Thursday 31 December 2020

2020. Over.

"Stop pretending this nightmare will abruptly stop with the arbitrary changing of the calendar year." 
Werner Herzog

The thousand days of 2020 have flown by and we have finally reached the last day of the year: Thursday the 42nd of December, also known as the seventeenth month of the year. I wish you all the best for 2021, lots of love, health, sunshine, art brut, optimism, patience, hope, inspiration, wonderful adventures in jungles and under water, delicious food, beautiful inclusive design, happy-ends, and the most marvellous and diverse people around you. And thank you so much for following this blog.

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photograph (MLM), cat and bird inspired by the great Saul Steinberg, clock by twitter

Tuesday 29 December 2020

Young + Black + Male + Stop + Search

According to an examination of stop and search data (67.997 vehicles were stopped by officers) in London from July to September 2020, young black males were 19 times more likely to be stopped than the general population and 28 times more likely to be stopped on suspicion of carrying weapons (via).

“Being male and being aged under 35 are more powerful predictors of a group having a higher search rate than that group being non-white. The reasons for these differences are likely to be complex: many types of offending are concentrated among some groups (particularly young men) as well as in some neighbourhoods, and there are longstanding issues of bias and stereotyping among police and in society.” (via)

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photograph by James Barnor (wedding guest, London, 1964) via

Monday 28 December 2020

Our Culture is Our Resistance

These images are from my first book, Our Culture is Our Resistance: Repression, Refuge and Healing in Guatemala (powerHouse Books, 2004). This was an eight year project about the primarily indigenous-Mayan people of Guatemala that were uprooted by the long internal armed conflict, the internally displaced populations, refugees, and the 200,000 people who were massacred, assassinated or disappeared between 1960 and the end of 1996. 

These images were taken between 1993 and 2001, mostly of the internally displaced Communities of Population in Resistance, their return and resettlement to new lands, and exhumations of clandestine cemeteries. This work intends to show what happened in Guatemala and express solidarity with both the victims and the survivors who continue to work for truth and justice in their country. 
Jonathan Moller 

photographs via

Saturday 26 December 2020

When pushing, hitting, beating, taking money from bank account are not seen as elder abuse

The pandemic is making vulnerable people more vulnerable acting like a "pressure cooker" since due to the lockdown they are "unable to speak out" and lack "the safeguards of day-to-day contact with neighbours, friends and the outside world". The abuse of older people is, according to a poll, at "unprecedented levels". In the UK, one in five aged over 65 have been abused, i.e., approximately 2.7 million people.

It gets even worse. The survey reveals conflicting views about what is elder abuse. More than a third do not believe that "inappropriate sexual acts directed at older people" or "pushing, hitting, or beating an older person" or taking money from their bank account without permission count as abuse (via).

"Our polling shows that while people know that abuse of older people is a problem in the UK today, there’s a complete disconnect between awareness of the issue and a true understanding of the role we all play in preventing abuse."
Richard Robinson

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photograph by Tony Ray-Jones via

Wednesday 23 December 2020

The Radical Beauty Project

Fashion and art photographers shoot photographs for the Radical Beauty Project, all of them for free, the models all have Down's Syndrome. The collection - a photography book - does not aim to be a "charity coffee-table" one but high art (via).
“I didn’t necessarily want crowd-pleasing images. Some people find that disturbing. They don’t want to empower people with Down’s syndrome. They don’t see them as powerful people. So they resist it.”
Daniel Vais, creative director

“This is hardcore art. It’s not charitable or cute. We don’t want to play that card. This is avante-garde art and fashion.” 
Daniel Vais 

photographs of Lily D. Moore by Elisaveta Porodina via and via

Thursday 17 December 2020

Artificial Things

"Filmed on location in a derelict suburban shopping mall and featuring an ensemble of disabled and non-disabled dancers, the film explores human interdependence, strength, and vulnerability. The film is a re-imagining of the stage work of the same name and dancers Amy Butler, Laura Jones, Chris Pavia, David Willdridge and Dave Toole, who devised the original piece, all appear in the film. (...)

ARTIFICIAL THINGS was the winner of the prestigious dancescreenaward in the category of SCREEN CHOREOGRAPHY OVER 15 MINUTES. In selecting the film as the winner, the jury said ‘This film’s cinematic vision speaks to the depth of human experience through the metaphor of a supermarket. The jury responded to the strength of the ensemble and a non-hierarchical vision of corporeal expression.’" (via)

::: Artificial Things, the film: WATCH

photograph via

Monday 14 December 2020

"Our skin tones have been weaponised against us." Joshua Kissi

When I first started photographing I found out there is a limitation to what our skin can look like based on the mechanics and tools of the camera. I began noticing, ‘oh, when I shoot Fujifilm black skin looks like this’, and ‘when I shoot on Sony it looks like this’. There’s all these different interpretations of how Black skin registers through the camera and it never felt like what I saw with my naked eye. So when I first started out I thought, ‘high contrast, low saturation’. That shows the richness of Black skin but in a way that’s more about how melanin registers...

...Over time, I recognised anti-Blackness’ main point of reference is our skin. That’s it. Our skin tones have been weaponised against us. So I wanted to start there to show the possibilities of what Black skin can look like in so many different ways – its richness, its intensity, its care. There’s so much nuance to Black skin that we’re not being granted. Frankly, this is the first time I’m talking about my work in this way – technical and ideological.

Frankly, I feel like without community I am nothing. All of this work is about us as a community. It’s about making us visible. But not even just being visible. Do you see me, but, also, do you also understand me and the work that I make? I know I’m getting a limited amount of emails and work opportunities right now because I only show and shoot Black and brown people. I own that and make it a part of my story. I’m in servitude of my community and am only the artist I am when I’m serving them. There is no me without community.
Joshua Kissi

photographs via

Saturday 12 December 2020

Mekoryuk, USA

"Off the far west coast of Alaska in the Bering Sea lies Nunivak Island, a 1600 square mile remote island of volcanic tundra and coastal cliffs. First settled over a thousand years ago, the population of the island has fallen sharply from nearly a thousand to two hundred through disease and emigration. Those who remain live in the native Cup’it village of Mekoryuk on the north coast. Residents here persevere through the collision of tradition and modernity on a daily basis.

As one of the last native communities to come under western influence but one that has embraced it more fully than many others, a number of factors converge to make the island a powerful study of identity in the face of constant transition: a generation of Cup'ig youth navigating two economically and philosophically divergent cultures, a tight-knit Christian community combating decades of substance abuse issues, a threatened subsistence lifestyle and unique language, the rapid onset of social media and connected devices, severe climate change, emigration in pursuit of opportunity, and a growing reindeer operation that promises wider economic prosperity.

As we enter a period of unprecedented change via climate, globalization, and technology, questions of identity and how to navigate these new paradigms have become central to my own journey as a first generation Asian-American.

The images and portraits below were taken during four separate visits as part of a multi-year project.

Dedicated to my sister, Colleen Cheng, and Harvey Whitman of Mekoryuk, both of whom left behind many loved ones trying to pick up the pieces."
Kris Cheng

photographs via

Thursday 10 December 2020

A Specific Vulnerability

"'Black Lives Matter' simply refers to the notion that there's a specific vulnerability for African Americans that needs to be addressed. It's not meant to suggest that other lives don't matter. It's to suggest that other folks aren't experiencing this particular vulnerability."
Barack Obama

photograph by Garry Winogrand via

Monday 7 December 2020

James Barnor: Capturing Stylish Ghana

Born in 1929 in Accra, James Barnor moved to London in 1959, at the time "a burgeoning multicultural city". When he returned to Ghana, he opened the first colour processing laboratory. But it was not his knowledge of the printing process alone rather the combination with his "eye for composition and content" that made him so important for Ghana. Barner's work, in fact, is said to have helped decolonise Ghana (via), document fashion while the country was making a transition to an independent one and put black women on the covers of British magazines (via).

"Throughout his career, Barnor was known to disrupt the norm and use his art to break down social barriers." (via)

"Most Ghanaians especially the youth were excited, and very much involved with the fight for Self Government and subsequently Independence from the British Government. As a newspaper photographer it was much more interesting since one was in the thick of it, all the time! 
There were people who hated me for working for a “White Press” which was not taken lightly during ‘the struggle’, and others who took it as progress. That was a very interesting time in my career. 
I got the opportunity of getting familiar with all the Members of the Legislative Assembly who later became Members of Parliament, after Independence in March 1957. I photographed every one of them."
James Barnor 

"When I had my studio in Ghana people thought we (Ghanaians) didn't dress up. But all my sitters, my freinds, were fashion conscious - women would often request full-length photos with shoes, a handbad and their accessories."

"Having served the Drum Magazine in Ghana, I was given assignments by the London Editor to photograph the Cover Girls in colour, plus black and white photos and personal stories for the inside pages. Some were professional models but I found some suitable girls who were not. There was a London Edition which became very popular with the Diaspora. It was the Drum that made Black Models come to light in the 1960s and 70s."
James Barnor

photographs via and via

Sunday 6 December 2020


Last week, the Austrian newspaper Die Presse invited me for an interview on diversity and design published in their weekly lifestyle and culture supplement Schaufenster. It is a fascinating field since design can do so many things ... reproduce stereotypes but also help challenge them by producing new images of the marginalised ... such as disabled or older people. Objects specifically designed for these target groups are often aesthetically stigmatising, at times literally shouting "I need help". I believe that the approach chosen is often rather caused by stereotypes than evil intention or design constraints. These stereotypes are difficult to get rid of since we live in a world that is highly segregated by age and ability, which, again, has an impact on designers ...

Friday 4 December 2020

The Flying Cholitas

In her work, Brazilian photographer Luisa Dörr focuses on "the feminine human landscape" and explores "the complexity of human nature and femininity" (via). With her series "The Flying Cholitas" taken in El Alto, 4.000 meters above sea level, she captures Bolivia's famous women wrestlers who gather every Sunday evening "in the wrestling ring to rise above the oppression that has plagued them and perform alongside their male counterparts - as equals" but also to earn some extra money which again means independence from men (via).

"The history of the cholitas is as fascinating as their iconic dress. As indigenous women, the cholitas have long been one of Bolivia’s most marginalized groups. With limited career opportunities and a need to put food on the table, the women began organizing and advocating for civil rights in the 1960s. Over the years, as these women gained more power and freedoms, becoming more equal to their male counterparts, the term, “cholitas,” lost its derogatory connotation. Now, it’s a symbol of female empowerment."
Marco Quispe

photographs by Luisa Dörr via

Wednesday 2 December 2020

The Lamu Hat-Makers

"The project is significant to me because as someone who grew up in an African country, you are constantly presented with negative images and news portraying poverty and violence. The wealth of culture, the beauty of the landscapes, and the creative vision of many who live here is overshadowed by these stereotypes. The goal is always to contradict these stereotypes by capturing the positives that are often ignored. This particular project is about optimism, empowerment and pay homage to the creative vision of the artists of Lamu."
Kristin-Lee Moolman

Since 2010, the Shela Hat Contest has been taking place in Lamu, Kenya, with people participating showing their beautiful hats made of ... everything: flipflops, lobster fishnets, light bulbs, ... (via).

photographs via

Tuesday 1 December 2020

World Aids Day, Tilda Swinton, Love, and Dance

"I wanted it to be something that is very pure; very human. We’re talking about people who have to take medicines everyday and have to live with this everyday, and I think for me the film was very poetic, communicating the support that ICCARRE provides. The song is about love. I think what ICCARRE is doing is about love too. The song gives the film another emotional dimension with the narration that I’m doing with the dance.”
Blanca Li, choreographer

In 2003, the ICCARRE (Intermittents en Cycles Courts les Anti Rétriviraus Restent Efficaces) programme was founded to replace the presently recommended seven anti-viral pills a week by two to three aiming to improve patients' quality of life (via).

ICCARRE - 4min30 SANS ST from St Louis on Vimeo.

"It’s something that we can all be truly grateful for that a diagnosis of HIV is no longer the same terrifying threat it once felt for so many of us in the Eighties and Nineties. It’s something that younger generations may not be aware of, the extent of that threat and its realities. For the sake of perspective, let’s just say that I, myself, remember in 1994 attending, with many others, the funerals of 43 friends. My grandmother who was born in 1900 and lost her brothers in France in 1915 and drove an ambulance in the Blitz was sincerely empathetic. She called it my generation’s war. Happily, things have progressed. Many of us now live full and fulfilled lives having been diagnosed with the virus for decades. This fact is wonderful to remind ourselves of: so many friends have left us too early, others have lived for too long with the debilitating effects of treatment that has impaired their ability to fully engage with their lives. What ICCARRE offers is a chance to work with HIV in harmonious collaboration, naturally and with an attitude self possession and self determination."
Tilda Swinton

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photograph of Tilda Swinton via

Monday 30 November 2020

Design Doing Gender

No matter if razors, barbeque sauces or low-fat products, the consumer's gender is anticipated and inscribed into marketing and packaging guiding consumer choices, reflecting, reproducing and constructing gender norms by placing men on one side and women on the other. In her article, Petersson McIntyre (2019) sees packages as "objects that play an active part in gender performativity", objects that do/perform gender and "create notions of what is masculine, feminine, and even gender-neutral".

Design, according to many scholars, can never be gender-neutral. Nevertheless design discourse shows the tendency to regard objects as neutral ones that only follow principles of form and function. 
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- Petersson McIntyre, M. (2019). Gender by Design: Performativy and Consumer Packaging. The Journal of the Design Studies Forum, 10(3), 337-358.
- photograph by Garry Winogrand (New York City, 1966) via

Thursday 26 November 2020

A Child's Birthright

"The Negro baby born in America today, regardless of the section of the nation in which he is born, has about one-half as much chance of completing high school as a white baby born in the same place on the same day. One-third as much chance of completing college, one-third as much chance of becoming a professional man, twice as much chance of becoming unemployed, about one-seventh as much chance of earning $10,000 a year, a life expectancy which is seven years shorter, and the prospects of earning only half as much."
John F. Kennedy, 11 June 1963

photograph (Kennedy, Indiana, 1968) by Burt Glinn via

Tuesday 24 November 2020

The Age-Friendly Standards Self-Assessment Checklist for Museums

Museum Development North West has developed a checklist for museums to help assess and monitor their progress against age-friendly standards. The main aspects are: building relationships, considering programming, providing appropriate facilities, communicating appropriately, and providing a warm welcome.


building relationships:
- Facilitate relationships between the different generations the organisation interacts with
- Aim to foster relationships with older people not only as audiences, but as volunteers, ambassadors, trustees and active participants in the organisation
- Acknowledge that older people are not a homogenous or distinct visitor segment but a diverse group with a wide range of abilities, tastes etc. The organisation will respond in ways that are appropriate to individual needs, informed by individuals themselves
- Be open and willing to learn from older people and solicit their views, either formally, or informally
- Encourage relationships with other places and services older people may use (e.g. health and care facilities, housing providers, adult learning centres, libraries, clubs and societies and community centres)   
- Consider working in partnership with other age-friendly cultural organisations and venues in the local area to help inform older people about the whole cultural offer that is available to them

consider programming:
- Encourage artistic work that has the ability to inspire, articulate & celebrate life in older age  
- Avoid making assumptions about taste and recognise that with any large and diverse group comes diverse interests. Ensure that the views of older people are represented on any consultation panels or questionnaires 
- Aim for intergenerational provision to be integrated into the whole programme and sustained beyond specific participation or engagement initiatives 
- Think about collaboration, co-production and work that is not only for older people, but with and by older people- as programmers, facilitators and artists 
- Consider timings and times of day in programming- including matinees and daytime activities. Build in extra time for getting settled, intervals and comfort breaks. Also factor-in local public transport provision and be aware that where it is unavailable at certain times (particularly at night), this may present a significant barrier, as well as potential hidden costs

::: Checklist: LINK

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photograph by Burt Glinn (Museum of Modern Art, 1964) via

Monday 23 November 2020

Men + Optimistical Bias: It's others who get skin cancer. Not me.

According to two studies carried out in Sweden, women spend much more time sunbathing than men but also use sunscreen more often and are more likely to seek the shade for sun protection although they spend more time in the midday sun. Both men and women underestimate the incidence of skin cancer in the population. Men, however, are more optimistically biased, i.e., they tend to believe that they have lower than average risk of developing skin cancer (17% of men versus 9% of women) (Bränström et al., 2005, Widemar & Falk, 2018).

- Bränström, R., Kristjansson, S. & Ullén, H. (2005). Risk perception, optimistic bias, and readiness to change sun related behaviour. European Journal of Public Health, 16(5), 492-497.
- Widemar, K. & Falk, M. (2018). Sun Exposure and Protection Index (SEPI) and Self-Estimated Sun Sensitivity. The Journal of Primary Prevention, 39, 437-451.
- photograph by Burt Glinn (four sunbathers on leopard skin-printed rafts, Las Vegas, Nevada, 1966) via

Saturday 21 November 2020

Nobody is Normal

"Working alongside [UK charity] Childline to help young people feel better in their own skin energized all of us at the agency, as well as our partners. It’s a campaign that speaks to children in a way that is natural to them. To walk through the usual walls these types of messages face, we needed an emotional story that intrigued people enough to pay attention and moved them enough to make them reflect and change their perspective."
Lucas Peon

Client: Childline 
Agency: The Gate 
CCO: Lucas Peon Creatives: John Osborne, Rickie Marsden, Sam Whatley 
Producer: Susie Innes 
Production: Blink Productions, Rowdy Films 
Producer: Daisy Garside Blink 
Producer: Joe Byrne 
DOP: George Warren 
Animator: Tim Allen, Tobias Fouracre 
Puppets: Adeena Grubb 
2D animator/compositor: Tom Fisher Rig removal: Ieuan Lewis 
BTS: Joe Eckworth 
Art Department Runners: Feiyang Yin and Stella Chapman Shot at Clapham Road Studios 
Sound: Major Tom, Grand Central 
Music: Radiohead “Creep” 
Label: Beggars, Warner Chappell, Concord

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image via

Friday 20 November 2020

New Designers. Old Stereotypes.

"In a survey I undertook at the beginning of the course (…) ‘Design for An Aging Population’, I asked students to write down three words that describe an elderly person. Almost three quarters of their responses had negative associations revolving around words like weak, slow, and feeble. (...) But it was during the presentations of their ‘aging suits’ that I realized how ingrained ageism is within our society."
Glen Hougan

photograph by Helen Levitt via

Thursday 19 November 2020

Language in 3.5 Million Books... Beautiful Women and Brave Men

Analysing a data set of 3.5 million books (using an AI), fiction and non-fiction, published in English between 1900 and 2008, a research team extracted adjectives and verbs that were associated with gender-specific nouns (e.g. daughter, boy) and examined whether the sentiment was positive, neutral or negative. They came to the conclusion that words chosen for women primarily described their appearance (negative verbs five times the frequency for females than males, positive and neutral adjectives twice as often in descriptions of women) while adjectives chosen for men referred to their behaviour and personal qualities. Women were mostly "beautiful" and "sexy" while men were "righteous", "rational" and "brave" (via and via).

"If the language we use to describe men and women differs, in employee recommendations for example, it will influence who is offered a job when companies use IT systems to sort through job applications."
Isabelle Augenstein

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- Alexander Hoyle et al. (2019). Unsupervised Discovery of Gendered Language through Latent-Variable Modeling. Proceedings of the 57th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics, pp. 1706-1716
- photograph by Jeff Mermelstein via

Tuesday 17 November 2020

Looking in from the outside

“When I sit down to have a chat with new people, I still think: ‘Am I going to tell them I’m a Traveller?’ You don’t have to say it, but why should you hide it? They say: ‘Are you Irish?’ I say: ‘I’m an Irish Traveller.’ Some people are quite shocked; they look at me and say: ‘I would never know.’ It is a bit hurtful because I think: ‘But what was there to never know? What has changed in their aspect when I said that? Are they looking down on me now?’ There is still that stigma about Travellers. We work in London, we vote and we are a part of the London community, but it seems like we are always looking in from the outside.”
Mena Mongan

photograph (by Perry Ogden) of Paddy and Liam Doran, Irish Travellers via

Monday 16 November 2020

From Ridiculous to Cruel ... Conversion Therapy

Albert von Schrenck-Notzing (1862-1929) was specialised in the hypnotic treatment of so-called sexual deviations such as homosexuality which he thought was mainly caused by a pathological weakness to resist the deviant urge that was acquired and hence could be cured - by hypnotherapy, for instance (Sommer, 2012). In 1899, he allegedly turned a gay man straight through hypnosis and by taking him to the brothel a couple of times. Eugen Steinach's (1861-1944) approach was different. According to his theory, homosexuality was rooted in a man's testicles, the cure: testicle transplantations, i.e., castrating a gay man and replacing his testicles with "heterosexual ones" (via and via).

Some of the scientifically dubious, ethically irresponsible and appalling therapies, ranging from ridiculous to cruel, were or are: electroconvulsive therapy, lobotomies, shock through electrodes combined with hired sex workers and hetereosexual pornography, aversion therapy (taking chemicals that make you vomit while looking at photographs of your lover or electrical shocks to the genitals while watching gay pornography, inducing nausea or paralysis, snapping an elastic band around the wrist when becoming aroused to same-sex erotic images, orgasmic reconditioning, etc.), changing thought patterns, social reinforcement to increase other-sex sexual behaviours, praying at gay conversion camps, and many more (via).

"I didn’t start coming out until I was in college. I went to a Christian college, where I was actually outed by my roommate. So I was placed in conversion therapy by the university, and I had to undergo a lot of different interventions with different departments at the school. They did exorcisms with holy water, kind of baptizing to try and get the demon out. For one of my classes I had to write a paper talking about why I was going to Hell for being gay." 
Brooke, 25, New Mexico

"My last year in college I did one-on-one therapy — during that, I was encouraged to look at straight porn quite often, which was also strange to me. It was against the rules, but they were like, “It’s to make you straight. You’re the exception to the rule.” I had been raised to believe that porn is horrible and awful and terrible, but they were like, “No, we need you to watch straight porn, and specifically focus on the vagina and whatnot, and how it would feel to be in a vagina.” It made porn so awkward. Not that porn isn’t already awkward to some extent, but it’s getting analytical about it. Every week and they’d be like, “Did you look at porn? Did you enjoy it?”" 
Samuel, 28, Washington State

“We were searching for a sin I’d supposedly committed in a past life that might have ‘made me gay.’” 
a survivor from the United Kingdom

“As an adolescent who experienced same-sex attraction, she was raped in her bedroom by an elderly man her mother had brought home from church one evening in 2005. The mother, who heard her daughter’s screams, shouted: ‘Pearl, you are making noise. Shut up.’ [...] This happened regularly over several months until, eventually, the mother asked him to move in and be Pearl’s husband. ‘He raped me almost every day from when I was 12 to 16 years old. My mother didn’t want me to be gay so she asked him to be my husband and hoped it would change me.’” 
a survivor from South Africa

"Being brought up in a Christian fundamentalist family, I knew from the get-go that I was not going to be accepted. A big part of my conversion therapy happened within my own family walls. The church played a big role, too. There was one really abusive act, where three ministers held me down for six and a half hours and were screaming in my face, trying to get the gayness out of me. I asked them, “Does this mean that I’m not going to be gay anymore?” They were like, “Yes.” I was like, “Wait a minute, so that means I’ll no longer be attracted to women?” They were like, “Yes. Well, there is this thing called gaydar …” — some parts of the church believe gaydar is the ability to see a demon in another person. Seriously. When I started questioning this probably about five and a half hours into this process, I realized their logic didn’t make sense. The person who has become my wife was in my life at that point, and I knew that what they were saying didn’t add up. I really did love her, so it was at that moment I stopped this process. I walked out the door. They screamed at me, “You’ve chosen Hell.” Then I left the church for about a decade." 
Jane, 38, US

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- American Psychological Association (2009).Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation, LINK
- International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (2020). It's Torture Not Therapy. A Global Overview of Converion Therapy: Practices, Perpetrators, and the Role of States, LINK
- Sommer, A. (2012). Policing Epistemic Deviance: Albert von Schreck-Notzing and Albert Moll. Medical History, 56(2), 255-276.
- image (Ratched, scene showing hydrotherapy to "cure" a lesbian woman) via

Sunday 15 November 2020

design + diversity: Designing an Inclusive World

When design chooses the approach one-size-fits-all, whose size are we, in fact, talking about? Who is Mr. Normal the so-called rest needs to adapt to? What impact does it have on "the other" when designing standardisation (and the illusion of normality) also means creating deviation (in a most heterogeneous world)? Who has a voice in visual culture? Who has to live in a design ghetto?...

Design can exclude and include groups of people, can make our lives more difficult and easier, can reinforce stereotypes and debunk myths, can respect and challenge taboos, can make minorities more invisible and raise awareness, can help maintain our narrow-mindedness and help develop empathy, can harm the image of minorities and raise their status, can stabilise and destabilise power relations. Design can.

The aim of this lecture is to present creative approaches and solutions, to discuss why we need ideas like a bicycle with Multiple Sclerosis and braille graffiti, to give some food for thought and raise awareness for the power of design and how it can create a better world for everybody, no matter what age, gender, ethnicity, religion, no matter if disabled or queer.

Online lecture hosted by FH Joanneum University of Applied Sciences
Monday, 16 November 2020, 5 p.m. Central European Time
Registration: (by 4 p.m. the day of the lecture)

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photograph by Paperwalker, modified by IDK FH Joanneum (including the creative spelling of my forename)

Saturday 14 November 2020

The Narrative of Ageing and Health Care Costs

Abstract: This study documents the widespread belief among the public, “pundits,“ and policymakers that health care inflation in the United States is heavily influenced by longevity. It demonstrates the error of that belief. It points out that health care experts recognize that, although health care costs for the elderly are high, the aging of the population is an insignificant factor in health care cost inflation.

Nevertheless, existing literature tends to ignore important influences on cost, such as poverty, lack of access, lifestyle issues, and matters of social justice. It also ignores the differences among numerous subgroups of patients. Ignoring these factors and concentrating on an aging society as a major cause of health care inflation distracts policymakers' attention from the true causes and leads to unjustified calls for benefit reductions in Medicare. As part of this study, the author includes analyses of hospital discharge data that have not been published previously.

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- Kingsley, D. (2015). Aging and Health Care Costs: Narrative Versus Reality: Aging and Health Care Costs. Poverty and Public Policy, 7(1).
- photograph by Jeff Mermelstein via

Friday 13 November 2020

Gender and the Residential Telephone

Abstract: Recent work on gender and technology debunks the claim that household technologies have "liberated" women from domestic work. The history of telephone use in North America suggests, however, that global conclusions about gender and consumer technologies may be misleading. Although marketed primarily as a business instrument and secondarily as an instrument to facilitate housework, the telephone was, in a sense, "appropriated" by women for social and personal ends. This paper explores the "affinity" of women for the telephone, how women in the half-century before World War II used the telephone, and why. It suggests that there is a class of technologies that women have exploited for their own, gender-linked, social and personal ends.

- Fischer, C. S. Gender and the Residential Telephone, 1890-1940: Technologies of Sociability. Sociological Forum, 3(2), 211-233.
- photograph by Helen Levitt via

Thursday 12 November 2020

You are not what you use.

"If we are what we use, then it seems the elderly people in today's society are cranky, stupid and tacky. Of course, looking at products made for the elderly really says more about what product designers and manufacturers think the elderly are."
Gretchen Anderson

photograph by Helen Levitt (1973) via

Wednesday 11 November 2020

Chosen (not) to be

This series is part of the Radical Beauty project, an international photography project aiming to give people with Down’s Syndrome their rightful place in the visual arts. The young women I worked with, shared a strong will to succeed. To prove themselves. It must be beyond frustrating to be underestimated all the time. With ‘Chosen [not] to be’ I reflect on their reality - the barriers they face, society’s refusal to see their capabilities, the invisibility of their true selves - and translate their experiences visually.

In the Netherlands, people with Down’s Syndrome have collected their experiences in a book, called Zwartboek (Blackbook). They have offered this book to the government as a catalyst for change.

Reading the collection of stories in this book broke my heart. There is so much misinformation. This misinformation leads to misconceptions and widely held preconceived notions which profoundly impact the lives of people with Down’s.

Much to the frustration and pain of people with Down’s Syndrome and their families, there is a fundamental discrepancy between the capabilities of people with Down’s, and society’s view of them.

These feelings are expressed into the images of this series. My goal was to subtly convey the message while at the same time showing their individuality, their beauty and their essence. The fine line between making them truly visible, while at the same time conveying the restrictions and barriers placed upon them.

With much love to Juliette, Margot, Emma, Eveline and Tessel.
Marinka Masséus

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photographs via