Jamaica emancipated

August 27, 2008 § Leave a comment

Negril, Jamaica – at the pirate cove with kirk, swimming and listening to his stories of a place he loves and hates all at once.

 

Reading about Jamaica’s history of slavery and colonialism, I’ve come to look at this place through a new set of eyes. The poverty, so easily romanticised with its peeling paint, ramshackle homes and braided barefoot children, is now a sad consequence of a vastly skewed ideology of white supremacy.

There is a system that has been put in place by middle class, English (or should I say British) educated, so-called “brown” Jamaicans – not to be mistaken for the black variety. Unrepresentative of the masses, I’m learning about a system that is structured to promote the success of those that manage to fit within colonial-influenced ideals, and marginalising those that don’t. Sound familiar? I suppose it does.

It has only been about 150 years since the official emancipation of Jamaica, but the struggle to keep up with the first world has left an indelible imprint on a people that were dispossessed and then forced to adapt to a system that doesn’t really want to let them in anyway. Tourism and missionary work has formed newer versions of an old horror story. Again, the disadvantaged classes of African Jamaicans are catering to the whims and demands of a predominantly white world to earn a measly living, in the hopes of striving towards a high level of “civilisation” – a term frequently used in the post-emancipation era and now changed to the more politically correct “socio-economic progress”.

Although, who am I to criticise… the paramount tourist that I am? I chase the exotic and vacation in the idea of living the “authentic” life of people foreign to me. Then I return home to my cushy lifestyle and place the immense issues of survival that press in on my periphery on a shelf for another time to worry about.

 

 

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Maroc moderne

August 27, 2008 § 2 Comments


From Fez to Marrakech, Morocco – and everything in between.

 

Bursting at the seams with contradiction, my version of Morocco was a continuous slideshow of chaos and heat. One particularly sweltering evening, Jemaa el fna felt like a panicked nightmare… smoky darkness, tribal drum beats, the hum of a thousand people and piercingly predatory eyes everywhere. Groping hands and that hackle-raising feeling of being watched from every angle with no route for escape. Cobras, wizened magicians, drug pushers, the mob (as in ancient Rome, not the modern one), streetfights – all scattered in the midst of this nocturnal melting pot, eerily lit by gas lamps and naked bulbs. Whole decapitated sheepsheads were hanging in the blanketing heat and the chilling echo of ululating cries floated across the square. It felt like a place of dark secrets and sinister ambition.

I saw a man lose his camera to a bold thief who stepped right up to him, slice the strap around his neck with a pocket knife and his accomplice racing up to swipe it off the ground to disappear into the milling crowd. As you can imagine, I was a little nervous.

The night before, in exactly the same place: Cheery hubs of dancers, acrobats, tourists and locals alike, all wide-eyed with anticipation at the spectacles on show. Food stalls and orange juice wagons calling out their wares in fierce competition, children alternating between sad, puppydog hustler faces and the insuppressible grins of youth and a night full of adventure and possibility ahead. 

I’ve experienced the gentlest and most chivalrous of men here, as well as the sleaziest and most disrespectful… children who saw me as an opportunity to turn an easy buck and others who wanted nothing more than to help a stranger and to show me the beauty of their home. I’ve seen a towering mosque of immense intricacy calling to prayer with a voice of such deep passion and committed devotion, the people flocking in response, respectfully attired and heads lowered in humility… and an open space filled to the perimeter with people rabid with theft, drugs and sexual predation beneath the shadow of the mosque. 

I don’t know whether I’m happy or sad that “modernity” will probably bring about the eventual sanitisation and regulation of such disparity. There’s a magic and mystery here. Black magic, white magic, all jumbled into a coagulation of crumbling ochre walls, soaring palms, henna stained hands and flowing white kaftans upon a myriad of tiled mosaics. 

 

 

 

Miss Magone

August 26, 2008 § Leave a comment

London, England – a warehouse in east London, my kinda place..

 

The English with their avant garde fashion and Radiohead. I find myself back here again and again. Is it any wonder? 

 

Coup de foudre

August 26, 2008 § 1 Comment

Paris, France – L’Opera with Avril and a Miu Miu dress.

 

The city that turned love into a cliche I never tire of.

For Emma, forever ago

August 26, 2008 § Leave a comment

 

Sydney, Australia – photo shoot for Sewn with Emma Johnston

 

The girl can move. 

Miss Berlin

August 25, 2008 § Leave a comment

Berlin, Germany – various locations

 

Berlin is still in the throes of adolescence. She has been pummeled into submission repeatedly by regimes held together by the plinths of fear and propaganda and is now just beginning to shake her hair out in a defiant loosing of her liberty. 

The land has history upon history of wars, revolutions, submission and domination, bloodletting and celebration, while the city holds its multi-layered culture close to its heart. Here, there are sub-cultures that still have time to percolate, out of reach from the mass media machine waiting to find the next “movement” to turn into the latest lopsided haircut and skinny jean. 

She is coming out of a fractured and nervous disposition to find herself whole and back in the game. The streets are thronged with short-but-good-time-seekers and a people who are yet forming an idea of who they are within a greater national and international context. 

Berlin: 18 years old, thirsty for adventure and just beginning to get a sense of how glorious adulthood can really be. It shows.

 

 

 

 

 

Significance in retrospect

August 25, 2008 § Leave a comment

 

 

Port Sandfield, Canada – a cottage by a lake.

 

It is only when a moment feels lost that the memory of it takes on significance.

 

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