Join us for a conversation on the impact of Covid-19 and Brexit on the LGBTQ+ communities.
Photojournalism Hub is pleased to host a conversation on the challenges that the LGBTQ+ community face, and the further impact of Brexit and Covid-19 pandemic has had on the community. How can we as individuals and as communities support and address the current challenges? Departing from the photography of Gemma Mancinelli and Tim Boddy, join us in the conversation.
Tim Boddy, is a photographer based in London, and a recent graduate of LCC’s Photojournalism & Documentary Photography MA course. Tim develops personal documentary-based projects outside of his commercial work. His practice generally centres on the LGBTQ+ community, whom he enjoys working alongside to embolden storytelling and to make his work more representative of the community.
Gemma Mancinelli, is a photographer and a visual storyteller based in London. Her dedication to human rights, especially women’s rights, LGBTQ+ and working class, is central in her photographs. Gemma has extensively reported on the movement of protests of the last years, focusing on documenting the people’s stories within.
Fazal Mahmood, Rapid Intervention Worker at St Mungo. Fazal will share his personal experiences, both about the trials, tribulations and the celebrations of the integration of his identity from being a South-Asian Muslim gay man.
Richard Ansett, an award winning photographer known for his provocative images. His images are in permanent collections including the National Portrait Gallery, London and Library and Archives Canada, Bibliothèque Nationale de France and the Smithsonian Institution. His images have been part of major collaborative exhibitions.
The current Covid-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected communities and people who were already marginalised, discriminated, and at the throng of continuous injustices and inequalities. We are bringing together stories, investigations from around the world to highlight and advocate and create the important exposure to leverage and bring about positive changes. In the 10th edition of the Journal on “Injustice & Inequalities: Covid-19”, we present the work of Kasangati Godelive Kabena. Kasangati shares a photo documentary tracing the complex relationship during the period of confinement imposed by Covid-19 pandemic guidelines and the practice of faith in Kinshasa in DRC. As the practice of faith is very much part of daily life for the communities in Congo and in Kinshasa, Kasangati explores through photographs the emptiness that confinement has created in the society.
ALMOST EMPTY Photography & Text by KASANGATI GODELIVE KABENA
Il était important pour moi de comprendre un peu cette relation complexe pendant la période de confinement entre le covid-19 et la religion en RDC. Pendant la période de confinement, je suis allé en ville, à Kinshasa (République Démocratique, pays où la majorité de la population est chrétienne) pour voir l’état des églises, les rues presque vides, les lieux étrangers et familiers (amis etc. ). Ces lieux n’étaient plus fréquentés car ils ne pouvaient plus accueillir plus de monde. Cette imposition indirecte et directe était fatale surtout pour les églises aussi pour nos relations amicales etc.
It was important for me to understand a little this complex relationship during the period of confinement imposed by covid-19 pandemic guidelines and the practice of religion in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) . During the period of confinement, I went to town, to Kinshasa, where the majority of the population is Christian to see the state of the churches, the almost empty streets, the foreign and familiar places (friends etc. ). These places were no longer frequented because they could no longer accommodate more people. This indirect and direct imposition was fatal especially for the churches, but also for our friendly relations etc.
‘Us Connected’ is a photobook created by women of west London, participants of the Photojournalism Hub programme called ‘Knowing You’, which provides Photography and Storytelling course to train in photography and visual narrative. The project provides a space for women’s self expression, healing and bonding with each other. The resulting learning, empowerment and bonding with each other contributes in community cohesion . During the ‘Knowing You’ programme, women develop a photo story of each other and these are published in a photobook.
The project has been kindly supported by the National Lottery.
Beau Patrick Coulon,Beau Patrick Coulon, Beau Patrick Coulon, is a New Orleans based photographer and filmmaker whose imagery draws from class struggle and sub-cultural movements. At The Photojournalism Nights, Beau will be talking about his latest book, Revel & Revolt, a straightforward-yet-personal book of photography that documents protests, parades, and the punk scene in New Orleans from 2013 to 2020. It is published by Burn Barrel Press and DNO books.
Arsène Mpiana Monkwe, is a photojournalist and active artist based in Kinshasa. Arsène is also a tutor at the Department of Photography at the Academy of Fine Arts in Kinshasa. He has been Nominated for the Joop Swart masterclass (2020) of the World Press Foundation. Ini 2019, he became a freelance writer for Jeune Afrique then joined Agence France-Presse and in 2021, he tried his luck with the New York Times.
Justin Makangara, is an independent photojournalist and documentary photographer based in Kinshasa. His work focuses on underreported developing documentary and storytelling reporting on stories focusing on social justice, politics, music, and daily life. Justin is a member of APJD African Photojournalist Database, VII academy Insider, and Congo in conversation.
The Photojournalism Nights is an event that promotes committed and courageous photojournalism and engages the public to social justice and human rights. To join HERE
It’s your turn, Doctor! These words written by some teenagers on the walls of a school under the euphoria that the Arab Springs unleashed, was the beginning of one of the greatest humanitarian crises in all of History.
It is 10 years of a war in which foreign powers, terrorist groups and the government of Bashar Al-Ássad have systematically torn and destroyed the most valuable thing in millenary Syria, its people. This war has already tainted half the term of Assad, who has been in power for 20 years.
Until 2020, more than 387,118 people have died and 205,300 disappeared, 32 attacks with chemical weapons and more than 12 thousand dead children, this last decade sounds more like a genocide perpetrated by his own government.
Surviving extremist groups such as ISIS, chemical attacks and growing poverty, has triggered that almost half of the country’s population has fled, 6.7 million are internally displaced and another 5.6 million are abroad, the latter It has caused tensions in countries close to Syria such as Lebanon and Turkey and Islamophobia in Western countries.
Beyond the coldness of the numbers, there is the harsh reality of those who could not leave Syria and survive among ruins waiting for the days of peace, of those who had to sell their possessions to save themselves, ending up stuck in nearby countries where they have to beg for money or food without receiving any kind of help as they do not have refugee status, of children walking the streets of Tripoli in Lebanon selling cookies and prostituting themselves to locals and travelers to earn a living, of women who give birth in the worst conditions, of men who were not combatants but were wounded when trying to flee and cannot work to support their own.
One thing is real and obvious, the Syrian people with the bleeding wound of a decade of war led by the only dictator who survived the Arab Spring, hope to return to their land and rebuild it.
Syria sleeps scattered among tents while dying among ruins, famine and chemical weapons, Syria has a smile mixed with a lost look from longing for so much, from praying that perhaps one day the war will end.
Revel & Revolt is a new photo book by Beau Patrick Coulon, a co-edition with Burn Barrel Press and Defend New Orleans’ imprint: DNO books. Coulon presents his straightforward-yet-personal visual documentation of protests, parades, and the punk scene in New Orleans from 2013 to 2020.
‘Revel & Revolt’ photobook could not be materialised in such a powerful visual documentation if it wasn’t for the incredible talent and the lived experience that Beau holds. The photo book allows you to view the subjects’ s moments of anger, sadness, bliss with an openness, direct and unaffected manner that only a photographer with a real understanding and connection with the world that they inhabit may have. Beau’s journey to photography has been an interesting one. He was born in Hollywood and he spent much of his childhood between California, Florida, and Oklahoma. At 13, he moved out of his mom’s apartment to live on the streets with punks he met on Hollywood Blvd while skipping school.
Coulon travelled across the country by freight train and lived among a network of derelict squats, punk houses, collectives, and DIY art spaces. He first arrived in New Orleans in the mid-90s and found work that ranged from seasonal farming, doing demolition, pouring concrete to framing. These experiences gave him an unparalleled view of life and an understanding of class struggles and nomadic living.
Coulon’s life is different today however his photographs speak of the past, transitional living and of history that reminds us all of struggle and fortitude, beauty and despair.
On 22 October 2020, the Constitutional Tribunal in Poland ruled that abortion on the grounds of fetal abnormality was unconstitutional, further restricting Poland’s already stringent abortion laws (Thebmjopinion). This abortion ban caused outrage among Polish people and resulted in mass protests in the streets. Zula Rabikowska, a Polish-British documentary photographer and videographer, currently based in Karków, attended these protests as they unfolded in order to document the events but also to stand in solidarity with Polish women and help secure the basic human right of safe abortion healthcare.
In what follows, Zula talks about the current situation regarding the abortion ban, shares her lived experiences of the protests and explains how the Polish people are fighting for their human rights, freedom of speech and going against the tyrannical government currently in power.
What was your motivation for documenting the protests?
That’s an interesting question. I think it was multi-layered to be honest. I felt a sense of responsibility on a personal level as a female identifying individual who is Polish. Having recently moved back to Poland after living in the UK for 20 years I almost felt like this is something I have to do to show solidarity with other women in Poland, but also for myself and for my own rights to abortion health care. I believe it is a fundamental human right that unfortunately the Polish government does not share.
So, that was the first layer of my motivation. The second element was that I wanted to be there as a documentary photographer and I was really frustrated to see just how many male photographers were present but there was only 1 or 2 women (In Kraków). From my general understanding, and from having had conversations with other photographers who have covered other areas in Poland, there was a general consensus that this is something that is being covered by male photojournalists. I felt a double sense of frustration as a participant and also as a photographer as I felt like female photographers should have been given more of a voice in this and get their perspectives heard and seen.
What was the atmosphere like at the protests?
In the winter months it was relentless, it was all the time. It wasn’t just protests which were happening, there were pickets, road closures, transport strikes. The tension in the atmosphere was really tangible, you could see in the streets and you could feel it just walking around. The protests have a symbol of the red thunderbolt and you would see this in bakeries for example, people would have the red thunderbolt in their car windows, on their jackets, on their phones, on their faces, on their masks. It was very much a movement that to this day is still going on. The other day, I was checking out a local a tattoo parlour and there are artists who specialise in the thunderbolt, due to a demand for people to have this tattooed on the body.
This is something that has really affected the Polish society and it quickly became not just about abortion, it became about the oppression from the very right-wing government here. Some of the protests I was going along to were about pedophilia in the Catholic Church. People just took to the streets to show how fed up they were with the current tyrannical government.
What was the main message the protesters wanted to convey?
I think the main message was to show the government, and internationally, that people disagree with this ban. Poland isn’t this homophobic, homogenous, Catholic, conservative country that the government would like everyone to believe. This is the message that appears in the state-owned media in Poland, it is pure propaganda and it’s quite frightening how the message is portrayed. Alongside this, the way they portrayed the protests and protesters in the state news was horrific. It didn’t really show this message of abortion health care and the need for women and for people to have a say about their rights.
The baseline message was that people wanted to express their discontent for this ban and their need to have safe access to abortion. The second message would be this wave of being fed up and ready for a change of government.
You said that the protests are still happening today, is it in such a large capacity as back in winter?
Yes and no. Before in Kraków, every other evening there would be thousands of protesters taking to the streets, and I haven’t seen it happening as much right now. But that is not to say that protests on a smaller scale aren’t happening.
This weekend it was actually 11 years ago that a plane crashed in Poland and 93 right wing politicians died. So, the current president that we have now, his twin brother and mother died in that plane crash. As a result people took to the streets and to the main market square in Kraków to protest against the government, so this kind of discontent is very much present. In addition, on 1st May Poland observed International Labour Day, which is traditionally a day to celebrate labourers and the working classes, and lots of people demonstrated with the thunderbolt symbol on this day. I went along on 18th April to Wawel Castle in Kraków as Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the leader of the Law and Justice party, came to the city. On this day the politicians were greeted by a small crowd of protesters holding up banners and with their faces in red thunderbolts. The way the large-scale protests were happening in January, October and November and even in December have changed, but it doesn’t mean that people aren’t still striking.
Did you feel safe documenting the demonstrations?
Once again, I was in Kraków, yet in Warsaw a lot of arrests of photojournalists were being made and this completely infringed freedom of speech in my opinion. This did happen in Kraków to an extent but obviously the protests weren’t as big as in Warsaw. Yet, there were a few occasions when I thought to myself should I be here? And that wasn’t because of the protesters, but the main threat came from the police who were kitted out with tear gas and shields, and really looked in full combat mode. When you are surrounded by 50 or 60 police it is really intimidating. But intimidation was definitely one of the tactics that they were going for with that presence. The other threat was that the police used the pandemic and used megaphones with the slogan ‘you shouldn’t be meeting in groups of more than 5 people’. They used this as an excuse to arrest people or fine them.
Within the community do you feel there is a sense of polarisation between supporters of the abortion ban and those who are protesting against it?
I guess that is happening all around us these days. I could compare it to Brexit in the UK and we are seeing it right now with people being pro-vaccine and anti-vaccine. But I suppose within the liberal bubble that I live in in Kraków, I personally didn’t encounter anyone directly who was anti-abortion. But I have seen the countermovement of the right wing people come out to confront the protesters. I remember there was a group of nuns and priests who came out to the protests with huge speakers to drown out the protesters with religious songs and the police didn’t stop them. This is one of many examples of such actions.
As a Polish woman do you feel your human rights are being violated by this ban?
Yes definitely 100%. It is a huge violation and is very upsetting that the government and parts of the society do not see it that way.
Do you think the protests will continue until the ban is lifted?
I think it is difficult to say to be honest. But this time people have explicitly been taking to the streets. People have been fired by their employers for protesting, so people have been losing their jobs because of this. Nevertheless, people are still willing to protest and to let the government and society know that this is not ok.
At the same time, I think things will only change when we elect another government as the situation right now is really tyrannical, not just in terms of the abortion ban, but with the lack of freedom of speech, democracy and even the way the state news reports on what is factual and not factual is frightening.
Will you continue to document the protests via photography?
Yes definitely. But photography is only one of the tools I use, I also use multimedia and video to make sense of the world around me and if other people are finding it useful to help make sense of the world then great. So I have no intention of stopping at least for the near future.