Press Photographer and Photojournalist

Posts tagged “Exhibition

Kink – Exhibition

Recently I had a photo exhibition at Melbourne’s Brunswick Street Gallery which finished this week. Two weeks fly by pretty quickly.  This exhibition is a series of portraits of Wellington’s Kink (BDSM) community that I have been working on for over four years. For stylistic purposes, I chose to shoot this subject matter using constructed portraits and to emulate a cinematic lighting style. This project has been quite a labour of love: as well as spending many hours crafting each individual portrait – including multiple interviews with subjects, location scouting, testing lighting set ups, finding props and roping-in random helpers –  I also raised the $2500 exhibition costs through a crowd-funding campaign, along with arranging for the printing, and packaging and shipping of the finished works to Melbourne.

When I arrived at the gallery two weeks ago, I was worried that the images would not fit well in the space. I had printed the images double the size I originally planned for (good thing too as they looked great as A2 prints) and I thought they would be a bit squished in the small space. Melbourne is a long jump over the Tasman from Wellington, so there was no way I could visit the exhibition space beforehand to see how the images would fit. However using my well-honed Blue Peter skills and rummaging through the recycling for a couple of cereal boxes, I managed to craft a scale model of the exhibition space, and quickly found the best layout for the images.

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The evening I arrived in Melbourne, after having only three hours sleep the previous night, my curating and hanging skills were a little uncoordinated! Only the next morning, once the images were equally spaced and securely fixed to the wall (thanks to a little  a lot of help from one of the gallery elves) was I relieved to see that they actually looked pretty darn good (and not too squished).

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Come the afternoon of the big exhibition opening, as I was preparing the finishing touches to the exhibition space, I was starting to get a little nervous about how the subject matter might be received.

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And finally, after a quick clean and polish, things were looking rock steady…

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It was a huge relief to see people spending time in the space and reading the captions and information sheets that I had provided. It shows people took a real interest in the work and the story that was being told. It was also very uplifting getting feedback from visitors,  with one middle-aged lady thanking me for bringing this work to Melbourne and commenting “it was great to learn about a sub-culture that was so far outside of my realm of experience”. The value of this work was further reinforced by positive feedback the gallery curator had been receiving from visitors throughout the duration of the exhibition:

“I hope all is well! I just wanted to pass on that I have had an incredible amount of visitors express a great deal of gratitude for your exhibition. Our visitors have been learning, and feeling inspired. Your work invites a real personal experience and this has been really meaningful! It’s been exciting to receive all of the feedback.”

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With the success of this Melbourne exhibition, I’m still hopeful that I can exhibit this work in Wellington as soon as I’m able to find a gallery space that is willing to show this work.

OK. As you might have noticed by now, this is going to be a rather long blog post, so if you’ve read this far, the actual portrait project as it (for the most part) appeared in the gallery, is shown below:

My background in documentary and editorial photography informs my work as a photographer, and fuels my interest in using visual imagery to tell stories. Curious by nature, I often find myself drawn to subjects that sit outside of cultural norms, or that are socially or environmentally topical. As a photographer, I am driven to make a difference in the world in whatever small way I can, and producing visual stories to provide a platform for discussion and engagement is one way in which I can do this. If people see my images and it has a positive impact on them, or provokes a response, or makes them think, then I believe I have succeeded as a photographer.

BDSM is often perceived as a deviant sexual practice, bordering on pornography. This work is an attempt to defy stereotypes, to show the diversity of individuals that make up the Kink community, and the benefits these practices can bring. Ultimately it is an affirmation of the diversity of sexuality and human relationships. The portraits shown below are a collaboration, and have taken many hours to construct. The exhibition of these images was designed to be the endpoint of this project (and this is the first time that they have been shown on the web).

As the Kink/BDSM community is rife with its own language and terminology, I have include a BDSM Glossary and an Introduction which is intended to be read with the image captions, to understand the accompanying story.

(Anonymous)

BDSM roles: Sub

Into: Sensation play – touch and sensations, scratching, fingernails, biting, temperature play (ice)

Describes herself as: Introvert, perfectionist, writer, feminist.

 

“Sexuality in contemporary society can be very confronting and repressed. In the kink community, you are naked. This is everything you represent, accept me as I am, warts and all”.

“Normal social boundaries do not exist in the Kink [BDSM] scene. Breaking these social norms in a community that is supportive and accepting is hugely freeing. The idea of giving up control to another is liberating and simultaneously empowering. You need to be a strong-willed individual to hand over control to someone else”.

Collar: the collar is a very important symbol in the Kink community and there are protocols on it’s meaning and display: it can represent the binding of two partners together; the Sub and the Dom; the Slave and the Master; or simply an artifact representing commitment and deep friendship between two partners within the kink community. It is also used indicate that a play sceneis about to start and that the ‘sub’ is partnered for the evenings play.

 

Nikoletta

BDSM Roles: Sub, dom, switch

Into: Masochism, impact play, bondage, shibari, kidnapping play.

Describes herself as: Positive, open-minded, happy, quirky.

 

“I love living a double life in an environment that is non-judgemental, safe, and positive, with trustworthy, open and honest people. It’s nice [being part of the Kink scene] to be surrounded by like-minded people”.

“Pain (see good pain) is a gateway to go through to cleanse the mind, you come out almost being reborn. The negative stresses of everyday life are released. You see things from a different perspective. All mental clutter is gone”.

“It’s about forgetting yourself. Forgetting that you have an ego, that you have thoughts or feelings, it’s almost a religious experience”.

 

Special thanks to SFX artist Sonia Edney for creating the FX work for this image.

 

Melancholiq

BDSM Roles: Sub, sadomasochist;

Into: Monogamy, edgeplay, needle play, sadism, masochism

Describes herself as: Secret geek, dabbler in many kinks but master of none.

 

A total of 152 sterile, fine-gauge hypodermic needles are inserted through Melancholiq’s skin. Pierced through rather than into the skin, the needles trigger the release of endorphins in response to the pain they create.

Needle play is becoming one of the most popular forms of BDSM play. A form of Edgeplay, needle play can be used as a form of self-expression, imitating tribal rituals for the purpose of spiritual self-discovery, or for sexual pleasure. As part of BDSM practice, needle play can produce an intense natural endorphin high which can last for hours and can induce orgasm in many of the people who experience it.

“The main attraction to [needle play] is the endorphin rush that I get from it. It is painful, but more or less so depending where the needles go in. Areas with more fat hurt less whereas areas where the needle accidentally hits muscle hurt a lot as muscles are particularly sensitive, and can cause intense pain. I try to keep them just under then skin”.

“What I also like is the challenge. I like to see if I can outdo myself from last time”.

 

Lexa and Damien

BDSM roles: Sub, dom, polyamory

Into: Impact play, bondage, wax play

Describes herself as: Over-thinker, caring, involved, sexy

Describes himself as: Hard working, adventurous, sexual, affectionate

 

“At a time in my life when work was very demanding and stressful, I found that the play scenes in the kink community were a good way to release the tension from my work life and to help relieve the anxiety which I have recently begun to experience”.

“We began exploring group play and this led to finding FetLife and the local kink community.   We began experimenting with flogging, chains, ropes and other types of restraints, plus sensation play such as using wax”.

“The sense of welcome that we felt from the community was great and it was a very safe place to explore and discover what we liked”.

“I am also polyamorous and have another male partner. The polyamorous side of my relationship I have had to learn how to manage with timing, communicating, emotional needs and also considering the impact this has on our son, aged four, with another man being involved in his life”.

“BDSM and being submissive really supports the management of my anxiety. By giving up control to one of my lovers completely and being restrained, I trust them to follow the preset boundaries and I don’t have to worry about being on top of everything. I can give myself up to the play”.

 

Duncan McQueen

BDSM Roles: Top

Into: Shibari, Flogging, Needle Play

Describes himself as: Kinkster who lives the life when I can

 

Duncan hangs from four large hooks temporarily pierced into his upper back, known in the trade as a suicide suspension. The hooks are attached to ropes strung through a rig. The fresh piercings bleed a little, but the rush of endorphins the brain produces in response numbs any pain, and under the guidance of fellow practitioners, Duncan is slowly and carefully lifted into the air. After the apprehension and the pain, comes an intense euphoria, a blissful state of being.

Skin suspension, a subset of the growing practice of body modification, has its roots in native traditions and tribal ceremonies – from the ancient Hindu festival Thaipusam, to the Mandan tribe on the banks of the Missouri River – and has been practiced for at least 5000 years.

Was this your first attempt at skin suspension and have you tried anything similar to this before?
“Yes, it was my first skin suspension. I had been suspended in rope before this, which I think is totally a different beast itself”.

What is it that interests or attracts you to perform skin suspension?
“Over the years, I have seen several suspensions around the kink scene in Wellington, my interest has grown over the years from “God that must hurt” to “Why?” to “Why do they look so peaceful and happy while they are suspended?”.

In the image, you look pretty blissed, can you describe your experience of skin suspension, the state of mind you experienced and what the practice/experience means to you?
“The endorphin rush was huge and I was up on a high for at least a couple of days.  I think some people would relate this as a spiritual experience . I found it to be an inward experience as your mind is saying your skin is not supposed to be doing this, but you know it will, so it is a bit of mind fuck.  Other than that all I remember was relaxing in to the slight discomfort at the time”.

Many of these body modification practices have their roots in ancient tribal cultures and customs, why do you think there’s a revival and growing interest in these experiences in modern day culture?
“I think the revival of these practice is a good thing, whether you are in it for the spiritual side or you do it as a rite of passage, as long as it is done safely with sterile equipment and all the other rigour that makes this a safe experience”.

“Why do I think there is a revival?  I think people are lost in the impersonal fast paced world and are searching to find themselves, not a bad way to centre you self, in my opinion”.



Diane Phillips

BDSM Roles: Sub, dom, switch, transgender

Into: Impact play, flogging, bondage, sensation play

Describes herself as: Exhibitionist, husband, father

 

Diane has felt the need to be a woman all of her life. As a woman, she becomes a different person. She feels more comfortable and more herself. Living a transgender existence has its emotional challenges as Diane is forced to live a dual life: loving husband and devoted father, while dabbling in her transgender identity when she is away from family and friends.

Diane tried to live a ‘normal’ life, but the expression of her feminine side was too hard to resist. The first few public outings as ‘Diane’ were terrifying but she felt compelled not to hide her true self. Websites like FetLife helped Diane to find a community of people who also felt trapped by their own gender. She soon realised that she was not alone and found the opportunity to meet people in the BDSM scene who were more open-minded and accepting, which enabled Diane to live out her dream of being the hostess of a dinner party, and to indulge in her family fantasies of cooking, cleaning, and shopping for other people.

“I’ve always felt this way, but I always knew that I had to hide it. I’ve known this since I was eight years old and it’s fundamental to my being. I can’t repress this forever”.

“As a woman, there are more clothes to choose from to express yourself. The colours make me feel so happy and alive”. “If you are constantly wearing the wrong clothes, it’s difficult to be yourself”.

“It’s not just dinner. Afterwards somebody gets tied-up or spanked, and everyone else watches. There’s lots of fun and laughter. There are no inhibitions and people are not afraid of their imperfect bodies”.

“What I’m looking for is acceptance, so I expect everybody else to be accepting”.

 

Chrissi

BDSM Roles: Switch

Into: Dressing up (high-heeled boots, corsets, leather, bondage gear), heavy impact play, sensation play.

Describes herself as: Vivacious, bookworm, bold, fun, alternative, exhibitionist, flamboyant, extrovert.

 

Whips, corsets and high-heeled PVC boots are some of the things Chrissi loves about being part of the kink scene. “Dressing up is all part of the fun”. Her first experience of BDSM and alternative lifestyles was from attending the ‘Southern Exposure’ conference in Christchurch in 2006.

“Something just clicked. I met all sorts of interesting twisted and kinky folk, and have never felt more open and comfortable with myself”.

After sleeping in bed with a dog lead attached to her ankle and having to ask permission to go to the toilet, Chrissi soon discovered that being submissive is not part of her personality.

“It was an interesting journey. We worked out that I have submissive qualities but I’m not a submissive person.” “The relationship didn’t work out too well. It was definitely a control thing (dominance/submission) for him. I learned a lot about myself though and met a lot of good friends along the way”.

Chrissi is a “switch” so is equally comfortable being tied up and beaten, or doing the tying and the beating. Roles between playing tops and bottoms change depending on play partners and their dynamic.

“It all comes down to the dynamic”.

“It can be very liberating having a group of friends where you don’t need to hold back on conversations and pushing boundaries and exploring limits”.

 “Your body is in a super-sensitive state for up to an hour after a play scene, like heavy impact flogging, so the endorphin rush, or subspace as it is known in the trade, puts you in an interesting place”.

 “The bruises are like a trophy or memento of the play”.

 

Bex

BDSM roles: Sub, bottom, switch.

Into: Shibari, bondage, sensation play, wax play, polyamory

Describes herself as: Mother, playful, cheeky, energetic.

 

Polyamory

Often abbreviated as ’poly’ in the kink scene, polyamory is the practice, desire or acceptance of having more than one intimate relationship simultaneously, with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved. With polyamorous relationships, the complexity of human relationships and dealing with the web of emotions can add significant challenges to poly relationships. Rules and boundaries are established for the multiple relationships to co-exist and function fluidly and each person in the relationship commits to values such as openness, acceptance, and honesty. Through the practicing of these values, powerful bonding may occur between the individuals in the poly relationships.

As Bex points out from her own experience, “polyamory requires a strict set of rules if the relationships are to flourish and each partner must establish their reasons and requirements for going into the relationship”. “It can be a balancing act, as strong emotions arise when dealing with human fears and desires. Strong feelings of attachment, jealousy and possessiveness can be confronting when they arise between different partners in poly relationships. However, by establishing rules at the beginning and committing to open and honest communications, can help keep these conflicting emotions in check”.

For Bex, joining the polyamorous community has taught her a lot about human relationships, and about how to overcome a whole swathe of complex emotions through spending long periods with multiple partners.

“I feel very capable of handling most problems life can throw at me because of the emotional maturity poly relationships can bring”. “Living together as a trio does require a big leap of faith. You have to put a lot of trust in each other. However, it can bring many benefits that a traditional, monogamous relationship doesn’t offer”.

 

Bex

Wax and Rope

In the Wellington kink scene, Bex mainly participates in wax play and Shibari. With wax play, the wax is applied by a play partner using burning candles to drip hot, liquid wax on different areas of the body, which produces a tolerable amount of pain. The sensations of the wax tingling the skin vary as the wax is applied more liberally, producing a hypersensitive state known as subspace, as the sensations gradually build upon one another.

Practitioners of modern Shibari rope play create intricate geometric patterns and shapes designed to flow with the body’s natural curves. The rope placements can also create physiological experiences known as “subspace” and “topspace”, an effect similar to runners high.

“Being tied up during rope play can release a flood of feelings of calmness and serenity”. “The restriction caused from being tied-up and made immobile creates an act of surrender, not of helplessness but of surrendering your control. You have to place great trust in the person performing the suspension”.

“Kink is such an open society that it allows people to have such self-experimental journeys of discovery in an accepting environment. It’s very liberating”.

“Being a part of the kink community is the most accepted I have ever felt because I can simply be myself. Everyone is so open-minded”.

 

Andy

BDSM roles: Sub, slave, bottom, sadomasochism, polyamory

Into: Pain and sensation play, sensory deprivation, heavy flogging, beating, whipping, rubber, bondage and breath control.

Describes himself as: veterinary surgeon, conservationist, sane, sexual extremist, queer, pervert.

 

“The feeling of being trapped, of being totally at the mercy of somebody else” is what partially attracts Andy to the BDSM scene.

“The clothes – such as tight leather, PVC, or a sleep sack (a piece of material used to totally enclose the whole body, and designed for sensory deprivation) – increases anticipation and excitement, the sensation of every touch is magnified”. “My imagination goes wild with excitement, when I’m deprived of my senses”.

An extreme sports enthusiast, Andy gets the mental highs he craves through adventure sports such as rock climbing, paragliding and motorcycling.

“These activities, while exciting, require your full attention. They are fully absorbing and mentally stimulating, and for the same reasons, this is what attracts me to the BDSM scene”.

The same rules apply. Pain turns into pleasure.

“I’m into safe fear. In BDSM, you have to be able to implicitly trust the top or master entirely. Play with a master provides a very safe pain (see good pain). This way I can get the sexual excitement I enjoy without any risk”.

“It’s a big trust thing. Completely giving over your control to someone else. Building this kind of trust with a master and being pushed to the limit of pain and pleasure”.

 

Tom and Jayne

BDSM Roles: Sub, dom, top, bottom

Into: Bondage, sensation play, wax play, flogging, polyamory.

Describes herself as (Jayne): Vanilla but experimenting.

Describes himself as: Partner, father, greeny, programmer, handyman friend.

 

In the language of BDSM, Tom is a Top, which is primarily about being in control and is someone who “gives” rather than “receives”. Tom likes hurting people who like to be hurt. Tom is polyamorous and has a relationship with his play partner, which is purely consensual, and sensation playflogging, scratching, whipping, wax play, and chains – is all part of the fun.

For Tom’s life partner Jayne, her journey into the world of Kink has been somewhat of a rollercoaster ride. Being ‘vanilla in BDSM parlance (a term denoting a person who has standard or conventional sexual behaviour), Jayne’s journey into the kink scene has been a baptism by fire.

To open a strong, loving, 16-year relationship to another sexual partner, to share the person who knows your most intimate thoughts and frailties, someone with whom you have entrusted your life, to another, takes great strength and courage. It was an emotional and psychological learning curve for Jayne, as she battled with feelings of jealousy, fear, insecurity, inadequacy, loss and low self-esteem.

To enter into a open, polyamorous relationship requires serious trust and commitment, the negotiation of boundaries within the relationships, and the development of a distinct set of values, such as truth, honesty, trust, respect, and open communication, with which to live by.

During this journey of self-discovery, Tom has been Jayne’s rock during this transition in their relationship: constant, calm and supportive. Their commitment to each other has grown, and together, with open minds and open hearts, they walk the rocky road into the unknown.

 

Tom and Clare

“I see my role as being Tom’s kink outlet and partner at BDSM events. Tom and Jayne have privately managed their own relationship and in fact have been careful not to involve me in their challenges. We agreed rules at the outset. Over time, we have all negotiated changes to the rules as the situation has evolved. I have also developed a friendship with Jayne where we meet periodically to catch up and discuss any questions or issues that have arisen.”

All three participants in this situation discuss issues and negotiate freely to ensure that everyone’s needs are considered and met, as far as possible. Clare and Jayne also communicate together and meet from time to time for a friendly catch-up. While opening their relationship has at times been challenging for Tom and Jayne, the outcome for all three has been rewarding, and overall the bond between Tom & Jayne has deepened and strengthened. Their commitment to each other has grown, and together, with open minds and open hearts, they greet their future, whatever it may bring.

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Only four weeks to go…

Second blog post in a year…woohoo…go me! It’s been a long, four year journey creating this portrait project, but now I’m finally, nearly THERE. Only four weeks to go until the Kink portraits (all 12 of them) are exhibited at Brunswick Street Gallery (BSG) in Melbourne, Australia. If you happen to be in Melbourne between the 14 and 27 October, take a tour of the suburb of Fitzroy, and check out the many great exhibitions being hosted at BSG.

For all of y’all out there wondering what the hell ‘Kink” is (you’ll probably get it from looking at the pic below!), I promise to create a blog post about the project, along with all 12 images very soon, once I’ve finished prepping for the exhibition. In the mean time, here’s a shot of my mug with some of the exhibition prints:

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Kaititiro – Wellington Documentary Collective

Hey folks. I am slacking somewhat in my blog posts but I do have a good excuse…….

I’ve been collaborating with a number of photographers in Wellington over the past few months to form a documentary photographers collective: Kaititiro Collective. Kaititiro means witness in Maori. We’ve been meeting once a month to show and discuss personal work, develop connections and ideas and eventually create collaborative documentary projects and organise funding and networking opportunities to further our reportage/documentary ambitions.

Kaititiro Logo

This week we’ve just completed our first group exhibition at Thistle Hall. An opportunity arose for a last-minute exhibition at Thistle Hall for a one week exhibition, and we had a week and a half to organise images, make and mount prints, agree on a name for the collective, and produce flyers and posters to advertise the exhibition. We managed to pull it off, combining a fair few late nights while balancing our day jobs. Below is a blurb about the collective:

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Pulling together a group exhibition in 1.5 weeks was an amazing experience and really shows the power of collaboration and how photographers can pool together resources, skills and experience to help generate the type of photography work they are passionate about and wish to pursue. Now the exhibition is over, next comes the development of a website and future projects. Watch this space for further updates. Below are some images of the exhibition launch.

Kaititiro Collective Exhibition Launch - Thistle Hall

Kaititiro Collective Exhibition Launch - Thistle HallKaititiro Collective Exhibition Launch - Thistle HallKaititiro Collective Exhibition Launch - Thistle HallKaititiro Collective Exhibition Launch - Thistle HallKaititiro Collective Exhibition Launch - Thistle HallKaititiro Collective Exhibition Launch - Thistle HallKaititiro Collective Exhibition Launch - Thistle Hall


Suzanne Aubert Compassion Centre Exhibition Photos

After the last-minute rush trying to get prints organised, blurbs written, and the final few interviews with guests completed, the open-day exhibition at the soup kitchen last Saturday (24th March) went amazingly well. There was a steady stream of people all day, Wellington’s weather wasn’t as crap as was predicted, and even Wellington mayor Celia Wade-Brown popped by for a visit. Makes me wonder why I was so nervous! The images were well received with many people stating the images and stories were very moving. But must importantly of all, the soup kitchen guests, without whose co-operation this project would not have been a success, were very happy with the results and enjoyed seeing their pictures on the wall. I would just like to say a big thanks to Philippa and Nikki, and the other soup kitchen staff who helped with the organising of the exhibition, and the pain-staking process of aligning the prints on the wall! Here are a few pictures from the big day.

Wellington mayor Celia Wade-Brown gives artist Manu a Hongi - a traditional Maori greeting.

Artist Manu and Wellington mayor Celia Wade-Brown pose with some of Manu's artworks.


Pranah Cafe Exhibition – Dissent

I recently had an exhibition at Pranah Cafe in Newtown, Wellington on the subject of political dissent. This was a collection of images from various protests occurring in the UK between 2008 and 2010. A selection of the images from the 2009 G20 protests has also been accepted for an exhibition currently on-going in Melbourne’s Federation Square, as part of the Strip Billboard photo-essay project, The Long and the Short of it. http://www.stripbillboard.com/current-projects.html

Using civil disobedience as the weapon of choice, two climate change activists dressed as clowns prepare for a weekend of protests at the EON coal-fired power station at Ratcliffe-on-Soar. UK October 2009.
The second largest coal-fired power station in the UK, producing up to 150,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per week, became the focus of a number of environmental campaign groups in October 2009. Under the banner of “The Great Climate Swoop”, campaigners, activists and concerned citizens gathered at the EON coal-fired power station in Ratcliffe-on-Soar, to highlight the damage to the Earth’s climate system caused by the burning of carbon-rich coal.
 
 
The cooling towers of the EON coal-fired power station at Ratcliffe-on-Soar, are reflected in the window of a police car during a weekend of climate change protests. UK October 2009.
Dissent allows for the creation of politics from the bottom-up, giving people the power and opportunity to make changes in opinions and behaviour at the individual and local level, collectively circumnavigating the political rhetoric and stalling of national governments on committing to international issues.

 

A young girl stands on top of the 20 foot high perimeter fence of the EON coal-fired power station at Ratcliffe-on-Soar during a demonstration highlighting the dangers of climate change and the continued growth of global carbon emissions. UK October 2009.
Protest, civil disobedience and direct action, are expressions of political dissent, and serve as a tool for the passionate and disillusioned to collectively make their opinions heard.

 

The English Defence League (EDL), chanting racist slogans and throwing cans and bottles of beer, confront lines of police officers during a protest march against Islamic extremism in Nottingham, UK. December 2009.
Dissent can also evolve out of ignorance and fear, fuelling prejudice and hatred, with minorities often becoming the scapegoats for burgeoning social ills. The EDL, a working class movement against Islamic extremism and the Islamisation of the UK, have been protesting in towns and cities across the UK over the past two years, inciting racial hatred as they go.
The EDL have grown into a far right street movement reminiscent of the National Front in the 1970’s. Since their formation in 2009, the discordant rabble, not only composed of football hooligans, nationalist, racist and the disenchanted working class, are untied by racial hatred, violence and some common threads of misguided truth.
 
A man wearing a Jewish skull-cap or Kippah, attends an English Defence League (EDL) protest against Islamic extremism in Leeds, UK. October 2009.
With their roots and influence in past fascist movements, the EDL have been offering their support to Israel and Jewish communities in the UK, in a bid to increase the organisations reach. In an ironic twist, many of its supporters, out of ignorance or arrogance, often perform the Nazi “Sieg Heil” salute, while tragically appealing to people who were themselves victims of an extremist ideology.

 

A member of the left-wing campaign group Unite Against Fascism participates in a chanting match with members of the English Defence League (out of frame) during a protest against Islamic extremism in Nottingham UK. December 2009.
Counter protests are a common form of dissent when groups with opposing ideologies express their views in an attempt to influence public opinion or government policy. Elements from both ends of the political spectrum exhibit forms of extremist behaviour, inciting violence and causing civil disturbance. The latter itself a form of protest which is typically associated with major socio-economic problems.

 

Members of the English Defence League (EDL) chant aggressive slogans and spout racial abuse while they are penned into their designated protest area by police during a protest against Islamic extremism in Nottingham, UK. December 2009.
Protest and civil unrest can also be the result of other social issues such as economic stagnation, unemployment, and inequality. The disadvantaged, through lack of education, social apathy, and misinformation may have their anger and frustration easily exploited.
Over the past several years, Europe has seen a resurgence in far-right political parties gaining ground in local and national elections. Spearheaded by a vehement nationalism that singles out minority groups as a growing threat, both far right political parties and street movements like the EDL, are on the rise as the global economy and participation in traditional politics, falls.
 
Protesters “kettled” by police in London’s financial district at the G20 summit protest, express their frustration and discontent with governments, world leaders and bankers, by scrawling graffiti over the walls of the Bank of England. London April 2009.
Approximately 35,000 people, supporting a number of disparate campaign groups ranging from anger over the collapse of financial institutions to climate change, took part in coordinated protest marches across London, timed to coincide with the G20 summit.
Five thousand protesters were contained by police using a crowd control tactic known as kettling. Dressed in riot gear, police blocked roads around the area of the Bank of England, keeping protesters confined to a small area for 9 hours without access to food, water or toilet facilities.
 
Frustrated protesters at the G20 summit protest outside the Bank of England face a line of riot police (out of frame) forming part of the “kettle” on Cornhill in London’s financial district. London April 2009.

A legally planned protest was “kettled” by police using the pretence of the potential threat of violence and criminal damage. The kettle was in place and the protesters contained as early as 10am. By 7pm, they were slowly released from the area, one-by-one, with a police escort.

The tactic of kettling is controversial given that people have a legal right to protest in an open and democratic society. Kettling can also be the cause of associated violence and disorder, rather than the effect.
 
A protester, wearing a pink suit and Star Wars storm troopers helmet, poses in front of a line of riot police in a satirising manner at the G20 summit protests. London April 2009.
Satire is often used as a tool for practitioners of civil disobedience to poke fun at and deride hostile and apathetic opposition, and to express political or social dissatisfaction and dissent in a peaceful and non-threatening way.

 

A hand symbolically gestures to riot police as a baton charge at the junction of Queen Victoria and Queen Streets, begins the gradual tightening of the police kettle, and protesters are forced toward the Bank of England at the G20 summit protests. London April 2009.
In a people’s movement spawned and galvanised by the anger at the collapse of the financial system in 2008, the subsequent bank bail-outs, global recession and the continued payment of extravagant bankers bonuses, what does it take for an elected body to listen to and represent the voice of the people?

 

An unprovoked police baton charge on Cornhill adjacent to the Bank of England, forces protesters at the G20 summit into the middle of Threadneedle and King William Streets. London April 2009.
Confronted with riot police using baton charges, horses and police dogs, the protesters are gradually confined to an ever-reducing area. Over time, once passive and peaceful protesters inside the “kettle”, become tired, frustrated and angry. The situation then “boils-over” into aggression and violence.
 
This occurs on both sides, as can be seen with the ongoing inquest into the death of newspaper vendor Ian Tomlinson, who died from internal bleeding after being violently pushed from behind in an unprovoked incident, by Met Police officer PC Simon Harwood on the evening of April 1st 2009.
 
 
In response to the baton charge, protesters erect a makeshift barricade between themselves and the police, using event barriers intended to prevent access to the Bank of England, as they are gradually herded into a more confined and controllable space. London April 2009.

The Mask of Anarchy –

    By Percy Bysshe Shelley
    Stand ye calm and resolute, like a forest close and mute. With folded arms and looks which are, weapons of unvanquished war. And if then the tyrants dare, let them ride among you there. Slash and stab and maim and hew. What they like, that let them do. With folded arms and steady eyes, and little fear and less surprise. Look upon them as they slay, till their rage has died away. Then they will return with shame, to the place from which they came. And the blood thus shed will speak, in hot blushes on their cheek. Rise like lions after slumber, in unvanquishable number. Shake your chains to earth like dew, which in sleep had fallen on you. Ye are many – they are few.
Opposite the Bank of England, police form a relaxed barrier across Poultry Street, anticipating the G20 summit protests in London’s financial district and subtly forming the structure for the crowd control tactic known as “kettling”. London April 2009.  Often accused of being instruments of state control and objects for the expression of society’s frustration and disillusion, in the heat of the moment, its easy to forget that those wielding shields and armour, are also human too.

Information tag from the Melbourne-based photo-essay exhibition The Long and the Short of it, by Strip Billboard Inc.