art of resistance, Iraq

Nina Simone and war(s) in Iraq.

Nina Simone was much more than a singer and her voice was much more than a voice – she was an activist, and her message went beyond music. She was a rebel with cause and her story remains inspirational. When she was 12,  during her first performance, her parents, who had taken seats in the front row, were forced to move to the back of the hall to make way for white people. Simone said she refused to play until her parents were moved back to the front.

Nina Simone©Getty Images

“I had spent many years pursuing excellence, because that is what classical music is all about… Now it was dedicated to freedom, and that was far more important.”

Nina Simone

She is one of those musicians I can always listen to. I’ve been listening to her music last couple of days too, mixed with news from Iraq. And – it’s always fascinating how different struggles of the world can seem so alike – because they’re struggles, beacuse there is pain, because there’s always big fish and small fish. And so it was with Nina Simone and Iraq – so here’s a combination of Simone’s songs and fresh Iraq photos, by Moises Saman, Magnum’s photographer.

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Hound dogs on my trail
School children sitting in jail
Black cat cross my path
I think every day’s gonna be my last

Lord have mercy on this land of mine
We all gonna get it in due time
I don’t belong here
I don’t belong there
I’ve even stopped believing in prayer

Simone, Mississippi Godam

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All I want is equality
for my sister my brother my people and me

Yes you lied to me all these years
You told me to wash and clean my ears
And talk real fine just like a lady
And you’d stop calling me Sister Sadie

Oh but this whole country is full of lies
You’re all gonna die and die like flies

Simone, Mississippi Goddam

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But that’s just the trouble
“do it slow”
Desegregation
“do it slow”
Mass participation
“do it slow”
Reunification
“do it slow”
Do things gradually
“do it slow”
But bring more tragedy
“do it slow”
Why don’t you see it
Why don’t you feel it
I don’t know
I don’t know

Simone, Mississippi Goddam

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There is a beautiful land
Where all your dreams come true;
It’s all tied up in a rainbow,
All shiny and new;
But it’s not easy to find
No matter what you do.

Simone, Beautiful land

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I said nobody knows you
When you’re down and out
In your pocket, you ain’t got one penny
And your friends, you didn’t have any

Simone, Nobody knows you when you’re down and out

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Sit there and count the raindrops
Falling on you
It’s time you knew
All you can ever count on
Are the raindrops
That fall on little girl blue

Simone, Little girl blue

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You looked for work and money
And you walked a rugged mile
You looked for work and money
And you walked a rugged mile
Your children are so hungry
That they don’t know how to smile

Your baby’s eyes look crazy
They’re a-tuggin’ at your sleeve
Your baby’s eyes look crazy
They’re a-tuggin’ at your sleeve
You walk the floor and wonder why
With every breath you breathe

Simone, The ballad of Hollis Brown

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Breaking rocks out here on the chain gang
Breaking rocks and serving my time
Breaking rocks out here on the chain gang
Because they done convicted me of crime
Hold it steady right there while I hit it
Well reckon that ought to get it
Been
Working and working
But I still got so terribly far to go

Simone, Chain Gang

NYC149890all photos ©Moises Saman/Magnum

For more on Saman’s photos from Iraq and his work in general, go to his Magnum profile.

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art of resistance, Israel, Israeli - Palestinian conflict, Palestine

Anderson’s Bethlehem: Where do the children play.

Christopher Anderson was born in Canada and grew up in west Texas. He first gained recognition for his pictures in 1999 when he boarded a handmade, wooden boat with Haitian refugees trying to sail to America. The boat, named the Believe In God, sank in the Caribbean. In 2000 the images from that journey would receive the Robert Capa Gold Medal. They would also mark the emergence of an emotionally charged style that he refers to as “experiential documentary” and has come to characterize his work since. “Emotion or feeling is really the only thing about pictures I find interesting. Beyond that it is just a trick”, Anderson says.

He is well known and respected for many of his works, but to me, there are some that will always have a special place, and among the dearest is his Bethlehem series. I love how he manages to capture the brutality and limitations (like the wall, and numerous controls and checkpoints Palestinians face every day), because that is necessary – we need to be aware and need to “keep it real”. But, at the same time, Anderson does this wonderful thing – he also captures the freedom, the infinite beauty of a smile, or children’s play. We need that too, because that is where the power is hidden – power to change all those bad, “keep it real” facts. That is what keeps people alive, and not just merely surviving.

Artist statement

This is not how Mary and Joseph came into Bethlehem, but this is how you enter now. You wait at the wall. It’s a daunting concrete barricade, three stories high, thorned with razor wire. Standing beside it, you feel as if you’re at the base of a dam. Israeli soldiers armed with assault rifles examine your papers. They search your vehicle. No Israeli civilian, by military order, is allowed in. And few Bethlehem residents are permitted out, the reason the wall exists here, according to the Israeli government, is to keep terrorists away from Jerusalem.

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NYC74773all photos © Christopher Anderson/Magnum Photos

For more of the magic Anderson does, visit his official website.

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art of resistance, Israel, Israeli - Palestinian conflict, Palestine

One photo.

PAR457261©Paolo Pellegrin/Magnum Photos

 Sabah and Farah Abu Halima. Grandmother (47 yrs old) and granddaughter (6 yrs old) are seen in their home in Beit Lahia, Gaza, Palestine, 2012.

On January 4th 2009, during the Israeli ground invasion, there was a massive shelling and bombing throughout Gaza. The family, 16 members, was hiding in their home when it was hit and fire exploded everywhere. The explosion killed 12 members of the family included 5 kids, some of them were burned to death in front of Sabah, she said. While the wounded members of the family were taken to the hospital on a tractor, the Israeli soldiers stopped them on the way and shot them, killing three of them.
Farah, now 6 yrs old, suffered from burns all over her body and she was treated in California for 1 year. Ghada, Farah’s mother,
died 6 month later in an Egyptian hospital. Now Farah’s grandmother, Sabah, takes care of her. Also Sabah was severely injured,
she lost her husband and also one of her daughters died in her arms while she was breast-feeding.

For more of Pellegrin’s photography, go to his Magnum profile.

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