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