Wednesday 30 June 2021

Wee Muckers. By Toby Binder.

»If I had been born at the top of my street, behind the corrugated-iron border, I would have been British. Incredible to think. My whole idea of myself, the attachments made to a culture, heritage, religion, nationalism and politics are all an accident of birth. I was one street away from being born my ‘enemy’.«
Paul McVeigh, Belfast-born writer

"Photographer Toby Binder has been documenting the daily life of teenagers in British working-class communities for more than a decade. After the Brexit referendum he focused his work on Belfast in Northern Ireland. There is a serious concern that Brexit will threaten the Peace Agreement of 1998 that ended the armed conflict between Protestant Unionists and Catholic Nationalists who live in homogeneous neighborhoods that are divided by walls till today. Old conflicts may recur, compromising the youth’s future prospects on both communities. Nevertheless, being underage, most teenagers were not allowed to vote in the referendum. Problems they struggle with are similar – no matter which side of the “Peace Walls” they live on. And whatever the effects of Brexit will be, it‘s very likely that they will strike especially young people from both communities." (via)

photographs by Toby Binder via

Tuesday 29 June 2021

"(...) your experience is expressed in your face, what's wrong with that?"

'What’s wrong with a few wrinkles? What are you trying to be? It’s a dreadful sort of ego and arrogance to think 'All that’s wrong with me is I need a little tuck here and I’ll be back to what I was.' Your experience makes you older and if your experience is expressed in your face, what’s wrong with that?'. 
Ian McKellen

photograph of Sir Ian McKellen     via

Sunday 27 June 2021

Mädchenland. By Karolin Klüppel.

"In the state of Meghalaya in India, the indigenous people of the Khasi with 1,1 million members form the majority of the population. The Khasi are a matrilineal society. Here, traditionally it is the girls who are of particularly importance and who play an exposed role in the family. The line of succession passes through the youngest daughter. If she marries, her husband is taken into her family‘s house, and the children take their mother‘s name.

A family with just sons is considered unlucky, because only daughters can assure the continuity of a clan. The succession after maternal line guarantees girls and women in Meghalaya a unique economic and social independence compared to general indian conditions.

To disrespect a woman in the Khasi culture means to harm the society.

Between 2013 and 2015 I spent ten months in the khasivillage of Mawlynnong in north-east India, a village of just 95 dwellings. In this series I concentrate on the girls themselves in contextualizing them in their everyday physical environment through a sensitive balance between documentation and composition."
Karolin Klüppel

photographs via

Saturday 26 June 2021

"Out of it?" Old Age and Photographic Portraiture

Abstract: The essay examines representations of old age in photographic portraiture, focusing on works by such prominent American photographers of the last few decades as Nicholas Nixon, Richard Avedon, and Fazal Sheikh. It shows how the new aging studies, in conjunction with critical photo-history, critique American images of aging as narratives of mere decline. Visual culture, these scholars point out, conflates self and appearance, makes youth a fetish, marginalizes the old, and thus plays an important role in a much larger social and cultural devaluation of old age.

This essay questions this assumption, arguing that the camera's gaze doesn't necessarily identify the old as confused and in decline. Close readings of photographic images and series demonstrate how photographers like Avedon or Sheikh have created less constricting, more flexible representations of the old that transcend the problematic nature of the normative gaze. (Ribbat, 2011)

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- Ribbat, C. (2011). "Out of it?" Old Age and Photographic Portraiture. Amerikastudien/American Studies, 56(1), 67-84.
- photograph by Gil Rigoulet (1970s) via

Friday 25 June 2021

War is not healthy for children and other living things

According to "Save the Children" estimations, every day, about 300 babies die worldwide due to the effects of war, including indirect effects such as hunger, denial of aid, poor sanitation. In 2017, 420 million children were living in conflict zones (via and via). 

In the past ten years, in Syria alone, one child was injured or killed every eight hours, in other words, 12.000 since 2011 (via). The countries hit the hardest are Afghanistan, Yemen, South Sudan, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Syria, Iraq, Mali, Nigeria, and Somalia. Often, children who survive are targetet to become children soldiers or suicide bombers (via). This year, more than two million Yemeni children are expected to suffer extreme malnutrition, 400.000 of them are likely to starve to death (via).

photographs of the amazing Vanessa Redgrave via and via

Thursday 24 June 2021

Macnamara: Origin and Character of the British People (1900)

Macnamara justified British superiority over Germans by pointing out the heritage of ethnic mixture: so-called Teutonic (Nordic), Iberian (Mediterranean), Mongolian (Alpine) qualities, a mix that made sure the Anglo-Saxons were flexible and avoided any religious or socio-political extremism ... things that might be difficult to achieve by the pure Teuton, he said (Bertolette, 2004). Here some stereotypical features of the "Iberian", "Mongoloid", and "Teutonic"..

Iberian: chivalrous, courteous, patriotic, impulsive, ostentatious, proud, musical, cruel, passionate, revengeful, unreliable

Mongoloid: religious, peace-loving, imaginative, sensitive, artistic, hosptable, indolent, unstable, lacking individuality

Teutonic: self-reliant, self-respecting, reliable, patriotic, ordely, freedom-loving, laborious, slow, persevering, courageous, warlike, enterprising, domineering

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- Bertolette, W. F. (2004). German stereotypes in British magazines prior to World War I. Master's Thesis: Louisiana State University, link
- Macnamara, N. C. (1900). Origin and Character of the British People. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
- photograph by Tony Ray-Jones (May Day celebrations, 1967) via

Wednesday 23 June 2021

"(...) inside, you're ageless."

“When I was young I was always playing old parts. And, of course, I was having to imagine it. Because what does ‘old’ mean? I had no idea! Now that I’m old I do know. And I also know what it’s like to be young. Because as you get older, inside, you’re ageless. Inside? Quite honestly? I feel about 12.”
Ian McKellen

photograph via

Tuesday 22 June 2021

Narrative images: Disco in Wolverhampton (1978)

A decade after Enoch Powell's speech on immigration, in anticipation of its anniversary, the Sunday Times Magazine commissioned British photographer Chris Steele-Perkins to travel to Wolverhampton to capture the effects of Powell's words on ethnic minorities (via). 

 "I sensed that people would rather not talk about it. It was a nasty stain, but they wanted to move on. This [the series] happened ten years after Powell, but this stuff doesn’t wash out that quickly." Chris Steele-Perkins

In the 1950s, Wolverhampton's economic growth was booming needing more workforce. Newspapers published stories stating that Britain's boom could only be maintained by attracting recruits from abroad, i.e. the "Continent", Ireland, and the colonies. Commonwealth immigration was encouraged by the governement, however, it was unprepared for the number of people seeking employment in the factories which led to tensions between native residents and immigrant newcomers. The immigrant population (mostly West-Indian and South-Asian) was blamed for lowering wages and taking jobs. In the context of this tension, Enoch Powell, then Conservative MP for Wolverhampton, gave a controversial anti-immigration speech (via).

“It wasn’t a surprise. Powell was on the right of the Tory party, and he had been banging on about immigration before. It was just that this was the most extreme version of this kind of prejudice that he had come out with.” Chris Steele-Perkins 

When Steele-Perkins visited Wolverhampton, he found a city different from the rest of Britain,  immigrants who were alienated and given second-hand opportunities (via).

"I am essentially aware of it, as I am not part of the mainstream group. I have a Burmese mother and an English father, and I wasn't born in this country. I can't pretend it's something that happens to other people and is not connected with me." Chris Steele-Perkins

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Enoch Powell's "Rivers of Blood" speech, excerpts (1968)

(...) A week or two ago I fell into conversation with a constituent, a middle-aged, quite ordinary working man employed in one of our nationalised industries.

After a sentence or two about the weather, he suddenly said: "If I had the money to go, I wouldn't stay in this country." I made some deprecatory reply to the effect that even this government wouldn't last for ever; but he took no notice, and continued: "I have three children, all of them been through grammar school and two of them married now, with family. I shan't be satisfied till I have seen them all settled overseas. In this country in 15 or 20 years' time the black man will have the whip hand over the white man."

I can already hear the chorus of execration. How dare I say such a horrible thing? How dare I stir up trouble and inflame feelings by repeating such a conversation?

The answer is that I do not have the right not to do so. Here is a decent, ordinary fellow Englishman, who in broad daylight in my own town says to me, his Member of Parliament, that his country will not be worth living in for his children.

I simply do not have the right to shrug my shoulders and think about something else. What he is saying, thousands and hundreds of thousands are saying and thinking - not throughout Great Britain, perhaps, but in the areas that are already undergoing the total transformation to which there is no parallel in a thousand years of English history.

In 15 or 20 years, on present trends, there will be in this country three and a half million Commonwealth immigrants and their descendants. That is not my figure. That is the official figure given to parliament by the spokesman of the Registrar General's Office.

There is no comparable official figure for the year 2000, but it must be in the region of five to seven million, approximately one-tenth of the whole population, and approaching that of Greater London. (...) Whole areas, towns and parts of towns across England will be occupied by sections of the immigrant and immigrant-descended population. (...)

The natural and rational first question with a nation confronted by such a prospect is to ask: "How can its dimensions be reduced?" (...)

The answers to the simple and rational question are equally simple and rational: by stopping, or virtually stopping, further inflow, and by promoting the maximum outflow. Both answers are part of the official policy of the Conservative Party.

It almost passes belief that at this moment 20 or 30 additional immigrant children are arriving from overseas in Wolverhampton alone every week - and that means 15 or 20 additional families a decade or two hence. Those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad. We must be mad, literally mad, as a nation to be permitting the annual inflow of some 50,000 dependants, who are for the most part the material of the future growth of the immigrant-descended population. It is like watching a nation busily engaged in heaping up its own funeral pyre. So insane are we that we actually permit unmarried persons to immigrate for the purpose of founding a family with spouses and fiancés whom they have never seen. (...)

Nothing is more misleading than comparison between the Commonwealth immigrant in Britain and the American Negro. The Negro population of the United States, which was already in existence before the United States became a nation, started literally as slaves and were later given the franchise and other rights of citizenship, to the exercise of which they have only gradually and still incompletely come. The Commonwealth immigrant came to Britain as a full citizen, to a country which knew no discrimination between one citizen and another, and he entered instantly into the possession of the rights of every citizen, from the vote to free treatment under the National Health Service.

(...) The sense of being a persecuted minority which is growing among ordinary English people in the areas of the country which are affected is something that those without direct experience can hardly imagine.

I am going to allow just one of those hundreds of people to speak for me:

“Eight years ago in a respectable street in Wolverhampton a house was sold to a Negro. Now only one white (a woman old-age pensioner) lives there. This is her story. She lost her husband and both her sons in the war. So she turned her seven-roomed house, her only asset, into a boarding house. She worked hard and did well, paid off her mortgage and began to put something by for her old age. Then the immigrants moved in. With growing fear, she saw one house after another taken over. The quiet street became a place of noise and confusion. Regretfully, her white tenants moved out.

“The day after the last one left, she was awakened at 7am by two Negroes who wanted to use her 'phone to contact their employer. When she refused, as she would have refused any stranger at such an hour, she was abused and feared she would have been attacked but for the chain on her door. Immigrant families have tried to rent rooms in her house, but she always refused. Her little store of money went, and after paying rates, she has less than £2 per week. “She went to apply for a rate reduction and was seen by a young girl, who on hearing she had a seven-roomed house, suggested she should let part of it. When she said the only people she could get were Negroes, the girl said, "Racial prejudice won't get you anywhere in this country." So she went home.

“The telephone is her lifeline. Her family pay the bill, and help her out as best they can. Immigrants have offered to buy her house - at a price which the prospective landlord would be able to recover from his tenants in weeks, or at most a few months. She is becoming afraid to go out. Windows are broken. She finds excreta pushed through her letter box. When she goes to the shops, she is followed by children, charming, wide-grinning piccaninnies. They cannot speak English, but one word they know. "Racialist," they chant. When the new Race Relations Bill is passed, this woman is convinced she will go to prison. And is she so wrong? I begin to wonder.” The other dangerous delusion from which those who are wilfully or otherwise blind to realities suffer, is summed up in the word "integration." To be integrated into a population means to become for all practical purposes indistinguishable from its other members. (...)

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photograph by Magnum photographer Chris-Steele Perkins via

Monday 21 June 2021

Birmingham Sunday, Joan Baez (1964)

On 15th of September 1963, the Ku Klux Klan bombed a church killing four girls aged 11 to 14 (Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole obertson, Cynthia Wesley) and injuring many more. 

::: Birmingham Sunday: LISTEN/WATCH

Come round by my side and I'll sing you a song 
I'll sing it so softly, it'll do no one wrong 
On Birmingham Sunday the blood ran like wine 
And the choirs kept singing of freedom

That cold autumn morning no eyes saw the sun 
And Addie Mae Collins, her number was one 
At an old Baptist church there was no need to run 
And the choirs kept singing of freedom  

The clouds they were grey and the autumn wind blew 
And Denise McNair brought the number to two 
The falcon of death was a creature they knew 
And the choirs kept singing of freedom 

The church it was crowded, but no one could see 
That Cynthia Wesley's dark number was three 
Her prayers and her feelings would shame you and me 
And the choirs kept singing of freedom  

Young Carol Robertson entered the door 
And the number her killers had given was four 
She asked for a blessing but asked for no more 
And the choirs kept singing of freedom 

On Birmingham Sunday a noise shook the ground 
And people all over the earth turned around 
For no one recalled a more cowardly sound 
And the choirs kept singing of freedom 

The men in the forest they once asked of me 
How many black berries grew in the Blue Sea 
I asked them right back with a tear in my eye 
How many dark ships in the forest? 

The Sunday has come and the Sunday has gone 
And I can't do much more than to sing you a song 
I'll sing it so softly, it'll do no one wrong 
And the choirs keep singing of freedom

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- lyrics via, photograph by Yousuf Karsh via

Saturday 19 June 2021


"Spending money on ornate umbrellas and silk socks might seem surreal when almost half the population of the Congo lives in poverty, but the Sape movement aims to do more than just lift the spirits. Over the decades it has functioned as a form of colonial resistance, social activism and peaceful protest."

"Brazzaville and Kinshasa are on opposite banks of the Congo River, almost directly across from one another, yet they have different styles. In Brazzaville, La Sape is mainly 'French style' (think exquisite suits), but in Kinshasa anything goes, from Japanese Yamamoto coats to Scottish kilts. True Sapologie is about more than expensive labels: the true art lies in a sapeur's ability to put together an elegant look unique to their personality...

...Though the subculture is traditionally passed down through the male line, many Congolese women have recently begun donning designer suits and becoming sapeuses. By challenging Congolese patriarchal society in this way, they are returning to La Sape's origins by reversing the power dynamic. La Sape is a movement that is constantly evolving, as disenfranchised youths use fashion as a way of navigating their nations' journeys from developing countries into a more hopeful cosmopolitan future."
Tariq Zaidi

Watch this beautiful short clip of the fashion subculture SAPE (Société des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Élégantes): WATCH

photographs via

Tuesday 15 June 2021

Margaret Bourke-White. Woman of Firsts.

"Margaret Bourke-White was a woman of firsts. The first woman to clamber over rivers of molten iron in the foundry and to face the heat of the furnaces in order to produce unusual, visionary industrial photographs. The first woman to tackle aerial photography ("if you find yourself eight hundred feet up, pretend it's only three, relax and get on calmly with your work", was her motto). The first woman to create a book with photos and essays on the Depression in the southern USA during the 1930s. The first woman to document Russia during the five-year plan and the only one to obtain a portrait session with Stalin. The first for whom the uniform of war correspondent was designed. And the first to record the horror of Buchenwald concentration camp, to document India at the moments of its separation from Pakistan and the only woman to capture an intense portrait of Mahatma Gandhi a few hours before his death...

...The first to go underground with miners in South Africa, to photograph in colour racial segregation in America. The first, above all, not to hide from the camera, becoming in her turn the subject of a reportage documenting, under the powerful and tender gaze of her colleague Alfred Eisenstaedt, her battle with Parkinson's disease, which would leave her immobile and lead to her death. In those moments, Margaret, who was renowned for her elegance and innate dress sense, was not afraid to show herself, old and frightened, in all her vulnerability."

"This was the first I heard the words I was to hear repeated thousands of times: "We didn’t know. We didn’t know." But they did know. I saw and photographed the piles of naked, lifeless bodies, the human skeletons in furnaces, the living skeletons who would die the next day because they had had to wait too long for deliverance. Buchenwald was more than the mind could grasp. People often ask me how it is possible to photograph such atrocities. I have to work with a veil over my mind. In photographing the murder camps, the protective veil was so tightly drawn that I hardly knew what I had taken until I saw prints of my own photographs. It was as though I was seeing these horrors for the first time."

"Mine is a life into which marriage doesn’t fit very well. If I had had children, I would have drawn creative inspiration from them, and shaped my work to them. Perhaps I would have worked on a children’s book, rather than going to wars. One life is not better than the other; it is just a different life."

text from, photographs taken (by MLM) at exhibition "Margaret Bourke-White. Prima, Donna.", Milan, Palazzo Reale.