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Peter Lindbergh exhibition in Paris: powerful images and supermodels in black and white Now that I found an apartment in New York City I can finally share with you this exhibition of Peter Lindbergh’s photography. I saw it just before leaving France at the Polka Galerie located in Paris’s fashionable Marais district. Peter Lindbergh is one of the most sought-after fashion photographers, even more so as he rekindled his collaboration with Vogue US this year following an 18-year partnership with Harper’s Bazaar. The exhibition however … Read More

via Ritournelle

Keeping the Press Peace

Posted: December 13, 2010 in Blogs, News Stories

What some might consider the ridiculous, others may believe to be a perfectly legitimate way of ‘keeping the peace’.

While Ireland and the UK have, and still make efforts to unscramble what the relatively new blasphemy laws might entail in a wider context, organisations like the National Union of Journalists UK (NUJ UK) both tirelessly, and expertly are ploughing on with their work to ensure relative press freedom.

BBC Scotland News Producer, Peter Murray is President of the NUJ UK. The Mother-ship, the NUJ, have a great and admirable interest in the rights of journalists worldwide. Mr Murray’s opinion on Ireland’s great matter is largely influenced by roles that the NUJ UK have taken in legally aiding troubled and alienated UK writers.

Mr Murray said; “The NUJ is a broad organisation, I mean we’ve got people of all religions who are members of the union and we are very strongly for diverse opinion. Sometimes we have to defend people and sometimes some people are beyond being defensible, but this is a blanket clampdown, on opinion in Ireland. It doesn’t belong to the 21st century, it belongs to the Spanish Inquisition.”

On a heightened stage, the issue of defamation is observed by unions following the implementation of this Irish law. Chair of the Writers Committee of the International Pen, Marianne Boxford-Frasier explains more fully; “We are not immune from freedom of expression issues and conflicts that arise. The business of defamation has become a major issue worldwide. A lot of countries are having to look at their own rules and instincts in terms of what defamation is or is not, and I think there is a very large issue going on in many societies.”

Here is a paradox: the Great British press are renowned throughout the world for their ability to remain free in expression – and yet all are still prone to some serious limitations at home.

There have lately been issues outside of religion, such as a ‘tightening-up” of both photographer and camera crew allowance into certain areas, such as Scotland Yard, and the cruel harassment of journalists by authority figures. The UK government seem to have taken a very heavy handed approach concerning security issues, Mr Murray here describes with anger a recent experience of his close female friend;

She had her equipment taken off her and she was put in a cell for a while, because she was photographing a wedding in the east end of London at the docklands. They said that she might be doing some terrorist surveillance. That’s not legitimate police activity, that’s just harassment. We challenge that sort of stuff all of the time, we challenge it in the courts and write to the police, trying to get them to keep their junior staff in order.”

The gravity of this situation could have escalated to her carrying a sentence of up to 10 years under under section 76 of the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008. She was lucky to be safely home within the week.

George Brock, Professor and Head of the Department of Journalism at City University of London, has shared concerns with the NUJ concerning organisations using libel laws to silence debate amongst commentators, scientists and doctors in the UK:

Particularly in those fields, what that problem illustrates is that there are a number of things surrounding libel law which are unsatisfactory. One of those is the length of time that it takes to finish a case.”

The extent to which a libel suit could either restrict or completely shut down free discussion on a particular topic, appears to also cause what lawyers call a “chilling effect”, whereby it is, disturbingly, made difficult for people to comment on certain subject matter.

A ‘chilling effect‘ could be used to describe Average Joe’s feelings toward conversing about the BNP party. It has been clocked that journalists have recently become concerned about their freedoms in covering the BNP due to a website, by the name of Redwatch, where members upload journalists names, addresses and telephone numbers.

Mr Murray said: “It is part of our public service as journalists, to explore these parties policies, purposes and their backgrounds, it is our right to report that stuff as freely and as openly as we possible can.”

Murray claims that websites like Redwatch, and a lot of the people associated with the BNP are attacking NUJ UK members at work, progressing to some acts of physical violence.

This type of abuse experienced by journalists because of Redwatch’s audience caught NUJ UK and International Pen’s attention. Mr Murray and other unions are currently having talks with the government to ban the website. Some members of the NUJ have started a website by the name of www.reportingthebnp.org, which attempts to provide legally correct background information for journalists.

Professor Brock outlines the need for journalists to use ‘legally correct’ information, he stresses the need to balance an argument and allow for viewers to experience differing opinions:

“They should be challenged, it is perfectly right that a journalist should have these people on the air but challenge them right. They should be well informed, well briefed, and be courageous enough to ask them difficult questions at the time, that is certainly my opinion. That is what people expect journalists to do, not to gag.”

There are other major issues affecting journalist rights in the UK. The last 18 months has coincided with the recession, there is a concentration on media ownership, a lot of newspapers closing down, with the added pains of newspapers reacting to the recession by sacking journalists.

If you like, the style of stories, the number of stories, and the way that a journalist can cover them is having a very detrimental effect on the diversity and breadth of opinion that people can read in the newspapers, see on television or read online. It is very concerning that there are links between restrictions on access, diversity of opinion and freedom of speech with the ability of journalists to be able to report news.

Mr Murray says that journalists are frequently: “tied to a desk, they can’t get out and report, they can’t speak to a diversity of people because of a lack of staff in the newsrooms.”

With all of these problems at hand, Marianne Boxford-Frazier suggests that we observe “the bright side of life” and remember that Britain is a multi-cultural society.

Issues concerning freedoms of the British press will always be apparent. When people within NGO’s such as the International Pen and unions alike the NUJ are fighting, and campaigning for this purpose, we might feel a little more at ease.

With regards to Ireland, Mrs Boxford-Frazier insists that debate is the way forward in coming to a fair conclusion.

“I think we have to have open debate about it, I don’t think it is appropriate for there to be legislation to shut down that debate. It is a responsibility of the responsible media to take up those challenges, but to keep debate healthy. If they are suppressed that is a far more unhealthy condition.”

British Fright Night

Posted: December 13, 2010 in Blogs, News Stories

As all hallows eve dawns, so do we all look to be entertained again by the terrorizing nocturnal paranormal of both witches and wicked ghouls.

The British Music Experience at The O2 Arena in London, on the 30th October, has refashioned this frightful night into a ‘Thriller’ style British metal music horror.

This year is the 40th anniversary of Black Sabbath’s self-titled first metal album, a work that, arguably, did a significant amount to cement this revolutionary new approach to sound.

The unusual event, tied into the October half-term week, is dedicated to the metal and thrash culture that isn’t often touched upon in museums. A chance to recognise the significance of a genre of music, engaging people everywhere with Great British artists.

British Music Experience curator, Paul Liley said: “We have ‘Bleed from Within’ and ‘As She Sleeps’ coming over on the 30th October ‘Fright Night’. We put the public events and programs on to not only complement the museum, but to enhance and explore other genres that we haven’t explored in the museum so far.”

Mr Liley added: “I think it is important, we should be very proud and we should celebrate Britain’s heritage. Perhaps if people appreciate it they will become better listeners and support the industry, helping fly the British music flag.”

It can be said that the term ‘pop music’ lends itself widely from such sectors as typography, sleeve and LP design to recording techniques and playback techniques, all of which being sectors in the music industry covered within the exhibition.

The itinerary in an average week for the exhibition encompasses masterclasses with professionals such as producers, artists and rock photographers. Seemingly quite unique events that clearly aid the museum in their music education push.

The British Music Experience, occupying many visitors in it’s educational teaching of British popular music, also takes a cross-curricular approach to education at the exhibition. People seem to be engaged in viewing music in relation to citizenship, the effects of immigration and cultural fusion.

“This doesn’t happen often, I have been into my heavy metal since my college days. The music is perfect for halloween, I remember my darkly dressed days. I might get to relive them now, no-one will give me a second look.” said Fright Night ticket holder, Freja Andersson, (25), from Stockholm in Sweden.

If you should dare to visit London on ‘Fright Night’, other topic relative activities comprise of The London Ghost Festival, PhoboPhobia at London Bridge and Halloween super gig Linx Halloween All Nighter, those amongst many more. A celebration of true musical mayhem.

Okay, who, or what, could be to blame for this travesty?  We always find someone to blame, is it the parents?  The teachers? The education system? Modern technology? Sony, Samsung, Siemens et al?

Instead of placing multi-directional blame, perhaps we should find a solution to the misadventure that we see making a calamity out of our children’s health?

My computer devoted, eight year old brother and I head over to the playing field, I make a pass to him with my old, but functional brown leather football, it rolls stopping a good inch from his right foot.  For a second I believe that he isn’t going to reciprocate, I despair, but then, he smiles brightly, moves with haste and kicks the ball into the air above him and heads it before making a run (yes, run) away from me, teasing with his skills as he goes.  It’s May, weekend, a feast of sweet smells and delectable colours, the forsythia, the first yellow trumpet-fanfare flower of spring, has subsided into leggy green.  My brother is playing out.

It has been scientifically proven that children have evolved ‘gaming thumbs’, one might say that this is a combination of nature (the evolutionism) and nurture (our technological climate), so why not understand and then implement rules for our children as such.  For my entertainment, I have recycled three rather conclusive words: EVERYTHING IN MODERATION!

What I don’t understand is why is there no seething, indignant, irked, and across the board absolutely FUMING reaction from parents that yet again, and as always, a generalised label has been placed on their children.

For my part I am disgusted, any parent can see that giving time to their children in encouraging the outdoors will bless them down the line.  That time should be allocated.  However, labelling and restricting what has become modern age entertainment is rather like taking a gramophone and vinyl from a 60’s child.  Who are we to judge?  What an acrimonious indignity!

Times have changed, perhaps the label loving scientists should learn to adapt, change and move on, much like Mother Nature’s ‘gaming thumb’.

On May 12th 2010, the Prime Minister appointed Rt Hon Theresa May MP as Minister for Women and Equality in addition to her appointment as Home Secretary.

Well, gee Theresa May. You might consider starting with social inequalities and the media battery of equality and feminism. Might I suggest article 6395879: “Women Less Happy After 40 Years of Feminism”, it’s on the Times Online website, sitting pretty as an ice cold reminder of existing social and cultural problems affecting gender equality.

For starters, just because I got my rights with thanks to Rosie the Riveter doesn’t mean I am equal to my male counterparts. Just because women have more access to the professional realm today, doesn’t mean they’re getting equal pay and treatment, or even that they’re necessarily getting any less responsibility at home (by the way, stats on men pitching in to the second shift please?).

Just because women have control over their own money doesn’t mean that capitalism as well as the media don’t try to commodify their bodies. Just because women have the right to vote, doesn’t mean that they are represented equally to men in the houses of parliament. I can’t imagine the Rt Hon Theresa May MP drooling over the meaning of ‘the distribution of labour’ when she is handling both precarious roles, along with caring for and chasing after the kids post- 9am-8pm shift, cooking dinner, cleaning house.. smiling.

Have expectations of women changed much since the 1970’s movement? Must I still strive to be Responsible? Smart? Successful? Sophisticated? Sexy? Accommodating, nurturing, purposeful, diligent, inhumanly polite, delightful, delighted? What? Ha! Women, really!

Equality isn’t just a feminine term, come on guys, you know this as well as we do, stereotypes are rife! What does it mean to be a man? Or a woman? Define!

Equality is most definitely not glamourous, or romantic. These new heels fit fine, but the old sores still sting. This is why we need to look at the old, superficial way of viewing equality that is devouring itself lickety-split. It is up to this generation to design for ourselves a contemporary model of equality, and it all starts with changing the way we view each other, as people.

Good luck Madame Home Secretary, Minister for Women and Equality Rt Hon Theresa May MP, you have your work cut out for you.