The Mothers Earth Experiment

Saturday evening was stuffy with spring. Too warm for fur coats and not quite a Velvet Underground song, we stumbled outside. Into night and the freedom confined on a balcony, suspended above some provincial town on the outskirts of Birmingham.
The woman painting, enshrined in crystals and fairy lights peered into gloom, past our ghost faces. I imagine her turning on the light in her small kitchen the next morning. Cereal bowls Sigh. It was a Romantic yet impractical concept.
Horizontal eights on(not on) our wrists, sang of young adult novel, irony lost, as the world spun.
Bands limboing under half hearted ropes. Don’t drop those pedals. We sat in a makeshift paradise of soft chairs. Halfway between the smoke adorned sky and buzzing beer garden below. We were kicked out for not being in a band. Elitism exists in the most minor degree, and this time, musical laziness took the brunt.
Half-crippled by ill-chosen footwear we stood quietly on metals slats, and spoke unsteadily about boys that don’t exist. Auctioned smoke spun balloons. So quietly they could probably hear, despite the miles distance between us. Pretty boys have good hearing.
I pressed my head against the window, Cool Patterned Glass. Exhaustion pressing my heels up into my skull, camera around my neck as if 45mm of lens was all that held the sky. 

Photos on Minolta SRT 100X, 45mm lens and Kodak Colourplus 200

AN AGE

I haven’t been here for a little while. And somewhere from there to here I have lost sight of what I am doing. Ease myself back into it. Whatever the abstract it is. A haitus can’t last forever.

This is a confused rant sort of thing that I wrote at the start of December.

It’s been a couple of months now. A couple of months of painstakingly slow, almost in focus photos. Dragging myself out of black and white. Progression is important. Vitally so. In absence of progression, ideas will never develop. Just sit and fester at the base of our brains, until they sink down spinal chords to disappear forever.
At times of social change such as these, development is everywhere. But in which direction?

Our political situation is a mess. A shambles. An utter state. As we are carried away in this seemingly all-consuming surge of populism, what is the way forward? Are we not just running in circles, kicking up dust until we can’t see out own feet hit the track in front of us, let alone realise that we’ve been this way time and time again. Populist policies, brainwash the white working class. Creating divisions in place of unity. Heightening hatred.

The establishment consists of the elite, and society is constructed to benefit them. Even the art world itself has always been run by the elite. White, upper class men, approving of, purchasing and exhibiting work that they can relate to. The work of other white. Upper class. Men. But as art is pushed out of the comprehensive education, we are only moving backwards. Back-pedalling through treacle. State schools lack funding in terms of the arts. Comprehensive education should, by definition, consist of an accurate cross-section of society. Artists are unrepresented within the comprehensive education system. So comprehensive education is, no longer comprehensive.

The seemingly ever expanding populism of late, exists even within the art world. Just tune into Radio 1 on a Tuesday afternoon, and you’ll find yourself greeted by a sea of commercialised pop. An engineered, consumer driven system, creating popularity from nowhere, and encouraging conformism within the population. Conformism is not always a negative thing, don’t get me wrong, but conforming to predetermined social expectations, of beauty. Masculinity. Treatment of others. And the same damn melodies with slightly varying lyrics auto tuned over the top. A publicly funded platform of distribution, that force-feeds mind numbing, nonsense. Do we drive popular culture, or does popular culture drive us?

I think that maybe, we can trigger change through the arts. And why? Because art makes you feel. It’s all very well going to protests, and reading Noam Chomsky. Education is fucking important. Shout at the top of our voices, and make banners the size of houses (or a one bed flat at least) But art can change minds. Subtly nudge those who straddle the fence, even just to think. I don’t know what the solution is. I really don’t. But for me, art is the key. We, the people, will be the revolution. We can change the world. Go to protests. Keep making art. And dear God, listen to Radio 6 once in a while.

But I have an unnerving feeling that I’m just preaching to the choir.

DARWIN

In June 2016, I flew on my own to France. The week of Brexit. How much I’ve changed since then is crazy, but the time portal of a roll of undeveloped film has sat on my bookshelf ever since.
In the strange limbo on the other side of the Garonne to the city of Bordeaux, lies a collection of warehouses. A skatepark sits nestled in one. In another a bar, and a hip hop gig that I missed. I was still prejudiced about music then. I suppose I still am to a certain extent. But tucked away, where the music would have echoed through the exposed corridors, sat another warehouse. Abandoned.
At first, I explored with my cousins, skipping over smashed glass. I didn’t have a camera with me, and felt that feeling of small regret at the pit of my stomach. Merde. The space, cracked open by trees and sky, reminded me of an i-D article that I’d seen months before. An abandoned swimming pool in Berlin. For some reason that place flickered through my head for weeks, and, stepping into this warehouse was like I had really just closed my eyes. It was my mind back then. That place, and my headspace, I could barely distinguish. The quiet chaos of it all.
The next day I cycled back, wind in my hair. Free. I didn’t live enough on that trip to Bordeaux. I was scared to laugh, scared to take photos, scared to speak french or dance in the street. Cycling back down to that warehouse is the one thing I remember. Really remember. So I stood. Under the ceiling of an open sky. Two cameras around my neck, and my heart in my mouth. I have never been so thankful as I am now, that my DSLR ran out of battery. Armed with one roll of film. I have always been far too cautious to take photos on 35mm. The permanence and volatility of the medium used to scare me. Most things did. But maybe that was ironically fitting. I can still hear the birds, and the sound of my own footsteps. Film reeling forwards. Shutter. I wasn’t happy, when I went to France in June. But I think that in the split seconds of these photos being taken, I almost was.

I found the roll of film last weekend. A trip to Kodak later, and the photos were developed. I won’t lie and say they’re great, and that my scanner isn’t scratched enough to take away from their pristine quality. But I think they mean something. My own development mirrored in that of film. J’espere.

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