I read Hattie Collins and Olivia Rose’ This Is Grime late-last year, a few months after Grime4Corbyn and the UK elections had happened. Any book about Grime has to come up against that one, and everything I said about their book and Grime still stands. I’m not in the mood lately for writing long book ‘reviews’ or whatever, so two things, how and why, I keep returning to for This is Grime and Dan Hancox’ Inner City Pressure: The Story of Grime. The why is to understand one part of late-20th and early-21st century colonialism and racism, how New Labour and the Tories, gentrification, racial profiling, defunding education and social services, continue an unbroken agenda of white supremacism targeting immigrants and generations of children of immigrants like unfinished business. The music comes from being young and black and poor and treated like shit in your own country for the long haul. The how is to read these books as companions, flipping between reading and listening, starting Inner City Pressure with the Conflict DVD, Roll Deep on pirate radio Deja FM in 2003. It’s on YouTube, 36 minutes of madness. Pay attention to the names and the crews and the places, all of it’s on YouTube somewhere. Listen to the words and the noise, especially the earliest stuff. Maybe it won’t do anything for you; for me, it’s like coming up for air.
“Paintings on my WhatsApp and my iPhone too”
— “Paintings? Like, art?”
“something something hashtag merky …”
“Merky? What’s Merky?”
“Like he’s got lots of money so he’s driving a Mercedes, like a Merc?”
“Like Wu Tang C.R.E.A.M. or Young Thug Check?”
“Yeah, nah, I dunno, he’s wearing Adidas shower flipflops. Is that especially merky?”
“I dunno even what I’m listening to. What are we listening to here, Frances?”
“Grime. We are listening to Grime. We are edjukating areselfs.”
“Merky. Merking, murdering, like killing it, smashing it. Like deadly.”
“Yeah. Innernet says so. Also he’s not looking at paintings of ‘The brown skinned girls and the white ones too’, it’s peng ting.”
“What’s that, then?”
“errr … yeah, maybe like poontang? … wait! Innernet says UK slang of Jamaican Patois origin, someone who’s attractive. And ‘ting’ is ‘thing’, so, ‘pretty things’.”
“O. That makes more sense.”
“This Stormzy. This one I like. What else you got?”
“There’s this one called JME? He sings about murking too.”
“I dunno if it’s singing, love.”
“If you don’t know what Grime is, then you must be 86”
“JME, he clocked me listening. And he’s skanking on rollerskates. What’s this one with Giggs? — Did he just work Harry Potter, HSBC bank, and a Uni degree in?”
“… Digestives, cinnamon tea …”
“I think I’m having that reaction like when I first heard Black Metal!”
“Good, eh? Blame Grime 4 Corbyn.”
“O! So that’s why you’re reading This is Grime, ’cos Corbyn was reading it when JME met him.”
“All of that, yeah.”
“Is it good, then?”
“It’s mad, innit. It’s got photos by Olivia Rose and Hattie Collins did the words.”
“Two women, then? Like when Kemistry & Storm ran the drum & bass scene in the late ’90s?”
“Yeah! I’m just gonna listen to their DJ Kicks set, bangs like all fuck.”
“Reminds me a lot of grime, too, and early-’90s dub, but on 45 instead of 33.”
“So you listened yet to all the grime lot, then?”
“Nah, not yet. Bits and pieces, Tried a couple of the early classics, like Lethal Bizzie, Wiley, Dizzee Rascal …”
“So good! Makes me laugh it’s so good.”
“Lord of the Mics! in Jammer’s basement.”
“Fire in the Booth! NoLay, Lady Lykez, A Dot, Ms Banks, Shystie.”
“You’re repping a lot of women there.”
“Yeah, that’s the problem, like JME said, Too Many Man. Sian Anderson, Julie Adenuga.”
“But the book, what about the book?”
“It’s like this. It’s black and white photos and all these people talking one after the other for 320 pages from before the start when grime didn’t even have a name right up to now, when Stormzy is charting in the UK at No. 1, and grime almost changed a national election in 2017. It’s political, it’s art, it’s so London, it’s so … like, this is the future. Like, the mayor of London is a feminist, Muslim son of working class Pakistani immigrants who grew up in council housing, and grime is a bunch of kids who grew up in Bow E3 in the late ’90s and early ‘00s in council housing. It’s about immigration and colonialism and racism and making art when you’re at the bottom, and then suddenly, you’re not. It’s about history, just as the internet changed how we remember things. It’s London. It’s beautiful. I love it so hard.”
And another performance. You’re not in Moscow for Isabelle; you’re in Collingwood for Emile Zile and Desktops! Part of the Mining the Cloud: a series of desktop documentaries performances put on by Interval Projects.
Disembodied voices. Home Altar eternally altered. You wont believe what happens next.
Building on the recent body of work Desktops, Emile Zile’s performance creates narratives from computer screen captures, search term collages and algorithmic portraiture to explore human mediated communication and the circulation of digital images.
Yes, I haven’t been blogging. I haven’t even a good excuse. Absence of unique excitement, though presence of multiple small excitements – none of which alone are enough to write about.
Christian sent some photos. He is in South America somewhere, possibly in Patagonia, or Tierra del Fuego. Vircarious excitement for me in the photographs from friends.
One of the first freelance jobs I got in Berlin was salvaging a website for Christian Ender. Over the past three years, I’ve looked after imdialog, taken care of two other sites for Christian, and he has become one of my good friends here. A couple of weeks ago he called me and explained he was being awarded the Bundesverdienstkreuz for his work that these websites document over the past years.
Last Friday, he was awarded the medal by the Staatssekretär, and following that, a long lunch and many drinks with a large group of friends and family.
I am very happy for Christian to have all his work recognised — for Werner Bab and “Zeitabschnitte”, for Gunter Kroemer and “Bedrohtevölker” — and for him to receive the recognition he is due.
And at the end of the month, he departs for South America with a camera.
The last day screening, Dasniya and I climbed the stairs of Hackesche Höfe Kino for 90 more minutes of the inescapable Parsifal. Die Singende Stadt, an un-narrated documentary of the making of an opera, here being in Stuttgart, the opera of course Parsifal, and as far from Roméo Castellucci as possible, the director is Calixto Bieito. Between the two Parsifals is Parsifal, Andrew Richards is this role in both.
Early tomorrow we shall find ourselves south-westwards going, to Stuttgart to see just this. Flamethrowers, apocalypse, suppurating goiters, a very scary Klingsor who beats young boys as angels as swans, the swan Parsifal downs, and of course Parsifal himself. Erlöser?
One of the first sites I did as a freelancer was porting imdialog-ev.org from a dead cms into WordPress for photographer and documentary maker (and philosopher) Christian Ender. Imdialog! is a documentary project on Werner Bab, a Berliner Jew who was sent to Auschwitz in 1942. He survived there, as well as Mauthausen and Ebensee, to return to Berlin after the war.
Christian documented Werner’s journey through the camps in Zeitabschnitte des Werner Bab, which has been shown across Germany in schools and around the world accompanied by Werner, who would speak on his experiences.
Werner died on 31st July, aged 86.
In den Abendstunden des 31. Juli 2010 ist Werner Bab plötzlich und unerwartet friedlich eingeschlafen, wenige Wochen vor seinem 86. Geburtstag.
Die letzten fünf Jahren engagierte sich Werner Bab unermüdlich und warb für Demokratie, Toleranz und Völkerverständigung.
Mit seiner lebensbejahenden und positiven Einstellung stand er in über 150 Gesprächen vor über 20.000 Schülern als Zeitzeuge zur Verfügung.
Offen beantwortete Werner Bab die gestellten Fragen zu seinen Erlebnissen als Häftling in den Konzentrationslagern Auschwitz, Mauthausen und Ebensee, um vor den Folgen totalitärer Regime zu warnen.
Um dieses Engagement zu unterstützen wurde der Verein „imdialog!e.V.“ gegründet, welcher nun aufgelöst wird.
Diese Internetseite, das hier bereitgestellte Gäste- und Gedenkbuch sowie die in 19 Sprachen untertitelte Dokumentation „Zeitabschnitte des Werner Bab“ werden in Erinnerung an Werner Babs Wirken weiter aufrechterhalten.
In stiller Trauer,
Im August 2010
On the evening of July 31, 2010, Werner Bab passed away peacefully. His death was sudden and unexpected, just a few weeks before his 86th birthday.
During the past five years, Werner Bab worked tirelessly toward democracy, tolerance and international understanding.
With his optimistic and positive attitude to life, he shared his experiences of the concentration camps of Auschwitz, Mauthausen and Ebensee, answering questions from more than 20,000 students in over 150 discussions. His aim was to warn people of the consequences of a totalitarian regime.
In order to support this endeavour, the “imdialog!e.V.” association was founded, which has now been dissolved.
The Internet site www.imdialog-ev.org as well as the guest and remembrance book will continue to be maintained to honour the memory of Werner Bab and his achievements.
On this site, one may also request free of charge the complete documentary “Zeitabschnitte des Werner Bab” (“Time Intervals of Werner Bab”). This documentary has been subtitled in 19 languages.
In deepest sympathy,
Over much of this year I’ve been working with Christian Ender on rebuilding the code of one of his documentary sites, imdialog-ev, and in the process have been doing some basic editing and for another, Bedrohte Völker Amazoniens.
The exhibition documents the Nadëb-Makú Indians in the Amazon basin and Padre Gunter Kroemer, co-founder of CIMI (Conselho Indigenista Missionário) who has been for nearly forty years an advocate for the rights of the indigenous peoples in the region.
Padre Kroemer died on Wednesday of a pulmonary infection, in Rio Grande do Sul.
My last full day in Berlin, an afternoon adventure with someone who takes rather splendid photographs herself of derelict amusement parks and summer berries… to Pottsdam, and a vast gallery pockmarked occasionally with bullets and shrapnel from the war. gute aussichten – junge deutsche fotografie was mostly quite engaging, some beautiful photography by recent graduates who understand what they are doing and have an artistic sensibility. I returned to the photos of Kazakhstan peasants because, well… it is Kazakhstan. The sheen of metallic playground toys in sepulchral gloom also. A documentary essay of a hotel or guesthouse in former East Germany, near Leibniz I think was well partial to my taste for decay.
But innerwald, a series in the Tropenhaus in the Zoologisches Museum, Bauernhof by ___ oh such a delight. I wanted to lick and scratch the dirty, warm glass, smear the moist dirt a little, humidity and fecund growth, then trace with my eyes for a long time the trails of what unknown sliding, perambulating creatures, threads like unravelled cells. And the monstrous shadows, an ogre looming over a bed of hay, a clutch of twigs caught mid-startled shock in the light, geraniums that seem most unfriendly, the penumbra of a bison’s fur and horn.
Certainly to visit Berlin’s Zoological Gardens upon my return.
A late night swirling Pernod with Bonnie at Orange and an early trip to the shops for Sunday fruit, now on with the important task of keeping you entertained.
One film I never did manage to find in Guangzhou, despite being banned for decades was Michelangelo Antonioni’s Chung Kuo – Cina. Zhou Enlai and others were hoping for an ode to the marvelousness of the Cultural Revolution and communist China, what they got was not what they wanted. As for the four hour documentary now, The 88s tell all about it.
A Fifty year long provincial border war in China that only reached ceasefire a couple of years ago, Nationalist and Communist maps, enclaves, exclaves, and internal border adjustments that were only made legally binding in 2002. Mutant Palm has the cartography and the translation of 微山湖畔边界械斗50年 The Fifty Year War on the Banks of Weishan Lake.
“If Guangzhou’s problem with street crime makes southern China seem a dangerous place … denizens of the province of Guangdong were less worried about the odd mugging or bag snatching than they were about rampant banditry or pillaging rebel armies.” I thought it was Feng37 blogging about media reports of what a scary place Guangzhou is, especially with all those Fulan migrant workers. Actually it’s about the 开平碉楼 watchtowers in Kaiping that are on the verge of UNESCO World Heritage listing.
Uncoy one of my favourite dance/art/european blogs who has provided almost nightly coverage of ImPulsTanz in the past looks at the NYT review of Forsythe Company’s Three Atmospheric Studies, Joni Mitchell and political dance and thanks Bush and Cheney for making dance relevant again.
That’s enough, I’m going to eat dinner now.