Documentary

We Are Many

We Are Many tells for the first time the remarkable story of the biggest protest in history, and how it changed the world: www.wearemany.com Eight years in the making, filmed in seven countries, and including interviews with John Le Carre, Damon Albarn, Brian Eno, Danny Glover, Mark Rylance, Richard Branson, Hans Blix and Ken Loach amongst others, it charts the birth and rise of the people power movements that are now sweeping the world, all through the prism of one extraordinary day.

Laura El Tantawy: In the Shadow of The Pyramids

Very Inspirational talk by Laura El Tantawy today at University Campus, Weston College.

Laura El-Tantawy is an Egyptian photographer. She was born in Worcestershire, England to Egyptian parents & grew up between Saudi Arabia, Egypt & the US. In 2002, she started her career as a newspaper photographer with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel & Sarasota Herald- Tribune (USA). In 2006, she became freelance so she could focus on pursuing personal projects. She is a graduate of the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia (USA) with dual degrees in journalism & political science.

Laura discussed her path into photography and her choice to focus on personal projects rather than assignment work. “It’s important for me to maintain my sense of independence as a photographer. There is more than one road to doing so and given the nature of the profession and the sheer number of photographers versus work, it is important to understand who you are and what your work represents amid this influx of imagery in order to find your place,” she says. Her talk focussed on her long-term project “In the Shadow of the Pyramids”, with pictures spanning 2005-2014 covering the political and social upheaval in Cairo’s streets along with her personal search for identity in a changing country. The book is being published by Dewi Lewis and due for release in late January 2015.

Visit her site below to see her work

In The Shadow of The Pyramid is Laura El-Tantawy's photography project of Egypt during the Arab Spring. "I am an Egyptian citizen. For the first time in my life I feel hope. The popular revolution of January 25, 2011 revived a long lost sense of pride & dignity for Egyptian people & its implications are reverberating across the Middle East.

Hindu scriptures say a person who commits suicide becomes part of the spirit world, wandering the earth until he/she would have normally died. Over the past 15 years, more than 250,000 farmers have committed suicide in India. Many had borrowed money through government lending schemes or private lenders to plant more efficient crops, but could not pay off their debts. Because of the extremely fast transition India has undergone — from a rural to an industrial, urban economy with an open market — farmers have been confronted by immense social and economic problems. This has especially impacted cotton farmers in the state of Maharashtra. “I’ll Die For You” explores the epidemic of farmer suicides using still photography, video and archival documents. The project takes as its focus the peculiar bond between man and land, a relationship unique to farmers given their reliance on the land for livelihood and the equal reliance of the land on farmers for survival. It's a relationship based on love, trust and nurturing and goes far beyond the customary attachment one has with his/her source of livelihood. This relationship is symbolically represented in close up pictures from farmer's skin juxtaposed against details from the landscape photographed in a way that attempts to blur the distinction between man and land to show in this environment the land and its inhabitants are one and the same: When one dies, so does the other. This short film is my window into film making. It is narrated by farmers who experienced the suicides first hand as it was imperative for me to attach a face and voice to this story - to humanize the issue and bring it to the attention of a global audience given the story remains largely under documented in the international media. copyright 2013 © Laura El-Tantawy / VII Photo Mentor Program

Black Friday's

I thought these images from different 'Black Friday's' made interesting Juxtapositions.

'A day once synonymous with fighting for social justice has been rebranded to being associated with fighting for large, flat panel TVs and energy hungry gadgets'...'Whoever named Black Friday failed history at school or was being bitterly ironic, as the precedents are bleak. You can pick between the chronic ‘Black Friday’ stock market crash of 1869, driven by gold speculators, or the brutal ‘Black Friday’ assaults by police on Suffragettes in 1910.' Andrew Simms  Onehundredmonths.org

Tesco, Eastville, Bristol 2014 . The disagreement was just one of many which unfolded in Tesco stores across the country as shoppers desperately tried to get their hands on some of the Black Friday bargains.  Read more

Tesco, Eastville, Bristol 2014. The disagreement was just one of many which unfolded in Tesco stores across the country as shoppers desperately tried to get their hands on some of the Black Friday bargains. Read more

The photograph the government tried to hide. Suffragette Ada Wright collapses through police violence on Black Friday. 18/11/1910. London.  

The photograph the government tried to hide. Suffragette Ada Wright collapses through police violence on Black Friday. 18/11/1910. London.
 

Autumn 1892 in Bristol saw a violent class war between employers, strike-breaking labour and police on one side and strikers and their mass of working class supporters on the other.

Autumn 1892 in Bristol saw a violent class war between employers, strike-breaking labour and police on one side and strikers and their mass of working class supporters on the other.

A woman urges people not to shop as she protests the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.   Photograph: Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images   

A woman urges people not to shop as she protests the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Photograph: Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images
 

28th November 2014, UK: 'Police have been called to supermarkets across the UK amid crowd surges as people hunt for "Black Friday" offers.' BBC

28th November 2014 USA: 'For the past two nights protesters dismayed by the outcome of the Ferguson grand jury have taken their defiance to the streets of cities across the US'Ferguson activists direct anger at police brutality into Black Friday boycott. Campaign against consumer holiday crops up with modified slogans ‘Hands up don’t shop’ and ‘Don’t riot don’t buy' it’ Ed Pilkington Guardian

'Friday 18th November 1910) a suffragette deputation to the House of Commons met with a six hour onslaught of police brutality resulting in a the Suffragettes beginning a huge window smashing campaign in protest.' CounterFire

'Autumn 1892 in Bristol saw a violent class war between employers, strike-breaking labour and police on one side and strikers and their mass of working class supporters on the other. Picketing, mass marches and public meetings of thousands of ‘new’ industrial unionists were common, culminating in the use of military and police by the local state to break up a pre-Christmas lantern parade organised to collect money for strikers and their families. This event, which popularly became known as ‘Black Friday’, is an iconic moment in Bristol’s history exposing the relations of force between ‘owners’ and ‘workers’.' BRH
 

'Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red' by artist Paul Cummins. Poppy Memorial at Tower of London.

In 2014 the Tower of London will be commemorating the centenary anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War through a major art installation, in collaboration with ceramic artist Paul Cummins. The Tower's dry moat will be filled with 888,246 ceramic poppies -- one for each British fatality during the war.

A few weeks back I visited the World War 1 memorial, 'Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red' created by ceramic artist Paul Cummins, with setting by stage designer Tom Piper, at The Tower of London. It is an immense Installation and I like many of the millions that have flocked to see it found it a profoundly moving spectacle, despite the crowds, 'gentle jostling and sense of fun'.

However I do feel Jonathan Jones, writing in The Guardian,  does make some very important points and valid arguments regarding the memorial.

'By the time Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red is completed – and it’s nearly there now – it will consist of 888,246 ceramic poppies, each representing a British fatality in the first world war. It is deeply disturbing that a hundred years on from 1914, we can only mark this terrible war as a national tragedy. Nationalism – the 19th-century invention of nations as an ideal, as romantic unions of blood and patriotism – caused the great war. What does it say about Britain in 2014 that we still narrowly remember our own dead and do not mourn the German or French or Russian victims?'

And in a later, article, defending his arguments against the severe backlash he wrote:

'In so explicitly recording only the British dead of world war one, this work of art in its tasteful way confirms the illusion that we are an island of heroes with no debt to anyone else, no fraternity for anyone else.

The war poet Wilfred Owen did not want us to remember him and his contemporaries with the bland sentimentality of this installation. He wished instead we could witness what he witnessed, a young man dying in a gas attack:

If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs, Obscene as cancer … My friend, you would not tell with such high zest To children ardent for some desperate glory, The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est Pro patria mori.

A true work of art about the first world war would need to be as obscene as cancer. But Owen, who died soon after writing this, is “represented” by one of those ceramic flowers now, his bitter truth smoothed away by the potter’s decorous hand.'

Links to the full articles are below: