Assignment 1 – 150MC

Encountering Culture
One of the objectives of this module is for you to begin to locate your own work within the various and far flung fields of photographic practice. This in itself is not a new idea; when the philosopher Plato (c.428-347 BC.) said “know thyself” he was in effect saying much the same; that we must locate ourselves within the world in order to validate our viewpoint of it.
To put that another way; we all see the world from an entirely socio/sexual/culturally unique perspective which will in turn dictate what and how we communicate as photographic artists. This assignment begins to address this directly by asking;
“ Are you in harmony or in conflict within the social structure that you are a part of?”

On the 14th of October I travelled to London in order to see my friends from Greece and because right the next day, on the 15th there was a demonstration
at the London Stock Exchange and a march from Hyde Park to the Houses of Parliament. Both were framed under the demonstrations organised worldwide in remembrance of the European uprising in May 2011.
Unfortunately for me, when the uprising started in Greece, I was still in Coventry listening everything off the radio or reading blogs and independent newsites. In a way I felt really bad I could not attend to help my fellow citizens. Happily they did great without me and manage to create and sustain a whole new situation only familiar to leftists and anarchists so far. Assemblies for discussing our political, economical and social issues, all together in no fear of the opposite, the different, the unknown.
People with different political backgrounds, or none at all, sat together on a square giving ideas, discussing and voting for the future of the assembly. Everyone was welcome, everyone could take the mic, and everyone could express freely his opinion. Assemblies formed in many cities of Greece and many other European cities each one dealing with local issues and of course the main issues of the country.

– The end of democracy as we knew it, the rights we are losing every day, the economical crisis, the enslavement of a nation, of all nations by the capital.

It ‘s absurd how just these pieces of fine print paper, called money, drag people into greed, vice, selfishness and ignorance. Does democracy got so integrated with capitalism that they can’t exist separate? The most amazing thing was that none of these people wanting to hear political preaching, party manifestations and that same old crap.

“We are done waiting from politicians.”
“Take our lives in our hands.”
These phrases were heard throughout Europe.

What started from Africa, passed to Spain, Italy, Greece and now all over Europe is a revolution against oppression, it’s actually the meaning of the words society, unity and real democracy. People discussing for the common issues in their lives, sharing knowledge, food, cars, equipment, expenses. All these absolutely free, in no need for profit and with a common goal; To live better like humans suppose to, be free, with no one ”representing” your needs, no super-capitalists in need for more money and slaves.
If you look up the word democracy on any dictionary you will find that the term comes from the word Greek: δημοκρατία – (dēmokratía) “rule of the people”, which was coined from δῆμος (dêmos) “people” and κράτος (Kratos) “power”. I don’t see power to the people, yet.

So I went at the demonstration with my friends. When we arrived, to our surprise we could not approach St. Paul’s cathedral, not because of the hundreds of thousands of people, but because the police had blockaded every way to the square in front of the cathedral. Police cars and buses blockading the streets, hundreds policemen in line blocking every gap the vehicles left. Two lines of police officers standing, before and after the vehicles. They called it the “neutral zone” or something that sounded equally ridiculous.

Is this a democratic “regime”?

We were lucky we weren’t beaten up and smoked or shot with plastic bullets, all of them action taken by the governments of Spain, Greece, Italy, U.S.A., as well as North Africa. Though in Africa people had the chance to experience real ammunition.

We finally managed to get in by a secret entrance the police had formed and allowed individuals in, after searching their bags in many instances. No one knew about that! The police kept saying “we follow orders… you can’t get in.”
When the assembly finished you could notice around you set up already many tents and special places for a kitchen, an infirmary, litter and recycling collection point (right at NatWest’s door). They decided to stay there for good! People met each other, discussed together solutions and ways to keep this thing going on. Before I knew, I found myself in a group discussion on how to get more people in. Several ideas and recommendations were heard. Similar discussions were held on other topics and of course on organisational issues like communications, food and water, toilets, technical support, first aid, legal support and many others.

One thing I can’t forget and wasn’t really comfortable was the press! I have never seen so many cameras in my life. They were there too, trying to get a piece of the pie. All they cared was to grab a couple of pictures, several minutes of video and then straight to broadcast the poorest reports I have heard. I stood aside many journalists to listen what they were recording and they had no idea what was going on. The problem though is that had they said was what you heard on the TV if you weren’t there to witness with your own eyes. They waited for their beloved moment. Action!
An arrest happens. In seconds you see journalists running towards the hand coughed man. About 10 police officers and another 60 journalists around this man. I don’t know what happened and I bet they didn’t know too. What matters is that man was publicly humiliated by the police and the press. This is the reason I only shot a roll that day. I didn’t go there to cover the “event” nor to make a photography project. I went there to participate and to give any experience I had from assemblies in Greece.

Don’t fool ourselves. The crisis right now is not in Greece, not in Europe but throughout the world. When the bankers try to impose their order over us, their financial hegemony over democracy, they will find us standing against them. We are in war, only this time the enemy is not holding a spear nor a gun. All these years we thought the politicians were our enemies. The bankers and the capitalists are our enemies. The politicians are just the traitors. We vote for them and give them our trust in order to sell us to the capital. It’s up to us to get rid of them, to regulate them, to make them work for us. Not being their slaves.

It’s evening and we decide to leave, but to our surprise (again) we can’t… Apparently new orders came in and we were not to leave that square! The blockade tightened more and we were restricted to the two thirds of the initial space we had. Huge electronic banners were set up announcing that under a… law, were not allowed to leave. We were somehow detained. I tried several exits but each officer said the same crap everyone was. When I said I going for it, I was told that if I tried I would get arrested.

That day in London was quite an experience. I would expect the government to oppress our fight with violence. They chose a more subtle way to disrupt our efforts for a mass protest. In other countries it would not be acceptable to have the police strolling around the assembly. I guess the way a society fights back depends on its anger and frustration. At the moment it seemed that we don’t share the same goals, but looking further I saw that after all we fight the same enemy.

I hope my report to be proof of mass media propaganda, unless you heard this side of the story on BBC. This report tries to reflect my feelings and experiences of that day, along with 10 photographic pieces created out of the photographs I took that day.

For these pictures I used:

Asahi Pentax KM

SMC Pentax 35mm f3.5
Tamron Zoom Macro 85-210mm f4.5

Ilford HP5+
ISO 400/27O


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