Social exclusion in the Zongo

It’s easy to forget that even in our hyper connected, hyper-global, world that we live in where most people spend their time either on the phone and or computer screen, that social exclusion is still an issue that pervades the virtual and non-virtual spheres of everyday life. From minute instances attributed to income, age and gender to the exclusionary practice experienced by so called “newbs” on sites such as 4-chan and twitter to the ongoing practice of exclusion faced by the working poor, social exclusionary practices are something we either continue to face or have faced at some point in varying degrees. Since the mid-2000s in Japan, for example, there has been very xenophobic sentiments from right-wing group Action Conservative Movement toward immigrants of both Korean and Chinese decent (similar to past xenophobic attitudes towards Jews in Germany, and Black South Africans and Armenians and Kurds in the middle east) that have found its primary voice on the internet and increasingly in non-virtual spaces via public demonstrations. These demonstrations call for the exclusion of Chinese and Korean people from all matters of ethnic Japanese cultural lifestyle. The goal of many of these discriminatory sentiments is to highlight the impurity of the “other” as a major detriment to the perceived establishment and progression of “authentic” culture. Foreigners, minorities, and anyone not Japanese is seen as impure and must thus be socially excluded for the sake of social and economic harmony through the banning/shaming of intermarriage, prevention of upward social mobility, and many times the gerrymandering of specific districts to isolate them geographically.

Zongo areas in the West African country of Ghana are certainly characteristic of this notion in that many of its inhabitant Zongorians, mainly the Moslem population, are shunned by the [...]

Nobuyoshi Araki: Love on the Left Eye

Araki, erotic master and one of Japan’s most prevalent visual documentarians, known for a graphic subversion of his artistic ancestry, has released a new book and coinciding exhibition Love on the Left Eye.

The title refers to photographer Ed van der Elsken’s long-time out of print Love on the Left Bank, which Araki is quoted to have seen in his twenties, prompting a series of women in poses inspired by the book, a visual narrative following the story of a bohemian living in Paris, one of the first of its kind to record the salacious and debauched world of European youth culture.

Following the partial loss of sight last year, the series shows a selection of images taken using his now solely functioning left eye. Taking his signature subject matter, delicate floral still lifes and intimate shots of binding debauchery, the provocateur masked the right side of each negative with black marker and developed each image as a representation of his new personal, and permanent, visual experience, transforming a would-be-devastating malady into a kind of artistic rebirth.  “Death comes towards us all, you know,” he says. “I don’t want to approach it myself, but there’s no getting around the fact that it’s coming. You just have to laugh it off.”

The exhibition is on show at Tokyo’s Taka Ishii gallery until June 21st.

Sang Bleu London pop up tattoo shop in Selfridges

Starting from yesterday London’s esteemed department store Selfridges will be hosting Sang Bleu tattoo studio within its walls. For the next two weeks Sang Bleu will be providing a complete concept on the ground floor. The space will enable experiencing the possibilities of being tattooed by one of Sang Bleu’s desired artists, access to the limited online clothing collection or to finally owning one of renowned magazines from the project.

Alongside Maxime Buchi, tattooers Damien Electric, Phillip Yarnell, Rafel Delalande and Delmaire Renaud will be creating tattoos in the space. Maxime will also be tattooing a special selection of flash designs on a walk in basis over the weekend of the 7th and 8th of June.

Despite many of these tattoo artists waiting lists, the pop up studio will present customers with the opportunity to book in with many of these in demand artists. The studio will operate on a basis of walk in’s and bookings where appointments can be booked by emailing or by visiting the studio.

The space will be open Monday to Fridays from 1-9pm and on Sundays from 12-6.30

The macabre history of severed hands

Article re-blogged from

The Hand of Glory displayed at the Whitby Museum in England. Image Credit: The Whitby Museum

A traditional form of punishment, under Sharia, Islamic law, and in Medieval Europe involved publically amputating a criminal’s body part, often the one used to commit a crime. The pain of the amputation and the shame of the permanent mark served as punishment for the criminal, while display of the severed limb functioned as a sinister warning to all onlookers-follow in this guy’s footsteps and you will suffer a similar fate. This macabre tradition likely has its roots in the  Code of Hammurabi.

The Code of Hammurabi is a Babylonian code of laws from ancient Mesopotamia-now Iraq-enacted by Hammurabi, the sixth Babylonian king. This ancient set of laws dates to about 1772 BC and is one of the oldest translated writings in the world. Today partial copies exist on stone stele and clay tablets. The Code consists of 282 laws, with scaled penalties, also known as “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.” “Eye for an eye” is a legal principle where exact reciprocity is used to mete out justice depending on social status, i.e. free man versus slave. For example, if a person caused the death of another person, the killer would be put to death; if a man has knocked out the eye of an aristocrat, his eye would also be knocked out; and if a son has struck his father, his hands would be cut off.

In Europe the severed hands of criminals were displayed like relics to prevent future grievances. There were a couple of examples of these amputated limbs displayed in Europe in the last couple of years. In each case the owner of [...]

XroniX’s photographs of the publics reaction to her appearance

Polish, transexual, vegan, straight edge.
Into body modification world since a teenager.She offers all forms of piercings, scarification, implants, tongue splitting, ear reconstrucion and body modification in general.
In addition, her favourite – eyeball tattooing.

Currently living in London and working part time in Extreme Needle in the city centre.

Loves her work/lifestyle and showing people that they can break away from stereotypes and set themselves free through body modifications. (source)


. I have been speaking to body modification artist Xronix recently after looking through her Facebook  and finding a photo album filled with images that she takes in retaliation to strangers taking her photo in public. The images strike you as being instantly quite mundane, usually within the space of London’s public transport but theres something so wonderful about the glimmer of shame (or ambivilence) filtering through the member of the publics faces as they realise they’ve been caught violating Xronix’s personal space.  Rather than accepting stranger’s decision to treat her like an zoo animal, Xronix has spoken to us about her feelings and documentation of the publics reaction to her appearance. 


How often do you find people taking photographs of you?

It depends sometimes it happens a few times a day sometimes once every few days, but quite often. Obviously depends on how creative I was in the morning with my make up and outfit.

What has been the most obvious case of someone taking your photo? . Well well well. I could talk about it for ages but the most silly one is when I move and can see somebodys camera following me, so it’s like a cat and mouse, and then sounds and flash… when I approach people they panic, sometimes without even asking anything they start to scream- ‘I didn’t take the [...]

April Larue’s hands

I can’t get enough of April Larue’s hands.

These images are the result of a man’s documentation into the transformation of his alter ego drag queen named April Larue.

Her appearance is that of a suitably exaggerated female impersonator leaning towards that of a pantomime dame but the photos that I’m presenting you with today show nothing but her hands piled over with inaccessibly long fake nails while simultaneously being weighed down with colossal rings tastefully resting on her overtly printed dresses.

The mixture of all of these components really mixes up a kind of sensory over load car crash of textures and colours and the way in which she has cropped the photos so they just show a rectangle of unease has been driving me pretty wild.

On April Larue’s Flickr account she has so far shared over 4,000 images of herself, all of her posing at home in her perfectly normal domestic setting. Occasionally she will crop an image of her nylon covered mid heel and there is plenty of attention towards her family friendly drag exaggeration plastered all over her face in (quite literally) a rainbow of colours.

The varying lengths and shapes of her nails should frankly be made illegal and then placed onto of a man’s plump aged hands really takes it that one step further. The standard of textiles that she has adorned herself with – polyesters and nylons in the worst of the 80s and 90s has to be commended as a suitable wallpaper for her hands.

I’m not sure if I can still work out exactly what it is about these images that I’m so captivated by, there is obviously the essence of total devotion that has been poured into them. Each nail design carefully picked and patterned, [...]

Ruin Value


Chief Nazi architect Albert Speer, tasked with creating the built identity of The Third Reich, only wondered in part how his buildings would express Adolf Hitler’s contemporary empire.  The other question was how, like the ruins of Classical Antiquity, Nazi architecture could forever symbolically project grandeur and authority. He called this A Theory of Ruin Value, an idea which dealt with the aesthetics of Nazi architecture 1,000 years in the future.

This is so far in the future that the buildings would no longer be in use and would have decayed into a ruined state. Speer wanted to control the appearance of these ruins, to express the Third Reich’s legacy, after its demise, as a graceful decay. This Theory of Ruin Value unfolds a neurotically paranoid way of approaching life: valuing the post-functional aesthetics of a designed object as much as how that thing will work when in use, while opposing every rule of sustainability.

The Theory also appears to overcompensate for a lack of actual power. It is the frothy result of those who impatiently wished to design their empire, to guarantee their legacy. Speer and Hitler, convinced of the Third Reich’s future supremacy to such a degree, could see the beauty of their power in the ruins of their great work, before much of the work had been accomplished. This is a good lesson about healthily questioning political dominance of one person over many, to recognize the poisoning power of a desire for legacy over any promises about collective improvement.


Albert Speer denied knowing about the Final Solution and was sentenced only 20 years in prison. During this time he wrote a memoir, Inside The Third Reich. After his release from prison, information surfaced about his attendance at [...]