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Pearls is a publication which pairs diverse creative editorial photography with interviews from passionate ‘experts’ on a collection of niche topics, taken from the subject of their dissertations. We encourage the reader to consider what it takes for an individual to be categorised an expert, and what assumptions are made from their appearance about the expertise they possess. The visual language of each shoot bares no relation to the topic being discussed - each is portrayed as regal; as if their expertise has granted them somewhat of a celebrity status. Our celebration of these individuals and their respective fields is held together by a thread of ‘Pearls’, representing the flaunting of their pearls of knowledge and wisdom. Pearls is also a reference to the idea of ‘Opulence’ which came from the Ballroom scene of the 1990’s in New York, where the word was appropriated to mean the illusion or aesthetic of wealth and status, without the reality of either. The niche experts featured in ‘Pearls’ are not celebrity, and are not currently recognised for their work. However they are captured in a way which convincingly gives them this aesthetic of power and beauty.



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The Decline Of Football Hooliganism: An Investigation Into The Impact Of Rave Culture And Government Intervention.





"In the beginning it was a very DIY movement, which eventually became a cornerstone of British culture". 1. My interest was piqued by a conversation I had with a music journalist in Rotterdam. We began discussing whether ‘ecstasy killed football hooliganism’, a theory I had known about for a while but never truly given much thought. Although the discussion neither confirmed or denied the theory, it was very animated and remains a vivid memory. Football and music are perennial interests of mine, so I was naturally curious about the influence they hold over each other. 2. I’ve always taken the topic seriously, but I only considered writing about it after zoning out during a dissertation workshop. Originally I had another topic in mind, but it was too loose. The impact of Rave culture on football hooliganism is a very specific area, which provided me with a small window in which to conduct research. What’s more is that this impact can be pinpointed to a specific year: 1989. This was extremely helpful during the writing process. 3. The original Rave DJs (Danny Rampling, Paul Oakenfold etc.) introduced a whole new movement to the UK, which promoted peacefulness and empathy at a time when it was severely lacking. In terms of attitude, I find them very inspiring. They had no political agenda, no experience, and little to no contacts. In the beginning it was a very DIY movement, which eventually became a cornerstone of British culture. Other fringe players such as Tony Wilson are hugely influential, but this influence is more widely felt in other areas 4. On a purely visceral level the most surprising, or more aptly shocking, piece of research I found was the footage of 1985’s Bradford City stadium fire, in which 56 people died. The match was filmed live for TV, capturing the 6 minute period in which

5. the blaze went from small scale fire to full-blown inferno, encouraged by the poor conditions of the ground. Modernday stadia are almost completely unrecognisable to those of the 1980s, making this type of incident unthinkable now. This is really a past event, so it is impossible to change. Anything that did bother me has either been eradicated or replaced by a new problem. Still, knowing the origins of these problems makes me more accepting of them, and less aggravated. 6. The Heysel Stadium disaster is still not widely talked about or commemorated in any way. It’s as near to a coverup as you can find—Hillsborough excluded. Many Liverpool fans still refuse to take the blame for what was essentially a massacre of innocent Juventus fans, which is unacceptable. Yes, there were other factors at play, but this does not excuse violent behaviour. It’s a dark chapter in the history of English football, but an important one nonetheless. 7. I approached the topic with a very open mind, so I wouldn’t say my views have been altered as much as informed. Before writing, I had an interest in my chosen subject area, and some knowledge too, but having completed the dissertation I now feel I know the topic deeply. 8. My only advice would be to follow your interests, or else you will have a pretty horrible time. Don’t be afraid to choose a seemingly random, unorthodox, or unique topic.






And The State

Art, Education






4. The most surprising thing, is that the rhetoric of schools is a myth; for me that has to be the most shocking thing have learnt. 5. Honestly, it is actually a masterpiece how schools form a perfect smokescreen for social disparities; how they perpetuate privileged hierarchy instead of equalizing it as they purport to. I guess it wouldn’t suffice with these affirmations; so I’m forced to explain a little bit further why schools are a myth; but I shall stick with the very basics. First of all, what schools do, is that they pledge to everyone equal opportunity through several years of schooling; advocating its cause to the extent that the whole of society takes keenly to this superstition especially the masses who are more susceptible - and so they dig into their bare pockets and personally endorse schooling. For what choice do they have? They see no other alternatives. Not even the intellectuals are rational enough to do so; no one can objectively see alternatives, and on the other hand, no one opposes schooling or dares to, they just deal with it like many other things which are made to be law, in a similar fashion to an infallible and dogmatic religion; no one proposes new ideas. Instead they ask that we aggrandize and enhance schools and spread them across the map of the entire world without actually knowing its consequences. The masses do so more vehemently not knowing the greater repercussions it bares for them. When ideas are proposed, it is merely only reforms rather than replaces. In fact, ask yourself what would be an alternative, it’s likely that most of us are left stupefied. Schools strips us of the imagination to do so. Its monotheistic, it says, ‘there is no other access to heaven but myself.’

“We must fight to know what our lives actually consist of everyday; we must disentangle the complexities and be unwilling to merely understand things so facilely.”


1. My treatise is something which has evolved overtime; in fact, I would say I stumbled into several of the initial connections through studious reading before I actually began putting the dots together myself. At first, I only had a mere conception of what it was when I read Albert Camus’ T ​ he Rebel 2 years ago,​but it properly took shape after reading Leo Tolstoy’s colossal work, ​What is art? ​The precision and the insight of both these works stunned me, and gave me a feeling of augury, as if something were about to happen. ​ 2. Well, it didn’t become a serious endeavour until I began looking into educational theories. Before that, it was fundamentally focused on the stagnant argument of subjectivity in art. I simply saw it as nothing but a slight development of the two aforementioned authors’ works; while, on the other hand, my knowledge of things was, I must admit, a little bit strewed. Several things appeared juxtaposed and incohesive when I put them together on paper; but despite that I was totally convinced that I needed to look deeper into educational values and schooling. It wasn’t until I came across works by Ivan Illich and Everett Reimer, that I learnt, like a school boy in his first year of secondary school, what I must I do with the ends of a tie in order to achieve a knot – which is still far from being the perfect and presentable knotting. In fact it wasn’t until weeks ago that things began to crystallize properly for me. ​ 3. What inspires me most, is the constant learning; but not just for the sake of hoarding up knowledge or for its ostentation, but the possibility that it may have effect. I also love the subjects I’m engaged with, because each little step further comes with the opening of my consciousness; each bit of detail is vital information which could have missed out on my whole life. It helps me to navigate myself in my daily life and conduct. It is the incising into psychology, sociology, politics and so on, of things that keeps me yearning for more and that intoxicates me.



The taxpayers money funds these public schools which the privileged also get to benefit from. But the ways in which schooling is set up, means that the privileged are made to benefit from it most. This seems shocking at first, I know, but since schooling is based off a graded system, requiring that each student meets certain criteria before advancing to the next level, and since the number of places in actual useful levels of education - that being higher education - is limited; the middle-class are therefore pitted up against the impoverished, the lower and working class. But the lower working class kids stand no chance against the rich. It has been proven in Malcolm Gladwell’s shrewd work,​Outliers, t​hat what distinguishes the two classes is the amount of education they have accessible to them in total. The additional educational resources, which include books, private tutors, learning toys, literally educated parents, extra-curricular activities, which you’ll find in the homes and upon the shelves of the rich help the rich students to outstrip the poor. For learning takes place at home more than it does in school. Empirical studies in Latin America showed that only 20 percent of a teacher’s time was dedicated to instructional activity. This is no different in England or anywhere else. Anyone who attends school can vindicate that. Students even constantly bustle around university campus questioning themselves and their peers - what is it they are actually being taught? Teachers are primarily preoccupied with administration, custodial care and indoctrination rather than education. Their methods of education are almost dictatorial; we find that these circumstances are mitigated in universities, but there is a minute difference to their approach. Now, considering the rich have this cultural advantage, not to mention the psychological inhibitions that come with impoverished areas - like passivity, distrust, the inferiority complex and fear of authority, which hinder them in their competition against the rich - means the rich have a head start and thrive not because of a natural gift or something congenital, but because of inequality and are therefore continually spurred on by their successes, while others feel discouraged, and a sense of inadequacy. Perhaps most end up as drop-outs. The number of drop-outs are considerably high, which also indicates a waste of public funding. Of course this is not the case for every poor child on the block; but studies by Lewis Terman, a renowned psychologist of the 20th century, shows that a great number of people with extraordinary IQ’s are weighed down by a cultural disadvantage. This advantage carries

the rich through to higher levels of education with a comfortable ease, which is incredibly visible in art schools. Look around you next time, and ask yourself where is the person beside me from? Equal opportunity? I scoff when I hear such a thing. Free schooling? I detest that rhetoric too, which is more blinding, and has more power to disarm the people than anything else. The rich have the grades they need to get the jobs they want, plus the connections; they’ve actually gone to the best schools, and what have we done? We have helped them even further with our donations; leaving a few of us to serendipitously flounder into jobs while most of us are forced to think we failed ourselves, rather than realize that the system we staunchly support has failed us. 6. What bothers me is that people refuse to acknowledge this for even a second. Schools have taught us to conform rather than to be independent individuals; we’re trained for obsolescence and made to feel impotent; and a lack of awareness combined with our stubbornness means we are doomed to destroy ourselves like the Chief priest ‘​ Ezeulu​.’ ‘Since schooling undertakes to be compulsory, must it not continually review its claim to be useful?’ And this question here by Paul Goodman, should force us to re-evaluate the whole problem, and many others which are tied to it. Mustn’t we then question art further than its subjectivities; our innovations our state and everything else? The thing that will bother me, is if artists don’t realize they are nourished by the state and that now the state is pleading that they communicate with it; but things are kept rather too elitist, and everyone is willing to simply comply. This is because art itself, by the means of school, is inevitability capitalistic. People say Britain has enough to create schools for everyone in England. How has


England attained that affluence, how is it sustaining itself:? People need to ask themselves these questions, learn the histories and not present art, which artists themselves are confused about, to people fighting for bread. This shows a lack of understanding of the people and only a willingness to understand that world which wants to keep itself exclusive. 7.What we must do is make ourselves conscious. We must fight to know what our lives actually consist of everyday, we must disentangle the complexities and be unwilling to merely understand things so facilely. We must not forget, like Martin Luther King Jr said, that we are all inevitably interrelated, and that one person’s life cannot but affect the others. One person presses the juice that another remotely sips in the morning, or someone else churns the butter which another applies to their toast, or someone harvests the lentils from remote Africa, that someone puts in their vegan stew. Like the maxims say, we won’t immediately change things; but a better world relies on people who will act. For if you can see that education as well as it has the capacity to educate, it also has the capacity to miseducate like the contemptible sophists of Ancient Greek times. It is imperative that we unlearn these things and educate everyone else. Because the world being better is not only for 500million men while a billion suffer, it is for all of our welfare to be equally accounted for. We mustn’t wait around for profitable knowledge; that’s what the powers that be, want. They are happy to see us beseeching our gods and waiting around for Godot. 8. My views are constantly changing. But in general, yes; for a while I also began to think of schooling as a necessity but I simply mistook schooling for education, they are totally different things. 9. Don’t be fooled by the notions sold by hucksters, that notion of individualism. Individualism is not something solely external, which many people under the impression, but something internal. I won’t say too much but end with the simple observation that, even people in uniforms have their own individual traits. Ill allow anyone to trace the implications of




Agent, Symbol or Victim of Modernity? Chinese Female Silent Film Star as National Allegory and Commodified Image






1. I looked at two different actresses; one from the dawn of Chinese cinema and one from modernday, and compared and contrasted the complex interplay of their social function both onscreen and off. I analysed the ways in which these Chinese film stars were and are ‘looked’ at on screen using Laura Mulvey’s concept of the ‘male gaze’, and the degree of autonomy they are afforded in their roles (lending ‘agency’), whilst acknowledging the potential limitations of a western feminist reading in a Chinese cultural context. Early Chinese cinema is fascinating; complex female characters dominated the silver screennot unlike old Hollywood (think quick-witted Rosalind Russel in His Girl Friday, Katherine Hepburn in Bringing Up Baby, Bette Davis in anything). However, the degree of agency these characters had, and by extension the actresses playing them, was limited. Due to the complicated political landscape at the time- Shanghai was already semi-colonial and had the additional threat of Japanese invasion- filmmakers drew on a long literary tradition of the ‘fallen woman’ as a trope for the nation. Women’s bodies functioned as sites upon which conflicting political discourses played out; ‘women’s issues’ were co-opted as part of a grander, patriarchal, nationalist discourse. Off-screen, the actresses were subjected to a punishing scrutiny in the press that, despite the government’s attempts to ‘modernise’, reveal a prevailing patriarchal, neoConfucian morality. This ultimately lead to the suicide of Ruan Lingyu, the most recognisable actress from early Chinese cinema, and the punitive restrictions enforced on modern-day actress Tang Wei.


2. I increasingly found during my study of History of Art that I was more moved by film than, say, sculpture or painting. I think it has something to do with the directness of the moving image; how it is a more democratic, less elitist art form as it requires no stuffy art academic background to comprehend. And boy do I do love a good narrative. 3. When I developed the understanding that film could be used to political ends- I had only ever seen films that were purely entertainment, or aesthetic, or both. I discovered that the ascendance of ‘woman’s films’ in the 1930s ‘Golden Age’ of filmmaking in Shanghai coincided with the threat to China’s cultural hegemony due to looming foreign forces. Heavily influenced by the urgency of the need for socio-national reform exacerbated by the 1932 Japanese bombing of Shanghai, socio economic crises, and arising conflict between Communist and Nationalist forces, intellectuals coined of the term ‘nationalism’ minzu民族, and turned to wen- writing and culture- which they saw as a ‘primary medium for the construction of national narratives and the central vehicle for providing moral instruction (wenyi zaidao 文以载道)’. The cinematic medium, which had previously been held as primarily an apolitical entertainment enterprise imported from the west, was fully realised in this period as ‘wen’ and served as a powerful commercial and political discursive tool for both the National Government’s nation building project, and the Communist’s class agenda alike. In this way, the actresses functioned as both attractive commodities for mass consumption and as tools of propaganda. Ruan Lingyu- the ‘[Greta] Garbo of the Orient’, and her symbolic role in society. A stunningly talented actress whose naturalistic, emotionally charged performances starkly contrasted against her contemporaries. One director said: ‘Ruan is like some sensitive photo paper…Sometimes my imagination and requirement of her roles are not as delicate and profound as what she experienced. During shooting, her emotion is so undisturbed by anything outside and her representation is always so lucid and real, just like a water tap – you want it on, it’s on…’

“I increasingly found during my study of History of Art that I was more moved by film than, say, sculpture or painting.”


She committed suicide at 24, on International Women’s Day, March 8th 1935. Shortly before her death she starred in a film that hauntingly echoed the story of her own life; Cai Cusheng’s New Woman. The film has been seen as a critique of the tabloid press and by extension, modern urban society who hungrily consumed the image of the commodified actress. It is based on the real life story of Ai Xia, a fledgling Shanghai actress who committed suicide. Cai Chusheng, who was rumoured to be involved with her, used a parallel story of mother and writer Wei Ming to wage a war against the reporters, whom he blamed for her death. Wei Ming, a ‘Chinese Nora’ only achieves fame as a writer once a lecherous editor who, upon seeing an image of her, realises the commercial potential of her attractive appearance and decides to publish her work. Numerous men make advances on her throughout the film, including her schoolfriend’s husband who gets her fired after his advances are rebuked. Later, Wei Ming, unable to afford healthcare for her sick child, decides to prostitute herself for the night. However, her first client turns out to be the rejected suitor. Embarrassed, he sells harmful stories about Wei Ming to the press. The child grows increasingly ill and dies, and in in a dramatic final act of despair after being hounded by the press Wei Ming commits suicide. Ruan’s own suicide following the media’s obsession with her personal life, transformed the film into a threefold tragedy. The interaction between Ruan’s offscreen and onscreen lives demonstrated the very complex link between cinema and history, which is precisely what the left-wing cinema movement sought to reconcile and conflate. It was reported that her funeral lasted three days, with the procession almost 5 kilometres long. Three women committed suicide. Following her death, many left-wing writers wielded Ruan as a symbol to represent the collective sufferings of Chinese women. Li Minwei, a film producer, asserted:

4. In an article by Chang-Lin Liu and Lei-Lei Ma entitled ‘阮玲玉自杀的社会意义赋予’/ ‘On the Social Significance Endowed to Ruan Lingyu’s Suicide,’ the authors note that Ruan was widely held to have been ‘murdered by feudalism, and died under the oppressive system of a dark society…she sacrificed herself for the emancipation of women.’ The ‘Tang Wei Incident’ in which the named actress is punished by the Chinese government for her depiction of Wang Jiazhi- an agent in an espionage film. Taiwanese-born Ang Lee’s Lust, Caution (sejie 色,戒 2007), is based on Eileen Chang’s novel, set predominantly in 1940s Japanese-occupied Shanghai. It tells the story of young woman Wang Jiazhi who flees to Hongkong to escape the war and Japanese invasion of Guangzhou in 1938. There, she becomes involved with a student theatre troupe, led by the handsome Kuang Yumin and anti-Japanese activists, who put on patriotic plays to rouse morale and gather donations for the resistance efforts. However, their amateur anti-Japanese ‘play’ becomes a reality when, following a failed first attempt in Hong Kong, a plan is hatched to entrap and assassinate Mr Yee, a high-ranking Chinese intelligence officer and collaborator in occupied Shanghai two years later. Jiazhi is summoned to Old Wu, the underground organizer, who recruits her to ‘perform’ the femme fatale role of Mrs Tai-tai, to seduce Yee and set him up for assassination- literally becoming an ‘agent’ for national salvation. In the climactic scene, however, Jiazhi foils the plot and warns Mr Yee. Consequently, Yee escapes and Jiazhi and her coterie are arrested and executed.


‘Ms. Ruan had seen all the brutalities of social injustice, particularly those related to the inferiority of women. Women can never elevate their positions in this semi-feudal society, and Ruan Lingyu felt powerless to redeem her and tens of thousands of other suffering women from this injustice…protesting with her dead body, she demands justice from us all.’







Profile for George Thomas

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