Channelling Arab Image Activism
The project maintains a critical focus on the political economy of the global and digital media environment in which activists now live and have to contend with. As the practices and political imaginaries of Arab image activism become increasingly embedded in a media ecosystem dominated by platform capitalism, this raises increasingly urgent questions about how to verify and trust contentious political imagery, how to protect safety and how to communicate the original intention of such imagery. In consequence, we are now seeing the growth of institutions – among them Witness, Tactical Tech and B’Tselem – working to enhance the security, safety and effectiveness of activists and others using video for change. The aim is often to make rebellious imagery operational for – and marketable within – distinct domains, such as the news industry, the justice system, the film circuit and the art world. A critical aim of the project is to explore different facets of the dynamics between contentious grassroots practices of image-making across the Arab region and the various institutions or platforms that now condition the circulation of their work.
WITNESS makes it possible for anyone, anywhere to use video and technology to protect and defend human rights. The majority of the world’s population now has a camera in their pocket. People everywhere are turning to video to document and tell stories of abuse. But all too often, they are not filming safely or effectively, and their videos don’t make a difference. WITNESS identifies critical situations and teaches those affected by them the basics of video production, safe and ethical filming techniques, and advocacy strategies.
B’Tselem is a non-profit organization whose stated goals are to document and publicize the Israeli violations of Palestinians’ human rights in the Occupied Territories in order to end Israel’s occupation. In 2007, it launched the B’Tselem Camera Project, providing cameras and training to Palestinians living in the West Bank. They document daily life under occupation and human rights abuses and publicize this material, either through B’Tselem or independently.