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Sofa Portraits now available for pre-order

  1.          Sofa Portraits is now available for pre-order from my website (orders will deliver in October/November)   The pric...

Monday, 13 December 2010

Happy Christmas

Have a lovely Christmas. I'll be back in the New Year with a handmade book of the Sofa Portraits and some random conversations on photography. In the meantime, here's one we made earlier.

Tory Scum

Oh, just one more post. After last week's yells of Tory Scum, Off with their heads and kids who were getting their EMA taken away flicking the vs on the News at Six (I only wish it had been Nick Robinson reporting ), it was quite like the old days.

Friday, 10 December 2010

How to make your Oxford College Prospectus look multi-racial

Only one black Afro-Caribbean Briton undergraduate student was admitted to Oxford  University last year,
more than 20 Oxbridge colleges made no offers to black candidates for undergraduate courses last year and one Oxford college has not admitted a single black student in five years.

Read the full story here.

And if you ever wondered how places like Oxford make their university prospectuses...

Matthew Benjamin, 28, who studied geography at Jesus College, Oxford, said: "I was very aware that I was the only black student in my year at my college. I was never made to feel out of place, but it was certainly something I was conscious of.

"When I arrived and they wanted to do a prospectus, and have some students on the cover, they chose me, and one other Asian guy and another guy from Thailand. It was clear they wanted to project this image of somewhere that was quite diverse. The reality was very different – there were three [minority] ethnic students in a year.

"On open days, some black kids would see me and say 'you're the only black person we've seen here – is it even worth us applying?'"

Read the full story here.

This is the Oxford response.

The coalition government would have us believe that yesterday's tripling of  university fees for places like Oxford and Cambridge will lead to more poor students attending and increase social mobility.What colleges did they go to and what incomes were their parents on?

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

The Cold Snap on Solsbury Hill

The cold continues and Christmas is coming. I love this picture of Isabel and Bailey gallivanting about in the frost on Solsbury Hill. 

Speaking of Solsbury Hill, I really like Adrian Arbib's book of the same name. It reminds me of the road protests of years back. And thank you to all the good British student protestors and Uncut demonstrators out there - your actions mean we end the year with at least some hope whatever Clegg, Cameron and all of the other Jeremy Hunts vote for today. It almost doesn't matter what they vote for, watching Clegg's face visibly age as he makes his long march towards the Conservative Party, the Tory backbenches and deselection at the next election makes the short-term pain almost worthwhile - and it makes watching the TV so much more interactive. Never before has shouting Wanker at the TV (Lickspittle before the watershed) been so satisfying or seemed so full of wit - well, not since the 80s at least. .  

Now, altogether now, Climbing Up on Solsbury Hill....

How to be a real man!

"What good is a man without a moustache or a knife."

The line is from Amar - this film has a genre of it's own, one where the hero Anju rapes Sonia, a simple peasant girl. After raping her, Anju leaves Sonia to the vengeance of the village - a village where the honour of the men has been tainted by Sonia's rape - and so she must die.

Sonia is rescued by Santak, who utters the line above, but then Sonia loses her mind and is left wandering the temple in a state of complete lunacy. In the end, Anju marries Sonia, casting aside his intellectually equal fiance to save the girl. Weird even by Hindi Cinema standards.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Embedded with the Taliban

Continuing on the theme of Afghanistan, Ghaith Abdul-Ahad wrote a series of articles for the Guardian based on his time spent with the Taliban there - another story that is all about confinement and the limitations of life, that also ties in with the theme of the embedded journalist. It's interesting to see a little Realpolitik creeping in with Part 3.

Part 1: The Taliban troop with an east London cab driver in its ranks

Part 2: Five days inside a Taliban jail

And here is a video Abdul-Ahad talking about his work.

Part3: Talking to the Taliban about life after occupation

And here is some of Abdul-Ahad's earlier work as an Unembedded journalist in Iraq. All the contributions here is worth checking out, especially Rita Leistner's.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Two books with the same theme: Guantanamo and Infidel

It's good to see two great books by British photographers about Afghanistan. The first is Tim Hetherington's Infidel, which is photographs from Hetherington's time embedded with the US army. It's a fantastic book which looks at the limitations that confinement within a small group of men can bring, not to mention the futility of fighting a war that will never be won.

With its theme of a small group of men living in a confined space in a hostile environment, Infidel has a lot in common with Edmund Clark's Guantanamo: If the Lights Go Out. This is a fantastic book that looks at how imprisonment affects people in the penal, domestic and family environments. Like Infidel, it is about the limitations of confinement (and this might mean many kinds of confinement), but while Infidel visits  ground that has already been very well trodden, Guantanamo shows me someting new and has an intelligence and dry elegance that is exceptional.

Both these books cast a tiny beam of light on Afghanistan but it is always good to remember that it is only a tiny beam. When people talk about photography and how it has all been done, I think of Afghanistan and the vast range of communities and viewpoints that have not been touched upon and will probably never been touched upon. Photography is not complete and has not even started to be complete.