Welcome, Helel Bones

I’m handing over to Helel Bones for a new project. I grew Helel from my ribs and he’s now taken semi-human form. Helel is a vehicle for new and experimental work, not constrained or limited by the conventions of the traditional documentary photography I have previously adhered to; along with the journalistic principles and self-censorship that goes along with it. He doesn’t have to look at his subjects as objectively as possible. He is both the eye and the space around him. He’s a shape-shifting creature that is as happy shooting others as he is stepping into the light himself and interacting with other creatures within his frames. I’m sticking around for straight news and traditional documentary, but for everything else and for Lucifer & Lybid – Helel is now in charge…..

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Thanks my dear Vincent, and hello everyone! I will be taking charge here for a while. I’m producing this new project called Lucifer & Lybid – a project Vincenzo simply couldn’t do without breaking his heart, his ego and his fancy principles and , so… thanks Vincent for this opportunity, but please remember, you can’t control me anymore.. I’ve got to put on my wings now and go to the graveyard, but I’ll update you with more details about Lucifer & Lybid real soon. H

Oh Esther!

 

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Esther, Jewish queen of Xerxes. Edwin Long, 19th century.

Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my young women will also fast as you do. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish. 

Esther 4:15-17

He who sows the seed of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love

As long as man continues to be the ruthless destroyer of lower living beings he will never know health or peace. For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed, he who sows the seed of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love. 

Ovid

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Johann Heinrich Schönfeld (1609–1684)  Scythians at the Tomb of Ovid Date circa 1640

 

 

 

Burning child sinners

Yesterday I visited Podolsky Church of the Intercession, one of my favourite churches in Kyiv. Completed in 1772 the church is a wonderful example of Ukrainian Baroque. But yesterday I was most struck by this fresco near the rear entrance of children being lapped by flames about to consume them; presumably because of their sinful ways? How can children possibly deserve such a punishment? I don’t know when this was painted, it looks much more modern than the building, but the image is rather amusing and a little disturbing also

Tales of the Lybid

The Lybid River has many secrets. And it is a secret refuge for people who live along its concrete banks. And they all have their own stories to tell. This August Maria, her partner and children sleep here. This Roma family are relatively safe here. Every evening after scratching a living near the train station they return here, shrouded from view by the rubbish-strewn trees and hot water pipes that line the concrete channels of this resilient little river

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A troubled angel is murdered

The other day I was shocked to discover that the man I was photographing for a book project had been murdered in his own home.  Vyacheslav Geraskin’s throat was allegedly slit while he was sleeping. I’m currently trying to find out more details and visit his grave.

R.IP. Vyacheslav Geraskin

Poem of a fallen angel

Vyacheslav Geraskin, who referred to himself as an angel called Lucifer, recites verses from one of his poems.

 

Good riddance Facebook

A Cossack carries pales of water down a footpath on Khortitsa island in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, during June 2017.

Late adopter. Early giver-upper. 

That’s the motto of one of my more recent heroes, the Guardian & Observer journalist Carole Cadwalladr.

I share Cadwalladr’s sentiment with regard to Facebook. I was late to FB. I joined in late 2015, after years of stubbornly refusing to join the bandwagon. I refused because I thought it was a vain and conceited place that fed status anxiety.  But eventually I decided I couldn’t be such a vociferous critic of FB without being a user and getting to know all the pros and cons of this social media monopoly. Over two years later I’m now finished with my FB experiment; and oh boy am I glad I was a late adopter and gee whizz I’m even more glad that I have thrown my FB profile in the trash can.

We humans are social animals so I understood the pros of FB. It’s nice to make friends and maintain relationships on one easy online platform. I met some nice new people there who are still friends and enjoyed reading some of my new and old friends’ posts; the best of which featured either interesting photos, witty commentaries or links to interesting news or events. I also enjoyed watching videos of cute pets doing funny things. But eventually I realised that, for me, the pitfalls far outweighed any benefits.

In a nutshell Facebook made me feel almost as vain as an adolescent Vincent. I wasted far too much time posting superficial snapshots instead of producing thoughtful bodies of work.  I became another zombie in the system; posting banal, egoistic or attention-seeking content. I also saw how, over and over again, FB negatively affected personal relations; with likes becoming evidence of ‘micro-cheating’ for example.

More perniciously, FB is a social platform which reinforces gender inequality; for example FB continues to deploy its resources and manpower to police billions of FB posts to ensure female nipples are censured. Men’s tits? No probs.  As a feminist and humanist I found this staggeringly primitive, juvenile and deeply offensive. So I had ample personal and ethical reasons to leave FB and I was on the verge of doing so anyway. But then another compelling reason suddenly reared its head.

The exposé by Guardian reporter Carole Cadwalladr of FB data theft was the final nail in the coffin for me. Her work proved that FB lied to, manipulated and cheated on its users in the most profound of ways. In its selfish pursuit of profit from advertising revenues, FB allowed Russia and other dictatorships, as well as non-state actors all-over the world to use FB as a data mine and trojan horse for regime change. As a result, the now infamous political advertising firm Cambridge Analytica used the stolen data to help enable Moscow and right-wing forces in the UK and the US to spread fake news and produce targeted ads to subvert democracy. The ramifications have thus far been utterly calamitous: Trump and Brexit.

A month on since I deleted FB I have no regrets. I only wish I had done it a bit sooner.  I have a more interesting social life and quite a bit more time for reading, strolling and pursuing various personal projects. I’m glad I experimented with FB. I learned quite a bit. But I’m very relieved the experiment is over.

 

Ukraine Revolution 2014 (archive video clip)

I was and remain so incredibly impressed, inspired and deeply moved by the tremendous courage of all the people who fought and died during this battle to defeat the Kremlin-backed Yanukovych regime. Such a terrible pity the new government has so far not realised the dreams of these freedom fighters to establish a more egalitarian society.

Sifting through my Ukraine Revolution archive in recent days, I found lots of material I never knew I had. This video was from Hrushevskyi Street on January 19th. I remember this day very well because this is when things really started getting very serious indeed.

What would a fairer economic system look like?

 

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Caption: Some of the spinners in Pell City Cotton Mill, Alabama 1910 by Lewis Wickes Hine (1874–1940) American sociologist and photographer Source: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. Licence: Wikimedia Commons

Capitalism and the wage system must be abolished; they are twin monsters which are eating up the life of the world. In place of them we need a system which will hold in cheek men’s predatory impulses, and will diminish the economic injustice that allows some to be rich in idleness while others are poor in spite of unremitting labor; but above all we need a system which will destroy the tyranny of the employer

Excerpt from Political Ideals by Bertrand Russell (1917)

What is the ultimate source of war?

Possessiveness—the passion to have and to hold—is the ultimate source of war, and the foundation of all the ills from which the political world is suffering

Excerpt from Political Ideals by Bertrand Russell (1917)
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Woman planing propeller in factory, by unknown military photographer during WWI in England. Source: UK Imperial War Museum’s First World War Women’s War work Collection. Licence: Wikimedia Commons