We’re delighted to announce that the NUJ Nottingham Branch will be returning to full monthly meetings from September 2021, following the lifting of most Covid restrictions. But we also have plans to introduce hybrid meetings, whereby people can also participate online.
The first meeting will be on Monday 6th September at the Playwright Pub, Shakepeare Street, Nottingham, starting at 7.30pm. The plan is that we will have at least two laptops in the room, allowing members to join via zoom and follow proceedings.
This is a work in progress and we will be carefully assessing how well things are working, particularly when it comes to ensuring that everyone can be heard. It may not be the best video experience you’ve ever seen – but the idea is to allow the maximum possible participation for those members who don’t wish to attend in person.
For details of the Zoom link, please email the Branch Chair firstname.lastname@example.org
A protest in Nottingham against TUI’s involvement in deporting refugees. This comes as part of a wider demonstration across targeting TUI branches across the country. Organisers are voicing their concern at TUI being the main airline involved in the Home Office’s “brutal deportations scheme”. A coordinator said : “TUI are currently the main airline running deportation flights for the home office deportations. These often involve lots of human rights violations. In the past the Home Office has used Virgin and BA, most of whom have since ceased or drastically reduced their involvement because of pressure from activists. Since November 2020 TUI has been the main airline involved, running nine mass deportation charter flights in November alone. It is believed that 21 have been run so far this year”.
EXCLUSIVE: PRITI PATEL USED INCORRECT DATA ABOUT ILLEGAL RAVES TO JUSTIFY EMERGENCY POWERS FOR THE POLICE
An investigation by Mixmag has found that The Met was using a flawed methodology to calculate the number of raves that it was responding to during lockdown, which had the potential to dramatically inflate its statistics
Priti Patel used incorrect data about illegal raves provided by the Met Police to justify emergency powers for police forces during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mixmag can reveal.
Introducing new powers for the police in an article for The Telegraph on August 28, 2020, the Home Secretary said: “In London alone, the Metropolitan Police has responded to more than 1,000 unlicensed events – such as big raves and parties – since the end of June, receiving information on more than 200 events across the city in a single weekend.
“We will not allow this breathtakingly selfish behaviour from a senseless minority to jeopardise the progress we have made together.
“That is why we are cracking down on the most serious breaches of social distancing restrictions.”
An investigation by Mixmag has found that during this time The Met was using a flawed methodology to calculate the number of raves that it was responding to, which had the potential to dramatically inflate its statistics.
Information obtained under the Freedom of Information Act has revealed that the figures published were actually the number of “messages” about illegal raves recorded on its “Computer Aided Dispatch” system rather than the number of confirmed unlicensed events.
This means the Met could have counted individual events dozens or even hundreds of times in the numbers it published as well as including incidents that were not actually illegal raves.
A separate CAD message is created every time the police are contacted and informed of a crime, so if more than 50 people report the same illegal rave the system creates more than 50 CAD messages for a single event.
On 18 August 2021, in an emailed statement to Mixmag, the Met issued an apology for “confusion” over the statistics used by the Home Secretary.
It said that the figures she used related to the number of “pieces of information about events in the capital” received by the police force, not the number of events identified.
The Met declined to provide a breakdown that would reveal the true number of illegal raves identified by the force during the time period.
Speaking to Mixmag under the condition of anonymity, a former police officer told Mixmag it is common for a single illegal rave to generate large numbers of CAD messages as many different people call the police separately to report the event.
This incident would have been double counted more than 30 times in the statistics quoted by the Home Secretary.
As well as being used by the Home Secretary, inflated figures about illegal raves provided by the Met were widely reported on in both national and regional newspapers as well as television news programmes.
The same figures used by Priti Patel were also used by The Economist on September 3, 2020, in an article with the title: Why raves are enjoying a revival: Britons are partying like it’s 1988.
It said: “The Metropolitan Police has recorded more than 1,000 raves (which it defines as unlicensed music events with more than 20 people) in London since the end of June.”
Less than a month before the Home Secretary wrote her article in the Telegraph, the Met Police released a press release that also used inaccurate data, saying that the force had “received information on more than 530 events across the capital” in the space of a single month.
The Met calls illegal raves “unlicensed music events”, and in the press release it said it was responding to “approximately 23 UMEs every day”.
It added: “On Saturday, 18 July alone, information was received on 86 separate incidents.”
The police force has now said that all these figures were incorrect and the original press release, which was published on 24 July last year, has since been deleted from the Met’s website. (Its content can still be seen here.)
In a recent statement issued in response to a Freedom of Information request from Mixmag, the police force said: “For clarity, the figure of 530 within the MPS press release does not relate to the number of raves”.
It added: “We may have received several calls by several different members of the public when in fact it is only one incident with several CAD messages.”
The force went on to say that some of the CAD messages counted in the figures published may have been about incidents that were mistakenly identified as an unlicensed music event by members of the public.
The misleading figures on the press release were reproduced in a wide range of newspapers, intensifying fears that music events were a key factor hastening the spread of the COVID-19 virus in London.
One article in The Times stated: “In just over three weeks to July 18, Scotland Yard was made aware of 530 lockdown raves and ‘block parties’.”
An article in The Express, which was published on July 24, was given the headline: “London crackdown on ‘dangerous’ illegal raves launched after 500 unlicensed events held”.
Mohammed Qasim, a visiting research fellow in criminology at the London School of Economics, believes the Met needs to put new systems in place to stop the publication of incorrect statistics.
“After a string of scandals and failures, trust in the Met Police is extremely low at the moment,” he said.
“The force should be trying to rebuild trust – and this isn’t going to happen if it continually publishes statements that are wrong or misleading.
“New fact-checking processes need to be put in place to make sure the public can believe what the Met is saying.”
Qasim added: “In the middle of a crisis, such as the pandemic, what both the public and policymakers need are clear cut facts that they can rely on.”
“The inaccurate figures published by the police force, and the slew of high-profile news stories that followed, may have prompted an unjustified focus on music events in the middle of the pandemic, distracting from other issues such as government policy.”
The figures published by the Met last summer were especially alarming because, since the early stages of the pandemic, virologists had warned that mass gatherings have the capacity to dramatically hasten the spread of the virus.
The free party veteran and acid techno innovator Chris Liberator believes that the numbers published by the Met were out of step with reality and fuelled a false narrative about the resurgence of illegal rave culture in the UK.
“The nature of illegal raves means that it is impossible to exactly quantify the number of raves that occurred in any region during a specific time period, but if you are a raver connected to the free party scene with your ear to the ground you know when events of a certain size are taking place,” he said.
“It’s definitely true that lockdown and the closure of commercial clubs created a new audience looking for illegal raves – and there were also some groups that put on parties during lockdown to cater for this demand.
“But, if you compare the summer of 2020 to previous years when there was no lockdown, there were far fewer big illegal raves taking place during the pandemic.
He added: “During the lockdown in the summer of 2020 members of the public were repeatedly encouraged to report anyone who was breaking the rules – so it is possible that the police could have received dozens, if not hundreds, of complaints and messages about many of the illegal raves that took place.”
Kevin Blowe, coordinator of the police monitoring group Netpol, said: “The publication of these figures that exaggerated the number of illegal raves identified by the Met Police raise serious questions.
“It is unlikely that we will ever find out whether publishing the incorrect data was a simple mistake or deliberate misinformation.
“However, what we do know is that the police benefitted from the publication of these figures about illegal raves as they helped justify the extra powers they were granted during the pandemic.”
There have long been issues regarding the publication of misleading and unreliable data by police forces in the UK.
Given the regularity of police forces publishing unreliable information, some experts believe that information supplied by the police should be subjected to increased fact-checking by external organisations.
Qasim said: “It is shocking to see politicians and publications repeating the Met’s incorrect figures about illegal raves without rigorously checking them or qualifying them in any way.
“Institutions that interact with UK police forces need to hold them to account rather than unquestioningly accepting unlikely information when it suits their own agenda.”
The Home Office was contacted by Mixmag to respond to the Home Secretary’s use of incorrect statistics provided by the Met Police.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “During the height of the pandemic, illegal raves were extremely dangerous and put people’s lives at risk.
“Police forces have worked hard to gather and share intelligence in order to detect and disrupt unlicensed music events which were purposely organised at short notice to avoid detection, and took the appropriate enforcement action through the issuing of Fixed Penalty Notices, where necessary.”
The Home Office spokesperson added: “The Home Secretary used this figure in good faith and with the understanding that it was correct at the time. We note that the Metropolitan Police have today clarified that the figure referred to 1,000 pieces of information about unlicensed music events.
“We also note that the Met Police made exhaustive efforts to shut down such events, as they were illegal at the time and posed a risk of Covid-19 transmission.”
WORDS: WIL CRISP | PHOTOGRAPHY: WIL CRISP & KARLA HUNTER
The UK’s Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller communities are voicing deep concern about the Government’s new policing bill, with many saying it is a threat to their way of life. The law will make trespass a criminal offence and give the police the powers to seize the homes of travelling people. At Appleby Horse Fair, BBC Newsnight is told by community leaders that the bill is tantamount to ‘ethnic cleansing’. The Government says that travellers’ property will only be under threat if they refuse to move from unauthorised sites and are causing harm. Emir Nader reports and Sally Chesworth produced this film.
Site life…spring Somewhere. You decide where. Waking up. Not my favourite thing, but seeing beams of sunlight pierce through the holes in the curtains and hearing people shuffling about outside makes me sit up faster than usual. It’s warm in the trailer… I hop out of bed and open the wonky door, as usual the dog’s push past, going straight into sniff everything mode. I look out, there is a blackened kettle atop of a small fire… Neighbours are busy already. I didn’t want to boil my kettle with gas, so I shouted quietly, any tea? The answer was no. Brandy coffee? That will do nicely. my head weighed nothing and i collapse back into my pit. Within seconds a cup appeared on my doorstep. Got no sugar.. A voice said. I do. I replied. Top cupboard. A pair of black feet appeared, followed by a pair of skinny legs and a crusty t shirt with a dread head on top. A roll up stuck to its lips.. Nice day, I began.. How would you know? Said the dread. I can feel it in my bones I said. I see. And I can smell it the air, I beamed as he tipped enough sugar into my hand. I dropped it in the coffee and gave it a quick stir with a pencil. Cheers, cu in a bit. Yeah, I expect you will he droned, turning and shuffling out, bag of sugar in hand… And bring the sugar back…. Knowing it was unlikely to see it again, I added, well save me a bit..I lit the last bit of spliff that I had left from the night before, with the lighter I couldn’t find last night, but there it was, next to my pillow. I opened the curtain a little letting fresh spring beams in, polluting them immediately with the smoke, I lay back watching the swirls drifting and twisting towards the door, the first of many flies flew in, I dragged myself up to pull the makeshift curtain across taking a step out onto the now dry mud, it felt good underfoot, warm and sponge. A cockrel ran past at speed, followed by another, much flapping and squawking, they didn’t get on. One lived at the top of the green lane that was our temporary home, the other at the bottom, but I guess even cockrels enjoy a bit of mooching about, despite the risks.. The dogs lay dotted about, looking on indifferently, it was their first bit of sun for a while, they were making the most of it, some opting for the soft earth some taking advantage of slightly worse for wear weathered sofas and armchairs. One scraggy little pup had dragged a smelly old blanket under the doorway of a bus, lying half in and half out of the sun, a good thing as the mounting numbers of flies that will come as a result of the humidity when the land dries, all made a beeline, well, a flyline for said grubby object. I looked up the track, the assortment of coloured old lorries, bland little trailers separate with various tarp covered piles of tat, the odd engine, rag n bone, wheels and a mountain of tyres left by previous tenants. Much of this lying in the shadow of a double decker, some punky reggae music drifting down, in the opposite direction, stood a fairly battered range rover, its front end up on jacks. A huge almost clean chrome trailer, with a a homemade trailer board hanging lop sided, in front a flatbed Bedford army truck heaped with cables motors and other bits of broken trucks. More music, and a smouldering fire surrounded by my neighbours, blackened faces on shaven heads, holey t shirts with barely readable slogans, skinny arms poking out, ragged army trousers and boots, two or three bigger people with flowing dreads, chunky tattooed arms and heads full of silver, a group of skinny girls in summery dresses and big boots squidged together with one or two stubborn lurchers, all chattering incessantly, a group of toddlers ran up and down with a homemade go cart, faces still covered in breakfast. Further on still stood a couple of bow tops, a bender and a bug old cart horse munching fresh grass, swishing its tail. Another small fire with a huge cast iron kettle hung on a hook above the gently chuffing smoke, one old flat capped man sat down on a log, his cockrel had returned and sat opposite, next to the goat. A police helicopter flew over shattering the peace for a moment, as everyone stuck two fingers in the air at it.. Then it was nothing more than a a distant whirring, the birdsong and music returning, nice.i caught sight of silver cans being passed, as I heard the prkcushzzzz sound of one being opened I made my way to the group, I had a good feeling about today…
Today is Romany holocaust memorial day, yet ask most lifelong anti-racists what the significance of August 2nd is, and they will be puzzled. For our history, just like our plight, remains one of Europe’s dirty secrets. So come with me, if you will, on a journey into the past of Europe’s 12 million Romany people because we desperately need your help to secure a better future. Because history does not always exactly repeat itself, but in 2021 it is starting to rhyme.
On this day, in 1944, 4,300 Romanies were murdered at the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. They were taken during the night from their barracks to the gas chamber by SS guards. The mass killing was a reprisal on the community who led a desperate uprising at the death camp. Just months earlier on May 16th Romany prisoners of the so-called Zigeunerlager (Gypsy camp) having heard of the imminent liquidation of the camp, stood up against the Nazi guards armed with only hammers, pickaxes and shovels. As a result of their defiance, no Roma died in the gas chambers on that day. The Romany revolt against the Nazis is the only recorded uprising in Auschwitz and is now commemorated as Romani Resistance Day.
We still do not know how many of us died in the holocaust. Unlike the Jewish community many of our ancestors could not read or write, so few independent records were kept. Estimates range from 500,000 to 1,5 million people, their lives and stories are often lost within German statistics of those “remaining to be liquidated.” Like the Jewish community we were the only other racial minority specifically subjected to the Nazi final solution and a similar percentage of the Romany and Jewish community was eradicated. But there the parallels end, because what the intervening decades have taught us is that some inequalities are sadly far more equal than others.
So today we will weep for those we lost, but tomorrow we must again pick up the shovels. Across Europe a mudslide of racist violence is once again engulfing our people. From Hungary to the UK, right-wing governments are once again scapegoating our people and the results can be lethal.
In the Czech Republic, Romany man Stanislav Tomáš died in Teplice on June 19, 2021, after a Czech police officer knelt on his neck for six minutes. In images comparable to the murder of George Floyd in the US, the video went viral, prompting Romanies across Europe to protest police violence.
The Czech Republic authorities deny any wrongdoing and the police were praised by the interior minister for their good work. After the Council of Europe called for an independent investigation, the Czech president said he had no reason to doubt the results of the internal investigation, which found the police officers’ behaviour to be correct.
In New York, Berlin, Brussels, Glasgow, London, Vienna and in countless cities across Eastern Europe where Romany populations are big and growing, Romanies are demanding justice for Stanislav and themselves. Directly inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement a Roma Lives Matter movement has seen thousands of Romany people demand better treatment on the streets.
For many of us, the end of the holocaust did not lead to a turning point in our treatment and life chances. Those that had survived the Nazis were soon forcibly settled and assimilated into urban deprivation by Stalinist regimes. In recent decades, the forced sterilisation of Romany women, poverty and over-representation in state care and special schools for Romany kids and deeply ingrained prejudice has kept us moving. Such racism has led to a huge wave of Romany migration to western Europe. This has led to a doubling of the British Gypsy, Roma and Traveller population to at least 600,000 people.
But Britain is no safe haven. The hostile environment experienced by Britain’s Gypsy, Roma and Traveller community for over 500 years has recently been cranked up. Priti Patel’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill not only limits the right to protest, but also seeks to completely outlaw nomadic Gypsy and Traveller culture across the UK. If passed it will:
Entirely eradicate nomadic life in Britain,
Give police the power to seize Gypsy and Traveller homes
Fine Gypsies and Travellers up to £2500
AND imprison those needing to follow a nomadic way of life because of a lack of safe legal stopping places
So, on July 7th over 1000 community members gathered in the shadow of the statues of Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and suffragette Millicent Fawcett in Parliament Square to kickstart the Drive 2 Survive campaign that will roll from Westminster to Appleby Fair in August (the world’s largest Gypsy horse fair) in Cumbria to the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester in October 2021. Much as Gandhi, Mandela and Fawcett used direct action to fight for equality, Gypsy and Traveller community members will resist the outlawing of our cultures. Our communities have unified to fight the bill, but we desperately need your help to stop it.
‘As nomadic people that have roamed the lands we have lived on for our whole recorded history, to suddenly be told our way of life has no place in society is totally wrong and hurtful’ says Irish Traveller activist Chris McDonagh.
‘We all live in a country that is supposedly proud of its acceptance and equality for ALL ethnicities and minorities, but we now see this is a lie. We are people and we deserve to live our lives as we always have. We deserve to exist.’
The Drive 2 Survive Campaign first aim is the scrapping of part 4 of the Bill that creates a criminal law of trespass and dramatically increases police powers over anyone residing on land that they do not have permission to be on. We believe that the draconian powers within the 1994 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act that already lock nomadic Gypsies and Travellers into a cycle of trespass and eviction do not need strengthening but repealing.
Priti Patel cannot ignore the fact that police powers are already too excessive. It’s not just Gypsies, Roma and Travellers that are resisting these new powers, but representatives from the National Police Chiefs Council. In evidence to the committee stage of the Police Bill, the community and the police were united in calling for a better way of resolving the conflict around a lack of stopping places
The community takes the threat of the new legislation so seriously that it has organised the first Romani Kris, or council of elders in decades to debate and decide a unified response to Patel’s Bill at Appleby. Hereditary Appleby Fair organiser Billy Welch sees a direct parallel with the state violence Romany populations were subjected to before the holocaust, because before the death camps came the outlawing of nomadic life across the Third Reich.
“The people I represent are anxious about these proposals and with good reason. They are reminiscent of Nazi Germany in the 1930s, and the start of the process of ethnic cleansing in which Gypsies were forced off the road by fines and imprisonment. Their horses and vehicles were confiscated, which eventually led to them being sent to death camps or murdered on the side of the road. There are still many Gypsies alive who lost their families in that holocaust, and they have not forgotten – this is how it began. All of what was done them was legal in the eyes of the Nazis, but history teaches us clearly that just because something is legal, doesn’t make it right.” – Billy Welch
This summer we will show the Conservative Party that we will not go quietly into the history books, in fact, we will not be going at all.
To show your solidarity with the Drive 2 Survive Campaign:
Come to Appleby Horse Fair in Cumbria between August 12th and 15th.
Attend the National Drive 2 Survive Rally at the time of the Tory Conference in Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester at 1pm on Saturday October 2nd 2021.
WHITE people with dreadlocks are not facing as much discrimination as they would ideally like, it has emerged.
Matted hair owners claim that other than being broadly defined as ‘crusties’ and ‘trustafarians’ they were going largely unnoticed by mainstream society.
25-year-old Brighton resident Tom Logan, who prefers to be called Boz, said: “I can’t remember the last time someone shouted something in the street, and even then it was something non-commital like ‘have a bath mate’.
“Can’t they see that I don’t subscribe to their stupid materialist values, and am in fact a threat to the status quo?
“These dreads took years to grow, they’re bloody itchy, and right now I’m feeling like it was all a waste of time.”
Dreadlocked Emma Bradford, aka Trouser, said: “I’ve been able to get a series of jobs, nothing fancy admittedly and mostly in organic cafes but still I’m consistently being treated like a normal, unremarkable person.
“Which I’m not, obviously, because I’ve got unusual hair and a rusty van with pictures of animals on it. Also I can stay upright on a unicycle for up to three minutes at a time.”
She added: “Someone needs to oppress me. Maybe they could bring back punks just so they can chase us around town centres.
Today the word on the street is ‘Occupy’. This is how we used to do it in the 90’s…
Imagine 5000 people being taken across London by underground to a mystery location and then transforming a motorway into a sand pit, a dance floor, a forest. Imagine radical ecologists joining forces with sacked dockers and occupying Liverpool docks. Imagine Trafalgar Square metamorphosed into London’s largest rave while under siege from 3000 unhappy riot police. Stop imagining and watc h this film. YOU WILL BE INSPIRED.
May 1995, London, England. A small group of people decide to organise an illegal street party in Camden, a part of the city renowned for its consumerism and incessant traffic. The final location is kept secret, because they know that the state and business will not be amused. Reclaim the Streets! is born, a cocktail of raging love, revolutionary carnival, art and anarchy. Since then the clandestine street parties have erupted all over the world. From Hull to Sydney, Lyon to Tel Aviv, Vancouver to Valencia, people are taking back their streets. And this is only the beginning.
This film, a 2012 re-edit of the original, made from over a hundred hours of footage from 13 film-makers, and brought up to date with a recent expose of cop infiltration, tells the story of reclaim the Streets from its origins in London to the Global Street Party in May 1998 when 30 cities simultaneously joined in the fun.
‘Ultimately it is in the streets that power must be dissolved: for the streets where daily life is endured, suffered and eroded, and where power is confronted and fought, must be turned into the domain where daily life is enjoyed, created and nourished.’
Preventing cheap politics from sinking the planet… Alan discusses his pamphlet – a challenge to all who champion a visionary ‘New Deal’.
Preventing cheap politics from sinking the planet… Alan discusses his pamphlet – a challenge to all who champion a visionary ‘New Deal’.
This is a challenge to all of us who champion the case for a visionary Green New Deal. It insists on a timescale that cuts carbon emissions in half, within the current decade; demands radical shifts into a more ‘circular’ economics, putting back more than we take out; and a vision that runs beyond obsessions with individual technologies. Instead, Alan focuses on the ‘systems’ that tomorrow’s inclusive security must be built around.
“As ever, Alan brings a big picture vision wrapped up in glittering examples of what transformation means in practice. From communities, to cities to whole countries, there is no wrong place to start, no part of the economy that doesn’t need to be turned upside down and rethought.” Clive Lewis MP
Alan Simpson was MP for Nottingham South before leaving to work on climate issues. He was advisor on sustainable economics to John McDonnell when he was Shadow Chancellor. Alan still dreams of saving the planet!
This event was streamed live via Zoom on July 19 2021.
Magnum photographers discuss alternative approaches to communicating climate change
In this study of new photographic approaches to issues of climate change, Magnum photographers Sim Chi Yin, Cristina de Middel and Jonas Bendiksen speak to writer Georgina Collins about their practice. Alongside this, Toby Smith from the charity Climate Visuals shares strategies on revolutionizing how we communicate current environmental crises.
In the summer of 2019 unprecedented temperatures were experienced across Northern Europe, with at least 12 countries breaking national heat records. July 2019 was the hottest month on earth since temperature records began in 1880. This was, and is, indicative of the growing disaster the planet is facing in the form of climate change. World Weather Attribution found that there was an extremely low probability of these temperatures being reached (for instance in France less than about once every 1000 years) without climate change. Climate change made this extreme weather around 100 times more likely. Put in these terms, the summer of 2019 sounds apocalyptic- and in many ways it was. The European Forest Fire Information System found that in 2019 1,300 square miles of continental Europe were burned (15% more than the decades annual average), but the vast majority of the photography that we saw told a different story. Beach days, sunbathing and icecreams predominantly featured in photographs of the summer.
“It’s this cynicism that they hope photography can help overcome in order to build our collective investment in reducing environmental harm.”
The role and responsibility that photographers themselves have when photographing events related to the climate crisis has been subject to increased attention in recent years. Photography is a powerful visual medium that can be used to educate, raise awareness and inspire action, and as such there is a strong argument that this comes with an implicit responsibility about the representations of an issue being made to the public. Visual storytelling can shift public perception and behaviours, which in turn influences national and international responses to the crisis. Climate Visuals is a non-profit built around this relationship between photography and social action; focused on changing the type of imagery used in relation to the climate crisis, so that it is not just “illustrative but truly impactful and inspires change,” as project lead Toby Smith states. The group is founded in research in social science; they use evidence gathered from focus groups in Europe and the USA to examine the emotional responses to different photographic depictions of the climate crisis. Smith says they want to see a more compelling and diverse visual language around climate change: less “polar bears, factories and glaciers… all of which have the really neat trick of signifying climate change, but still producing a large amount of cynicism and inactivity”. It’s this cynicism that they hope photography can help overcome in order to build our collective investment in reducing environmental harm.Jonas Bendiksen China. Qinghai province. 2009. In the Yellow Rivers headwaters area. Just outside Hua Shi Xia, a settlement for resettled nomads. The pictured family were resettled from the surrounding area around (…)
Jonas Bendiksen Tajikstan. 2009. In the village of Shohi Safed by the Zerafshan river in the Zerafshan valley. Muholol “General” Ahmedov (73), picking currants from a tree. Next to him are two water irrigation pip (…)
Jonas Bendiksen China. Qinghai province. 2009. In the Yellow Rivers headwaters area, about 40m drive from Madoi town, towards Yushu. Sand dunes show the increasing desertification of the Tibetan plateau, with shal (…)
It is perhaps because the climate crisis has presented a new challenge to practitioners (how do you go about capturing an existential threat, moving at literally glacial speed, in a single frame?) that imagery has often felt reductive in the face of a challenge on the scale of the climate crisis. Magnum photographer Cristina de Middel, who covered the 2019 wildfires in Brazil, describes exactly this: “The drama and the destruction that was happening was hard to capture and express with just images of flames and burnt pieces of the jungle. The scale of everything was overwhelming and by framing that reality, and deciding which piece of it would become a picture, I was actually losing the magnitude of it”.Cristina de Middel The Xavante tribe is known to be aggressive and a warrior society. They call themselves “the invisibles”. Fire plays an important role in their traditions. They use if for hunting and also to keep (…)
Cristina de Middel The fazenda of Sidnei Hübner is just 800 acres, a small one for the area. In the beginning of Augusta fire burnt 2/3 of his area right after the corn harvest. The fire started at a some neighbours (…)
Cristina de Middel Entrance of the fazenda Flamboyant, a 800 acre propertu focused in corn and soy production. The owner, Sidnei Hübner arrived from the South 40 years ago looking for cheaper land to cultivate. In (…)
“I think it depends on what you expect photography to do or what you expect of the photographer,” says Sim Chi Yin in reference to the challenges posed by photographing the climate crisis. “I think this is a deeper question about whether photography and photographers are expected to be advocates and activists as well,” she continues. “There are things that may translate photographically into climate change and some things that don’t”. Sim has been working on her project Shifting Sands, documenting the social and environmental cost of the land reclamation industry in East and Southeast Asia. Previously taking an ‘infrastructural gaze’, shot at ground level, capturing the people and places affected, she has since adopted a birds-eye view, producing strikingly beautiful other-wordly landscape photography. It’s not uncommon to hear criticism of photography, particularly in the realm of editorial, for making terrible things look too beautiful. This is an all too familiar conundrum for Smith in his work at Climate Visuals: “I spend a lot of my time arguing with the media about social science but the other side is that I spend a lot of time arguing with social scientists about the subjective qualities of photography,” he says.NEWSROOMA Mirage of Luxury Built on SandSim Chi YinSim Chi Yin Singapore. Tuas. 2017. From “Shifting Sands”, 2017 – on-going. Land reclamation works are on-going at this area of Tuas, Singapore’s westernmost area where a new massive container port — the w (…)
Sim Chi Yin Tractors plough through piles of sand which have been deposited by sand barges at the Forest City development — a joint venture between a China developer with the state government and Sultan of Joh (…)
In essence, though accurate and impactful depictions of the climate crisis are the goal, the photos need to be published if you’re going to achieve that, and the pictures have to be good or that’s not going to happen. For Sim Chi Yin, the beauty of her Shifting Sands images were an entirely deliberate move away from the more ‘ditactic heavy-handed approach’ she once took; here, the aestheticization of a challenging topic is a strategy to encourage on-going engagement in a difficult conversation.Vietnam. Mekong River. 2017. Ha Thi Be, 67, poses for a portrait with the two young grandsons who lived with her in this ancestral home, Ha Duy Phuc, 11, and Ha Trung Kien, 4. The children have rar (…)
Sim Chi Yin Vietnam. Phu Thuan B commune. 2017. Ms Lam Thi Kim Muoi, 43, poses for a portrait in her family’s ancestral house abandoned a year ago (2016) after riverbank erosion snapped part of it off into th (…)
There is, for obvious reasons, an excess of what might be referred to as ‘disaster photography’ in coverage of the climate crisis. The aesthetic properties of these images ‘sell’ but, according to Climate Visuals research, don’t create a meaningful, or – perhaps more accurately – an actionable, response in the viewer. The Global South has already suffered a disproportionate number of climate disasters, simply because populations and ecosystems in tropical, higher-latitude regions experience the worst effects of rising global temperatures. As a result, you’d be forgiven as a consumer of photography for thinking that climate change wasn’t affecting Western Europe. This echoes the experience of de Middel: “I think we are still in a stage where environmental issues are perceived as something exotic and distant, even if they are not. Despite the frequent vivid reminders of the seriousness of the situation, the threat sounds distant and that makes the sense of urgency very difficult to convey”. Many people don’t relate to these images beyond the shock and awe of the moment, because it doesn’t resonate with their own demographic construct. This in turn, has resulted in the othering of communities in the Global South as they are continually represented as victims, often by foreign Western photographers, as a way to capture the climate crisis in a way that’s seen as visually appealing. Rarely do we see the photography of practitioners with lived experience of climate disasters in the Global South, and rarely do Western photographers’ cameras turn to document the effect of climate change closer to home.ARTS & CULTUREBoa Noite PovoCristina de MiddelCristina de Middel and Bruno Morais From the project ‘Boa Noite Povo’. In 2017, when we moved to the Mata Atlántica jungle in Brazil, and started cohabiting with the frantic wildlife of the area, we decided to start exploring the exi (…)
Cristina de Middel and Bruno Morais From the project ‘Boa Noite Povo’. Boa Noite Povo is a mix of archival imagery, directed animal action, night photography and plastic intervention of ephemeral pieces that show the complexity of th (…)
This, at least in part, can be attributed to a general desire for simple narratives when taking on an issue as huge and amorphous as the climate crisis. And, in a parallel and more practical sense, the causes and impacts of climate change are more compelling and cinematic than, say, the solutions to the climate crisis. So, reaching Net Zero – achieving an overall balance between emissions produced and emissions taken out of the atmosphere – has the potential, in Smith’s own words, “to be a really boring photographic essay”. There is however, an “extremely powerful” way to communicate the issue, by combining images of disaster with images of solutions and action.NEWSROOMFuture Proofing Life on EarthJonas BendiksenJonas Bendiksen Bangladesh. Genduram in the Gaibandha district. 2010. Flooded village. The three villagers standing / sitting by jute on small ‘island’: Rafiqul Islam (sitting on jute, left), Mohammad Delwar Hoss (…)
But this in itself presents a challenge, and gets to the heart of the problem of documenting the climate crisis in photography; how can photographers tell more nuanced and innovative stories within their relatively narrow medium? Jonas Bendiksen, who documented Bangladeshi communities experiencing chronic flooding, says that “photography has a tendency to oversimplify; it’s not the easiest medium to formulate a complex thought process; it tends to rely on ‘good’ versus ‘bad’ and be less focused on the complexities of things”. He’s increasingly interested in the ‘grey zones’, for instance how photography of Western consumerism also provides an important perspective on the climate crisis, but is frustrated by limitations of the platforms that are available. There’s an increasing pressure, driven by social media, for single images or a couple of slides to have an impact, to be easily-digestible. Climate change, particularly its effect on the Global North, will not reveal itself so it can be fitted neatly onto social media feeds. The commodification of environmental images, which we could describe as the photograph-social media industrial complex, also leads to an oversaturation of images, resulting in just the apathy that the Climate Visuals is endeavouring to avoid.THEORY & PRACTICEMost People Were SilentSim Chi YinJonas Bendiksen Bangladesh. Padmapukur. 2009. On the ‘char’ (silt island) of Padmapukur, in the Ganges delta. Hurricane Aila destroyed the dikes, thus causing daily flooding of the communities. Most of the village (…)
Some are already looking to overcome these limiting factors, like de Middel. “As a communicator, I find it interesting to explore new ways of presenting issues whose narratives are already exhausted and who suffer from over-reporting,” she says, “I believe it is part of the job to keep the audience interested and curious to know more”. Sim Chi Yin says “I think it’s no longer enough just to make the pictures and put it through an editorial channel” — where it is consumed for a day, and then forgotten about. As Sim grew increasingly frustrated with the limits of single image photography, she experimented with exhibition installations, performance lectures, and for her Shifting Sands project, a VR installation that has yet to be completed due to lack of funding. She says, “I think we live in a different time, and this period of information and imagery-saturation needs different types of visual strategies for storytelling”.Sim Chi Yin Malaysia. 2017. From “Shifting Sands”, 2017- on-going. A family takes a walk and goes fishing in an area in southern Malaysia now covered with giant sand dunes. The Danga Bay area is earmarked for (…)License |
Smith makes it clear that it’s not just the photographers and content generators, who sit at the wide bottom of the ‘pyramid’ of the photography industry, who can play a role in shifting public perceptions of the climate crisis. It’s also the agency, distribution, and media companies who occupy the top of the pyramid and choose what is and isn’t seen by a wider audience. There needs to be the funding and interest to commission work that can take on the long story-arc of the climate crisis in all its complexity.
Photography is an enormously powerful way of communicating the challenges posed by the climate crisis, inspiring outrage, anger and fear. But it also has greater potential to engage people beyond these fleeting emotions – giving form to the sometimes abstract nature of the challenges facing us – moving people to hope and action. Visual storytelling can and should be a crucial tool for building a social mandate around tackling climate change, but as many have been forced to take stock and adjust to the new reality of the climate crisis, so too will the world of photography. NEWSROOM Photographing Australia’s Black SummerPaolo PellegrinCristina de Middel According to the government, 2019 was a normal year in terms of wildfires the state of Mato Grosso. Despite the 85% increase confirmed by the Brazilian National Space Research Institute. The number (…)
Climate activists block M25 for sixth time in fortnight over insulation https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/sep/27/climate-activists-block-m25-for-sixth-time-in-fortnight-over-insulation?utm_term=Autofeed&CMP=twt_gu&utm_medium&utm_source=Twitter#Echobox=1632734072
Cop26 climate talks will not fulfil aims of Paris agreement, key players say https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/sep/27/cop26-climate-talks-will-not-fulfil-aims-of-paris-agreement-key-players-warn?CMP=twt_a-environment_b-gdneco
London’s Met Police is expanding its use of facial recognition technology https://www.wired.co.uk/article/met-police-facial-recognition-new?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=onsite-share&utm_brand=wired-uk&utm_social-type=earned via @WiredUK
Insulate Britain might be irritating but research shows that their tactics are likely to work https://inews.co.uk/opinion/insulate-britain-might-be-irritating-but-research-shows-that-their-tactics-are-likely-to-work-1215350?ito=twitter_share_article-top
Marcus Rashford calls for universal credit cut to be axed https://www.theguardian.com/society/2021/sep/26/marcus-rashford-calls-for-universal-credit-cut-to-be-axed?utm_term=Autofeed&CMP=twt_gu&utm_medium&utm_source=Twitter#Echobox=1632663270
Elliott Erwitt’s image of the 1959 moment dubbed The Kitchen Debate shows Richard Nixon’s body language as bold and confrontational, with Nixon jabbing his finger at Nikita Khrushchev’s chest: https://bit.ly/39hyGaA
An ongoing diary of stuff, allsorts, and things wot happen ……
I am a photographer with a special interest to document the lives of travelling people and those attending Festivals, Stonehenge etc, what the press often describe as ‘New Age Travellers’ and many social concerns.
With my photography, I have tried to say something of the wide variety of people engaged in ‘Alternatives’, and youths’ many sub-cultures and to present a more positive view.
I have photographed many free and commercial events and have, in recent years, extended my work to include dance parties (’rave culture’), gay-rights events, environmental direct actions, and protest against the Criminal Justice Act and more recently, issues surrounding the Global Capitalism.
Further, police surveillance has recently become a very important subject for me!
In recognition of this work, received a ‘Winston’ from Privacy International, at the 1998 ‘Big Brother’ Awards. The citation reads: “Alan Lodge is a photographer who has spent more than a decade raising awareness of front-line police surveillance activities, particularly the endemic practice of photographing demonstrators and activists”.
“Cowardice asks the question, ‘Is it safe?’ Expediency asks the question, ‘Is it politic?’ Vanity asks the question, ‘Is it popular?’ But, conscience asks the question, ‘Is it right?’
And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because one’s conscience tells one that it is right.”
Martin Luther King Jr.
“In Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance.
In Switzerland they had brotherly love – they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock!!”
Harry Lime [Orsen Wells] The Third Man 1949
“Civilization will not attain to its perfection, until the last stone from the last church, falls on the last priest.”
“….I have an important message to deliver to all the cute people all over the world.
If you’re out there and you’re not cute, maybe you’re beautiful, I just want to tell you somethin’- there’s more of us ugly mother-fuckers than you are, hey-y, so watch out now…”