Human Rights Human Wrongs @ the Photographers Gallery

"A brigade of Vietcong women soldiers in gala-uniform stand in formation with Type 56 rifles during a victory parade. Vietnam, no date / Bollinger." (C) Black Star Publishing Co. Inc.

“A brigade of Vietcong women soldiers in gala-uniform stand in formation with Type 56 rifles during a victory parade. Vietnam, no date / Bollinger.” (C) Black Star Publishing Co. Inc.

Last Thursday, we wandered into The Photographer’s Gallery in Soho to check two exhibitions – Charlotte Dumas’ Anima and The Widest Prairies and HUMAN RIGHTS HUMAN WRONGS.

Upon entering HUMAN RIGHTS HUMAN WRONGS I was confronted with 316 original prints, from the prestigious Black Star Collection, that presented a mirror to my own life on this planet. The black and white reflections that bounced back to me revealed decade upon decade of global conflict, images that revealed the dark side of humanity and proved that despite the millions who had died between 1939-1945 no lessons had been learned. In fact, that war simply created a host of others as people demanded social and economic justice – freedom from colonialism and imperialism. These were the struggles that I and my friends sought to understand, learn from and supported – from Algeria to Vietnam to South Africa and Angola to Nicaragua and Chile. Today, we have new wars – religious, ideological, ethnic and economic, the fragmenting of empires, the combined threat of climate change and the control of energy sources. We need to grasp that bigger picture right now.

HUMAN RIGHTS HUMAN WRONGS uses the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a point of departure “to examine whether images of political struggle, suffering and victims of violence work for or against humanitarian objectives, especially when considering questions of race, representation, ethical responsibility and the cultural position of the photographer.”

Curated by Mark Sealy – Director of Autograph ABP – HUMAN RIGHTS HUMAN WRONGS commences circa 1945 and in timely fashion, considering the recent events in Ferguson and other cities in the USA, includes some poignant and resonant images of Dr Martin Luther King and Civil Rights Movement march from Selma to Montgomery.

Selma or Ferguson?

Selma or Ferguson?

Biafra - Pic by Carlo Bavagnoli

Biafra – Pic by Carlo Bavagnoli

The exhibition also features incredible images – often accompanied by revealing notes, written at the time, by the photographer – of the independence and liberation movements in both Latin America and Africa ( including Kenya, Algeria, Chad, and Congo). Portraits of Nobel Peace Prize winners Lester B. Pearson, Yasser Arafat, and René Cassin sit alongside images of war and genocidal conflict from Vietnam to Rwanda and protest movements in Berkeley/California, Chile, and Argentina.

These photographic images are at times harsh, sickening and inevitably disturbing. Time after time they reveal humankind in abject, euphoric or violently explicit conditions that force us, the viewer, to reflect and dig deeper, thereby confirming an understanding that it is our duty, in 2015, as global citizens, to reaffirm the case for human and civil rights.

Will it take another exhibition like Human Rights Human Wrongs – in 10 or 50 years time – to make us regret not doing more right now?

In the Beginning....

In the Beginning….

Mark Sealy Interview: HUMAN RIGHTS HUMAN WRONGS from The Photographers' Gallery on Vimeo.

As it went, our first stop in the Photographer’s Gallery was on the top floor and Charlotte Dumas’ images of wild horses in Nevada. The viewer is transported to cowboy country and a land that remains as wild and untamed as the quiet, tough looking horses that freely roam the landscape. It’s ironic that the one institution which interacts with these animals is the local penitentiary. There is something primal about horses. I can understand how people like to be in their presence and even find it healing. As a species they are ancient and it’s that primal physicality that comes across in Dumas’ short film of the horses, who draw the gun carriage carrying coffins at Arlington cemetery, going to sleep. It was quite calming and a welcome contrast to what was to emerge a couple of floors below.

© Charlotte Dumas

© Charlotte Dumas

More Info:

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RAMMELLZEE: COSMIC FLUSH – Pt. 1 BRAINSTORM is released on the 30th March 2015 by Gamma Proforma and it comes hard on the heels of other mutually ambitious 21st century projects that inludes SHEONE’s BLACKATELIER, DIVINE STYLER’s ‘DEF MASK’ and the REWIRE Box Set




Rammellzee passed away in 2010, but before he left us he recorded his magnum opus, ‘Cosmic Flush’ with producer Jonah Mociun. Unreleased, eight years have passed. The collection of breakcore and speed metal-influenced rap tracks stand as a futuristic relic which is just now about to see the light of day.

‘Cosmic Flush’ fully realises Rammellzee’s complex philosophy and unique vision of futuristic hip hop, apocalyptic science fiction, and extreme sonic exploration.

To celebrate the life of one of our culture’s great minds Gamma Prorma are releasing ‘Cosmic Flush’ as a commemorative series of records and prints. There are seven core tracks, each will be reinterpreted and remixed by a visual and audio artist. The works will also form part of an exhibition which will take place in New York and London.

This release is Part 1 in the set, ‘Brainstorm’ has been visually reinterpreted by Ian Kuali’i, a disciple of Rammellzee’s inner circle, and remixed by Divine Styler who cites Rammellzee as one of his key influences.

Celebrate the groundbreaking influence and genius of the artist, The Rammellzee.

Please note: All orders include the digital download.

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A New Year Approaches – Enter The Four Dragons of Dao Yin


Enter The Four Dragons of Dao Yin – a set of Baguazhang related, moving, stretching exercises which focus on clearing the meridians and awakening the spine during the process of developing “internal skill”/Nei Gong – and our guide is the West Country based writer, martial artist and nu-generation Daoist, Damo Mitchell.

Damo Mitchell has practiced martial arts since childhood and has recently emerged as a leading light and author amongst a new generation of teachers who have trained extensively in China and are more than adept at explaining classical concepts while evolving a clear methodology for teaching traditional forms.

The Four Dragons is the third volume in a trilogy of books, written by Damo Mitchell and published by Singing Dragon, that deal with Daoist Nei Gong – a set of internal practices or “energy work” which are more often referred to a Qi Gong. However, this book is specifically focused on Dao Yin, a set of exercises aimed at improving a person’s psychological and physical health,and developing martial skills. The origin of Dao Yin goes back a couple of thousand years. They were originally developed Daoists practitioners to purge stagnant energy which had invaded the body from outside.

The roots of this book lies in a visit Damo Mitchell made to Shandong. While there he encountered Dragon Dao Yin through an early morning circle walking Baguazhang group who practiced it as muscle softening, spine strengthening, health exercise as well as through an elderly crew of mostly female Medical Dragon Dao Yin practitioners. Since then it has become a key element within the syllabus of his Lotus Nei Gong school.

I like the fact that you don’t have to read his other books to get into The Four Dragons. He more than adequately elucidates the historical, philosophical and medical context in which Nei Gong theory and practice have evolved and then clearly explains the important distinction between Qi Gong and Dao Yin.

From thereon in he deals with the The Four Dragons – Awakening, Swimming, Soaring and Drunken – “a set of short sequences designed to work with the subtle energies of the spine and lead pathogenic energies out of the body.” At the core of these four sequences is the spine and how to wake it up. He also deals with stagnation and chi flow, opening the joints and the energy gates as well breathing patterns and Yi (intention).

There is a compelling clarity to this work overall – whether through the text or the illustrations – and I believe The Four Dragons are a set of free flowing exercises well worth adding to your exercise routines (running, yoga, taiji… whatever!) and working on. Basically, by taking on the Four Dragons you are engaging with a process and embarking on a journey.

There’s a lot to take on board in this book and if you decide to dip in and enjoy the movements of The Four Dragons you may want to go deeper and check out Damo’s 3 DVD set or attend one of his workshops. Alternatively, depending on where you live, you may need to seek out another Nei Gong teacher.

Finally, here’s one Damo Mitchell’s top students Roni Edlund doing the Drunken Dragon… I can identify with that!

For more info on Damo Mitchell & other Singing Dragon Publications:

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OUT NOW! Dogwoof present NAS: ‘Time is ILLMATIC’

OUT NOW on DVD and on demand – ‘Time is ILLMATIC’

Twenty years after its release, ‘Illmatic’ has become a hip-hop benchmark that encapsulates the socio-political outlook, enduring spirit, and collective angst of a generation of young black men searching for their voice in America.

Nas_-_Time_Is_Illmatic_3D_DVD_grande‘Time is Illmatic’ tracks the musical legacy of the Jones family, handed down to Nas from his jazz musician father, Olu Dara. It also examines the social conditions and environmental influences that contributed to Nas’ worldview.

Along the way, ‘Time Is Illmatic’ shows how Nas – with the support of his Queensbridge neighbourhood crew, the loyalty of his younger brother Jabari “Jungle” Jones, and sacrifices of his mother, Ann Jones – overcame insurmountable odds to create the greatest work of music from hip-hop’s second golden era.

Nas Dogwoof_Documentar(l to r) Wiz, Nas, Jungle - 1993 Photography: _Danny_Clinch

(l to r) Wiz, Nas, Jungle – 1993 Photography: _Danny_Clinch

Nas Illmatic Lp

Following a fantastic theatrical run in UK cinemas last year – which I sadly missed! – documentary label Dogwoof is proud and delighted to bring the ultimate hip-hop doc to Steelbook, DVD and On Demand. Directed by One9, this is the quintessential companion piece to the 1994 album that changed the landscape of rap and became the benchmark for all rap artists to follow. In the mix: interviews with a host of players including Alicia Keys, Pharrell Williams, Swizz Beatz, Q-Tip and Jabari ‘Jungle’ Jones.

Check it!

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GARY CROSBY is 60: Groundation at The Cockpit

jazz in the round

GARY CROSBY – bassist and the driving force behind Tomorrow’s Warriors and Dune records – continues to celebrate the big Six-O with a session at Jez Nelson’s Jazz In The Round next Monday.

Together with new generation players Moses Boyd (drums), Nathaniel Facey (sax) and Shirley Tetteh (guitar) he introduces us to his latest small band – Groundation – a gathering, a coming together, synonymous with the Rastafari.

“It’s a kind of ‘group discussion’ between some of my musical friends and me. Each of us has a contribution to make to this discussion, to this creative conversation, and can choose to ‘say’ as much or as little as we feel.”

I’m vibin’ on that and wish The Man may more earth-days to come.

Joining Groundation at the Cockpit will be my good friend and eminent flautist Rowland Sutherland who promises to drop some ethereal solo flute inspired by a recent visit to Japan and his encounters with the shakuhachi masters.

Add to the mix the Sam Eagles Quartet, who apparently combine post pop sensibilities with Noir-ish atmospherics, and you have yet another eclectic night at Jazz In The Round.

Tickets are £12 in advance and FREE to all Supporters Of Sound

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SPIRITUAL JAZZ Vol 6: Jazzman’s Journey Continues

spiritual jazz coverart

Gerald the Jazzman continues on his Spiritual Jazz journey with this – his sixth volume. As ever, he delivers an extraordinary collection which this time round focuses on vocal offerings that reflect the spiritually charged politics of the multi-dimensional African diaspora. What we get are an array of cross genre performances that defy the definition of a song. These artists channel the spirit and while the selection includes well known tracks like Gary Bartz’s ‘Celestial Blues’ and Pharoah’s ‘Prince Of Peace’ there are a host of more obscure gems like Clifford Jordan’s ‘John Coltrane’. In the mix we get to experience the lyrical visions of Max Roach, Charles Mingus, Sadaka, Norman Riley, E W Wainright, Linda Theus, Dr Haki R. Madhubuti, Eddie Gale, Byron Morris and, finally, the Rahsaan Roland Kirk inspired Vibration Society.

Lovingly restored from the original master tapes ‘Spiritual Jazz 6: Vocals’ comes as double vinyl in a gatefold sleeve or as CD with 24-page color booklet with archetypal in-depth liner notes, previously unpublished photographs and original stories direct from the master musicians involved.

As we all know Jazzman “DIG DEEPER”. WORD SOUND & POWER.

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The Alchemy and The Way of Dai Family Xin Yi

Xin Yi BookThe Alchemy of Dai family Xin Yi Wu Dao is Singing Dragon’s latest offering from the prolific modern day daoist Master Xongxian Wu. The publication of this modest 143 page book – which is accompanied by two DVDs – offers an illuminating and valuable source of information on a closely guarded martial arts system which originated over a thousand years ago in Qi County in the northern province of Shanxi. It also offers a rare and exciting opportunity to practice and develop the unusual foundation skills which this Daoist rooted system is famed for.

I first discovered Dai Family Xin Yi when researching the xing yi quan that I was learning from long time practitioner and author Marnix Wells. It was via – the excellent site of China based Jarek Symanski – that I came across Dai family Xin Yi which appeared to be the root of what I was learning. Of course, being a bit of an anorak and addicted to the art of cross referencing, I ordered a DVD. While it gave me access to pretty comprehensive visual overview of the forms the absence of English subtitles meant I had no real idea of what was going down so I just shelved it and went back to what I was practicing.

Dai Kui & Disciples - pic from

Grand Master Dai Kui & Disciples – pic from

XinYiWuXingDVDHowever, the arrival of Master Zhongxian Wu’s book and DVDs has once more stirred my curiosity. Dai family Xin Yi, originated with the China’s mystical Daoist hermits and was reputedly passed on to the legendary General Yue Fei before vanishing, only to resurface in the mid 17th century through one Master Dai Lonbang, It was his combination of martial skill and daoist internal alchemy cultivation which took the system to a new level. However, those skills and practices were kept within the Dai family and remained largely unknown until recent times.

Master Xongxian Wu has studied for many years with Grand Master Zhao ShouRong in the home Dai Family Xin Yi. More than impressed with his disciple’s intellectual and physical abilities Master Zhao ShouRong has given his disciple access to the knowledge gleaned from 65 years of daily practice and also urged him to make the teachings of Dai Family Xin Yi available to the world.

San Ti

San Ti

When I took up Xing Yi Quan – which roughly translates as Form and Will boxing I opted to focus on the San Ti / 3-in-1 static standing posture (check the pic) and the five elements (WuXing) fists. I decided I had enough on my plate with these skills without adding the 12 animal postures and I was right. Basically, the five fists – Pi, Beng, Zuan, Pao, Zuan, Heng – are aligned to traditional Chinese cosmology – metal, wood, water, fire, earth. Each element is capable of generating or destroying another element as shown in the diagram below. The lines forming the pentagon indicate generation while the dotted lines forming the star indicate destruction.

Xing Yi  5 elemnts 001

So, in the system I was learning Pi – metal – falls like an axe. However, upon reading Master Wu’s book I discovered that Pi in Dai family XinYi “is like an axe and classed as metal, but it is not an axe, its momentum is like scooping up and precious platter!” Similarly, beng “belongs to wood and looks like an arrow, but it is not an arrow! The momentum is of a sailboat rocking on the waves.” Awoahh… suddenly one is confronted with revising an ingrained mindset that’s built on a lot of practice and repetition. So, upon reading this book back it’s meant going back to the drawing board to focus on an alternative set of practices.

PiQuan Zuan

PiQuan Zuan

Master Zongxian Wu is the author of seven other Singing Dragon titles which are deep, explorations of esoteric traditional and shamanic qi gong/nei gong Daoist practices. The focus is on inner cultivation not martial arts. In this book he deals with WuDao – the way of martial arts – rather than WuShu – the technique of martial arts – and  sets himself the task of introducing to us, step by step, the essential training methods of Dai Family XinYi including the practice of Bagua XinJing which has never been available to the public – even in China. Throughout the book he carefully explains and interprets “the connections amongst Daoist numerology, internal alchemy, healing, and the spirit of classical Chinese martial arts” and it gives the practitioner a lot to think about.

Wuji Zhuang

Wuji Zhuang

Our journey – “a thousand mile journey begins as one step” – begins with LianJingHuaQi – the foundation practice of the entire system. Skip this and the rest means nothing. From the opening from the WuJi posture we progress to Hunyuan Zhang and DunMaoHou which literally means squatting cat-monkey! This stance in Dai family Xin Yi replaces the San Ti stance of contemporary Xing Yi Quan and, though I may be wrong about this, I’ve long understood that, traditionally, this posture had to be practiced for at least a couple years, along with the Chang San Bu (Trinity Long Step), before moving onto the WuXing QuanMu – The Mother form of XinYi.

Now, most people, especially in this modern world, would regard standing in one posture for a couple of years to be impossible…. crazy.  However, if you are interested in training in Dai family XinYi  I suggest you simply start and continue. You can gradually build up your standing time as the essential aim is to be relaxed, free of tension. DunMaoHou is a deceptively complex posture that initially feels physically offbeat and requires consistent inner reflection. It combines several distinct qualities by integrating the six spiritual animals- Rooster leg, Bear waist, Monkey back, Eagle shoulders,Tiger-Leopard head – and it’s this combined posture that incorporates the secrets of the Dragon body and allows the practitioner to build strong Qi in the Dan Tian area below the navel and learn how circulate the Qi.

Hunyuan Zhang

Hunyuan Zhang – DunMaoHou

Through my own limited practice I also took note of something I’d read in Jonathan Bluestein’s Research Of Martial Arts whereby “as the process repeats itself, the whole body expands(while becoming erect) and contracts (while squatting) and the Dan Tian rotates vertically – to the back with the anterior of the hip while squatting, and to the front with the posterior tilt of the hips the body is erected.”

Upon the foundation that is DunMaoHou you can then move onto the 5 fists – Wu Shing Quan Mu – and from there,  if you’re hooked, to the more advanced approach of the Liu He Xin Yi and Bagua Xin Jing. However, not far into the journey,  you will realise the book and the DVDs simply offer a springboard into the system and you will need to track down Master Zhongxian Wu or his senior students or simply head off to Shanxi and the home of Dai Family Xin Yi to get the tuition needed.

Myself, I know I will never be able to take on the whole system but I believe the foundation practices of Chen Taijiquan, Xing Yi Quan and Bagua Zhang all offer something different but are all essentially related. So, in relation to Dai Family Xin Yi I’ll keep it simple and just enjoy working with the Hunyuan Zhang /DunMaoHou and how being a “squatting cat-monkey” is transmitted and transformed into the practice of the five fists.

We have to give thanx for Master Zhongxian Wu and Singing Dragon for making this groundbreaking and philosophically rich volume available. I’ve only seen the first WuXing DVD – as that’s the one for a beginner – it’s essential viewing if you wish to gain entry into this art through the practicing of the various forms…. “ZuanQuan belongs to Water and looks like lightning, but it is not lightning. The momentum is that of landslide.”

XinYiBaGuaDVDYou can find Master Zhongxian Wu’s books here:

The two DVDs are available from

Another excellent resource for Dai Family Xin Yi is John Dyer’s

Please note: Quan translates as fist.

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