Brian Barnes MBE made his mark on London, and his native Battersea in particular, as both an artist and community activist. Whilst some of his most iconic murals have been lost, many remain and continue to brighten the urban streetscapes they occupy. These include Nuclear Dawn (1981) in Brixton and the Stockwell Memorial (2001). Sadly, Brian passed away in November of last year (2021). To celebrate his work we will be releasing a series of short films featuring Brian talking about his process and the political impulse that shapes his work.
Spectacle filmed many interviews with Brian Barnes over the years covering both his art and activism. The first of our films on Brian Barnes was filmed by students on one of Spectacles training courses. It features Brian discussing the his Stockwell Memorial mural and can be seen in full here:
Spectacle is launching a new library of films on Vimeo on demand. This will allow viewers to rent all of our films relating to Guantanamo Bay and people’s advocacy work for those imprisoned there without trial. The collection includes the films Outside the Law: Stories From Guantanamo and Shaker Aamer: A Decade Of Injustice as well as short films on the various groups campaigning for Shaker’s release and never before seen interviews with politicians and campaigners including John MacDonald and Sadiq Khan. The library will be free to access for one month starting on the 6th of December to mark Human Rights Day (10th Dec).
After 20 years of protracted conflict and attempted nation building in Afghanistan, the Taliban are back in the seat of government. Politicians in the UK and America are scrambling to justify these 20 years: the lives lost and billions spent. In the midst of these speeches on noble intentions it is important to look back at the war on terror and remember the basis on which this war was waged.
It was a moment when the USA and its allies in NATO decided that human rights and habeas corpus were not in fact universal principles and did not apply to anyone deemed an “enemy combatant”. Moazzam Begg (a former detainee of Guantanamo Bay) summed up this thinking in a Q&A after a screening of Stories from Guantanamo with the George Orwell Quote: “we are all equal but some are more equal than others”. Everything was justifiable in the name of stamping out global terrorism. Innocent men from around the world were sent, not just to Guantanamo, but also Bagram prison in Afghanistan and other “black site” secret prisons, to be tortured and interrogated.
Spectacle has documented the story of the Guantánamo Bay Detention Centre and the wider context of extraordinary rendition and secret prisons that were central to Bush and Blair’s War On Terror in two separate films, available together here for the first time along with extras and archive materials.
Outside the Law:
Stories From Guantanamo and Shaker Aamer: A Decade of Injustice
Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” provides a
powerful rebuke to those who believe that Guantánamo holds “the worst of the
worst” and that the Bush administration was justified in responding to the
terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 by holding men neither as prisoners of
war, protected by the Geneva Conventions, nor as criminal suspects with habeas
corpus rights, but as “illegal enemy combatants” with no rights whatsoever.
The film is based around interviews with former prisoners including
Moazzam Begg and Omar Deghayes in his first major onscreen interview. The film
also contains interviews with lawyers for the prisoners, journalist and author
Andy Worthington, Guantánamo’s former Muslim chaplain James Yee, a London-based
Imam, and the British human rights lawyer Gareth Peirce.
“Outside the Law is a powerful film that has helped ensure that Guantánamo and the men unlawfully held there have not been forgotten”.
Kate Allen , director Amnesty International UK
Shaker Aamer: A
Decade of Injustice
This film was made to mark the 10th anniversary of Shaker
Aamer’s detention in Guantanamo Bay.
Shaker Aamer was one of the 171 men still held in detention
in Guantanamo Bay on the camp’s 10th anniversary. Despite never having had a
trial, having been approved for release twice, and there being a large campaign
supporting him, Shaker remained in detention until 2015.
During the 13+ years that Shaker Aamer was incarcerated in
Guantanamo Bay, he was never charged, and he has never denied his innocence. He
has continuously lobbied for the welfare of other Guantanamo inmates from
within the system. Many believe that this, and his potential as a witness to
U.S. human rights abuses, are the reasons he remained captive for so long.
Shaker Aamer was finally released from prison on 30th October 2015.
Our video library, containing all material produced by Spectacle on and with the Exodus collective, will be free to access from 10th December – 10th January. This includes both Spectacle produced TV documentaries: Exodus: Movement of Jah People and Exodus From Babylon along with extras and bonus material including an anti crack song and music video made by members of the collective with Spectacle and an appearance on Swiss youth culture TV show ZEBRA.
Spectacle is excited to launch a new video library on Vimeo on Demand containing material produced on and with the Exodus collective. This includes both Spectacle produced TV documentaries: Exodus: Movement of Jah People and Exodus From Babylon along with extras and bonus material including an anti crack song and music video made by members of the collective with Spectacle and an appearance on Swiss youth culture TV show ZEBRA.
We will continue to add matierial from the archive and organise online screening events.
The Luton based Exodus Collective came into existence in 1992 as part of the growing DIY culture which arose in response to unemployment, poverty and frustration amongst young people. They organised free ‘rave’ parties, renovated derelict homes, set up a community farm and a community centre. Their philosophy had a strong spiritual strand, appealing to notions of community and natural justice in its struggle for survival and renewal. Their utopian project, whilst always peaceful, presented a challenge to the status quo and was met with powerful opposition.
Exodus offered working, viable solutions to many of society’s stated ills, poverty, crime, drugs, unemployment and the break down of community.
Exodus was a unique urban phenomenon which did not simply confront but intelligently challenged societal assumptions and values. Exodus blended a volatile mixture of rastafarianism, new-age punk and street smart politics. “We are not drop outs but force outs.”
EXODUS: MOVEMENT OF JAH PEOPLE
Exodus, Movement of Jah Peopleinvestigates the group’s quest to regenerate their disaffected community by squatting and renovating decayed buildings. Their regular raves brought ex-army, ex-estate agents, ex-shop assistants, and ex-criminals together as Exodus, a dance collective with a new direction, an attempt to offer viable solutions to many of society’s stated ills such as poverty, crime, drugs, unemployment and the break down of community.
“This remarkable film is an antidote to the dereliction and paranoia on Britain’s streets. Squatting and renovating decayed buildings, Exodus pursue a mutually agreed quest to regenerate their disaffected community… For anyone interested in a street relevant discussion on drugs, criminality, spirituality and community, this film is a must see.” – Squall Magazine 1995
EXODUS FROM BABYLON:
Exodus from Babylon investigates the intricate web of opposition to the Exodus group, from aggressive policing to local government obstruction. It reveals the shift in policing from reactive peace keeping to proactive intervention, involving a series of special operations by Bedfordshire Police.
The programme looks in detail at a number of police actions against Exodus, including the prosecution and acquittal of collective member, Paul Taylor, for possession of Ecstasy and for murder. It asks why the strategy of getting tough with Exodus emerged and identifies a number of interlocking interests at play.
Exodus from Babylon contains original music by the Exodus Collective and some great reggae tunes.
Broadcast on Channel 4 as part of the Renegade TV series.
Please contact Spectacle directly if you are interested in screening any of the films in this collection publicly: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sign up to our Newsletter for more information about our ongoing projects.
For the first time Spectacle is making the entire Despite TV magazine series available. This release is the first of several Video Libraries we will be putting out on Vimeo On Demand over the coming months. These libraries will use the Vimeo’s series format to curate selections from Spectacle’s back catalogue, grouping together finished films with previously unreleased archive material. We will be releasing Video Libraries on Murray Bookchin, the Exodus collective and Battersea to name a few.
Despite TV was an video group founded in 1982. The group operated out of the Tower Hamlets Arts Project on Whitechapel Road East London and produced video magazines that explored local issues, showcased local talent and promoted community organisations. Despite TV covered issues that have shaped the political, social and topographical landscape of London in profound ways. Despite TV documented and commented upon events such as: the dissolution of the Greater London Authority (GLC), the London Docklands Development Corporation (LDDC) taking over the old docks to turn them into an annex of the City, and the transformation of Brick Lane from a National Front stronghold to the Bengali street we know today.
The films are not all slick productions but they make up for this with creativity and anarchic energy. Despite TV’s magazine shows were made at a time when video was far from ubiquitous and there is a feeling of excitement, a sense of discovery and possibility that underpins all the films. A typical episode moves from a report on a nurses strike to a situationist dissection of a Big Mac to a local band performing and then on to a short film about a toucan reminiscent of Chris Markers work.
The episodes in this series give insight into political events large and small, from enormous development projects to campaigns for more cycle paths to protests against Page 3. The breadth of events covered gives the series the feeling of a time capsule, giving insight into the political and cultural mood of England in the 1980’s and early ’90s.