Global, London

Afropean: Documenting Black Europe Book coming June 2019 (Penguin)

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Well, after years of threatening to finish a book documenting my travels through Black Europe I’ve finally handed in a final draft to my editor.  As I prepare for the release you’ll see a few changes across all my online platforms, including Afropean.com, which will undergo a major revamp next month in line with the beautiful art direction of my book cover by the legendary designer Anna Bergfors (the image above is one of the alternate covers that we decided not to use – I’ll share the official cover soon).

I came back from the trip with an embarrassingly huge amount of words from my travels (Over 175’000!) which was whittled down to just over 120’000, so I’m going to divide all the stuff I had to cut (including a meeting in Portugal with Emory Douglass of The Black Panthers, and a jam with Benjamin Clementine in a Parisian Hostel) into a series of Blog posts.  Blog, I hate that word!  Can we call this an online journal?  I may also go through some of the weaker stuff on here that I wrote and published when I knew nobody was looking.

What I’m trying to say is that the past eight years of my life comes to fruition next year, which means I can actually start focussing on enjoying the results of the hard work I’ve been putting in in solitude and begin creating new work, which I intend to share here.  Oh, and check johnypitts.com for everything else!

It’s time to walk the walk!

 

 

 

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Amsterdam, Brussels, Global, Lisbon, London, Madrid, Marseille, Moscow, Paris, Rome, Sheffield, Stockholm

www.johnypitts.com now live!

Me Moscow

Johny Pitts, Red Square, Moscow

This won’t be the most riveting post you’ll read today, so we’ll keep it brief…

Most of my articles can now be found on www.afropean.com, but I am looking at integrating this blog into my new personal website www.johnypitts.com, as a way of showing all the articles I personally write (rather than the articles I edit by other contributors to Afropean).  On www.johnypitts.com you’ll find a kind of online resume, with a selection of my photographs, TV work, voice overs and essays all collated on one domain.

As a thank you for reading this rather soulless little update, please enjoy a little selfie I took on a trip to Moscow’s red square during twilight.  I like the colours and hope you do too!

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NY 1

They are tearing down the 1930’s Modernist intersection called ‘Slussen’, so I spent some time there taking photographs and saying goodbye…

London, Stockholm

Stockholm Metro

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Amsterdam, Brussels, Global, Lisbon, London, Madrid, Marseille, Moscow, Paris, Rome, Sheffield, Stockholm

www.afropean.com: A new Afro European Culture Magazine!

Afropean.com: A New Afro-European Resource

The Afropean is a new online multimedia, multidisciplinary journal exploring the social, cultural and aesthetic interplay of black and European cultures, and the synergy of styles and ideas brought about because of this union.

After winning an ENAR Award for a contribution toward a racism-free Europe with our Afropean Culture Facebook page, we hope to build on the work of Erik Kamble’s important Afro-Europe blog, which closed in 2013, and will continue to shed light on art, music, literature, news and events from the Afro-European diaspora, as well as produce and commission original essays and projects.

The Afropean team: Johny Pitts, Nat Illumine and Alice Gbelia

What’s in store for March…

From the forthcoming photo essay/travel narrative 'An Afropean in Marrakech' coming soon on www.afropean.com

From the forthcoming photo essay/travel narrative ‘An Afropean in Marrakech’ coming soon on http://www.afropean.com

In the coming weeks we’ll have interviews with legendary Belgo-Congolese singer Marie Daulne of Zap Mama, get the lowdown on why French Hip-Hop is still a political force to be reckoned with from UK MC turned-Paris native Apocraphe, and revisit a digital journey down the river Thames, exploring themes of immigration with Caryl Phillips. We’ll look at Arabic Neo-Soul, with an accompanying travel guide and photo essay about Marrakech, get three unique perspectives on what the term ‘Afropean’ means as a cultural identifier, and speak to world record holder and British Nigerian TV Host Andy Akinwolere about Afro-European style. You can also expect news, reviews, and a calender packed with Afro-Europe related talks, calls for papers, exhibitions, events and gigs in our ‘Agenda’ section.

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London

Street Photo: ‘New Europe’

© Johny Pitts Photography 2013

© Johny Pitts Photography 2013

For a few months I’d been toying with the idea of shooting some photographs in Baker Street tube station. I was interested in capturing the old Victorian details that evoke Sherlock Holmes, the vintage lettering left from the turn of the century, the doors that read ‘private’ and the dusty crevices that had preserved the identity of the oldest underground network in the world.

I noticed that a lot of the advertising space had been left with really old adverts, blacked out by pieces of tape so that they weren’t still helping to sell any products that weren’t paid adverts.

I saw a poster of Michael Palin’s ‘New Europe’; a documentary and book released in 2007. Palin is one of Britain’s national treasures, and I too am a fan, but when I saw his advert and the young black Londoner walk past it, I saw an opportunity to comment not only on new European identities, but also the lack of black writers in the pantheon of great travel writing.

It’s important we don’t write off the great European minds who produced such brilliant buildings, and created such a clever infrastructure, but it is also important to make room in our ideas of just who a European is, for those people who might not exactly resemble the historical figures we’re taught about in school, like Sherlock Holmes, for instance.

Europe is a diverse and constantly changing continent, and we need to embrace that.

It’s elementary, my dear reader!

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Global

Happy New Year from North Africa!

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I would like to explain why I haven’t updated the blog for a little while. I’ve been in the lab scheming away on developing the website www.afropean.com into an online magazine, and building a team around the magazine to take off from where the brilliant Erik Kamble left us with his Afro-Europe Blog which sadly closed down last year.

I can’t say too much more, but I will keep this blog running as a place to post all my own essays and photographs from the website, which should launch mid- late February.

Another reason I’ve been digitally absent recently is because for New Years’ I visited what may well be the Afropean capital of the world, Marrakech. I wandered dusty souks, trekked through the scorching desert and climbed the Atlas mountains to bring you a unique Afropean guide to a city where European, African and Arabic culture blends seamlessly. A full article complete with photo-essay is coming soon!

Speak soon, and Carpe Annum- seize the year!

Johny Pitts 2014

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Moscow

Street Photo: Patrice Lumumba University, Moscow

© Johny Pitts Photography 2013

© Johny Pitts Photography 2013

Searching for black culture in Moscow was difficult, until I found the People’s Friendship University of Russia on the outskirts of the city, where this photograph was taken. Here West African students inhabited stark communist- era buildings. The connection between Russia and Africa is very much a Soviet one, as cold-war links were forged and alliances made with the likes of Patrice Lumumba, the first democratically elected prime minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo, who the university was once named after. That its name was changed I think signifies ties that are being severed between Russia and Africa, and the growing resilience African students are currently facing from the country’s Slavic communities.

You can read an in-depth chapter about my time in Russia in my forthcoming travel narrative/photo essay ‘An Afropean Odyssey: Travels in Black Europe’

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