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Monday, 20 January 2020

The Queen's Headscarf in a car






The crisis continues in the UK, but let's not talk about that. Let's talk about the picture of the queen in the paper a souple of weeks ago  - which is all to do with the Royal Family's and the British Media's treatment of Megan Markle (I still like to call her that). 

And I could go on about that because at the moment England is like a fat-bellied skinhead rolling around on the ground to reveal the underbelly of just about everything that should be kept hidden and concealed in the hope that it would eventually wither and die and become just a blank memory. 

The first  thing that really thrilled me about the picture is the Queen's headscarf. It is amazing. Look at that dog. How more dog-like can you get than that dog.

I have a strange fascination with headscarves. I remember the northern women on my street wearing them when I was a kid, hard-faced lower middle class women from Lancashire and Yorkshire who would never go out without a headscarf. Everybody wore headscarves (not my mum, because And then suddenly they did and nobody was wearing headscarves.

Till there the queen pops up again, the headscarf as an upper class motif.  Or there's the Grace Kelly glamour headscarf, but to be honest who wants to go there when you've got brilliant headscarf pictures like Robert Blomfeld's wealthy Glasgow woman with chickens (and they are very nice chickens),  Martin Parr's Weymouth woman (it's out of focus Martin!) and, my personal favourite, Rob Bremner's women from Liverpool.





My mother never used to wear a headscarf when I was a kid, but that's because she is bourgeois German (and she never cooked chips either which I always regretted. Going to my neighbour's for tea was like a real treat). My grandmother never used to wear them either because she saw herself as upper-middle class and wore formal hats that had roots in the 1920s. She never went out without a hat. 

My wife's mother always wore a headscarf though, but that's because she was born in Slovenia. She wore it peasant like, tied behind the head (if you were upper class you wore it tied beneath the chin) in true Lilya Brik style. But I guess that's another story altogether.



The thing that really thrilled me about the picture was seeing the queen get so gloriously papped. It reminded me of  my very favourite car pictures, the one of Thatcher driving out for a last time from Downing Street.

I love those car pictures, they have such a tradition going back to the 1950s and are such a staple of this kind of low-rent photojournalism.

It gets me wondering how people learn to do this stuff. I have a secret fantasy that somewhere there's a university being honest about everything and saying fuck you to the collaborative community-based module which inflicts gaggles of photography students reciting Rosler, Sontag and Sekula (and why not - they're great to recite) on some poor community centre being buried under the combination of funding cuts and time heavy funding applications.

Instead of all that, they could teach modules on paparazzi techniques. You could have the doorstepping module, the beach module, the car grab module, the sandwich eating module. You could get Oscar Monzon to give a modern take on the car pap.

Maybe you could have a whole course in unethical photography. You could follow the paparazzi module with the voyeurism module. It would be fucking amazing and , and have workshops by Kohei Yoshiyuki and Merry Alpern. It would be great!

The Cultural Appropriation module would be amazing and with a high fee structure and limited bursaries, all forms of privilege would always be entertained.

Sustainability is a thing so in semester 2,  there will be a sustainability module that will include a networking tour of world-class sustainability projects in  Lagos, Doha, Tokyo, Sao Paolo and Mexico City where students will meet key players in sustainability. In the name of sustainability, no photographs will be taken during this module.

There would be  the body module and the advertising module, the commercial module, the diaristic narcissism module, and the don't-leave-the-house module.

There will be social media led critical theory and teaching will take place in some of the best storage cupboards and corridors that teaching have to offer. Class sizes will be large (100+) but don't worry about attention because the specially trained staff have favourites who think like them and make work like them so you will always get time if you do the right thing.

In terms of facilities, we will have a scanner and a room that is dark. There will be a light and a camera you can borrow, including one of those big ones because they are very important. There are excellent printing facilities that you can use if you are first in the queue at 8am in the morning, and the ink will last all morning on printers that have the best colour calibration that staff won't have taught you to use. There will be an array of papers on offer including matt, glossy, and nasty.

A highlight of the course will be professional development week where students get to meet art directors, publishers, and editors from the world's finest soft-right, consumption-oriented publications (and negotiations on running a special feature on the sustainability module are in progress with one of these). And for the art photographer, there will be the who to sell to, and sponsorship module, as well as the turning a blind eye to harassment and bullying module.  These lead on directly from the Artwashing and Greenwashing modules ensuring there are direct links between theory and practice in what is a thoroughly integrated course for the contemporary photographer. All students will be guaranteed great grades (unless they are not a favourite) thanks to the combination of financially dependent entry requirements (overseas students especially welcome!) and all staff will have undergone special grade inflation workshop training to this end.

Ah, no, about twenty people have already thought of those already. Damn.


Here's Thatcher. Enjoy.





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