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the Brixton issue Ra Ra Ra 1


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Content 10 - 11

People of Brixton 12 – 18

Brixton Murals 20 - 21

People of Brixton 24 – 29

Geoff Bartholomew 30 - 31

People of Brixton 34 – 42

Adjani Okpu-Egbe 44 – 45 People of Brixton 46 – 49 Ra Ra Freshness

Kim Sa Ly Thuy Hayley Anderson 50 - 51

People of Brixton 52 – 57

Brixton Splash 2013 cover picture by desislava raykova of an unknown woman

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Space and Place Brixton “A magazine happens because someone somewhere needs it to exist.” I created this magazine with passion and salty water because I needed it. I needed it so I could “capture a feeling, distil a sensation, bottle an attitude”. When I moved in London 9 months ago I lost my safety net of family and friends that I had woven so well over the years. As a result of leaving them behind I started to feel lost and scared, and felt anxious about everything, although nothing in particular. I noticed that everyone around me who was new to this city were experiencing exactly the same emotions. I’ve always been interested in human behaviour so I decided to explore the core of our anxiety and this is how I got into human geography. Human geography explores how people think about space, how they form attachments to their home, neighbourhood, and nation, and how feelings about space and place are affected by the sense of time. What begins as undifferentiated space becomes place as we get to know it better and bestow it with value. This magazine is set to explore human migration, adaptability and experience and the connection between a persons geographical position and their artistic expression through their art, in any form available: writing, painting, photography, design and music. How the human person, who is animal, fantasist, and computer combined, experiences and understands the world is the central theme of this magazine. Each issue will try to open our eyes to culture in its countless varieties and focus on general questions of human dispositions, capacities and needs, and how culture emphasizes or distorts them. This first issue is dedicated to Brixton, a neighbourhood in South London, rich in history, art and culture; famous for its diversity in religion, ethnicity, political views and social statuses, and its strong sense of community. All contributors for this issue have experienced Brixton - some of them live here, others just visited and came back time and time again. You can read more about them on page 9. A great deal of the articles, photographs and illustrations are made by me because I am a part of this experiment, and I want to share my experiences with you, the reader. Brixton holds and special place in the hearts, minds and lives of all the contributors. A key term for this magazine is "experience". What is the nature of experience and of the experiential perspective? - Desi

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back Stage WELCOME TO THE BRIXTON AS WE KNOW IT

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Karl Simon Andréas Brännström Born February 27, Ursviken, Västerbotten. Son of Ann-Gerd & Bernth Brännström. Artist, writer and Hooky player Bachelor at Umeå Academy of Fine Art Lives, loves and work in sprawl.

CONTRIBUTORS my partners in crime

Lisa Northcott

Laura San Francisco Terrones Well hello! I’m pleased to share some shots with you. Looking through these pages, you will see maybe part of my enthusiasm for street photography. Photo journalism was the ganre that made me fall in love with photography, concretely because it is a huge factor in the fight for human rights. Earlier in my life I didn’t thought how far my mind could go while I perform my passion, but nowadays I need to be a part of that movement of the world. Taking pictures is my way to do it. Watching everyone, every face and taking a

piece of their lives with each shot. Since last October I’m living in the huge capital of Europe called London. Learning how works the world without my own costumes. Originally Im from Granada, a beautiful city in south of Spain, where I studied fine arts at the University of Granada. After that, following my dream, I choose a specialitation year of digital photography. At the moment, My day by day means to keep myself awake, because the best shoots are coming when you least expect.

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Lisa is a graduate of film-production from The University of Creative Arts where specialised in screenwriting. Shortly upon graduation, she was offered a position at a West End PR company where she worked for over a year and directly managed accounts from an underwear brand to a law firm. These days, Lisa’s still working in the West End but now specialises in property, where she has the opportunity to view some the capital’s most beautiful and enchanting properties, and also flex her writing skills on a daily basis. A Brixton local for three years, in her spare time Lisa enjoys hanging out with her ‘muscle fever’ musketeers, watching documentaries, drinking tea, and reading a lot of American literature.


People of Blixton

If you ever go or you’ve ever been in Brixton even for half an hour you will meet The Man Who Never Sleeps aka “Can you spare some change, please”. Local celebrity, a legend, the streets of Brixton are his playground night and day. Many say that underneath the worn out black coat hides a millionaire. We would all like to know more but all he ever says is “Can you spare some change, please”. When I asked him if we can take his picture he just nodded and gave us a smile.

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Picture by Laura San Francisco Terrones


Brixton Main text: Lisa Northcott; Captions, mural description and photos: Desislava Raykova and London Mural Preservation Society

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Big Splash In 1985, artistic director Christine Thomas, was approached to design a mural. She consulted 450 local residents about what they would like to see in it. She produced several designs which had to take into account the window in the gable wall of the house on which the mural would be painted. This was a collective project with the housing community and locals, so they were involved in every stage of the process. Local children were taken to the White City Leisure Pool so that photographs could be taken of them playing which could be used in the mural. In the left of the mural there is a water mill. In the painted windows of the mill, people look out of the window; the old man in the top, wearing a blazer, had taken part in the 1948 Olympic Games. Doves roost in the top of the building and as you move down to the riverside, other residents sit on the jetty at the front of the house. The mural is teaming with wildlife; there are

swallows, grebes, geese, butterflies, various flowers and plants painted with much accuracy. The river’s water, based on the idea of the River Effra, which was local to Brixton, fills much of the right hand side and the far riverbank is full of beautifully painted trees. In the river, children play and on the closer river bank, many vases sit. This is the pottery painted by the women of the Lambeth Doulton pottery factory. The vase designs come from a book of the women’s design held at Lambeth Archives. The incorporation of these women’s work was to celebrate the opportunity which they had in a time when they would have more likely ended up as domestic servants. In the mural, a woman sits painting a vase. This is a portrait of Christine Thomas, the mural’s creator. At nearly 25 years old, the mural is wearing well and the children will have grown up but for a moment they are captured in time.

WHERE TO FIND IT 20 Strathleven Road, Brixton

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Mauleverer Road Mural BACK IN 1983, the local residents group, decided to have a mural painted on the graffitied wall of the old Tuborg factory, a place which had been used to stable horses who would work delivering lager to the people of Brixton. The residents group, approached Jane Gifford, an established mural artist, to create a design. When asked what they would like to see on the wall. The locals wanted a visual escape from their environment so the finished mural was a collage of four themes.

The mural begins with a large forest, the trees lead into parkland with a walled garden. In between these two contrasting landscapes is a band stand with a large image of the Caribbean, as requested by the resident that looks out onto that section. There is also a Punch and Judy show which also serves as a plaque for the mural. Beyond the walled garden are two stable doors with two horses which reflect the previous use of the building. The mural was completed in 4 months.

WHERE TO FIND IT Mauleverer Road, Brixton

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Open Canvas by Lisa Northcott Murals are public art. They are embraced by their communities and admirers, often rich in history, colour, and meaning. Architecture provides an open canvas, often forcing the muralist to adapt their approach or style in accordance with the decay of the building’s structure, resulting in a stark beauty only permitted by chance (and to some extent), time. I am guilty of walking with my head down, and only when I’m bored at the sight of my own feet or the feet of others, I sometimes ‘look up’ and realise what I’m missing. This is when you notice the architecture around you; its style, period detailing and historical value, and you realise what you’re missing when you’re not looking. I am not overly fond of traditional murals and find them garish and too colourful. Graffiti is something I can buy into, along with the aging advertisements of yesteryear that you often see fading to grey on the side of London’s red brick buildings. It’s pure nostalgia to witness a piece of history age, especially when you know you’ll never see it again. I often feel this way when I pass the Bovril sign in Brixton. Some of my favourite murals in and around Brixton are those dedicated to ‘fallen soldiers’ who have lost

their lives due to gang violence on the surrounding estates. They serve as a constant reminder of those who have been shot, knifed, or beaten. We’ll remember you, they say. Gone too soon. Never forget. They are snapshots of past (and present) discord felt within these communities. Individuals who have been let down by a poorly run government that has no strategy to solve unemployment among youths, no answers as to why impoverished families are fed by food banks whilst bankers feed off hefty payouts and bonuses. They’re painted with purpose and political meaning, and that’s something we should all relate to. Now, Brixton is on the cusp of a controversial series of redevelopments, with new housing approved and developers sniffing around for further opportunities to buy up any available space or underused buildings – we’re approaching severe gentrification that could result in pricing out some of the area’s poorest residents. One such mural under threat due to developers is on the ex-Turborg Building between Mandrell Road and Mauleverer Road. Although locally listed, many residents are worried about its long-term future and are awaiting its untimely demise. ∆

Nuclear Dawn In 1981, “Nuclear Dawn” was painted by Brian Barneswith the help of a rickety cradle, some household paints, Dale McCrea and 20 residents of the building. The 25 square metre mural depicts a large skeletal figure standing astride the city of London as a nuclear bomb goes off behind. Below him safely sheltered inbunkers below the Houses of Parliament sit the Government including leaders of the political parties of the time, the Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan and Prince Charles. The skeletal figure is swathed in flags from countries withnuclear weapons; bombs fall out of his hand with one hovering just above Brixton. To the left, a dove flies up and becomes the

CND symbol. Behind him the double mushroom cloud shows a map of the world in the main cloud and images of screaming faces in the lower cloud. In the cityscape, Brixton landmarks can be picked out including a mini version of the mural. This period in history (19791985) was known as the Second Cold War when the threat of a nuclear attack was real and prevalent. Due to this climate, it was felt appropriate to highlight the fears and anxieties of nuclear attack amongst the country’s conscious. The composition of the mural was inspired by Felician Rops’ Sower of Death. Brian’s original mural design, painted with water colour and pen, can be viewed in the Print Room at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

WHERE TO FIND IT Carlton Mansions, 387 Coldhabour Lane, Brixton, SW9 8QD

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IF WALLS COULD SPEAK

If Walls Could Speak tells the story of Brixton’s rare and at risk murals. Created with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, this 22 minute documentary tells the story of why they were created in the 1980s, the people who made them, and their continuing place in community life.

http://claphamfilmunit.com/ if-walls-could-speak-worldpremiere-at-brixton-ritzy/

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Brixton Windmill Over the last few years, the Brixton Windmill has been repaired and is now considered an essential tourist attraction in London. Being the only inner city windmill left, it has a special place on the landscape and back in 1983, that was commemorated in a mural painting just around the corner from the windmill. The piece was executed at the same time as the Mauleverer

Road mural just around the corner. The commission involved getting the local community involved and there are still people in the neighbourhood who remember painting it. The mural was restored in 2012 and while the original design was kept, updates we added in the side panels of the mural with scenes relevant to the area in 2012. ∆

WHERE TO FIND IT 143 Lyham Road, Brixton Hill, SW2 5PY

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People of Blixton

At first I heard his voice – his tone could easily demolish buildings and stroke me with respect to the point that I didn’t want to see who is speaking. Cameroon born, French educated this was Mr. Paul, Abraham for people who get to know him. He used to be a security guard at the Brixton Market, he kept everybody safe and sound and took me under his wing and protection. Now he calls me “my daughter” and he is my “father from another mother”.

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Picture by Laura San Francisco Terrones


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Monumen

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nts

Geoff Bartholomew is an artist based in Brixton who explores ubiquitous infrastructures and systems. His work Monuments to Insurrection, is a series of black and white prints depicting traces of insurrection around London. This archive is presented only as singular images taken from the series, the selected print is then scaled in response to the given exhibition space. Andréas Brännström is an artist, hooky player and writer from Västerbotten living and working in sprawl. Bartholomew and Brännström met in the summer of 2012 and have since worked together on various projects. Chat History for ge0ff (ge0ff) and A (brannstrom.andreas) Created on 2013-08-12 19:42:23. [10/08/2013 19:43:02] Calling Ge0ff [10/08/2013 19:43:09] Call Accepted [10/08/2013 19:43:12] A: can you hear me? [10/08/2013 19:43:24] A: fighting windmills ! [10/08/2013 19:44:12] A: the only computer that has skype on this fucking school lacks mic and cam... [10/08/2013 19:44:55] ge0ff: There we go. You still living at school? [10/08/2013 19:45:03] A: No, can‘t guards seek through all studios looking for people. [10/08/2013 19:48:27] A: you can‘t hear me can you? [10/08/2013 19:48:59] ge0ff: sounds like a head phone jack crackling‚ can‘t hear you [10/08/2013 19:49:22] ge0ff: morse code? [10/08/2013 19:49:42] A: Frustration ! [10/08/2013 19:50:04] ge0ff: who‘s snogging who in north korea ? [10/08/2013 19:50:40] A: it was three shorts not 4 [10/08/2013 19:50:45] ge0ff: ah is it china [10/08/2013 19:50:53] A: north wales! [10/08/2013 19:51:07] ge0ff: pretty shitty city? [10/08/2013 19:51:36] ge0ff: ‚pretty shitty city‘ Thats Dylan Thomas that is boyo [10/08/2013 19:43:12] Call Dropped [10/08/2013 19:52:12] A: where‘s Noodes? [10/08/2013 19:52:21] ge0ff: a shipwreck [10/08/2013 19:52:32] ge0ff: lying under me [10/08/2013 19:52:40] A: oh ! aw ! [10/08/2013 19:52:46] A: Hi Noodes [10/08/2013 19:52:54] A: Hiiiiii [10/08/2013 19:53:17] A: installing now on the laptop [10/08/2013 19:53:35] ge0ff: Alright Andreas, you got any food? [10/08/2013 19:53:46] A: nah lacking [10/08/2013 19:53:54] ge0ff: just going to get a coffee [10/08/2013 19:53:56] A: found some meat sandwiches yesters [10/08/2013 19:54:19] ge0ff: Fucking brilliant, got a scotch egg in the fridge [10/08/2013 19:54:26] A: what‘s that? [10/08/2013 19:54:41] A: British vodka melon ? [10/08/2013 19:56:51] ge0ff: boiled egg wrapped in pork, then bread crumbs then deep fried. Though this has mushrooms and beans instead of pork. Pretty tasty [10/08/2013 19:57:03] A: Ace [10/08/2013 20:02:33] A: T minus 30 sec of Download [10/08/2013 20:04:02] Calling Ge0ff [10/08/2013 20:04:09] Call Accepted [10/08/2013 20:14:14] Call Dropped

ction

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[10/08/2013 20:17:53] ge0ff: connections gone down [10/08/2013 20:30:24] ge0ff: You there love ? [10/08/2013 20:34:33] A: We’ll just do it in the text and we’ll save time transcribing it later. [10/08/2013 20:43:24] ge0ff: I suppose rendering the traces of what is widely seen as sociopathic behaviour dislodges the trajectory of these insurrectionary sites and aims to dislocate assumption. The environments, simple observation and a tilted camera accentuate the abstract shapes, these forms can lead us to other areas of enquiry? The Modernist grid or a much larger history of orthogonal city planning? The contained scene once in a gallery allows a pause, a quiet, and over time can affect the inner ears vestibular system to physical effect, balance and disorientation. [10/08/2013 20:46:40] A: The Contained scene would be the Monument, a Moment of a Movement ? [10/08/2013 20:50:47] ge0ff: Yes, the contained scene becomes a monument of sorts, one which is scaled to fit a site, shown and disposed of. I came to think about the monument simply through the monumental scale of the prints, the in-human scale of the deserted scenes if you will. It is the seemingly insignificant insurrections and their effect on it’s backdrop which guides each composition, and hopefully nudges a contemplation this could well be seen as a moment of a movement as you say. Photographically and/or politically. Photographically the moment can‘t be shied away from, there is an urgency implied in the decisive moment, though perhaps here the point of decision lays more in the engaged object. Following the insurrectionary moment (which may echo a movement) is the violence of photographic extraction. This extraction allows the architecture to be subverted in print, a slice of the seemingly insignificant is offered to the viewer, though can’t exist in complete isolation of a before, after and the print’s environment. When you mention movement are you referring to larger socio political or technological regimes? If so then the works and their presentation raise questions of archival structures and top down town planning, and how such infrastructures affect us. Here insurrection with or without strategy dispels this, whatever it amounts to, it demands its place. [10/08/2013 20:53:40] A: Writing ‚movement‘ in the context of monuments I was referring to an action. The Skewed valve as the result of this action; this movement. The Artefact, a Monument and the photography, the moment. The Monument is nae a commemorance for the dead but its opposition, a cue for becoming. The Amplification of a body to arouse the ‚dead‘ matter. The Municipal furniture resonate an idea of a structure that embody the people and suggest a notion of stability and control. But these objects lack the vibrations of a hand creating something according for its needs, and leads to a heartfelt feeling of alienation. [10/08/2013 20:54:32] A: Historically be it Moses or Hammurabi, The Pope or George Whoever Bush; Authority

has placed itself in the intersection of the vertical axis and the people, deities vocal cord resonates through them. A Monopoly with the vertical serving as a channel for power. And within this construction of a grid; how do you look upon the Diagonal? Do you see the Insurrection further as a vertical movement along this axis ? [10/08/2013 20:58:35] ge0ff: The diagonal initially makes me think of Piet Mondrian’s, Composition No.1: Lozenge with Four Lines,. This painting hung as a diamond ceases to be a window, instead the vertical and horizontal lines reach the margins and suggest as Krauss states an acknowledgement of a world beyond the frame’. These canvases, were they marked corner to corner, would form a dissecting vertical and horizontal, a cross. This would return the gaze to the canvas’ surface, almost as if X marks the spot. The Prints and their dissecting angles tend to be less acute, they are hung at right angles to the floor, so the viewer would have to cross the road to reach the depicted pavement. With regards to the trinity in christian theology and its triangulation with dog at the apex, this seems too resolved for the works I have been making. Though it (the trinity) is a hierarchical model. Perhaps the work aims to resurrect an event via the photograph? The vertical could be restored were the prints hung at an angle, though the collapse within the square frame somehow seems more human, the infinite/ spiritual possibility of growth and efficiency held in the grid is discredited by the incline. Insurrections are often discussed in terms of uprisings, this though a helpful analogy is I think too simplistic when large movements gain momentum. There is perhaps a fluidity to insurrectionary activity on such a scale, as it fights pressures from above it must traverse to forge a base, from here it rises and must fall. The events leading to the works in question however concentrate on what I see as spontaneous gestures, such civil unrest surfaces in isolated pockets and manifests in direct opposition to a vertical structure. [10/08/2013 21:06:58] A: When Victor Turner talks about the fixation of a liminal state he talks about the suspended liminality. Within the context of social passages and here the traces of insurrection, a key feature of liminality is the final stage of reintegration, in which the initiated is recognized as a part of the prevailing order and is welcomed back with a new role. Within the given structure there is room for this to happen in order to sustain control. Just as the light hits the retina there is an upside down projection processed in the brain to be flipped ‘the right way’. If one was to wear appropriated lenses that would flip this projection before it hit the back of the eye, the brain would adapt and still proceed with it‘s previous task of rotation. But if this reintegration, the revolving process, does not take place, liminality manifests itself permanent. This only if any of the phases in its sequence becomes frozen, a photography can create a new order in this way. As an icon or a portal. The Diagonal previously discussed is sustained and perceived in relation to the vertical and its horizon, how do you see upon the aftermath of the

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Page 24: Monuments to Insurrection, Valve # 5, 2012, InkJet Print 115 x 145 cm Open Edition Page 26: Valve # 3, 2012 Inkjet print on rice paper, gaffer tape, Open edition Scaled to fit architectural space

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insurrection tilted and documented generating a new image and with it a new geometry? [10/08/2013 21:10:32] ge0ff: The diagonal is sustained within the work which is inevitable with this methodology amidst tall buildings. The visible horizon is not sustained in the works, instead a familiar point of focus is lost. This loss, as with the tilt, aims to approach the viewers sense of balance. The horizon is more than lost, it is eradicated from the environment. The tilted aftermath doesn’t necessarily generate a new image, rather it instigates reinterpretation, much like holding a mirror up to the cities we inhabit. The emerging works don’t make a new geometry in themselves, tracing the insurrection’s aftermath leads the images to wider historical readings which touch on constructivist works. [10/08/2013 21:00:38] A: Ye The Constructivists and yes as you previously mentioned Mondrian who´s suggested to have had an interest in mysticism and geometry through which he looked for a greater balance within the grid, just as Simone Weil suggest an idea of leverage within the cross. For her this lays in the intersection of the world and that which is not. In the crucified body one finds the leverage, when the body is reduced to its point in time and space. The Balance is to be found in the intersection that is now monopolised. Is there space for desire in this given system? [10/08/2013 21:02:18] A: Shortcuts across public parks? is it a action of efficiency or is the diagonal closer to a natural path / geometry, you reckon? [10/08/2013 21:03:20] ge0ff:These desire lines are the result of a collective decision. These krooked paths may mark more efficient routes, though it strikes me that desire paths also lean towards fulfilment and sensory stimulation. The possible relationship of such routes to the work is an interesting one, perhaps the roads in the foreground began as drover’s roads? [10/08/2013 21:18:15] A: In a lot of the things you undertake, I get a notion of counter efficiency, be it the digging, the camping, biking or traveling. Is this a deliberate action or maybe a reaction? The idea of counter efficiency running parallel to an idea of sabotage, as a political tool with a poetic agenda. [10/08/2013 21:20:15] A: The Hill be it upwards or downwards is more to strive for than the plains. [10/08/2013 21:53:29] ge0ff: I wouldn‘t say counter efficiency was initially an intention, rather it was circumstantial, this led me to work with modest materials and transport. This has evolved to become significant, I see this as an extension of my involvement with skating over the years. Using our surroundings for both escapism and pleasure, the outcome can appear pointless and thats point enough. In light of the scenes I’m archiving here; I stumble across them whilst moving around the city, there is an element of surprise, for me it’s latent  until I observe it. To make such observations the speed at which a person travels is of course important, to slow down a little allows an awareness of environment. This is important to photography, given time something external can become a draw and be observed. In this way I think countering efficiency is important, it enables the external to play its part. Ra Ra Ra 28

Valve # 5 2012 Inkjet print on rice paper Open edition Scaled to fit architectural space


[10/08/2013 21:21:12] A: Do you see this as an extension of skateboardings power / and possibility to expropriate architecture? [10/08/2013 22:37:30] ge0ff: Indeed architecture and objects can and do take on other purposes, either to make do and get by, or because they are given a symbolic significance. In this case the structures seem like valves, energy was passed into and through them, no matter how futile it may seem to some. It is this energy which I am trying to convey. The valves here are activated by the disenfranchised exercising some control over an environment which it seems has seized to be theirs. Privately owned or state run we can if we wish demand our place within it. What are the possibilities of negating that which is planned for us? [10/08/2013 22:42:02] Calling A [10/08/2013 22:42:11] Call Accepted [10/08/2013 22:50:14] Call Dropped Nothing about us without us is for us Geoff Bartholomew & Andréas Brännström ∆ Ra Ra Ra 29


People of Blixton

I spent the last six months working door to door, shop to shop with Sevin Singh and I never asked him why he dresses the way he does and what does it mean to him. During that period I got to know as a shop neighbor, as someone I can count on but never as a religious individual. When I asked for his picture he told me that first I need to know about his religion. He told me that he is a follower of Sikhi (Sikhism), a monotheistic religion that originated in the 15th century from the Punjab region in the Indian subconti-

nent. The essence of Sikh teaching is summed up in these words: “Realisation of Truth is higher than all else. Higher still is truthful living”. Sikh teaching emphasizes the principle of equality of all humans and rejects discrimination on thebasis of caste, creed, and gender. Most male Sikhs have Singh (lion) as their last name and most female Sikhs have Kaur (princess) as their last name. Sikhs who have undergone thekhande-kī-pahul, the Sikh initiation ceremony, can also be recognised by the Five Ks: Kesh - uncut hair, usually tied and wrapped in the Sikh Turban; an iron/steel bracelet (kara); a Kirpan, a sword tucked in a gatra strap; Kachehra, a cotton undergarment; and a Kanga, a small wooden comb. Baptised male Sikhs must cover their hair with a turban, while baptised female Sikhs can choose to wear a turban. The five symbols are worn for identification and representation of the ideals of Sikhism, such as honesty, equality, fidelity, militarism, meditating on God, and never bowing to tyranny.

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my dinner with

arl Francis

Carl Full story can be found on www.rararamag.com or issuu.com/rararamag Words Karl Simon Andréas Brännström Illustration Desislava Raykova

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Adjani Okpu-Egbe

Adjani Ok “7 yrs old Syrian boy, Ahmed brandishes an AK 47 & puffs on a cigarette while on guard duties in Aleppo. My new piece blow; “The Syrian Conundrum” explores the palpabilityof the Syrian civil war but the question is; what were u doing at the age of 7?” Ra Ra Ra 36


kpu-Egbe Adjani Okpu-Egbe words by Joshua Surtees

“I’ve lost a few friends because of my art” says Adjani Okpu-Egbe standing in the basement of the Mok Space gallery opposite the British Museum. “Girlfriends too. I didn’t have time to go out. It’s expensive, buying canvas and paint brushes. But I was so depressed that it was therapeutic.” Okpu-Egbe’s determination to succeed is clear. His talent, too, is apparent. In the past year he has put on his first solo London exhibition (‘Letting Go’ at Mok Space), appeared on the BBC’s Diamond Jubilee coverage painting in front of millions, exhibited in New York and Los Angeles and now returns to London with a new show ‘Community Man’ at the Brick Box in Brixton. His remarkable journey as an artist is barely a year old. Self-taught, he only seriously began painting in earnest after a bad injury whilst on duty with the British Army in Kuwait in 2009 caused him to become physically

immobilised and so depressed that painting was the only form of therapy that gave him purpose and happiness. “If it wasn’t for my art and my daughter I wouldn’t be here right now” he tells me while we chat about less profound but equally meaningful subjects (football and women). Football in fact is a big inspiration to his work and explains a lot about how and why he became an artist. Born in Cameroon his early dreams, like most, were to become a footballer. “My father was a business man and wanted me to follow him but I was not interested in his lifestyle. He didn’t allow me to play football. I had an opportunity to play at an academy but my father chased the men away. I was forced to do Maths but I would just paint pictures of famous footballers. Maradona, Roger Milla, Gary Lineker… who’s that other guy with the long hair…for Marseille…? ” After some deliberation I realise he is talking about ChrisWaddle. Some of Adjani’s friends went on to play

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“Mario Balotelli’s Revery” mixed media on canvas 80x46” 2010

for club sides in Cameroon and had trials in England. Meanwhile he was forced to stay in doing maths equations. If his father caught him painting pictures of footballers he would beat him. “Sometimes I wouldn’t have time to flip the page over [when I heard him coming] so I’d start doing my mathematics on top of my artwork. So if you look at every piece of work there’s a maths equation in it – straight from my childhood.” Later, he moved to England and joined the British Army. Many of the pictures in his collection were painted in his tiny room on the military base at Abingdon in Oxfordshire while recovering from injuries sustained on duty. Two years ago, during the aftermath of the London riots he was painting in the street, trying to encourage youths and re-instil a sense of community togetherness when he was arrested by the police who alleged he had looted a t-shirt. He produced the receipt for the t-shirt he had in fact bought but they ignored his claims and he ended up on the cover of the Wandsworth Guardian. Ultimately, the attention may have helped him but the incident highlighted a disturbing trend in indiscriminate policing that followed those dark days of summer. So, what does his art represent? “Social injustice really pisses me off” he says. “I can hear just a comment.

Sometimes I eavesdrop. I can change direction, follow people, paint what they say. Most of the work is autobiographical and I’m very prolific. I can start painting whenever, if I’m pissed off and have nothing to paint on I will paint on your shoes.” He’s not just saying this for effect, he’s wearing an outrageously colourful pair of converse painted beautifully in his usual acrylics. Later he posts on facebook pictures of his flat where he has spontaneously painted nearly every surface and door in the place. I wonder what the landlords will think of that… How to describe his style? Basquiat meets Ofili meets Miro meets Matisse? His work is a (forgive the pun) riot of colour and distorted figures, warping into scenes that are at the same time familiar but twisted into something more surreal. The tube carriage, for example in The Blackwhite Conundrum, is recognisable with its handrails and seats, but the tiny seats (almost details) are drawn comically small, Lowry-esque, and occupied exclusively by white figures. In the foreground a veiled Muslim woman wearing a remembrance day Poppy and holding the hand of her child stares out of the canvas. Her body, the fabric of her hijab, frayed and torn appears to pour itself liquidly over the floor, as though she

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is melting inside, or being eroded away by chemicals. The child has her back to us, staring down the carriage as though down a vortex to another dimension. Above there is no roof to the tube, instead we seem to be looking up into the stars and swirls of the night skies. A Metro newspaper litters the ground, a beautifully depicted reference to that which binds London’s commuters together – ignorant tabloid free journalism. The piece is clearly a comment. But on what? My reading is that it speaks of the self-consciousness of the ‘other’ in London society. The minority figure who is as British as anybody in the tube carriage but feels a sense that they stand out, that they are awkward and are being looked at. Stared at even. The veiled woman stares at us pleadingly. It captures that moment we’ve all experienced in London when you make eye contact with a woman wearing a headscarf and she looks at you, clearly smiling unseen, and her eyes say “despite all appearances

I’m just the same as you and everybody here.” The slightly mangled, amorphous heads, eyes and images as well as the splashes of paint resembling bodily fluids like blood remind us of Francis Bacon’s dark brooding works – but in Okpu-Egbe’s images there is less of the darkness and more of a kind of buoyant confused disorientation. I sense this disorientation in his manner. He is a buzzing restless chap. You sense his brain is literally overflowing with ideas and that there’s not enough hours in the day to get them all down on canvas. We see political messages and references to popular culture. Some of them are clearly jokes that have exited directly from the artist’s sub conscience with very little intervention of logic. Mario Balotelli’s Revelry features what looks like a Rastafarian girl with a bull terrier and a seal on her back. “I want Balotelli to buy it” he tells me. Maybe, just maybe.

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“Resilience in the Face of Adversity” 50x40” mixed media on wooden door pannels 2010

“I went for a pee and I thought damn this Place needs a revamp so I sorted it out in a few minutes. “Ichthys and Subjugation” 2013”

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Text Jaoshua Surtees Pictures Desislava Raykova

Head Of A British Commonwealth Soldier is a beautiful Picasso inspired portrait of a soldier in primary colours. The veteran’s head is haunted and spooked by everything that surrounds him, even a tactically placed railway card – the tough journey back to civvy street? Barefooted Athletes, Pride of Africa a richly blue background with a jet black figure takes me back to the Miro retrospective at the Tate in 2011. Adjani explains it thus: “when people want to become stars, Olympic athletes for example, all they see is the bright stars, they don’t see where they came from. They trained barefoot. A whole poem sits behind the picture telling the politicians [in Africa] to piss off basically. Politicians are intellectual gatecrashers. They do nothing to help the sports

people in Africa to become the stars we see. It is also a celebration of black people’s endeavours. We make the best of something time and time again. Take Obama. How does a man come from an African background, an enslaved people, and become president? We have this resilience embedded in our DNA, it’s just some people don’t know how to use it.” Adjani Okpu-Egbe’s himself is remarkably resilient. There’s nothing he can experience that’s going to keep him down. He’s discovered his latent talent and it’s about to explode onto the art scene. ‘Poppable’ his latest show is currently on at the Knight Webb gallery in Brixton until the 31st August. ∆

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People of Blixton

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Kim Sa Ly Thuy Containers A few months ago Kim Sa, a Belgium graphic designer currently completing her MA in Kingston University, was given the word “container” as part of a brief. She had to exhaust the topic of containers in order to come up with a proposal. Matriochkas, about mathematical sets and subsets, the work of Christo and Jeanne-Claude, product packaging were part of her research until she got to “Containers for humans”. “Unfortunately, my research about packaging didn’t lead me to a proposal I found interesting enough, until one day I saw a very cheerful procession which I was told was for a funeral. I was amazed that an event considered so dreadful in our occidental society was celebrated with such panache in Asia. After recensing the ways of being burried I already knew about I researched other cultures’ funeral rites and traditions.” “Having seen this cheerful procession, I wondered why we don’t put more thoughts into the preperations of our funerals. Most of the time, when I addressed the subject in

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Kim Sa Ly Thuy

a conversation, the first reaction I’ve often witnessed was “Why do you talk about such things?”, “Don’t talk about this, you’re going to attract bad luck!”. There is a certain taboo about death, as well as an impression of chore in people’s mind. From ours denial or reject results a poor choice in the funerary industry. Not only in coffns or stationary, but above all in the ceremony and the way we tend to imagine it. Why do our imagination runs wild for sweet sixteen or an anniversary but stays so conventional when it comes to the last party we’ll ever have? This is why I’ve ask some friends what would their dreamy funeral look like if they could have anything they wanted and ignore logic or usual conventions. I’ve used the technique of collage, essentially to mimic the mood boards one makes for a big event, as a wedding.” ∆

The full questionare, answers and works at www.rararamag.com

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The Incredible art of Hayley Andersen What is art? I find it incredibly funny when people, art people, point their finger and say – “This is good or bad art”, but still use the term art. If the person who creates it says – “I am an artist”, then do we automatically label it art? Good or bad? When I moved to Brixton I met an Australian girl, Hayley, and you know how it is – we became friends on facebook. One day I stumbled upon one of her albums called “My Incredible Artwork,” a collection of tongue in cheek portraits of her close friends made using Paint. Yes, Microsoft Office Paint. I found these portraits to be incredibly funny and creative, even though Hayley has never proclaimed herself to be an artist and often makes fun of the pretension of “art snobs.” I thought to myself: Here is one person who is not trying too much, who is not honking her own horn for people’s acclaim, but just doing something creative for fun.

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Hayley Andersen

In my life I’ve met so many people with little creativity or skill but they still manage to pass through the raindrops and receive some proclaimed artist’s approval. For me, Hayley is an example of a creative personality, though never considering herself an artist as such. Whether Paint art, collages, knitting or just your style of communicating . Art is wherever you find it. ∆ Picures: courtesy of the artist, low res available only

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People of Blixton

KA R L

Bad boys become excellent security guards

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Spla Brixton

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hs Brixton Splash brought the carnival vibes to central Brixton for the eighth year running on the 4th of August 2013, with sound systems, food, drink and street parties. Set around Windrush Square, Brixton Station Road, Coldharbour Lane and Atlantic Road, Brixton Splash is a free community street festival held to celebrate the diversity of the community and Brixton’s wider contribution to the culture of London. It also coincides with the annual celebration of Jamaican independence. Always hotly anticipated, the event

officially runs from midday to 7pm but partying goes all day, and well into the evening. You cannot escape the great vibes or the throbbing bass. Locals, Londoners and people from all over the world rejoice under the summer sun, bathed in music, booze and laughter. The excitement is contagious – resistance is futile! To find out more about Brixton Splash visit their official website and get involved! www.brixtonsplash.org

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lp “Brixton Splash is a free community street festival led by the local community. The event is aimed at celebrating the area’s diversity, its progress through the years and the fusion of the numerous ethnic groups that now call Brixton home. It is a celebration of peaceful relations, vibrant living in Brixton and Brixton’s contribution to the wider London culture.”

Brixton

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Tiny Tiny Dan Dan Brixton Splash

Brixton’s tiny dancers Photos Desislava Raykova

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y ncer ncer ∆

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RARARA magazine