Category Archives: photography
Rock down in the Electric Avenue, on perfect time to celebrate an independence day, an’ an’ we’ll take it higher, as Eddy Grant used to sing.
Well, Brixton is high, you can swear to it. And in flames.
In the borough where there’s the first street to be lit by electricity in the 1880′s, so called Electric, thousands of Jamaican flags, t-shirts, jumpsuits, hotpants, bums, net covered bellies, yellow green and black are everywhere for the Brixton Splash, an annual celebration inspired by the riots of the 1981 to support the local community.
Forget about devastating riots, forget about Copeland bombs attacks. Brixton has hosted the biggest national proudness so far, taking the “far away country you can always call it home” higher, in those multicultural inclusive olympics games.
On the day before the 50th anniversary of the Jamaican independence, on a four season british Sunday, hit by heavy rain on the north and light by hot sun in the south, just few hours before see again the speediest man in the world confirm his strength and sponsors, Brixton Town centre has became the place where people build community, a poor, multicultural borough still considered dodgy where everyone is happy to party in the streets.
Atlantic Road, Coldharbour Lane, Effra Road, Electric Lane, Windrush Square, where back in the 1948 the first wave of immigrants (492 individuals) formed the British African-Caribbean community in London. Enticed by an advert appeared in a Jamaican newspaper, which offered a cheap dream to come and work in the UK, they arrived by the Empire Windrush, a giant hope holding ship. Dreamers of a different future, no immigration restrictions for citizens of the British Empire, plenty of work in the post war British Railway and transport, welcome to the Mother Land and her prejudice, intolerance and extreme racism, so far away from the modern obsession for politically correctness.
Windrush Square today is a BBQ smoky main performance stage, with locals spread all around and british auto-relegated on the left hand side. You can find Red Stripes and “rum with stuff” and any kind of food you’re looking forward to taste on the international cuisine courts. Rap- reggae- angry- yelled dubstep music and some kind of kids whistles. Family choice’s place, police officers are holding mini Jamaican flags close to the guns, a couple of curly children with Rastaman t-shirts and air balloon guitars to play Bob Marley are fighting to climb on the neck of their old british school tattooed grandpa. Looks like fun, a quiet fun.
Round the corner you enter into a post nineties street party, ganja flavors in the air, high untiring hippies, rastamen, white suited with brimmed Panama’s hats.
It doesn’t look like London, or maybe it’s another way London disguises itself.
That’s a real multicultural glorification: be free to occupy the streets.
Trying to get through the crowd, while the seniors jamaican are watching you on the side of the streets, is the opposite of the cheered and controversial crowd management of those british olympics. There’s no need of management, no fences or barriers, no forced directions to take, cars are stuck in the traffic on the border lines of this crazy area cranking the volume up to 11, young girls drinks alcohol pops from paper bags, hooded crooks smile with their shiny 24-carats teeths, couples forget the meaning of decency over shop’s shutters, the whole thing is just out of control,an awful mess without the West-end paranoia, people shouts to each other but it’s just for a laugh.
The 4 sound systems dislocated in different streets seems to fight each other with music shots, you can’t breath or walk, pressed in the crowding you can just let it go, better dance and bend on you knees, following the deadly loud music in the street.
Someone is dancing in front of the maxi speakers in a sort of psychedelic solo dance, the old woman at the side seems to not care about the volume enjoying the uncommon scene of collective madness, workers with smocks get outside the butchers and stop themselves working for a glance of freedom, fluttered jamaican flags in the children hands alongside half empty cans of beer in the adults hands, groups of friends praise each other on the best support jamaican colors outfit, very fatty powerful women move the muscles out of their bodies, BBQ close ovens fume as hell, in some food stands someone is using a ridiculously oversized knife to cut a coconut for your next favorite rum summer drink, general screams when “Everything’s gonna be alright” Bob Marley voice comes out of the speakers.
And everything’s gonna be alright for real, even if there’s still vivid memory of the last summer riots, the shops in flames and the looting, even if in some places you can still find the “wanted” pictures of the rioters in the windows, even if some shops today have closed early in Brixton. Come on man, hold back and calm down.
Who you really have to blame for it?
There’s anyway a silent formed organization, there’s a kind of awaited tension which explodes just at once when a couple of rival gangs start throwing empty bottles each other in a fight in the middle of the street party. Police cordon to divide them, families with children taking the opposite way, twits and pictures in the yell to be the first on the web. Nothing really major happened, the party has not been ruined and Brixton is still full of echoes of “Guns of Brixton”, so you can crush them, you can bruise them, but you can’t stop the music. The party goes on until the live of the most significant olympics event of the 100m men’s final as perfect Jamaica Day. Bolt wins, Jamaica and Brixton explode in flames, “Out of Many, One People” the theme of the party, it doesn’t really matter for a day where you’re from, just don’t forget tomorrow what happened when London plays with fire.
That’s it, the most crazy day of the week is the most relaxed according to the olympics tragedy expectations. More than 3 decades from the 80s riots, Brixton remains an iconic area full of life, the demonstration of how things can work even with thousands of high people squeezed in a very small perimeter.
2 weeks of sponsors – day4 Where we try to get a closer look to the stadium, we can’t avoid Westfield but finally we find a hint of what the olympic spirit is all about
Not a chance to get near to the olympic park (“if you have tickets take the right. No ticket: left”) since we decided to report for the 2 weeksproject without buyin ANY ticket, the best view available for us is a ridicolous “viewing platform” in Westfield shopping centre from where you can see a wonderful view of the the shopping mall, a slice of the stadium, and part of the Orbit iron sculpture. To have a nice picture of the olympic park you need a tele glass and a ladder as well, since the olympics of inclusion are surrounded by 11 miles of exclusion fence dotted by checkpoints guarded by the army. To reach the olympic park, you have to pass through Westfield, the biggest shopping centre of Europe, at the moment in full nationalistic fervor: almost every window has a british flag, I suppose the is so high because of the strict rules about using the 5 circles logo. We can’t cash on the games, let’s use the flag, that this year helped selling products like champagne, japanese t-shirts, and american media.
A company have to pay a big deal of money to exploit the olympic brand but having a whole bridge, a train station or a 25 storey building with your brand on it can be perceived as good value from money. Another option if you have cash to splash is to fund a huge sculpture of torn iron and brand it with your name,that by the way is the name of your company too.
Funny thing about these sponsorships is that you’re in or you’re out: in the biggest olympic venues you can get money out of a cash machine only with Visa, if you want chips you can buy them only from McDonalds (tasty even in the middle of a marathon) while the competitors can sell them only with fish.
But even if you were partially responsible of a massive chemical disaster in Bhopal during the 80s, you still have the chance of redemption in wrapping the olympic stadium with advertisement, DOW chemical.
All the others have to be creative in ripping the event’s name off: some combinations of words are banned from commercial use London 2012, olympic, and you have to be careful with “Games” “Summer” “Gold” “Silver” “Bronze” “frienship” “30″ “XXX” and the 5 colours of the symbol too. On the Locog site there’s a 61 pages document about marketing rights, it explains in detail why you can’t refer to London as an olympic host city or why you can’t write on a t-shirt Made in London 2012.
Doesn’t matter, in Stratford especially every business and every church is quite creative in linking its identity with the event. we have the four circles of “the assembly of God” , “the closest venue to the olympic stadium”, a “jesus loves you” flyer disguised as a tourist guide in purple and with two circles.
Stratford is like a Jerusalem temple in reverse: inside the shopping, outside religion fanatics of all sorts, divided by the Meridian line that pass through the bus station. Inside Westfield everybody want to save my skin/teeth/style, outside everybody want to save my soul : Geova, the Team Islam, adventists, the “Team Jesus TV is coming soon”, Mr Samba a clairvoyant with spirital powers of (his) ancestral master spirit. Other leaflet I’ve been handed today: “the truth about drugs”, “beware of religious fanatics handing out pamphlets”, a DVD with a channel four documentary about Sri Lanka’s killing fields handed by a supporter of a hunger strike against the Sri Lanka’s inclusion in the olympics.
Anyway, in Stratford at the moment everybody is involved either in buyin, selling or exchanging something olympic related: salvation, shoes, drinks, beers, fish and chips, badges. Everybody loves to be here and is enjoying this time, even the locals are proud of it, forgotten by every authority, harassed by 6 years of roadworks, ripped-off by the raising prices of housing and pints, physically excluded from part of their own neighborhood; but now at last every doubt is wiped off the blackboard for two weeks.
On the way out I ask a volunteer what is the olympic spirit to him and he replies “it comes in a bottle”
So me and the team we follow the hint and head to the nearest pub.
2 weeks of debauchery, day 3. In the East-End night where nobody sleeps, a transexual hisses, speakeasies thrive and in general “life is sooo good”.
The light hit me hard, but not as hard as the children’s song form the house on the other side of the road: “If you’re happy raise your hands on the old farm children’s song..” The worst soundtrack for an horrible hangover. I prepare coffee and some Rodinal to develope the films, that somehow I managed not to lose in last night’s madness. My team inform me that when I came home at 7.30 AM I didn’t stop talking for an hour or so, in fear of forgetting everything about my night discoveries about the olympic spirit. Glad I did it, because now watching the strips of film hanging in the bathroom is like peeking into someone else’s memories.
I wondered how people were partying in the streets of the London East-End on the first week-end of the olympics, so I left home around midnight, a summer night of breeze with people rampaging the streets in search of booze to ease the heat. I wander through Old street, the sylicon roundabout, Bethnal Green, Brick Lane, Shoreditch High Street. All the clubs are full of people, queing patiently to be searched by security at the entrance. At the door of the City of London beats from a rave party mingles with the Heron Tower. Everybody on the street is carrying a bottle or is tryin to get in some place. With this kind of heat there is no way I close myself in some dance club. I take pictures of what I see: a poster of a man in antiterrorism outfit carrying the olympic torch, a very sad guy sitting on the street, legs of people waiting for the bus, a cross-dresser in tights and sandals just out of a party at the exclusive Shoreditch House, two guys running in an alley carrying a home made torch, an east european worker in a 24 hours car wash, I ask him about his job but he doesn’t speak english.
Taking pictures of the people queing is not funny anymore, and after two hours of walk I sit down to have a chat with this bloke sitting on the street with two huge plastic bags full of cans, just outside a big club and its big queue. He’s telling the security guard how he found a parfume and he sprayed it and the parfume was not parfume but it was Mace pepper spray and he ran into pubs to wash it away but everybody was turning him away. They both laugh. We start talking about the olympics and he’s happy about it, despite drinking all day he loves sport and being healthy, He says his job is to give food to cats and foxes, and it is important to keep doing something if you’re unemployed. He’s from Turkey and talk slowly with this low voice. “I have many friends like me, we have a flat lo live but we like to drink on the streets and we beg. Some friends of mine are squatters or anarchists, some of them they went on the bycicles yesterday in Stratford and they were in 68, they’ve been cattled by 120 police officers. Too many security, and now have to show the newspaper a justification f .. far too much! They didn’t do anything against the law, they were cycling and were arrested because . I too was there but not protesting,because I like sport, is good, healthy and social is the capitalist part of it is bad the exploitation and the destroy greenery. I would love to see the olympics but there is no way to even come close for me. Have a cigarette, I found them, I found everything in my life, life is sooo goood” Then he suddenly jumps away going somewhere in the night, like he’s late for an appointment.
I decide to hit Shoreditch High Street and next to the strip clubs there is this transvestite with a bottle of cider that is falling on the floor. I help her, “are you alright?” “…” “Can you here me?” “…sss…” She can hear me but can’t speak. She speak in a hiss, Lady Gaga her name she tells me. Come, let’s go for a walk .. she explain she can’t talk because her husband cut her throat with a knife.. she got a collection of scars on the chest and neck but I can’t see the throat scar. She stops groups of people hissing “shhhhhhhh” .. Most of them are disgusted .. “..Mate, you’re nipple is out!” “What the fuck is THAT” some are not, a girl in her 20s stops and kiss her. “sheee was beautiful sssss”, we take some drinks at an off licence and she gobbles a small Jack Daniel’s. She ask me to shoot pictures of her, she asks me if I have a pussy. I say no, I don’t have one. She says she’s going to find a pussy, or maybe two so in case I want one too. I said I’m allright as I am but she doesn’t listen and start scaring all the people arond once again, this time in search of a pussy.
At the Tesco near overground station there are more people sitting outside. Lady Gaga run away somewhere, and this homeless guy at the entrance is laughing “she is sooo crazy”. And there’ this lad, middle age, disheveled silver hair and a guitar case: “Did you realize she got a dick, mate ?” I did .. I’m not looking for that kind of thing, ” I start talkin with the guitar man outside the Tesco, and this somalian guy that just came, Tom, he’s very polite and we’re having a laugh and then he comes his friend, baseball T-shirt, aggro type with gold teeth, obviously the boss, he speak to his friend like in a school lesson “Tom, why you wasting your time talking to strangers at the corner of a fuckin store? Time is money and you are losing money here talkin rubbish. You don’t know them, if you are bleeding on the streets they wouldn’t raise a finger for you brof” and he got in the Tesco again. The guitar man than started talkin again with Tom “You’re a good man, but careful, he is a control freak he will drag you down” Tom “I’m tryin to raising him up, he’s family, for the somalians I’m half Ethopia, for Ethiops I’m half Somali .. life is dangerous” He shows us two big scars on the arm, he is part of this gang but he’s allright. The boss resurface from the supermarket and pick on Tom again:”Are you stlll here, wasting your time with strangers?..”and he goes along the time is money, strangers are rubbish line. This time the guitar man stops him “Hey, I’m here, talk to me, I’m human ..and time is far more valuable than money”you know what? We have a word for what you are saying: gobshite. Gob means mouth and shite means shite” He had a wise and convincing way to say that, his charisma preventing somehow the situation to degenerate, the leader of the gang anxious to go back to his business. Some more chat with the guitar man and I’m on the way to Dalston, maybe 5 AM.
Sun is rising on an incredibly tidy Kingsland Road, , they clean it twice during the night. There are some guys just out from a party in a basement on the main street, a designer-photography studio with a street entrance that doubles up as a semi-legal club. Tattoos and some R&B house still going on, they tell me drinks are cheap so for the sake of journalism I feel obliged to check it out .. a dark place with pavement covered in sticky booze, an illegalbar with cans and third class alcohol from unknown brands, people dancing for the last hours, others sleeping on sofas. I stay for a while keeping a watch at the bar, everybody is still thirsty and voices are raising, violence never too far from the surface. Time to move. At Stoke Newington I found Andrzey and Dominic, one is unable to walk straight, gets sick every 50 m and has forgotten english, the other one is still kind of ok and he’s tryin to lead the friend home, but is more than happy to have some few drink. He tell me they worked as builders in the Olympic park and once finished they were now both unemployed, they had a good night out but doesn’t remember where. We stop outside a close shop to finish some Tisky cans and after few minutes there is this police van watching us from 10 mt away. Andrzey wants to drink more, for me is enough and I don’t want to test the kindness of policemen with drunk people during olympic time in the early hours of the day.. The Way home still long so off I go.
On Stoke Newington High Street I make acquaintance with Francis, he has 55 years, gray hair and dark eyes, he’s from India and is homeless since he had rows with the wife about bills and money. They used to manage a hotel but So he went on the streets, where he plays a flute between Stoke Newigton High Street and Church Street, he is very proud of his hand made wooden carved flute, he studied music in his country and want to show me, he start playing a sweet melody in the desert dawn of shut organic stores, estate agencies and charity shops of Church Street. He finish playing and tells me that he loves his wife and will go back home one day.
The next encouter is an italian lady that lives in Bangkok, she’s jogging in the park and she’s happy because London is full of green and in Bangkok you can only do jogging on the streets, she wanted to see athletics but couldn’t get the tickets.
Then I’m home, sun is high (it will rain later, of course) and every kind of sport is already on the screens, shiny tracksuits and bikinis, China has the most golds, in Jamaica many will finish earlier the weekly christian mass to see Usain Bolt.
Maybe I haven’t found what this olympic spirit is but I think I learnt something inclusion and exclusion, and I wouldn’t exchange last night for a VIP pass to the olympic village.
Opening ceremony’s day, 27 July 2012. Let’s have a close look at this “inclusive” and “innovative” olympics. Let’s see if public transport is a nightmare. Let’s see find out what the olympic spirit is. The media team of 2weeks is ready to go.
I was expecting the worst but Central London in the morning is quiet. You can almost walk straight in Leicester and Trafalgar square. On the corner there is House Canada. I ask if there will be any event going on and the answer is: “are you an athlete?” (I’m obviously not) “are you friend or part of an athlete’s family?” Again no and no. “Sorry there’s nothing here for the public” “Allright thanks”. Oh yeah, Canada you suck.
Time for my team to move away. I heard about Casa Italia, wrote down something on a piece of paper that I lost.. I remember Elizabeth something. Not a big clue for London. But there’s one of the favorite London destination for summer Pimm’s with Elizabeth in the name, just across the river. The road is blocked by fences, some people from the army are searching contractors that need to get inside the park. Following the road diversions my team get lost in a maze of boring central roads with no pubs, dead ends with army checkpoints and tourists takin’ pictures of the royal guards. Yes, that could be a clue. Buckingham Palace. The road is almost desert, crowd controls barriers are around every walkway,the proportion between tourists and security is 1:2. They take pictures promiscuously together, England is one of the only places on earth where a policeman is considered an acceptable company for a souvenir photo. Other tourists are asking where can they buy tickets to go inside Buckingham palace. Next stop: Southbank, but at the Queen Elizabeth’s Auditorium the sound of bongos and scream from the inside warn me that this is not Casa Italia. There are South African crazy dances, everybody looks happy and music is good. A group of girls is running around the stand, jumping shouting and shaking the bums. Then is the turn of 5 guys that do gumboots dance, it’s like a tip tap with wellies’ hand drumming, the atmosphere is good and the event in unrelated with the olympics. South Africa wins.
Then me and the team hit the road again, we pass next to the London Eye (now advertised as “EDF London eye”) where there is now a kind of western theme park sponsored by Mastercard. things are quiet inside: some late morning drinker, families, merry-go-round, VIP area for Mastercard’s owners.
Then the human statue’s walk at its best, where you can find from Michael Jackson to the bronze statue, from the policeman to the fakirs to Hulk. Next to the Big Ben there is one guy carrying a cross and giving “Don’t wait, pray now” flyers, and at least 10 red telephone boxes in 20 meters. Here everyone can have his souvenir picture without queuing for too long.
Then I see Casa Italia, signaled by sober white letters 3 meters high. And at least 10 FIAT’s brand new cars. From the outside it looks like a car dealer. On the way in an hostess inform me about opening hours and asks my details. I give to her the email, thinking that she’s going to send me some newsletters about events and free drink. No, she just wants to send me some advertisement about a bank that doesn’t even exist in England. At the desk they tell me there are no events for the public, the Italian Disco at the 6th floor is for VIP only. But there is a showroom where I can enjoy the Italian experience: a room with blue carpet with some crap from the sponsors, neatly piled prosecco bottles , kitsch crockeries, a scale model depicting the Italian dream of family and sport cars.
The photography exhibition at the 5th floor is not bad: magnum photographers meet Italy and their stereotypical gesticulating characters. Alex Majoli’s pictures are great, but the Paolo Pellegrin’s ones are missing and the organizers didn’t seem to notice it.
In the afternoon we hit the road again in search of the olympic spirit. The opening ceremony is at 9 pm, so at 8 the overground is manageable and the trip is uneventful: an event in itself. Everybody on the train is looking at the stadium and the red steel melted tower.
Once in Stratford we follow pink arrows through a maze of crowd management barriers passages and found ourselves on the Westfield’s bridge. Every single inch of space is covered in advertising from the sponsors, the Stratford’s bridge is now a claustrophobic branded tunnel, leading to a huge building completely covered by a billboard.
From the stairs you can see the people moving like ants, carefully controlled by the screaming security “Tickets” “That way”"Stay clear”. They direct everybody without tickets on the other side of the road. On the other side of the road there is a shopping mall and a small patch of grass where some people are already camping. Cans of beers and Californian wine, mexicans with sombreros and busy asian broadcasters, you can read the desire of being part of something, you can imagine them saying I was near there.
Crossing the street a storm of bikes and long boards disorderly pass by, a wild critical mass. You could tell they were not part of the celebrations. Going down the road we see the same people cyclists passing by again, but quicker. And this time there are policemen throwing off the bike who’s not quick enough to run away. Handcuffs and sirens, TV cameras and a bad night ahead. Somebody try to explain: “Cycling is not against the law .. “ too late, somebody’s already keeping your arms crossed behind your back.
The smarter protesters dismounted the bikes, the others ran into almost one hundred security guards some 300m away: They’re outside Tesco, almost silence, sitting people and their bikes surrounded by 100 policemen. They make pretty clear that Stratford doesn’t like hippies.
Along the High street there are more protesters: Sri Lanka’s freedom, human rights ..and passers-by sipping their off-licence can, peeking through glass windows of cocktail bars to see the ceremony. I saw some cows, hospital beds and what could be Mary Poppins. Others are camping along an highway where you can see the stadium faraway, they are looking at the flickering lights of the stadium, framed by a concrete bridge and an 8 carriages road, already waiting for the final fireworks. Something they can see with their own eyes and not through a screen.
Most of the people are partying inside their houses, St Georges crosses and gin tonics, nobody along the street between West Ham and Victoria Park, a still summer night like a World Cup Final. Some guys are pumping some loud reggae music on Bow Road, high-fiving everybody passing-by, while In Victoria Park we are welcomed by a group of junkies starting a fight.
A long fence is running around the big screens area, after 10 minutes we still can’t find the entrance, just some drunk people tryin to peak inside without any luck. When we find the entrance people are flowing out. They explain us they closed the park before the end of the ceremony so nobody will have problems with public transport. They tell us about the ceremony ” it was ok, from the industrial revolution to the punk era, with the songs everybody knows” , they didn’t sound very impressed .. others were flabbergasted at how amazing it was. I’ll see it tomorrow.
We find our way to Hackney Wick, on a bridge with a view on the stadium there are others waiting for the fireworks, an old couple covered with a flowers blanket, students, Hackney Wick locals. Down, cars are slowly passing-by.
When I’m home I hear the fireworks exploding far-away.
I guess the snipers have had the best view from above.
If you’re crazy enough to try to take pictures during the olympics, some information on your rights can be handy.
Like this bust card I found on Metro in may.
small recap: on public land you can do all the pictures you want and nobody can ask you to delete them. Try to film the incident. They ask for your ID ? Ask theirs.
The guards and the power
I’ve been stopped by security (everybody with an high-visibility jacket nowadays thinks he is “security”) in Stratford, and they ask you to delete the pictures you made ( it took me 10 minutes to explain that in a 1959 Leica camera there’s no button to see the pictures on screen). They always find suspicious if you find interesting something else than the mall and the one-eyed mascottes.
According to this article Guardian’s journalists have been stopped around the O2 arena and security guards refused to let them go away. According to 02′s management “On the basis that [the reporter was] filming areas of the O2 that are not usually of interest to the public, our security staff’s approach and handling of the situation was entirely appropriate.”.
So, the message is clear: do what the others do or prepare to be bothered, they usually try to scare you using the Terrorism Act 2000.
Straight from the MET website:
“Terrorism act 2000
Photography and section 44 of the Terrorist Act 2000
The power to stop and search someone under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 no longer exists.”
They can stop you if they think you are a terrorist. But I’m a photographer, not a terrorist.
What guards can legally do is “to challenge suspicious behaviour and call the police. However, they have no additional legal powers on public land. “ On the other hand I think it’s a citizen right to challenge abusive behaviour.
Guards are entitled to challenge suspicious behaviour and call the police. However, they have no additional legal powers on public land.
On private land they can ask you to stop taking pictures. They can ask you to leave the premises immediately.And if they ask it on private land is usually better put the cap back on and find a better view elsewhere.
Westfield for example is private. If you ask a guard, the bridge leading to the mall is private as well. Funny ah ? The main access to the largest public funded project of the decade is through private land.
the olympic venues
Inside the olympic venues the rules are different, and quite strict about photography, so check them if you find how. I tried and apparently every venue has different rules, and the organizers change their mind very often but sure thing is that no cameras longer than 30 cm will be allowed inside the venues and due to the lack of storage space, if you give them your 30cm+ camera at the entrance, don’t expect to see it again. So, for all Mr John Camera Holmes out there: try to get a camera with a not-so-huge lens. If you don’t have a press pass it means that you probably don’t need that 400 mm. For the price of that fishing rod get a Leica: sport and wildlife photography are so boring.
And point that damn flash elsewhere: it will not reach the other side of the stadium.
Another thing, you won’t be allowed to use mobile phones wi-fi spots inside the venues, so you can scrap the idea of being an on the fly reporter, bow to the official media, relax and get a Pimm’s. Oh, I forgot, Pimm’s is forbidden inside the official venues for not being a sponsor.
Anyway, like all the normal people I’ve got no ticket, so I don’t really care.
There is no problem to do street photography in UK, A quite obvious exception is when you are taking pictures of random people, usually you shouldn’t shoot more than one: even with two pictures you are reliable of harassment, so check twice your rangefinder.
I can’t find any news about it but it was off limits for filming and photography.The most recent informations I could find are from february when photography was forbidden on the site. Just stay away from it, it will be a nightmare.Buy a postcard instead.
Usually you can’t get away with it until somebody come and tell you that your tripod is a tripping hazard. And in a big olympic crowd I’m sure it is. If you’re not shooting 4×5 you don’t really need it on the streets. So leave that beast at home (with your 50 cm tele), if you’re not shaking I’m sure you can have that Tower Bridge picture.
That’s it, you can find more information on the topic on
I almost forgot: good luck and don’t blame me or this article for any handcuffing.
We are proud to present our photobook Fallen Empire, selfpublished in a small print run of 100 copies for the Bristol festival of photography. We’ll release it on saturday 5 may, during the street exhibition “We shape cities” in Johnny Ball Lane, Bristol. Another place where you can find it at Room 212 Gallery (Gloucester road Bristol), where we’ll have another exhibition with our mate Alex Rankin. Room 212 will be open on sunday 6 may and saturday 12 may. Or you can buy it here.
“An immense project” Joseph Beaney
“Roba forte” Mr Occhio one man band
“This book is Damn fun” Valentina
“Che dio ce la mandi buona” Alex
I’ve never had any doubt about the truthfulness neither of Dante’s law of retaliation nor of the London’s law of retail. A couple of weeks ago I bought a copy of Iain Sinclair’s “Ghost Milk” about the olympic project and the redevelopment of Stratford. I’ve started reading it, fascinated by stories of the old east end, on the thin border between import export and black market, a wild pocket of chaos at the city’s doorstep, lunch-hours spent exploring the Lea valley and its hidden paths.
The day after my company called me to inform me that I was being relocated to work in Stratford. For Jesus and Mary’s sake. No excuses, no way to say no.
So now I’m wandering during the lunch-hours in the retail ziggurat of Westfield, strolling along the olympic fence and around the perimeter of the olympic village, looking at people passing by at the bus station, taking pictures that end-up being boring .. if you’re not into shopping there’s not much else the place can offer.
Let’s start from the Stratford Mall, linked with the Stratford City Shopping Centre by an iron gate. The first is something alike to a covered market: vegetables and fish stalls between fast-foods and retail chains, the free structure of a market place framed in a shopping centre: secure, monitored, organized. Outside the mall you can find the Stratford tube station, its polished mirrors reflecting the stripped plaza, toing and froing of shoppers and commuters, the bus station’s white circus tent, metallic parodies of trees growing from debris.
To reach the bridge you have to climb some stairs, slaloming through blond twins from Essex in matching black outfit and burka wearer with three kids. Then you can finally glimpse the solid shape of Westfield and the olympic melt Tour Eiffel rising from the railway sea, shiny like a a train crash. Huge LCDs and a few security guards belonging to different compaies (Westfield security, police, top dog .. Top Dog? Yes, Top Dog too) welcome the visitors. Just outside the overground station a notice inform me that the quickest way to the olympic park is finding my way through Westfield’s maze: OLYMPIC PARK: ENTER THE SHOPPING CENTRE GO UP TO THE NEXT FLOOR, WALK TO THE END OF THE SHOPPING CENTRE AND FOLLOW THE DIRECTION SIGNS”. Hell, be sure to bring an Ariadne’s bloody thread with you.
“Visit the street!” ” Taste the world” “Free massages!” Every sentence ending with an exclamationD mark.
Well, let’s visit “The Street”: M&S on the left, Westfield on the right, straight ahead a Samsung’s shop filled with LCD screens: will prove themselves helpful to watch the games less than 1/4 mile away from the stadium. Fake trees and flowing water’s sound from geometric black benches make a parody of the marshes they’re built on: ancient pagan rites, windmills and nuclear reactors. Prada, Tony & Guy, Fred Perry shops (FP’s advert feature a teenager in some abandoned tennis court relaxing under the sun: “tranquility is a natural cure”). An Holiday Inn provides shelter for the people who get lost in the mall, the street leaning on the stadium wears the colours of the olympic multiculturality: you can eat mexican, italian, japanese.
And then the stadium’s silhouette, and the Arcelormittar Orbit, the evil twin of the Tour Eiffel, already coloured in rusty red, respectfull with Albert Speer’s Ruinenwert theory: “a building should be designed such that if it eventually collapsed, it would leave behind aesthetically pleasing ruins”. Berlin, Summer 1936. The Arcelormittar is amazing: an aesthetically pleasing ruin straight from the box. It is a present from the ArcelorMittal company of the indian steel-tycoon Lakshmi Mittal: another brand in the olympus of the London topography in good company of O2 and Emirates Airline.
Behind the fence of the Olympic Park there is a land inhabited from men in high visibility jacket, the colour marks the tribe: shoking pink, bright orange, highlighter yellow. The Yellows do the dirty work, bricks and mortar, in the lunch break they roam the shopping centre, standing from the crowd, eating a sandwich on a bench or having a laugh with other Yellows. Than we have the pinks, the ones more involved with the events planning, the social hierarchy goes from managers with notebook and pen behind the ear to the human roadsign with chunky pink gloves “Olympic park this way”. There are some Oranges here and there but I still haven’t identified their function, anyway they give a nice touch of colour. Other tribes includes the “Reflectors” from the private army of Westfield and the Yellow-Pinks, half-bloods at the end of the food chain conceived in some obscure Safe and Security meeting in Canary Wharf and brought at the radiactive shadow of the Arcellormittar Orbit.
In the Westfield’s Darwin race the Yellows will be the first to succumb and I give to the Pinks another 6 months. The Reflectors are here to stay, hiding in sleazy offices filled with screens, sitting in car at the exit of multi-storey parking lots, free to multiply and waiting to outnumber the rest of the population.
One of the Yellow-Pinks tribe, a nice bloke, informs me that to see the park I need a ticket, the tickets are all sold-out but the access will be free after the games. At least the official restaurant of the olympics never closes: I think about drowning my disappointment there before to start my shift.
Soon to be sold to the best bidder the next month.
plans: 1200 new luxury homes, a new stadium for the Chelsea ..
The plans for a redevelopment has been ripped after the company that was working on it went bankrupt.
Anyway even the so-called redevelopment involved construction of new buildings in the area.
We used to call this picture “the Dark Queen”.
So long baby
Manifesto for a film.
Long time ago, in A.D. 1839, someone reassured the category of the painters with a minimal affermation:
Photography has everything but the colour.
It was the time of Daguerre and Talbot. Painters were scared to be downgraded by photographers.
After 70 years, a couple of french brothers called Lumière made the Autochrome process up, let the whole world cringe.
Everything that was considered known in the culture of Images before that day, it would never been the same after.
Now, I’m a bit outdated. I wish I could still use the typewriter, send a postcard, drink gin in a teacup, wear wide-bremmed woven hat, take pictures with films without appearing old fogey, or even worst a hipster. I’m doing all those things, indeed.
I don’t think modernity is all bad. I consider it my duty to decide to not use modernity for everything.
Film is not dead. Did you notice that?
I found my Coronet in a carboot sales in Battersea, in the out-of-the-way south of London.
Round the corner of a ex council building misfits sell what they don’t want anymore.
Everytime I go there I want to buy everything.
The Coronet Twelve – 20 was a pseudo TLR made by the Coronet Company in Birmingham, UK, c. 1950. A box with a metal frame and sides. Nothing special.
Surprise, it makes pictures! And it’s real, it’s not a plastic coloured something (thanks anyway Lomography to bring the films in vogue, in a way).
Don’t you find a similar taste in your hipstamatic pictures? Faded, blurred, dirty and rough.
Don’t you find uncanny using an application to take pictures instead of experiencing the anxious wait of developing a film?
With a hipstamatic it’s easier, I agree. But life is not easy and I reckon we’re loosing the heart of doing things. It really takes some cheek to be still alive, in this world. Everything is accessible. Standard behaviour in this apparently democratic society.
Eventually we are all the same.
Well, sometimes we have the choice to not be the same.
I’m still using films because there are still available, because the quality is unreachable with digital.
Because photography is such an old story about developments and chemistry and scratches, and waiting and feelings and battles, and broken frames, why should I loose the right to have all of them?
You can still use your hipstamatic to take pictures of your dog. But doesn’t make you a photographer.
It makes you a new image culture merciless supporter that is adding up to the photography a different and overshot immediate taste.
Well, I’m not a hipster, I’m not a digital supporter, I’m a not to matter photographer that can use a broken old metal box with a Kodak Portra 400 to take the picture of a sick sweety straycat, and after days discovering that the lovely cat looks like the devil.
It is more likely undertake a reluctantly walk, someone holds your hand and you deny the other for the law of retaliation, keeping it clenched in the pocket.
Your eyes are dazed and you hide them behind sunglasses, even if it is dark around you. The light teases you, is because of the neon and the blinking, and of all the passengers eyes which are kicking your attention. They look like to move inside your mind and they cannot fit all. The place is shapeless, so much crowded the outline is not to be seen.
You can barely think what you want to say that a overhanging thought ends up getting off your mind.
You would stop the speed, shift the scene to fit yourself on a more comfortable stage – close your eyes, there’s always something above the level of the floor- but you cannot. This city is a trap, it is a circle of pleasant pity, loyalty to automation you cannot escape from. It might transform you in what She wants you to be. You dare to afford a scale of values no other cities will offer you.
Well, London, here we are.
A police car is passing by. It slows down the sound effect, split in the space of its presence. A police car is passing by, from the wrong side of the street.
The street is silent. Flighty. Swarmed about lights switched off and bodies, laid down on wooden plank to sleep. The street is empty.
The street is free of green, filled with yellow of the lamps. Where am I going, across this made-up enclosure, white tidy fences, where am I going?
London has a queasy taste. Mannerism and pose. It is complex and tragic. It has been pull-over during the night. The street is really silent, sometimes.
Nobody is walking, if someone is walking does he look for anything?
A city is almost the same of any other city.
Get off popular historical sites. Erase unknown languages tunes. Take off of your sight any memories reference.
A city is almost the same of any other relatively large and permanent settlement. It is a place to fit in all the contemporary human skills. Well, any place to be settled in.
Is it that realistic? Have you ever found a place where everything would pretend to belong to you?
A city is a inner place to be. Everything around you is just the well-known way to reach a place, the time spent together, the privileged level of society, where you live, what you are.
How do you do that?
An old fat woman dressing in bright red is holding her shoulders. From the edge of the road her legs are more likely erotic signals, the fences of an old trap, the unseen black lace covered streets where you’ve always dreamt to be.
London is full of people that love each other without even ever met. London is crying upon the time used to be loved.
People make the city’s adornment.
Running the city, occupying the space, managing the society or maybe let the society fit the life into the well made box. Your city, London. Lights and dark, lack of time and time to be spent, your daily way to get to work is the space between what you are and what the city wants you to be.
Sometimes you can stop yourself assisting a building demolition and feel guilty towards the future. While the whole world is moving, just try to realize how much of life you have left before an empty gloomy field would be occupy by the progress. You just keeps going. Forget about the past with some little things to keep your memories up.
Life and death, epidemic revolution of feelings, you open up your eyes in a nursery room and someone has already put you in a dream or a nightmare, the fixed place for you.
London. What you can change about it.
Where the money run. Where you’re a pawn. Where the appearances can be deceptive. Where you can find a small dream to live in, you’ve got a job, a house, some rights, many places to be, fun opportunities success.
Is that the life you want to have?
You decide to show in public your inner trend. Your unwanted hair on the legs get out from the fishnet tights holes and they’re scratchy. It makes you feel pleasure and unease, it looks like you live forced in a box. It looks like you’re so depressing and contemporary.
This is a profanation of the city planning. This is a concrete wall made by God.
Look at the heavenly blu soutanes and the inside legs blood, a saint and dirty conception, a evil intention of getting closer to the sky and guess now how many drugs the baby Madonna would take to keep both feet on the ground and not let the life carry herself in lost highways.
This is London.
Tell me a story, tell me another story, because you London are so fake and violent while you’re so tidy.