Via noborder network comes news of Go NoGo The Frontiers of Europe, a photo exhibition (currently on show in Amsterdam) depicting the attempts by economic migrants and refugees to break-in to fortress Europe. Photographer Ad van Denderen captures the landings in Andalucia, those that have been captured by police and immigration officers, those on the run, those running towards a dream, the smiles, the buzz, the horror, the poverty of ramshackle dwellings, the hole in barbed wire at Callais, the refugee camps in Turkey, the Greek-Albanian border. On the website there are 107 photos looped in a Flash slide show - the images reek of empathy and despair and hope, redolent of a battered humanity, they stink of the foulness of poverty. Ultimately powerful and bloody beautiful, they leave a scent of resistance and the aroma of the will to overcome.
I have always been fascinated by pebbles, not really sure why. Perhaps because they hint at the beauty, the uniqueness, the infinite variety, the richness that resides in what, at first glance, may seem like coarse landscapes of poor sameness. The warmth of a pebble that carries questions weightier than those in tomes of philosophical dissertations. Intuitions of energy… or maybe the “simple” pleasure of throwing stones in mirrors of water.
Whatever the case, stones and pebbles collected by marixxx along the shores of the river Ticino are scattered like friends and guardians across our flat in Pavia. A small wicker bowl contains the mineral memory of summer day of smoked fish and sunflowers at Aldeburgh. The remembrance of pebbles past at Kettles Yard.
And today, the smoothly crafted reflections on pebble collecting in this article here.
In today’s Independent there is an article that questions the events that are unfolding in a “liberated” Iraq. It asks questions involving the destruction of a nation’s cultural heritage, the looting of its archeological treasures, the burning of its archives. It asks questions about what is being done to track down and bring to trial those responsible for torture and murder under Saddam’s regime:
“I have been to many of (the torture chambers). But there is no evidence even that a single British or US forensic officer has visited the sites to sift the wealth of documents lying there or talk to the ex-prisoners returning to their former places of torment. Is this idleness. Or is this wilful?… Iraqis are right to ask why the Americans don't search for this information, just as they are right to demand to know why the entire Saddam cabinet – every man jack of them – got away.”
The article is written by Robert Fisk, one of the very few (if not the only) western reporters on the field to provide a different perspective from the official version provided elsewhere by the Anglo-American media. An award-winning journalist, he has been covering the Middle East for the last 23 years. His writing is passionate, never sanitized. Whatever your views on (this) war, to follow the dictum of technology journalist Dan Gilmor (“If you want to be informed, roam widely. Watch and read things that support your own beliefs. Then look for commentary and data that don't. It's all out there”) I strongly suggest you check out his archives here.
It has left a strange feeling no longer seeing him there. Bizarre how we can develop emotions for strangers, how some faces can burn their way through our retinas to imprint themselves in our minds like the icons of successful brands.
Enveloped in a haze of carbon monoxide fumes, he stood still on green, whatever the weather, far away from the shrapnel sun of his homeland. Stranded below an exit of Milan's ring road. In the heart of Italy's industry he watched lorries rattle by and people drive to work. He belonged to the lowest link of the employment food chain. To that class that stands at traffic lights across the globe's urban sprawls cleaning windscreens with dirty rags, selling paper tissues or disposable plastic lighters or rancid red roses, or simply begging.
He did nothing of these things. When the lights turned red he simply walked between the two lanes of traffic looking at no-one, asking for nothing, as if he were an eighteenth century patrician poet out for a stroll.
The sight was close to surreal, especially as he looked like North Africa's answer to Groucho Marx. He hobbled along with the pride of a defiant gypsy woman. Tenderness in his eyes. Once, when I saw him flash a smile, he looked just like my maternal grandfather, himself the son of Russian emigrants. In a flash the vision of an emergent humanity merging as one, lost to each other through six degrees of separation.
And then one day, after months of seeing him, he was no longer there. Gone somewhere: a different traffic light, expelled for being a sans papier...missing in action without any news coverage. Peace and prosperity after all, do not reside simply in the absence of war.