Stories from Quick Reads and Western Europe
Zachary Rosen interviews photographer/poet Amaal Said. Amaal was born in Denmark to Somali parents and is currently based in London:
AIAC: Your photographs are remarkable in how they challenge and evolve notions of beauty in mainstream Western media by featuring intimate portraits of melanin-rich young people – with piercings, in headscarves and with natural hair. What experiences inform and shape the content of your photographs?
Amaal Said: I try my hardest to keep close to beauty. I grew up in a neighbourhood referred to as a ghetto in Odense, Denmark. I went back two years ago and all I can remember is how many shades of green I saw. I wish I had captured more of it. My own memories of Odense are at odds with what I read about it and hear from family. It’s always been a beautiful place to me, which doesn’t mean that a lot of sadness and tragedy didn’t happen there, it just means that both elements can exist at the same time.
I’ve spent most of my life in London and I’ve had the pleasure of being in communities with other artists who are doing really important work in the world. I never felt alone in that case. Negative opinions of the countries we came from and the communities we lived in existed. I was in classrooms with other children who claimed that people that looked like me were dirty immigrants who stole jobs and cheated the system. I feel like I spent a lot of time at secondary school fighting people’s opinions. And I’m not in those particular classrooms anymore, but I’m still trying to combat those negative portrayals.
I never saw the documenting I did as particularly hard work. I asked to take people’s pictures because I found them beautiful, because I recognised myself in them. I realise now how important the work is and how necessary it is to push against the images that do not represent us in our best light.
On April 17, the French government unveiled a national campaign to combat racism and anti-Semitism in France. The objective of the campaign is to fight all prejudices, raise awareness and get citizens engaged in the conversation.
One hundred euros will be allocated over three years to educate and promote cultural diversity. The hashtag #planantiracisme (the plan against racism) was the number one trending topic on Twitter on the day of the announcement.
According to the Report on Racism and Antisemitism by the Commission Nationale Consultative des Droits de l’Homme CNCDH (National Comission on Human Rights), there was a 30% increase in racist acts in 2014 (from 1,274 in 2013 to 1,662 in 2014). Anti-Semitic acts went from 423 in 2013 to 851 in 2014, including the attack on the kosher store after the Charlie Hebdo shooting.
A 13-year-old boy was killed by a shark on April 12 near Les Aigrettes on Reunion island.
Elio Canestri was a promising surfer and a member of the local surfing club. The local community is shocked by the tragic news. A Facebook page was set up to commemorate his life, with already more than 3,500 fans within a few hours.
Soon after the events, the local authorities activated the post-attack measures, which include specific fishing targets in the area.
Unfortunately, shark attacks have become a repetitive event on Reunion island: There have been 16 shark attacks off the island since 2011. In February this year, island authorities extended a law prohibiting swimming and other water-based activities except in special areas in response to the high number of attacks. The measure has resulted in a dramatic decline in tourism.
Ximena Gutiérrez, a Nicaraguan mother, recovered her child who was detained by his father at the German Embassy in Nicaragua.
Arun was taken to the Embassy's office in Managua by his father, a German citizen. Considering the unwillingness to leave the place, the little child's mother reported to the authorities and media that her child was ¨kidnapped¨.
Immediately, tens of people mobilized in social media in favour of the Nicaraguan mother:
— Jimmy Altamirano (@JimmyATN8) March 17, 2015
Friends and family request Nicaraguan kid's return detained at German customs in Nicaragua.
German ambassador in Nicaragua Karl-Otto König, in his statements to the media, explained that both father and child have German nationalities and this European country's law says that they have the right to consular protection.
According to Gutiérrez, the child legally lives with her in Nicaragua since August.
— ivett blandon (@TeviTorrez) March 17, 2015
A man kidnaps his own son (what?!) and he took refuge at German customs. He had to be from Nicaragua, of course!
König and Minister of Family Affairs Marcia Ramírez agreed that it is a family and not a political-related issue.
The child was placed in the custody of his mother, according to the ambassador, who did not want to give more details because “it is a merely family issue.”
Women in Germany are outraged over one insurance company's videos explaining different types of policies, in which women are described as passive and naive — a role more in line with the expectations of the 1950s than 2015.
Birte Vogel writes on her blog Thea – Frauen in Sprache, Medien und Gesellschaft (Thea – Women in Language, Media and Society):
Die Rolle der Frau in den Augen der Alten Leipziger ist die der passiven Mutter und Tochter, des Mädchens, das selbst nicht Skateboard fährt, sondern den Jungen anhimmelt und ihn fotografiert, der gut situierten Ehefrau, die keinen Job hat und deshalb den lieben langen Tag am Gartenzaun stehen und tratschen kann, die keine Ahnung hat von Versicherungen, die sich gerne vom altväterlichen Gatten aufklären und belehren lässt und aus Sorge vor einer Scheidung gleich zurück an den Herd rennt, um dem Herrn etwas zu kochen. Eine Frau, die vollkommen abhängig ist vom Mann – wenn der sich scheiden lässt, bleibt ihr gar nichts mehr. Ganz klar: 50er Jahre.
According to the insurance company Alte Leipziger, the role of women is that of a passive mother and daughter, of a girl, who doesn't skateboard and adores and takes pictures of boys, of a wife, who doesn't have a job and has nothing else to do than to stand next to the garden fence all day chitchatting with her neighbour, who has no idea about insurance and doesn't mind being educated by her fatherly husband and who returns to the kitchen to cook him his favourite meal because she is worried over a divorce. A women who is completely dependent on her husband — if he wants a divorce, nothing will be left for her. This is definitely the 1950s.
Following the uproar, the company removed the videos.
Sigi Lieb tweeted in response to the controversy, using the hashtag #aufgewacht (#wakeup):
— Sigi Lieb (@gespraechswert) March 15, 2015
#wakeup in the year 2015. Amazingly stupid commercial video depicts women as dumbly serving and passive.
Former French Defense Minister Finds Excuses for the Alleged Rape of Central African Children by French Soldiers
Afrique Info reports that JP Chevènement, a former defense minister of France, stated on public radio Europe 1 on May 3 that the challenging conditions that French soldiers face in the Central African Republic could explain “behavior of that kind” (see video above). Chevènement was referring to the allegation of child sexual abuse by French troops posted in the Central African Republic. The allegations surfaced after disciplinary proceedings were taken against a United Nations employee accused of leaking the allegations to the French authorities.
On March 5, 2015, the European Union Court of Justice ruled that the reduced value-added tax (VAT) established for printed books should not apply to digital books, considering everything distributed or delivered electronically or via Internet as a service. Amalia Lopez questions the resolution on the Blog Sinerrata Editores:
Lo que más me ha llamado la atención es que refuerzan la decisión utilizando el argumento del soporte, […] que igual tuvo sentido en algún momento del pasado pero hoy en día me resulta completamente absurdo. Es verdad, el libro electrónico es un archivo no un objeto pero, ¿es un libro menos libro porque lo guardo en mi ordenador o mi lector electrónico en vez de en la estantería? ¿Cuándo leo un libro digital la experiencia cultural es menor que cuando es un libro de papel? Es decir, lo que este tribunal ha sentenciado (o esa es mi interpretación) es que lo que hace de un libro un producto cultural y por tanto merecedor de un impuesto reducido (y un menor coste para los consumidores) es el papel en el que está impreso.
What struck me was that they used the format as an argument to reinforce their decision, […] which maybe could have made sense at some point in the past, but nowadays, I find it completely absurd. It is true, an e-book is a file and not an object, but does it make a book less of a book if I keep it on my computer or my e-reader rather than on the book shelf? When I read a digital book, is the cultural experience lesser than when a read the book on paper? That is to say, what this court has ruled (or, at least, that's my interpretation) is that what makes a book a cultural product, thus deserving reduced tax (and a lower cost to its consumers), is the paper on which is printed.
The sentence includes books downloaded or viewed online and encompasses electronic formats for computers, smartphones, e-readers or any reading devices.
On April 2, 2015, at least 147 people were killed by gunmen on the campus of Garissa University in Kenya, according to Kenya's National Disaster Operation Centre (KRCS). The center also reports that 79 people were injured and 587 people were evacuated at this stage.
The suspected mastermind of the massacre is the Somalia-based Al-Shabaab militant group, which claimed responsibility for the attack.
The tragic accounts of the shooting by survivors triggered a show of solidarity worldwide. The francophone world, still weary after the Charlie Hebdo attack, responded by showing solidarity with the Garissa victims on social networks with the hashtag #JesuisKenyan (to mirror the hashtag #JesuisCharlie). It was the second most trending topics on Twitter in France on April 3.
Here are a few of those posts:
— #BPM Nouveau single (@TEAMBEOZEDZED) abril 2, 2015
147 died in the horrific #terrorist attack against education and our future. Let's show solidarity #JesuisKenyan
Trop peu de médias ne parlent de l'attentat terroriste de l'université Kenyane, 147 morts ce n'est pas suffisant?! L'HORREUR #JeSuisKenyan
— Lorphelin Marine (@MarineLorphelin) April 3, 2015
Not enough talk in the media about the terrorist attack at the university in Kenya, are 147 dead not enough ?! HORRIBLE #JesuisKenyan
More than once, screenwriters have found inspiration in reality for their fiction. This time, it seems reality was inspired by fiction. The news that the co-pilot of German airline Germanwings‘ Flight 9525 is suspected of intentionally crashing the plane, taking the lives of 149 people with him, seems to be one of these cases.
The tragedy shares some similarities with Argentinean-Spanish film “Wild Tales“, directed by Damián Szifrón. The movie compiles six episodes connected by the topic of the relief of anger and the violence contained by different characters. The first of these stories is about a mentally disturbed pilot named Pasternak, who decides to commit suicide by crashing an airplane — which is filled with everyone who has harmed him since childhood — into his parents’ home:
On Twitter, several users from different countries could not help but notice the similarities between the air disaster and the movie:
Es inevitable, para quién haya visto @rsalvajes_ok, recordar ahora la primera escena. La realidad supera siempre la ficción.
— Jose Aceituno (@aceituno_jos) marzo 26, 2015
For those who have watched the movie @rsalvajes_ok it is inevitable that they remember the first scene. Reality always exceeds fiction
— Daniel Delgado (@warmth) marzo 26, 2015
— Bernd Schusky (@bschusky) marzo 26, 2015
The tragedy is more and more reminiscent one of the episodes in the movie Wild Tales #unconceivable #Germanwings
Not only can artists live off their work, but the Internet can actually be a lifeline for them in today's increasingly competitive marketplace. The blog RamGon looks into opportunities for painters in social media and, more importantly, into how the medium can help artists to publicize and market their work.
In an interview with RamGon, the artist known as Goloviarte — Gregorio Lopez Vicente — explains the risks and benefits that social media offers today's artists:
Para la publicación en esos canales, a grandes rasgos, ¿qué estrategia de publicación de contenidos sigues? ¿qué herramientas y criterios usas para llevar a cabo determinadas acciones?
Roughly speaking, in order to publish in these channels, what content publishing strategy to you follow? What tools and criteria do you use to complete specific tasks?
El único criterio que sigo es ser visto, por tanto, participo en todas aquellas redes sociales en momentos en los que veo que la gente esta participando más, como puede ser un evento, o un post con muchos comentarios en facebook, etc. Los hashtags en Twitter son muy importantes para tener visibilidad, y en cuanto a herramientas no uso ninguna, lo hago todo controlando manualmente todo desde el navegador.
The only criterion I follow is to be seen, so I take part in all those social networks in which I see people getting more involved, like when there is a particular event or a post that has lots of comments on Facebook, etc. Hashtags on Twitter are very important for visibility, but as for tools I don't use any—I do everything manually from the browser.
Here are a few examples of how Goloviarte takes advantage of social networking to market his work:
— goloviarte (@goloviarte) March 7, 2015
How about a mural for your hotel? or office? Talk to me
— goloviarte (@goloviarte) diciembre 31, 2014
Mi paintings are available to all my followers