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Saturday, 30 November 2013


Hi Mike,
Happy Thanksgiving! By the way, I just bought Lightroom 5 through your Amazon affiliate link!


This gives me an opportunity to plug one of my favourite podcasts: "Stuff You Should Know". We've had episodes such as "How Lewis and Clark Worked", "How Werewolves Work", and most recently, "How Black Friday Works".

I'd like to say I now know all about Black Friday, however, despite playing the episode twice, I'm none the wiser. Father to a six month old, I keep falling asleep. Ah well, perhaps when he leaves for college...

I thought it was PIIGS as Ireland was included?

[Hi Patrick, It's not my title...maybe the photographer wanted to concentrate on the southern nations? Beats me. --Mike]

Martin Parr? Hadn't realised Mr Parr looked in here.

Print sale... maybe?

[Dave, He doesn't, that I know of, but I found out about Carlos Spottorno's work from a list of the best books of 2013, and the list was written by Martin Parr. So I thought I should credit him with the "tip" so to speak. --Mike]

Hi Mike, don't worry about being "a few ticks shy of 57", at 72 it seems like eons ago. Sure the body continues on it downward slide but think of the alternative. The bones, joints and muscles just don't work like they used to, 10 mile hikes become 7, 7 become 4, etc, but again think of the alternative. On the plus side the family we like (and I like mine also) begins to grow, weddings, grand children, grand nephews and nieces, etc. aging is not necessarily bad, but it sure is different.
Ed Shields

The Black Friday tradition in our house has two variations, "Get those &^%$#% Kids out of the house before I go crazy!" or "Those &^%$#% Kids have driven me crazy, I'm out of here!" ;-)


I am one of the Pigs living in Italy. Using Sicily to illustrate Italy leaves me perplexed. We in the north have always considered it a fourth world sort of place, so I think the photographer has taken the easy way out.

The Italy part of the photographs for me would have been more in line with the title if he had come to the North of Italy to photograph the incredible destruction of livelihoods that our German masters and the Euro is causing, to what was not so long ago one of the richest areas of Europe.

[Nigel, Do you think it might be a form of "ruin porn" like we discussed here a while back? Our discussion was around some books of the ruined buildings of Detroit. There are some reports that really there aren't so many ruins in Detroit, just a few very conspicuous ones that photographers like to concentrate on because they look very dramatic. I believe there were two books out about the ruins of Detroit, and some of the motifs were the same between the two books. I seem to recall that both of the books featured the same clock on a wall for instance. --Mike]

I must be missing something, but I don't get at all the photographer's stated intent:

"I have attempted to illustrate the stereotypes brought up by the term PIGS. In other words, what we would see if we were to translate into images the articles we read in the financial press. This is how I imagine economists see us."

To anyone who doesn't have first-hand knowledge of either of these four countries, this collection of photographs will do nothing but confirm those economists' distorted, dismal, and borderline racist views. Maybe it's because I hail from one of those countries, but if the photographer meant to somehow disprove or debunk the PIGS (a despicable choice for an acronym, on the other hand) lie, my feeling is he has failed miserably and his book is nothing but a rather vacuous exercise in style.

Then again, I might be missing something.

It's my long-held belief that the real purpose of turkey and trimmings is to eat stuffing. I put the stuffing in the middle of the plate, pour gravy on it, and I only eat the rest of the things on the plate out of politeness. If I ever have a Thanksgiving meal at the home of someone I don't care about, I'm going to eat only stuffing and gravy, as much as I can, too bad if no one else gets any.


Hmzzz, at least I see great documentary photography, maybe not a highly original take on the world (and I can make those shots in Germany or The Netherlands too, believe me, without much trying), but a good attempt at some reaction. But what most people who see those shots forget, was that it where US banks (one in perticular no need to call names here) that were mostly to blame for all the crap bestowed upon those countries when they started speculating against Greece and Portugal. It were the German banks that funded ill faithed building projects. It economy gone wrong, when the only moral is moral of the market. Even Adam Smith would opose that (vehemently).

And my shopping spree for chrismas is electronics.....but of the basic kind, processors, resistors, capacitators, transistors, motordrivers, steppers, hell life changes when you can design in 3D and have build a 3D printer. Thinking about building my own 4x5 with full movements. Only add a Schneider and of I go.

Greets, Ed.

Nigel, Mike,

Although I don't live there any longer, I'm from the P in PIGS and, as I suspected when I saw the photographs from Portugal, the photographer is deliberately trying to illustrate the stereotypes (perhaps those held by northern european countries that must "rescue" the PIGS). From the photographer's website:

PIGS is a term coined by the business and financial press as a way to refer to Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain during their current financial plight.

What started as a pejorative label used by neoconservatives, mainly from English speaking countries, was eventually taken up for some time without any qualms by the media.

Excessively high levels of public and private debt, government deficits, a property bubble and, generally speaking, very disappointing political and economic policies, have put the PIGS in the crosshairs. It is alleged that the PIGS won’t be able to bear the pressure of sharing a common currency with their stronger European brethren. In this analysis, the forced exit of at least some of the PIGS from the Euro would lead soon to the demise of the European currency.

Yet, how much truth is there to this?

I have attempted to illustrate the stereotypes brought up by the term PIGS. In other words, what we would see if we were to translate into images the articles we read in the financial press. This is how I imagine economists see us.


Edit to my previous comment just having noticed Fer's comment before I posted mine:

I believe when you take the book as a whole (its presentation as an economist magazine, the stated intent, the text, etc) it should be obvious enough that there is an element of satire or caricaturization to how these countries are being presented. Yes, the photographer could've focused on all of the positive and/or modern things about these countries but I am willing to bet there are already thousands of books about great Italian monuments, cities, food, etc., and, yet, people still see things the way they want to see things. So I personally think that illustrating these stereotypes and giving people's worst thoughts about these countries shape and substance is at least a novel approach to dealing with them (though likely as ineffective as any other approach says the realist in me).

Hi Mike,

The Pigs is a very smart book, I think, and the timing, concept and design could not have been better. Well deserved success.

Incidentally, Spottorno not only is a fine photographer, but he knows a lot about photography and writes (very well) about it.

He has a very good blog, followed by many photographers in the Spanish speaking world. It is my go-to blog in Spanish like TOP is my go-to blog in English. Interestingly (and I wonder if related to the international success of The Pigs) the last entries are written in English. In some of them he writes more about the book.




I checked out The Pigs and what Martin Parr said about it. Quite an interesting project, thanks for the tip! I think the author is onto something, there appears to be a number of levels to his work and the pictures really need their captions to tie them into the context. Indeed the pictures are stereotypes and carricatures of some sort, but they also tie the big picture into the lives of individuals and also attempt to ask why things have ended up they way they have.

Fer- Interesting take, and my initial one at that, but I think it's a bit more open ended than that. First off, he's not blaming the average citizen for their country's financial woes, but their financial power elite- and we all know (or should) what an incestuous lot they have been throughout European history. There's no question that Germany et al should have regulated their Euro appropriations a lot more carefully from the get go. And now, as in every century prior, it's the little guy on the bottom that has to pay the price; if anything, I find that the pervading (and most truthful) stereotype.

Of course, there's more than enough blame to go around here, but this essay does show that in those countries most affected, austerity does rule and there's little belt tightening left that can be imposed on these citizens and their economies.

I will for sure be doing a bunch of shopping through your links this month, but not necessarily on Cyber Monday. Self-employed household here, have to wait for the check to come in before I can spend it.

As one of the 'S' in PIGS, I can assure you that the term was already in use in the 90's when I was studying in the UK (there were a lot of PIGS at my university). The economy back then was doing great in Europe, so I don't think the term has any economic connotations, either good or bad. Us PIGS, being stereotypically happy-go-lucky Mediterranean types, found the name amusing and endorsed it enthusiastically.

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