6 Billion Ways at Rich Mix

 6 Billion Ways at Rich Mix yesterday seemed to be a very vibrant event, although I only popped in for a few minutes, largely to see the photography there, including my own. Saturdays are working days for me and I covered two other events in London for ‘My London Diary.’

The bar area at Rich Mix with one of my pictures on screen

But I wanted to see how they were using the 40 pictures I had sent them from My London Diary, and I was pleased to walk in to the busy ground floor bar area at the centre of the event as one of my images appeared on a giant screen. But I was disappointed to realise that they were only showing half of the pictures I had sent –  the full set is on the web for those of you who were unable to attend or missed half of them because you were there. I didn’t have time to stop and try and find out they were only using half of them, but it was particularly galling not only because I had spent most of a day getting the missing work ready for the project but because the half that they had lost had many of my favourite pictures in it, including this image I really like of Climate Rush and NoTRAG at Heathrow.

© 2009 Peter Marshall
Climate Rush on Tour at Heathrow with NoTRAG

I’d met the Climate Rushers, including Tamsin Omond at the centre of the picture above – at Marble Arch earlier in the day when I was photographing the ‘Million Women Rise‘ march, and told her about the showing, including the picture above.

The projection included work by two other photographers, one with pictures taken at the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Cochabamba, Bolivia, which I would have loved to have photographed – and there were a couple of pictures I really liked. I’m sorry I can’t remember the name of the photographer and when I checked this set isn’t even mentioned in the programme. The other images were by Gareth Kingdon, ‘On the Sidelines‘, showing “South Africans left behind by the free market” in the Blikkiesdorp relocation camp, and included some 360 degree panoramas, which although interesting didn’t really project too well on a normal aspect ratio screen. I’d seen some before in print and on the web where they work rather better.

I felt all of three bodies of work on show would have benefited from some related text putting it in context. It did look as if those putting the show together had some difficulty with text – perhaps because of the software they were using. I’d offered to supply my work as a normal presentation, but they apparently couldn’t cope with this, so I had attached a brief captions along the bottom of each image which were visible, but  I had also supplied a very short explanation about my work that was not used. Of course there were a few of my posters around the venues.

The sequence of three sets of photographs was also very short for the event – and most of the people sitting in the area had probably seen it go round dozens of times. It would haven been better perhaps four or five times the length, with work from more photographers.

Other exhibitions included Celebrate Peoples’ History, a collection of posters by artists in the US-based collective Just Seeds, which “remember and celebrate the struggles of ordinary people against injustice and for dignity, decent livelihoods and liberation from oppression” and Liberate Tate, which documented their interventions in major cultural institutions such as Tate Modern and Tate Britain against their acceptance of sponsorship from BP and Shell.

Also showing on some smaller screens around Rich Mix were a loop of photographs presumably taken for some of the organisations supporting the event (such as Friends of the Earth and WDM.) With a few exceptions, most were rather disappointing, with too many pictures simply concentrating on showing the t-shirts from the organisation concerned  in various events and locations – often rather more PR than photography. Several of the organisations behind the event do employ excellent photographers to show their work around the globe and far better could have been made of these displays.

I wish I had more time to stay and take part in the full programme of this large event (it ran from 10am, including events at three other local venues and ending with a final plenary at Town Hall from 7 -8pm then a party after at Rich Mix until 1 am), but I had work to do elsewhere.

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