bangladesh just as Burtynsky’s camera has captured them, but with a medium that makes the circumstances seem all too real, not as distant as Burtynsky’s vantage point. Manufactured Landscapes is one of 25 films on at this year’s festival. Lauren Heinz

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reviews | magazines

the magazine report Bad Idea www.badidea.co.uk Daydream www.daydreamnetwork.com Nude www.nudemagazine.co.uk State of Play www.stateofplayzine.com Stirred Up www.stirredup.net Vertigo www.vertigomagazine.co.uk

In previous issues, this column has concentrated on magazines that are of interest visually, that stand out for their design. My interest in the editorial process has grown from that side of the creative equation, a fascination at how well-prepared content can not only be made better through presentation, but can be completely transformed by a sympathetic relationship between editor and designer. I am also aware of, frankly, mediocre – or worse – writing and/or photography being improved, at least on first impression, by strong design and, as a designer myself, I admit to being seduced occasionally by this effect. But there is also the world of the magazine that has great content that is less well presented. These include wellconceived magazines that in the strictest sense, fail to deliver fully on the visual side. There are as many reasons for this failure as there are magazines, but factors can include a lack of resources (money and time), creative tensions within the team, inexperience, the struggle to do something “different”, or most probably a mix of several of these. This is a random selection of such magazines. 168

Let me say again, I generally gravitate towards groundbreaking visual presentation. I am not saying these magazines are “bad” design. But I can’t hold them up and claim them as “great” design. Yet they still have much to recommend them as they set about providing an alternative to the mainstream. Bad Idea If the strapline “Real Life, True Stories” across the top of the cover raises expectations of a trashy weekly woman’s title, worry not. Bad Idea is further subtitled “Modern Storytelling”, and that’s just what it is: non-fiction narrative in its many guises, real real life if you will. It’s a clever idea, and the magazine itself more than lives up to the promise. It is rare to see such genuinely innovative story-telling anywhere, let alone in a small independent publication like this. Its scope feels endless, ranging from reportage (life in the multi-ethnic suburbs of Paris) to personal reflections (the series of one-page daily life stories) via comic strips (a recollection of a Glasgow bus route), but instead of feeling random the magazine has a

confident editorial and visual tone that holds the different directions together. Nude A square-format quarterly publication that recently reached issue 12, Nude covers a wide range of art and culture from a particularly British perspective. Movies, music, architecture, art are all present, along with quirkier material such as a look at the current UK wrestling scene and profiles of punkera performance pioneers such as Lydia Lunch. To my personal delight, as part of an ongoing project to map failed but influential bands, Issue 10 included a look back at Brighton post-punks The Chefs. Nude is a bridge between the ’80s NME and today: unafraid to reminisce but not wallowing in nostalgia. Like Bad Idea, it has identified an area of cultural coverage uncatered for elsewhere. Daydream Now on its third issue, Daydream is part of a wider network concept but the magazine part is an interesting idea so worth a standalone mention here. Hugo Toland and Avue Darien-Gordon


reviews | magazines

launched the magazine as an open collection of people’s work. Anyone can download a page template, submit content and get a page published. The result, unsurprisingly, is very mixed in quality and frankly confusing in variety. The pages are tiny, and the rapid change from one to the next is too much – more catalogue than magazine. And yet there’s something in the idea, as its continued existence suggests. Imagine if the quality of the contributions improved… Vertigo More of a “real” – even, established – magazine than some of the titles here, Vertigo has been quietly covering independent film and video for 15 years. Recently relaunched as a large-format quarterly with more colour and pages, it has a definite design structure that helps hold the mainly black and white pages together, but for a publication covering such a visual medium I found myself wanting more pictures and less text. Then, perhaps independent film-making has always been prone to over-analysis? Hidden among the longer pieces are some gems – a clever piece about location advice is based around fictional

witness reports of the making of Shaun of the Dead. Stirred Up Sadly this title has recently ceased publication, but copies can be found in specialist stores and the website is still accessible. Stirred Up covered the newly broadened world of modern European politics and culture, carrying a wide range of stories including plenty I’ve not seen elsewhere. It felt like it was progressing well issue-to-issue, an impression clearly out of line with what I guess in the end was financial failure. Alongside the serious content (the future of cities, the relevance or otherwise of the G8 summit) there were some great oddball pieces about French architects working with fungi, a piece about imaginary airports named after celebrities and a look at how Israel gets to enter the Eurovision Song Contest. State of Play This is perhaps the first modern glossy image-led magazine to focus on the explicitly political. Boasting a libertarian mix of views, State of

Play could hardly be more different to Stirred Up, the first issue being an oldfashioned agit-prop mix of oppositional opinion, following the theme “Give us Liberty”. Its contributors and supporters include a range of well-connected writers and editors spanning the style and design press, Katherine Hamnett, and first-generation punk anarchists Crass, alongside images from graffiti artists, photographers and illustrators. The good and the bad mix freely, the “highlight” being a haunting photograph by Simon Thorpe of Saharawi men, each one missing at least one leg due to indiscriminate land-mining by Morocco (from a series featured in 8 last year). At the other end of the scale is a tired fashion shoot featuring models as rioters. It fails on all counts: neither shocking nor arch, in a world where a fashion brand must surely have used the idea as part of an ad campaign, it is simply lame. The second issue deals with race politics and is a lot more coherent for picking a more specific and singular subject.  Jeremy Leslie is group creative director of John Brown Publishing and writes a blog on magazines. magCulture.com

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panos pictures tel +44 20 7253 1424 fax +44 20 7253 2752 email pics@panos.co.uk web www.panos.co.uk A dilapidated Soviet-era road, Naryn, Kyrgyzstan. Š CAROLYN DRAKE

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On my shelf 

On my shelf sources of inspiration: Isabel Hilton My first choice is The Retreat of the Elephants, by Mark Elvin, a 2000-year environmental history of China. Elvin is a consummate scholar. He reads classical Chinese and is interested imaginatively, politically and intellectually in China. That means he uses reports from officials in the 6th century on the challenge of hydrology in the district and how they set about fixing it. He can also source poems from the 3rd or 9th century which describe the environmental impact. So you have this fantastically rich range of sources which gives you a picture of what happened as Han civilization expanded. What happened to the elephants, how the forest cover they needed to survive also retreated, the desertification, the fall of the water tables: all these things tell you a story of Chinese history that no one else has put together in that way. I’ve been involved with China or at least Chinese Studies since the late 1960s, and this is a book that just turns upside down everything you thought you knew. The second on my list is also a China book, which did much the same thing

but using a different vehicle. It’s The Great Wall: China Against The World and it’s by Julia Lovell. She takes something you think you know about – everyone thinks they know what the Great Wall was for – and through looking critically at where bits of it were built, who built what, the cost of building it and why it was built at all, Lovell tells the story of the relationship of the Han Chinese with the people of the Steppe. The Han had periods of expansion which are now consolidated in this vast country – China was never so big: it’s doubled in size since the fall of the Ming dynasty and this is a story of conquest. The Chinese tell it as a story that they are the oldest continuous civilization, which never did any harm to anyone… The Han model of building cities, armies, states depended on agriculture, on making people accumulate agricultural surpluses, whereas the nomads had an entirely different model of organisation, which also happened to be much more environmentally friendly. As an expression of Chinese psychology and of China’s relationship with the world, it’s a scholarly and accessible book. The book I read during my first visit to China in the early 1970s is Dream of the Red Chamber by Cao Xueqin – or The Dream of Red Mansions or The Story of the Stone, depending on how you translate it: the best translation is by David Hawkes. It’s an enormous, rambling novel from the early Qing dynasty, 17th century China, which was when the novel began to take shape in the West too. Respectful Chinese writing was in classical Chinese, which is not a spoken language. It’s a highly elliptical, highly cultivated language. The vernacular was not a language for literature – so when the early Qing scholars began to write novels they did so under pen names. It was an upmarket version of the vernacular with lots of classical quotations, philosophical ideas, but a language you can read if you’re literate and prepared to make the effort. It’s about… oh, gosh – it’s like a “summarise Proust” competition. It’s about the fortunes of a noble family, and their servants, through several generations. It’s full of puns which are very hard to render in any other language. It’s one of my fantasies about my life that one day I will read the whole thing in Chinese and understand all the references. It would

probably take another incarnation. But if I only had Dream of the Red Chamber and a dictionary, that would be enough for my Desert Island. One Hundred Years of Solitude was a big influence. I read it when I was in Beijing in 1974, and wow – it was so different from anything I’d read. Funnily enough, now I look at it, although Dream of the Red Chamber was from a completely different period and culture, there are similar elements in that liberation from the straight and narrow, or from Western modernism. It’s hard to capture because it became a cliché, and was much-imitated. I hadn’t been to Latin America, or read that much in Spanish, but when I did – I spent about eight or nine years covering Latin America [for British newspapers] – I discovered the surreal quality to life there. Gabriel Garcia Marquez might say, well, people call me a Magical Realist but I just write down what happens… I’m sure people don’t ascend to heaven in a cloud of yellow butterflies every day – but your imagination works in a different way there. I read it way before I became a writer of any kind, and there’s something wonderful about reading a piece of writing that obeys none of the rules you have grown up with. My final choice is a film, The Battle of Algiers, directed by Gillo Pontecorvo. It has had something of revival recently because it’s about guerrilla warfare and how you deal with it socially. It doesn’t contain a suicide bombing – that came very much later – but it does have a café bombing and shows one of the bloodiest irregular wars of the 20th century, one that scarred France and Algeria for decades. This film went on having a trajectory because it’s been used by intelligence services and security services ever since it was made as a study of insurgency. It’s also extraordinarily beautiful – black and white, beautifully shot. When I finally saw it, after nearly a decade of being in and out of situations like that in Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Bolivia, I learnt these wars – these smaller, irregular wars – come at you from anywhere; and how that is really what war is these days. And as description of that, it’s a wonderful film. Writer and broadcaster Isabel Hilton currently edits Chinadialogue.net She was talking to Max Houghton.


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