Multilingual London 2.0

From the Spatial Analysis website, a map of the languages being Tweeted in across London.

Towards the north, more Turkish tweets (blue) appear, Arabic tweets (green) are most common around Edgware Road and there are pockets of Russian tweets (pink) in parts of central London. The geography of the French tweets (red) is perhaps most surprising as they appear to exist in high density pockets around the centre and don’t stand out in South Kensington (an area with the Institut Francais, a French High School and the French Embassy).

The Deptford anchor, important landmark and much-loved drinking spot needs saving. Read about it here and here.

Integration and intergroup relations in South London

From the COMPAS Blog, by Ole Jensen

London is seen as being a vibrant multicultural city that attracts and houses people from all over the world.  How is this diversity experienced in everyday life though? And how is it that different areas of the same city can have vastly different experiences of diversity despite both having similar levels of immigration?

The Concordia Discors project aimed to investigate questions like these. Starting in early 2011, in cooperation with universities and research institutes in four other European cities – Barcelona, Turin, Nuremberg and Budapest the research focused on the everyday experiences of getting along at the local level. Fieldwork (as described in a previous blog) was conducted in five cities and for each, two inner-city neighbourhoods were selected that are characterised by relatively high levels of ethnic minority and immigrant populations. Please visit the project webpages for further details – http://www.concordiadiscors.eu/

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Amano on Another London

From Amano Photographic Studies:

“Another London” is an exhibition of 100 photographs taken by photographers from abroad. It coincided with the Olympics last held in London over 60 years ago.

I decided to buy the book of the exhibition since not only does it contain the images from the exhibition, it also contains an essay called “Overseas photographers view the city at mid-century” by Ben Gidley and Mick Gidley. It may help to deepen my insight into this group of photographers and the subject they have chosen, namely London. Photography has this power to inform even educate and it is surely a mistake to ignore that potential of the medium. There is a certain amount of political history in this exhibition as records of racial tension, for instance, in the 1960′s feature. Yet photography does not just document, it also has the power to be of universal significance and one sees this perhaps in a photograph by Bill Brandt of a woman placidly scrubbing her doorstep. As the Gidleys write, ” … the photographs in the collection represent a range of visual strategies and approaches, but taken together say something important about the time and place of their making.”

The photographs were all made in the middle of the twentieth century, from 1930 to 1980, and during this time London faced considerable growth with building projects actually devised during the war and executed afterwards. There is a lot of nostalgia about a London that no longer is which some of these photographs recall yet there is also detail that reveal that this past London was not idyllic. There is a vast array of subject matter within the exhibition; Bill Brandt is recorded as saying that what Henry James, the American novelist, called “multitudinous life,” was “something too complex to be caught” wondering “if anyone would ever succeed in photographing London.” Of course, there are certain symbols of London such as the red buses and Big Ben much of what constitutes London comes from outside, in the form of immigrants and the role of London as a hub of Empire although this was of course dwindling during this period. Street photographers are often looking to catch some kind of juxtaposition to make their photographs meaningful yet a lot of photographs in this exhibition rely on their ability to record different types of people such as hippies or char women among many others.

The exhibition features a variety of photographers. Some are well-known such as Henri-Cartier Bresson who has provided a source of inspiration for many others. A lesser known photographer is Sergio Larrain who was not afraid to make much looser compositions, more post-modern than the modernist conventions of the 1950′s. Some of the photographers featured were sent on commission to photograph London by different kinds of magazines who were looking for certain sorts of images while other photographers came independently. There were those, most notably Brandt, who became naturalised British subjects with Dorothy Bohm going on to found the Photographer’s Gallery.

These photographers from abroad brought their own vision and experiences, such as Leonard Freed who was fascinated by both Jewishness and the police, and hence the exhibition title, Another London, and yet the place they photographed is still recognisable as London.

The exhibition was made possible by The Eric and Louise Franck London Collection as Tate curator Simon Baker points out in a short, one page introduction. The photographs were collected over a period of 20 years and form a small part of a collection of other 1,000 images.

David Campany has written at length about this exhibition and his essay is available on the Tate Britain website.

My own visit came with a few days of the exhibition closing. I had been thinking about it for quite sometime, wondering why the college ignore these kind of exhibitions (presumably because they are not contemporary) and suggesting to others that they might like to accompany or meet me there. Finally, I found the time to make the visit, slightly daunted by the sheer size of the exhibition which encourage one to sweep past images that given more time, might have opened up their secrets. A little study beforehand perhaps can help avoid this but one does not want to go just to see Henri Cartier-Bresson, for instance; there is a lot of other work that deserves attention. I guess I shall glide past in the time allotted and soak up what I can without being too overwhelmed. Continue reading

Transpontine on Another London

Transpontine writes:

This week is the last chance to see ‘Another London: International Photographers Capture City Life 1930-1980’ at Tate Britain (it closes on 16 September). As other reviewers have noted,  I’m not sure that much of it really offers a view of  ‘another’ city – if anything it suggests that great international photographers visiting London tended to reproduce a very familiar version of the city with guardsmen, buses, city gents in hats and cockney characters on market stalls. That was after all what the agencies and magazines they were working for expected to see – artfully executed tourist imagery. Of course there are still some great photographs which capture lost moments, like Edouard Boubat’s picture of the 1950s working river by Tower Bridge, or Martine Franck’s photo of a bored child in Greenwich at the time of the 1977 silver jubilee.

 

Another London gets better as you go around it though, and the last half of the exhibition lives up to its title with photographs documenting less commonly seen parts of London. I particularly liked Al Vandenberg’s images of 1970s counter-cultural London and Neil Kenlock’s pictures from the same period of Black Londoners. They may both have been migrants, from the US and Jamaica respectively, but both were settled in the city when they took their photos. Perhaps you really need to be embedded in a place for a while to step beyond the usual cliches.
Neil Kinlock’s photograph of the aftermath
of a racist attack in Balham in 1972
One of Vandenberg’s photos – featuring Lemmy (centre)
I also liked Leonard Freed’s 1971 pictures of Hassidic Jews, though for a Londoner what is frustrating about these images and so many others in the exhibition is that they are simply labelled as London -whereas what you really want to know is whereabouts in London?
Are the contradictions of this exhibition simply about different perspectives of London, or are they representations of the real contradictions of London? In their essay accompanying the exhibition, Ben Gidley and Mike Gidley suggest the latter: ‘London has always had an anachronistic relationship to England and Britain, and to Englishness and Britishness. In this representative photographic collection, we see images of pearly kings, milk bottles on the doorstep, guardsmen in bearskins, monarchist crowds and timber-lined pubs that point backwards to an imagined old England that tourists come here to see, while the modernity of its traffic and the relative exoticism of its hippies, Black Panthers and punks suggest a London jerked out of England by war and dislocating change’ (in ‘Another London: International Photographers Capture City Life 1930-1980’, edited by Helen Delaney an Simon Baker, Tate, 2012)