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In London knife crime has risen each year since the pandemic, with 13,503 incidents incidents recorded in the capital between July 2022 and June 2023, a 21% increase on the previous 12-month period. (source: BBC News)

I don’t fold under pressure

How does one tell a story about South London?

Photographer Erik van Cuyk ventured into South London neighborhoods like Peckham, Brixton, and Croydon between 2021 and 2023. He selected locations that had become notorious for gang violence and stabbings. Van Cuyk became intrigued by the stark statistics in the news reports, which sometimes featured perpetrators or victims as young as 13. These narratives resembled unreal Armageddon-like tales, yet beneath the surface lay a complexity worth exploring. Van Cuyk sought context within the street scene, among other things. This, combined with vulnerable yet powerful portraits of young individuals striving to carve out lives as drill rappers, offers a unique perspective on urban issues.

The photobook  I Don't Fold Under Pressure was released Feb '24. Order your copy at local bookstore/online via


Author(s):Erik van Cuyk in collaboration with Ellen Sanders (edit) + Merel Bem (text)

Appeared on: February 6th. 2024

Language:English & Dutch


Size:170 x 230 mm



Photography:Erik van Cuyk



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