Archive for February, 2009

Suau and more

Friday, February 13th, 2009

On the World Press Photo site you can see and hear jury chair MaryAnne Golon talking about the winning photo by Anthony Suau (and I also learnt that she at least pronounces his name An-thony with a “th” rather than in the normal British English fashion, and his second name as “swore”, so I shall have to learn to stop thinking of him as Antony Sow.)  She doesn’t talk about the way the figure with a gun is so clearly shown and dramatically in front of a white wall between two doorways, or that curious head he thrusts forwards behind the arm and gun makes him appear almost a cartoon figure projected on the scene, or how the simplicity of the upper half of the image and the chaos in the lower, but she does make some points about the image.

It’s well worth seeing the picture in the context of Suau’s essay on the site which got him a second prize for stories in the Daily Life section. Overall I think this is perhaps the most interesting story on the site, and one reason for this is the diversity of the ideas in this Time essay covering the crisis in the US economy (of course also something the rest of the world can thank America for.)

You can see his work Beyond the Fall on his web site and also on Time, (at least I think you can, though I’ve not managed to get beyond the opening sequence), with a work from a number of projects at Photoshelter and also on the Bill Charles site.

Elsewhere there is perhaps less of interest than in some years and there are a number of pictures and stories I find it hard to understand either why they are there or why they deserved their rather peculiar treatments by the photographers concerned. Sometimes competitions like this place too high a value on novelty without perhaps considering whether an artsy effect is anything more than that. But there is – as always – a considerable amount of work worth looking at.

Among work that particular caught my eye was the work by Davide Monteleone (Italy, Contrasto) taken in Abkhazia in September-October that won him first prize for General News stories, Polish photographer Tomasz Gudzowaty‘s Child jockey, Mongolia (3rd prize sports singles in Sport Features), and a story on where homeless people sleep in São Paulo, Brazil by Carlos Cazalis (Mexico, Corbis) which gained first prize in Contemporary Issues.

Interestingly the 3rd prize in Spot News stories went to Wojciech Grzedzinski, (Poland, Napo Images for Dziennik) for a set of images from the conflict in Georgia which included images of the same two men that became the subject of controversy on the Internet over photographs by Gleb Garanich and David Mdzinarishvili of Reuters which I covered in my post Byzantine Photographs last August. Although I found that the pictures showed no evidence that would make me in any way doubt their veracity, despite the comments of conspiracy theory obsessed bloggers, it does go to suggest that the world which is covered by news photography is perhaps a rather smaller place than we might hope.

London Gaza Slide Show – My Pictures

Friday, February 13th, 2009

One thing I didn’t mention in my earlier piece on the Photo-Forum meeting was what in some ways was the highlight of the meeting for me. Jeff Moore had invited photographers to send in up to 12 images from their coverage of events related to the attack on Gaza, and had put these into a slide show.

Most of the pictures were from the many demonstrations in London – as you can see from My London Diary I covered eight of them in January, (with another two so far this month – too late to send in for this event.) So I had plenty of pictures to choose from, despite having lost most of my work – an 8Gb card full – from the big march on 3 Jan (see Lost Masterpieces?)

Unfortunately this is a show that won’t be available on-line, because as well as containing some pretty good pictures it was also a great lesson in different approaches to events. Because so many of us had sent in work they had to be show a little too fast on the evening.

What I can show is my own set of 12 images, appearing on the blog at 450 pixels wide, but as usual here you can see them larger by loading the actual image in your browser. In Firefox you right click and select ‘view image.’ If you still use Internet Explorer there is probably a way to do it, but the best way would be to upgrade to Firefox!

© 2009 Peter Marshall.
Tony Benn emerges from the BBC after delivering a protest letter about their failure to run the Gaza appeal, Jan 24

© 2009 Peter Marshall.
Demonstration at the Egyptian Embassy, 2 Jan

© 2009 Peter Marshall.
Protesters burn Camp David photo at Egyptian Embassy, 2 Jan

© 2009 Peter Marshall.
Women with Palestinian face colours at the start of the Jan 3 march

© 2009 Peter Marshall.
Protesters carry a coffin in Jan 3 march

© 2009 Peter Marshall.
Young protesters opposite the Israeli embassy
, Jan 7

© 2009 Peter Marshall.
On the march, Jan 10

© 2009 Peter Marshall.
Opposite the Israeli Embassy on Jan 10

© 2009 Peter Marshall.
Opposite the Israeli Embassy on Jan 10

© 2009 Peter Marshall.
Hizb ut-Tahrir demonstration at the Egyptian Embassy, Jan 11

© 2009 Peter Marshall.
Police clear demonstrators from outside the BBC, Jan 24

© 2009 Peter Marshall.
In Portland Place at the rally on Jan 24

Largely missing from my coverage were violent incidents with pictures of demonstrators attacking police and – rather more evident in the photographs shown – police attacking demonstrators – and these produced some of the more interesting pictures in the show. Partly mine was a deliberate choice of how I wanted to present the events – these incidents were only a very small part of the whole –  but there were other factors, not least that these demonstrations often dragged on fairly late into the evening and I had other things I wanted to do. These were events being covered by large numbers of press photographers – unlike some of those I cover and I didn’t feel my presence was needed.

Photo Forum, Futures & World Press Photo

Friday, February 13th, 2009

Yesterday evening I was standing in a packed Photoforum meeting in central London with other photographers listening to two photographers talking about and showing their work. Ray Tang of Rex Features presented some of his stories on sex trafficking and drugs in Eastern Europe, and Carl de Souza showed us what it was like to cover the Olympics for a major agency (AFP) – if I remember correctly he was one of over 70 photographers they had covering the event – as well as the month or so he took off in China after that event.

De Souza had a fast-moving slide show of his work with some very graphic images, particularly from the various cycling events which was one major area he was assigned to. It was a shame that through some technical mis-match his whole presentation was shown with the images at a noticeably incorrect aspect ratio which made his horizontal images almost square and turned verticals into upright pillar-box slits.

One of the more amazing of many facts and figures was that AFP had pictures from the 100m final on the wire in just over a minute after the end of the event – from memory 1 minute 14 seconds. These first pictures came from a remote camera linked by fibre cable to the AFP editing suite where they were selected and dropped into waiting templates with captions etc for immediate transmission.

After the end of the Olympics de Souza got AFP to change his ticket home to give him a month in China and set off on his own to travel around one of the outlying provinces. He had to pay his own expenses, but with hotels at 20p a night and an enormous hospitality from the people he met this wasn’t a great problem, but he had to find his way and make himself understood purely by sign language and pointing at symbols in a guide book, as absolutely no English was spoken.

One question that came up was whether he had sold any of this work from China, and he told us that we were the first people except his family and friends to see it – and were asked if we had any ideas on how it could be market or published.

Most of the discussion over Tang’s work was about his paying for the drugs used by one of his subjects to set up a photographic session. As well as raising moral issues around drugs, some suggested it was an interference with the subject that was unacceptable in a documentary project. But there were also some useful practical questions about how you get to find and work with people on sensitive issues such as prostitution and the victims of sex trafficking. Tang used the Internet to make contacts with local people, mainly students who he employed cheaply on a daily basis to find people and places, make phone calls and go round with him, as well as working with various NGOs involved with the problems.

As with De Souza’s pictures of China, this work by Tang was self-financed and little has been sold. Both work for agencies and get a living from what the agencies want, but also spend a considerable amount of time and money on personal work.

I thought while listening to this about a piece that Simon Norfolk wrote in December for World Press Photo (and it was a big day for them yesterday when the results of the 2008 contest were announced – you can now see all the winning pictures including the winning image black and white image by Anthony Suau, which I think may be less controversial than some other recent winners.)

Norfolk’s piece comes in the on-line magazine from WPP, Enter, and in a section called ‘ask the experts‘ under marketing, which I think is intended to give advice to people coming in to photography. It’s worth reading in full (and isn’t very long) but early on in the piece he writes “I gave up trying to make a living from editorial a few years ago…

Magazine commissions still get him to places – as they took de Souza to China – and he then stays on and makes work that he can sell as fine art prints. Or used to be able to sell – since much of that market was fuelled by those obscene bonuses that gave bankers more money than they knew what to do with.

Norfolk sees hard times ahead and suggests photographers learn other trades to keep them going: “soon we’ll all be amateur photographers with real-money making jobs on the side..”

Actually this isn’t a new thing. Many of those great names that fill the history books were never able to make a living from photography. And on a much humbler personal note, I took a serious look at the business in the 1970s and decided (despite the encouragement of some whose opinions I respected)  that I couldn’t afford to be a full-time photographer – unless I was prepared to do weddings. My situation is different now mainly because I need less money to live – just as well as fees are now plummeting back to those 1970 levels.

This is War & The Subject of War

Thursday, February 12th, 2009

A Dear John letter by John Benton-Harris to a colleague about:

“This is War” & “The Subject of War”

at the Barbican Art Gallery (16 October –  25 January 2009)

Dear John,

It was nice running into you at the Barbican, and good to see that you are keeping well. It was also good that the Barbican has retained something of my improved thinking on exhibition design and traffic flow in that very peculiar and difficult space. For as you I am sure have noticed, this gallery resembles something more akin to the dining room of the TITANIC, then any appropriate space for hanging art. It was also swell to socialize with some of the artists who make up the gallery’s hanging crew. I must tell you however that I was very disappointed with both the upstairs presentation – Robert Capa’s “This is War” (AKA – Endre Erno Friedmann) and a much smaller presentation by his non-notable girlfriend Gerda Taro (also previously named – Gerda Pohorylle). Anyway, looking around this presentation, I would be forgiven for thinking that these small, toneless, grubby un-spotted prints came out of that same long lost valise, which housed those negatives. It may have been sufficient to represent Gerda’s contribution to photography, but not Robert’s, for this staging reveals more of the weaknesses of his seeing then its strengths. So if I were forced to come to a decision about Robert’s ability based on this presentation of his work, he would fail spiritually, emotionally and intellectually. And about any question of him being an artist, he would fail there as well. 

I realize these are harsh words, but looking at these repetitive rows of small, shapeless and thoughtless moments (although beautifully over matted, framed, lit, and presented) this poor limited selection tells me he was only physically present. And that, in my book, denies him the title of the “greatest anything”, for greatness is a privilege reserved for those who consistently find themselves in the right place at the right time, just for starters. These images for the most part have no real clear readable central drama, and no edge concern either, and both are required to make a message taut, to maximize viewer response, and to clarify one’s intent, to go beyond showing that one was merely present. The majority of these out-takes from time suggest that most likely he was holding the camera away from his eye and possibly even above his head, while running. The bottom line, from this credible reading of them is that Robert failed to adhere to his first principal of seeing, which is, in his own words – “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough”.

This selection of weak, loose and wanting moments, taken from wherever Robert was, rather then from where he should have been, along with their tortuous repetition and unimaginative juxtapositionings further diminished by slow shutter speeds which resulted in camera shake. All taken together tells us looking at what we got away from the written blurb, that Robert was simply a very nervous adventurer, with poor technical skills, there for the buzz – and didn’t even have the sense to keep his bit of skirt out of harm’s way.   

So in order to reassure myself about him and his dedication, I needed to revisit my library to remind myself afresh that there was more to him then met my eye at the Barbican. Although there were those few classic historical moments in this poor portrait, such as “Death of A Loyalist Soldier – 1936” and “D-Day Normandy Beachhead -1944”,  their shock was considerably lessened, indeed almost lost, among so  many “SO WHAT” images, denying us his humanity or his reason for being a man at war.

This show also attempted to prove that Gerda Taro was Capa’s equal, or possible his superior, simply because her two rooms worth of shaky out-of-focus snaps that filled her viewfinder slightly better than those of Robert’s on display. Hence Gerda’s importance to photography (as seen by the Barbican and possibly ICP – the New York International Center of Photography – originator of this show) has more to do positive discrimination and a feminist agenda then it does with any sighted humanism or commitment to minded seeing.

I do hate it when market forces and distortions of this or any other kind, work to devalue this history. It’s simply much too high a price to pay for her inclusion.

Returning to that Omaha Beach image of a soldier seeking protection behind tank traps from the onslaught of bullets and mortars ricocheting and exploding all around him in on that Normandy shoreline, littered with the floating dead, in the cold early morning light of the 6th of June 1944. This D-Day image was the image that started my modest print collection, back in 1961 although I had to part with it when hard times struck 33 years later. On a more pertinent and optimistic note, my print of this moment was given extended significance by it’s new custodian – Steven Spielberg, and it’s influence on him helped to create the opening sequences to his film “Saving Private Ryan”, so giving the world a greater dramatized reflection of the events of that horrific morning. To my mind, this was a price worth paying for my personal loss of this historic moment.  

The title of this show was lifted from Davis Douglas Duncan’s Korean book, of the same name, published in the early 1950’s. And unlike this show this was a presentation about several things, firstly one man’s dedication to fallen colleagues, secondly about a clearly defined subject and chapter structure, delivered in three parts (1) The Hill, (2) The City and (3) Retreat Hell. As such it had a planned and executed focus, unlike this show, which was plainly based on the contents of a long lost suitcase. So let’s not delude ourselves, into thinking this Barbican offering was about WAR or Robert Capa, it’s simply a cheap, off the peg merchandising opportunity of a known name.

If the Barbican truly wanted to show us war, they would have commissioned someone with the knowledge, commitment and overall sensitivity they lack, so the public could experience the best by those that described its horrors. Someone who would know it needed to include people like – Bernard, Brady, Brandt, Burrows, Capa, Cartier-Bresson, Doisneau, Duncan, Eisenstaedt, Engel, Fenton, Frith, Gardner, Jones-Griffiths, Jackson, Nicholls, Mc Cullin, Robertson, Rodger, Sander, Smith and Steichen.  And if they wanted to do a show about Capa, almost any other published or exhibited view of Robert would have given us a more complete, accurate and complementary view of this man who successfully invented himself.

Now moving on briefly to the downstairs show “The Subject of War”, it was immediately better in several ways. To start with new advances in camera technology make it almost impossible to take an un-sharp image, unless it’s ones intent, as today’s new advances in camera technology have given us light, easy to use, cameras with fast zoom lenses and anti shake devices to reach out and get closer to the subject, without getting closer to the action. We also have the ability to alter our ASA (ISO) up and down, and from shot to shot, to guarantee the sharpness and the depth of field needed to tailor a moment to ones intent. This show amply illustrates that so much can now be done in the camera (and or one’s lap-top)

So we can produce, or more correctly have others produce for us (as with Capa and these photographers), clearer grit free moments that are more complete and compelling to the eye, emotionally, aesthetically  and technically, while now also possibly eliminating what isn’t wanted. And all of this technical excellence is present in abundance in this larger gallery space, which also has the added genuflections to current gallery installation thinking. In the case of this presentation this included introducing video screens, positioned (bumper to bumper) to tell two separate stories simultaneously, neither of which were digestible, and both seemingly influenced by morning soap-opera TV. One enormously large wall at the back the gallery has the appearance of a chequer-board, viewed from above, with a multitude of large images running down and across it, without giving us clue as to how to decipher its message.

However, at the opening the staircase between both these offerings seemed to offer me some momentary sanctuary from the past that valued the presence of a camera, more then the mind of the person behind it, and from the now, that seems to value the originality of the observer, more then the content of the message. Maybe I’m being super-sensitive hear, but I kind of feel the designers of this poor donation to photographic understanding also felt that the base of this staircase was an ideal place to offer alcoholic refreshment, for it served as a kind of  “Oasis Point” in this desert of  deprived expression.

John Benton-Harris

This review is also published on John Benton-Harris’s own blog, The Photo Pundit

Aardenburg Imaging & Archives

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

Aardenburg Imaging & Archives (AI&I) was founded in 2007 by Mark McCormick-Goodhart, formerly Senior Research Photographic Scientist for the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC and a founder of one of the first fully colour-managed digital fine art printing studios, and is housed in a fine nineteenth century house Lee, Massachusetts, USA. They are concerned with documenting digital printing technologies and a part of their programme is their innovative Digital Print Research Program

One point in my recent post How Long is a Hundred Years was about the limitations of the testing methods now accepted as a standard for ink jet prints, giving figures often called ‘Wilhelm years’ which are misleading, based on relatively high levels of fading or discolouration.

AI&I’s I* metric is an estimate of the light exposure in megalux hours before fading in a print becomes noticeable or the print shows physical damage. You can read more details about it on their web site, as well as seeing the ratings of some popular printer/ink/paper combinations.   The actual exposure neede to cause noticeable fading will actually depend on the subject matter of the print and the colours it contains, and I* (which I assume is pronounced I-star) is given as a range.

One of the higher published ratings so far is for the Epson 4800 using K3 Ultrachrome  inks on Epson Premium Glossy Photo Paper at 61-70+ Megalux hours, while Fujicolor Crystal Archive Paper Type II Lustre printed on a Fujifilm Frontier 390 runs in at around 16-20+ Megalux hours.

What this means in terms of years of course depends on the level of illumination used to display the prints.  In the explanatory pdf you can download from the AI&I site (go to ‘Accelerated Ageing Tests‘ then select Light Fade Test Results‘ and the link is above the results) it gives a simple conversion to ‘years on display‘ based on average light levels – simply divide the I* metric by 2.

Another AI&I programme of interest is ther real-world print monitoring  which involves studying the actual deterioration of prints under display conditions. Presumably this will enable them in the longer term to assess and refine the connection between the accelerated ageing tests and actual print performance. They also intend this year to set up archives, a gallery and printmaking services.

AI&I is an organisation you can join for an annual fee – $55 Amateur, $95 Professional and $295 Corporate.  Joining gets you access to their full set of test results and also entitles you to send in samples for testing to add to their database – which they intend to cover the widest possible range of materials.

Apart from the better basis of their methodology compared to current commercial services, the great thing about AI&I is the open nature of its testing, with all results being made available, rather than these being shrouded in commercial secrecy.  It very much seems to be a service aimed at the print-making community and I hope will attract widespread support.

Law makes an Ass of itself?

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

Robert Kabakoff is an actor who has appeared in a couple of films, but now is more famous as a photographer. Cycling through Central Park in New York last April he saw a woman getting a bit of sun on her nether regions, “laying on her stomach with her skirt pulled up over her butt” and felt this would make an amusing picture.

So he jumped off his bike and took a snap with his phone from around 15 feet. One of the woman’s friends noticed him and the woman complained to a cop. Kabakoff was handcuffed and taken in a police car to the station, where he was charged with “unlawful surveillance” and spent the night in jail – it was 18 hours before he was released.

Perhaps because Kabakoff is a graduate of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice he had the sense to sue the City, and he settled out of court for $8,000 which paid for him to have a month in Paris.

Most of the details above come from a report on the NY Daily News web site, but rather more interesting to us is the commentary by Carolyn E Wright on her Photo Attorney blog, where she makes clear exactly what that offence means.   It does outlaw surreptitious photography of people “dressing or undressing or the sexual or other intimate parts of such person” but only when that person has a reasonable expectation of privacy. Clearly this cannot apply in a public open space such as Central Park.

But I wouldn’t want to encourage people to follow Kabakoff’s example. It may be legal (at least in the UK), but I think it is also rather likely to cause offence – as it did. Of course there are times when there is a real public interest in taking pictures that cause offence, but this clearly doesn’t seem to me to be one of them.

I also found the story mentioned on the War On Photography site, which has previously awarded the New York City Police Department one of its
Honorary Order of Lenin Awards.
This site is also the first place I’ve found with a link which works in the UK to the Colbert Report programme on the ‘Amtrak Photo Incident.’  It’s a rather heavy-handed American comedy report on an incident in which a member of the NPPA found himself arrested for taking pictures on a railway station – and what was he doing? Taking pictures to enter in the photo competition run by the railway company, Amtrak. He still intends to enter the competition.

Children Protest for the Children of Palestine

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

© 2009 Peter Marshall
Whitehall demonstration for the children of Gaza and for all children of Palestine

Many children were killed and injured in the Israeli attacks on Gaza and many others have been killed over the years in other Israeli raids and military actions in Palestine.

On Sunday afternoon, children, together with their parents, came to Whitehall for a protest opposite Downing Street organised by the Islamic Human Rights Commission and the Palestinian Forum of Britain. There, with banners and slogans they forcefully called for an end to the fighting and killing of innocent civilians and for a free Palestine. The captions for the pictures are text from their placards, some of which also carried horrific images showing children injured and killed in the attacks.
more pictures

An Open Letter to Obama

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

© 2008 Peter Marshall
One of President Obama’s first actions was to stop the unfair trials at Guantánamo Bay. But there is still more to do

Dear Mr President,

I’ve never met you, but like millions of others I felt that your election offered the chance of a new start for the United States of America, and was heartened by what you had to say about many things, not least about Guantánamo Bay and the use of torture.

I write to you on behalf of someone I’ve never met, nor have you, who once lived in the city I work in, London. And although I know you are extremely busy there is something that would only take you a few seconds that would possibly save his life, as well as sending a powerful message that you mean to follow fine words with fine actions. It would take you three words. “Release Binyam Mohamed.”

Binyam (as well as fellow Londoner Shaker Aamer)  has many supporters here in the UK, and according to his lawyer is in a very poor state. As well as still suffering from his previous torture and deprivation his hunger strike makes his condition very dangerous, and unless released and given proper treatment he is likely to die in Guantánamo .

© 2008 Peter Marshall

The British government has I understand made a request for his release. So far as is known the only problem of any sort over his release is the embarrassment it might cause to US and possibly also British security services if he is able to tell his story in full. This cannot be a valid reason for prolonging his unlawful imprisonment by a single second.

I don’t expect a personal reply, but it would be great to hear the news and see the pictures of Binyam and others returning to their homes, friends and families. I know there are problems with returning some of the prisoners who might be imprisoned or tortured on their return, but there can be no justification for keeping people like Binyam, where no such problem exists, in custody at Guantánamo a second longer.

You can say it. “Release Binyam Mohammed.” Yes you can!

Please do. And soon.

More on Binyam and the protests in this country against his detention on My London Diary, Jan 2008July 2008 andJan 2009.

Kiwis v Boris?

Saturday, February 7th, 2009

Circle line pub crawl, Feb 2008

Today New Zealanders were celebrating Waitangi Day, and in the UK this means the Circle Line pub crawl. Presumably back in New Zealand they manage to celebrate it some other way.

© 2008 Peter Marshall

I don’t know how this year’s Waitangi Day revellers coped with Boris’s dictat against alcohol on the tube, but last year’s event was a lot of fun.

© 2008 Peter Marshall

And of course one of its main features is a haka at Parliament Square, filled with perhaps 10,000 Kiwis. Of course drinking alcohol in public had been banned there before last year’s event – and you can see exactly what difference it made in my pictures from the event on My London Diary.

© 2008 Peter Marshall

I was sorry to miss it this year.

Boycott the fruits of apartheid

Saturday, February 7th, 2009

 © 2009 Peter Marshall.
No Israeli flag now flies at Carmel Agrexco

There was no sign of the Israeli flag which used to fly proudly outside the Carmel Agrexco warehouse in Hayes, Middlesex, and the Union Jack on the adjoining flagpole was tattered and skewered on its pole. When I arrived the gates were closed and guarded by around 20 police, with perhaps another 50 or more in reserve in vans parked around the industrial estate.  As well as normal police vans, these included a couple of old vans that looked like they had been rescued from the knackers yard and cheaply fitted with a notice saying Metropolitan Police in the front windscreen, so perhaps police resources were rather stretched. Later I saw even more police vans at other points around this industrial estate a couple of miles north of Heathrow.

© 2009 Peter Marshall.
The demonstration was led around the estate by the samba band

Roughly the same number of demonstrators eventually arrived, looking considerably more cheerful than the police who appeared to be feeling the cold. Once the samba band got there the protesters went off with them for a walk around the block, attempting to visit another company on the estate involved in the export of Israeli and Palestinian flowers. Police formed a solid line across the road and refused to let the marchers past, pushing back those who tried but refusing to say why there were not allowed to continue. Eventually an Inspector introduced himself and read a statement (he afterwards confirmed this was under the Public Order Act 1986) confining the demonstration to the block containing Carmel Agrexco, and after a few arguments the marchers moved on.

© 2009 Peter Marshall.
Police stop demonstrators but refuse to answer questions

At this point one man was stopped and searched, but no arrests were made. The FIT photographer was hard at work throughout the event, but generally the police were well-behaved and made an effort to engage the protesters and photographers in polite conversation throughout the roughly three hours I was there.

© 2009 Peter Marshall.
‘Amy’ and friend end their performance of The Boycott Agrexco Song

At several places the march stopped to sing songs, with ‘Amy Whitehouse’ whose wig was surely too tidy to fool anyone and another singer with a strong voice, both of whom had the advantage of knowing the tunes. The Boycott Israel Song (tune Bye Bye Love) reminded us not to buy Israeli goods including dates, Jaffa fruit, Israeli wine – and anything with a bar code starting 729. (Although some Israeli produce has this barcode, there are others, so always read read all the small print.)

A new Boycott Agrexco Song (none of us knew the tune, Jesus wants me for a Sunbeam, but then few at the demonstration will have attended Sunday School – and we didn’t sing it at mine) was more specific, reminding us of the house demolitions and checkpoints that force Gaza farmers to sell their produce dirt cheap to Israeli companies who illegally export them as Israeli produce, and of the stealing of water from Palestine to irrigate Israeli fruit. It ended on a seasonal note:

“Don’t buy your flowers from Agrexco
To give your valentine
Boycott the fruits of apartheid,
And help free Palestine”

Agrexco is Israel’s largest exporter of agricultural produce and much of it goes to EU countries including the UK. Its main UK depot is in Hayes because this is close to Heathrow – where much of the produce is flown in to this country.

© 2009 Peter Marshall.
This was described as a Valentine demonstration

Movement of food by air is a considerable an unnecessary drain on the planet’s resources and contributes to global warming. So Carmel Agrexco was naturally a target for demonstrators during the Heathrow Climate cap in August 2007.  As in other protests no prosecutions resulted despite there being considerable damage reported.

© 2009 Peter Marshall
There were other photographers present – including this one.
From 16 Feb I might be arrested for taking pictures like this

Protesters claim that Carmel Agrexco is in violation of international law in exporting produce – mainly carnations, strawberries and cherry tomatoes – from Gaza, as well as from Israeli settlements inside the Green Line and in the West Bank.

More pictures on My London Diary.