These are the women who’ve thrown in the towel on the nine to five, hitched caravans shaped like silver bullets to their pickups and headed west. Here they roam the range like later day cowgirls, searching for something. Not least liberte, sororite et autonomie......
“All the junk mail that fills your mail box...... that was my job: advising my clients about that kind of advertising and organizing it for them. .......... One day I could’t take it anymore and I quit.” Says Alison Turner in Big Sur California.
“I earned six figures, but I was lost..... When I climbed into my car, I had a feeling of total liberty, an indescribable joy. I’ve done it! No more life in chains, it’s over.”
Amie Sykes quit her job as a para-legal in Austin, Texas fifteen years ago and puts it like this,
“As I drove north, I knew that the city never looked as good as it did at that moment … in the rearview mirror.
.......I was like a bird in a cage. I sold my car and bought a huge pickup truck which I painted pink and nicknamed “Large Marge”. Then I began to comb the flea markets of Texas with a caravan on the back. I didn’t plan it but I started dealing in junk. I just bought stuff and fixed it up to sell.”
Pretty soon her sister Jolie joined her, leaving her job in a Houston hospital. Rolling along in “Large Marge”, they lived a dream and in doing so built up a business that turns over more than a million dollars a year.
“There’s a romance to the road. To wake at dawn in the cold, pull on a parka and warm gloves, listen to the roar of the motor and feel the tremble of the caravan. The world belongs to you and you’re free.”
“PROTEST!"" Photos by Nick Gammon at Foto Atelier BW5
The People's Vote March, London 2018
It began like this. One day in January 2015 a funereal black block flatly stating “Je Suis Charlie”, began to displace all those little icons of hope and aspiration as the profile pictures of my Facebook friends. As a response to the attack on Charlie Hebdo it felt somehow futile. But it didn’t stop there. On the 13th of November that year, inexplicably, the profile pictures were changing again to the Tricolor, as fast as wildfire, as fast as a computer virus.
The protests were visceral. La Place de la Republic resembled a Delacroix and the killings at the Bataclan was an attack against us, an attack against the kids, an attack against innocence. Even if France has an enduring tradition of public protest, only rarely do the “bourges” hit the streets (‘pace’ soixante-huitards). But they protested across the country that night and across the country during the following days.
Now it seems the middle classes are rarely off the streets, and like the Anti-Trump Women’s march which I photographed in Amsterdam these protests are often organised worldwide.
A school shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida on 14th of February triggered one of the largest protests in US history when an estimated 1.2 to 2 million people turned out for 800 rallies countrywide for March For Our Lives, which I also covered, to make the seemingly modest demand that background checks be conducted on gun sales and the restoration of the 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban.
The People’s Vote March last October, and the focus of this exhibition, brought 700,000 people on to the streets of London to demand a further referendum following the June 2016 vote which mandated the UK to quit the European Union. As the crowd gathered, the atmosphere was gentle, more like that of a very big village fete than what is was in reality; a red in tooth and claw attempt to wrench the levers of power from prime minister May. Clearly these well-mannered family people, these teachers, lawyers, doctors and nurses were not the usual protesting type. An unspoken thought reverberated through the air, “If I’m protesting, then things must be really bad!”.
March For Our Lives, Portland 2018
Anti Trump Women's March, Amsterdam, 2016
City Bikes, Portland
The Woodman's, Portland
Doug Fir Lounge, Portland
Portland is a place where you can get an avant-garde donut, dusted with pepto-bismal, go zoobombing ....and you’ll probably end up with a tattoo. It’s a magnet for musicians and sucks in chefs from around the country.
" ....it is an effervescent experiment which all urbanists on the planet should visit. Green, festive, creative almost self-sufficient...... if tomorrow's cities resemble this one we’re going to be ok." (Marie Odile Briet)
Tattoo parlour, Portland
Antique store, Portland
Food Truck, Portland
”Portland Oregon, used to be the place 25 year olds went to retire, the New York Times once claimed, but as Zia McCabe, key board player for The Dandy Warhols, explains, “Before you had all the time in the world to be a hedonist, but that’s more difficult now in the new more polished Portland”.
As the final episode of Portlandia aired in April 2018, I travelled to the city wondering whether the new more upmarket Portland still had its mojo now that the young dudes have had to buckle down – I needn’t have worried. Reeling with jet lag just off the afternoon flight from Amsterdam, Zia rendered me speechless when she brightly suggested a visit to a sex club – right now, this evening, “I’ll put your name on the door”, she says, like she’s inviting me to go ten pin bowling. “But don’t worry, I’m the DJ”, and “the Sanctuary’s vibe will be pretty much Burning Man, sex positive, consent based, and with no shaming”.
Portland is a quirky frontier town and survival in a place where every barista has a masters can be tricky. One option is to become part of the city’s thriving community of makers and creators. Recently I spent a few days in their company – the poets and musicians, the potters and cooks, the kombucha brewers and comedians who are bringing the future to new Portland.
In Castrillo de Murcia, Burgos, Spain, at Corpus Christi, grown men dressed all in yellow leap over tiny babies, in one of the lesser known Spanish fiestas. The yellow man, El Colacho, represents the devil and it is believed that when he jumps over a baby it will be cleansed of it's original sin. The festival probably has pagan origins, but one thing is sure, in order to qualify, as an infant, you must be less than twelve months old.
Prior to the baby jumping, El Colacho, parades the streets of the small village accompanied by phalanx of worthy men, "the confraternity", who adopt a sombre manner. El Colacho meanwhile, strikes doleful poses before suddenly beating bystanders with his whip made of horsehair all the while clacking an oversized pair of castanets.
Peta Protesters, Pamplona 2015
Running with the bulls, Estafeta, Pamplona, Spain
In Estafeta, at first, although nothing can be seen, fear jolts through the crowd like electricity. Rapidly the mass parts like a shoal of predated baitfish, as people press themselves to the sides of the narrow medieval street. Suddenly they’re here, the big shouldered thick necked black fighting bulls, advancing at speed on the cobbles, strings of mucus flying from their nostrils, heavy hooves clattering.
Afterwards I checked the metadata of the burst of photographs I shot. 37 pictures in 1.8 seconds. In the sequence, one man stands out; running closer to the bulls than anyone else, upright and with some elegance dressed in a buttoned dress shirt, in one frame he even finds himself cradled between the horns of one of the animals.
Then it’s over. Instantaneously. Eight hundred and seventy-five metres takes only two minutes and thirty seconds from the firing of the first rocket to the fourth sound, announcing the arrival and the corralling of the bulls in the arena.
California Cryo-Bank, Santa Monica, USA
We cast a glance over the shoulder of one woman who has opened an account at CCB to check out the dossiers of around four hundred donors. Nº 12873 for example, whose profile, drafted by the bank, resembles Michael Fassbinder and Viggo Mortensen, 1.75, attractive.... and intelligent. Nº 12867 is described as a hunky good looking guy who works in international development. He looks like Keanu Reeves and John Cusack. In the space of a minute, you can imagine we have found the perfect match. But listen to his voice... too high pitched, we abandon him for nº 13108. Dizzying.
This consultation, just like shopping online, is the trigger for the birth of a baby. Access to the colour of his hair and eyes, hight, weight and personality of the donor is free. For $145 we can see photos of him as a child, know his hobbies, his take on life and his medical history.
For $250 we can discover the sound of his voice, his facial characteristics, (how wide apart are his eyes, the breadth of his forehead, the size of his nose, the shape of his chin....), and the results of psychological tests, is he extrovert, reserved, etc.?
“Choosing a donor online is like looking for a guy on a dating site,” confirms Kim, a New Yorker, who’s beginning her quest. “There’s a moment when you know you have found the right one. Would you make a child with someone who didn’t please you?”.