The documentary photographic project ‘Prejudice and us’ will be presented at the City Hall on the 30th November. Below is an extract of my reflections of working on this project as a documentary photographer.
What does Prejudice mean to a young person living in inner London today?
This is the question that lies at the heart of ‘Prejudice and Us’ a project which I have been working on as a documentary photographer in collaboration with London based Non-profit organisation Protection Approaches.
Over the course of the project I have been lucky enough to get to know a group of diverse, funny, intelligent, engaging and boisterous young people in North Kensington and White City, an area of London known for its gangs, poverty and alienation.
Even at a young age, it is clear that prejudice enters the lives of young Londoners in a number of ways, they are judged by what they wear, their skin colour, demeanour and socio-economic standing. For me this project has truly been an eye opener in regards to the extent of some of the issues that young people face. For instance stop and search. There is such a frustration felt by so many of the young people I have come into contact with around the profiling, and in particular the racial profiling, that goes hand in hand with stop and search.
Research conducted by the coalition StopWatch demonstrated black people were stopped and searched at over 3 times the rate of white people across London in 2014/15. Under section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act officers acting with inspector approval can search anyone, with or without reasonable grounds. Of the 539,788 stop and searches made in England from 2014-2015 only 14 percent led to an arrest. It seems that a systematic bias sees young black people stereotyped as drug dealers.
The most shocking part is realising how these events have been normalised in young people’ lives. In the words of Sean (not his real name) “when I go out, if I am hanging around with my mates and they are black, we are most certainly stopped. The police will stop and search them. I often get stopped, too.” When I asked Sean how often is stopped by the police. He replied “this happens almost every week.” He is 16 years old.
I have also noted that the effects of poverty and alienation combined with the austerity programmes that have been the economic norm last few years, have had an enormous impact on the communities and the lives of young people. Young people feel judged because of their poverty, joblessness and the way they may dress as a result of it. Tasha, who lives in a hostel for young homeless people and is on benefits has been repeatedly been discriminated against because of her socio-economic position and is regularly called a Chav.
Often when communities face difficult economic times one result can be an increase in tensions between communities. It is easy to look at the other and blame them for your problems. Nationally we have seen tensions rise around the issue immigration and the wake of the EU referendum has seen hate crime rise across the country.
Habiba a young Muslim girl feels that the Muslim communities have been further marginalised by a rhetoric that sees them as terrorists. Recently, she has been a target herself, when she was verbally abused by a fellow train passenger. Similarly, Abyan, who is also a local young Muslim girl has recently decided to wear the hijab. The attitude from people around her in the community has dramatically changed. This has left her vulnerable.
For the full article: http://protectionapproaches.tumblr.com/post/153814351185/prejudice-and-us-youth-perspectives-on
At the Centro Astalli Sud in Naples, refugees and asylum seekers find shelter, meals, legal and medical assistance. Most of the occupants have made their journey from Lybia to Sicily, where those registered are sent to various centres in Italy. The Centro Astalli Sud is one of these. Spending some time at the centre, I got to learn some of their stories, experiences and aspirations.
The most common experience is the painful ordeals of an existence in terrible poverty or one where there is no way out but to flee because of conflict and war. Today, they are dealing with the emotional scars of having left their home and families and the anxiety of an uncertain future. For some, the added trauma of being victims of torture, hate crimes and violence makes the limbo state a greater stress.
There is a great divide between those that have just arrived and those that have already being at the centre for a while. The effect of the traumatic journey at sea and the vivid images and feelings of what they went through in their countries is quite evident in their eagerness to speak, just so to release their energy and need for comfort.
Those that have been in the centre and in Italy for some time l are more withdrawn and anxious about their future and livelihood. The stress of not knowing is palpable and so is their need to take hold of their lives. For many this answer is not so reachable.
The Opening of ‘HATE HURTS’ Photography Exhibition on the 12th May at the Cultural Centre Asteria in Milan was marked with a Talk Event organised by perdirittiumani.com (for human rights) with invited guest speakers Paolo Pobbiati, Spokesman for Amnesty International Italy and myself photojournalist.
The event had a great turn out. Alessandra Montesanto from PerDirittiUmani set the Talk off with a question about the meaning of the words opening a slide presentation ‘Hate Hurts: to understand, to document and to change’.
I explained that these words are very connected to the way I do my work and to what I believe photojournalism’s work should do. The main objective being presenting it to the wide public and in particular those in power to make positive changes for the issues being told. The work as being a channel for this to happen or a catalyst towards this to happen through an increased awareness.
In the process I am looking at ways that most effectively work for this purpose. Being present in Centro Asteria to show ‘Hate Hurts’ and the stories of hate crimes victims through a photography exhibition and talking about the issue in the Cultural Centre Asteria belongs to this very process.
Some highlights were very interesting thoughts on the dynamics built around hate crimes. Members of the public suggested that one of the causes is being an increasing nationalism or perceived nationalism in Europe. I cannot but agree that extreme right wings getting stronger support in Europe has ties with a political discourse based on the idea that we need to defend our national identities and borders from the ‘invasion’ of refugees and migrants. Even if, these are not the result of thorough research, they are irresponsibly presented as facts.
Paolo Pobbiati showed a recent compiled research from Amnesty of countries that have taken the most of refugees. These were mostly from outside of Europe: Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, which gave another perspective to the refugee crisis.
During the course of the evening, photographs from the photography project ‘Hate Hurts’ were projected and I was asked to run a commentary on some of the people’s stories represented in the photographs. The stories highlight the plight of victims of hate crimes looking at its various forms from psychological crimes, verbal and physical. Many of the photographs also showed the extend of the silent pain going through thousands of refugees and migrants in a state of bureocratic and political limbo.
The photography exhibition ‘Hate Hurts’ continues to the 26th May 2016 at the Centro Asteria, Milan.
I regularly write a column on hate crimes on this page;
To follow my work:
As my project on hate crimes in Europe is expanding in Europe, I am pleased to say that the Cultural Centre Asteria in Milan is hosting an exhibition of this photography project. Alongside the exhibit there will be a Talk event organised by the human rights association Per i Diritti Umani (for the human rights) on ‘Hate Speech and Hate Crimes’. The Speakers are the Spokesman for Amnesty International Italy and myself.
Piazzale Francesco Carrara, 17
Opening of the Exhibition and Talk Event on the 12th May 7pm.
The exhibition continues from the 12th May to the 19th May.
I am very pleased to present in collaboration with Amnesty International Greece a solo exhibition in Athens. During the opening on the 21st March there will be a panel discussion on the issue of hate crimes with Amnesty, UNHCR and myself. ‘Hate Hurts’ is a photography projects that captures the rising racism in Europe through the stories of pepole that have fallen victim to hate crimes. It captures a dark history, which has imposed substantial physical and mental hardship on vulnerable victims. This is an ongoing project which will focus in different countries in Europe.
On the 18th January I took part of the first PhotoScratch event at the Hotel Elephant in London. The idea of the event was to exhibit work in progress and ask for feedback on its progression from members of the public. Those that came to the show were given feedback forms. It was a lovely and very interesting evening. I received amazing and thoughtful feedback. Thank you!
Photomonth photo-open exhibition opened last Thursday the 5th November at the Rich Mix. I am very pleased to say that three of my photographs from ‘Hate Crimes; Another Europe’ are exhibiting alongside an interesting selection of photographs’Telling Stories’ from around the world. This is the first time that I am exhibiting ‘Hate Crimes; Another Europe’ project and the response has been awesome.
The show will continue to the 28th November, daily from 10 am to 10 pm at the Rich Mix gallery. I hope many of you will be able to see it.
Rich Mix, 34-47 Bethnal Green Road, Shoreditch E1 6LA
An Other Europe is a collection of photo stories that expose the increasing number of hate crimes.
This summer, I was invistigating the increasing number of hate crimes among the refugee communities in Greece. This experience has touched me deeply and has led me to began a long term project based on a series of photo documentaries that is capturing the lives of those that have sought refuge in Europe and have become victims of hate crimes.
I am very pleased that my initiative is supported by Per i Diritti Umani, an Italian organization working for human rights advocacy, http://www.peridirittiumani.com/ which will be publishing and hosting a regular newsletter about this ongoing photo project on their pages.
Pleased that a selection of photographs from ‘The Other Half’ series is part of PhotoMonth this October 2015. The photographs will be showing at the Old Truman Brewery in London part of PhotoMasters – PhotoBlock 2015.
Old Truman Brewery, 91 Brick Ln, London E1 6QL
Exhibition 08 October to 11 October 2015
Private View 08 October 6-9 pm.