Monday, September 5, 2011

Day out in London

Apart from an excellent visit to the Struth exhibition the OCA also provided some great street theater for those of us interested in Social Documentary, as well as an excellent location in the East End of London.  This provided a chance to play the Flâneur for a time and do a little street photography.

Arriving early for the visit I had some time to kill so wandered up and around Brick Lane.  Of most interest were shop doorways and the usual entertaining graffiti:

I wish I had waited a little longer on the final shot and framed it with the police more visible, ah well the moment was not with me.  I found some of Boris' bikes, nice to see that London is following Munich's lead in providing access to bikes for rent

However, in the back streets my favorite shot is this dramatic piece of graffiti and some left overs from the Generation Game

Cuddly Toy anyone?

Did I mention London following in Munich's lead, well there was a far more sinister parallel to the history of my adopted home.  The English Defense League (EDL), aka facist scum, had decided to attempt to march right past the East London Mosque, which was just across the road from the Whitechapel Gallery.    I am currently reading a history of Munich, just passing the bit about the origins of the party, it is shaming to see the descendants of those who fought to rid the world of this evil spouting the same ill informed prejudice in London.Fortunately all marches have been banned in London following the summer shopping riots, but that did not stop them trying, so the police presence was pretty strong.  These were taken within 50m of the gallery entrance

The last is great, summer in London, riot police lounge around outside a boarded up sportswear shop, whilst a brightly dressed lady simply wanders by.

A gang of around 50 (rightfully) angry Asian youths heading to counter protest the EDL.  Tensions were rising and I decided it was time to go, getting kettled (that other summer passtime in London) would not have helped me get to the airport.  On the way to Licerpool Street station I passed hundreds of riot police and vans, but never got close to the EDL, good and bad, they would have been interesting to photograph, assuming I did not get bricked.

I amused myself taking a few shots of the Gurkin and other finance buildings, glad my taxes don't pay for this:

All in all an interesting day and a chance to look at some new/old juxtapositions in the city.  One thread I might explore in the landscape course is how the new architecture of Munich sits alongside the old.  After the war most of Munich was rebuilt, mush of it in the same style as the 16th/17th century buildings that had been destroyed by the bombing.  Munich looks like an old city,  but in truth is not.  Today there is great resistance among the residents to new innovative architecture, leading most new buildings to find there home on the edge of the city, however, some do make it into the center and make for interesting contrasts to the "old" buildings already standing.

London has much of the same contrasts, however, I think Londoners embrace the new alongside the old and find pride in their weird new obelisks, the Gurkin being a prime example.  The final irony of the day, however, must be to come from the ex home of the German Nazi party, now a proudly tolerant left leaning society, to the country that helped defeat them, only to find intolerance and hatred so strong.  I know that this is the exception to the rule, but the tourists who these thugs abused will take home stories more reminiscent of 1930's Munich than modern London.

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