Time has passed by since the first flickerings of the so-called Arab Spring, during which countries such as Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen united in a spirit of rebellion and revolution that led to the ousting of their dictators. Historic events such as these attract extensive media coverage when in full swing, as is currently the case of Syria, the focus of international news sections. But what happens afterwards, when the conflicts evolve and the transitions slow down or come to a standstill?
Photographer Samuel Aranda (Santa Coloma de Gramenet, Catalonia, 1979), winner of the 2012 World Press Photo for a shot taken in the midst of the Yemeni revolution, has returned to these places to delve deeper into the issue and photograph the most delicate phase of conflict in these countries: political transition, reconciliation and reconstruction. We wish to show the most recent images taken by Aranda in Tunis, Yemen, Libya and Egypt after the uprisings, cognisant of the fact that these are territories with a markedly different history, cultural reality and level of socio-economic development.
We also plan to spark debate and reflection on the issue by way of various activities in which the author of the photographs and the war journalist and Arab revolution expert, Mayte Carrasco, will take part as well as various bloggers and journalists in the Arab world. The aim is to discuss the stumbling blocks the transition has run into, the importance of the Internet and social networks in these processes of change, and the state of freedom and democracy in these countries, in the throes of this crucial historic juncture to improve the future welfare of their citizens.
We want this to be a forum for exchange and experimentation to find common ground between photojournalism and the blogosphere. In Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen, the Internet and social networks have been, and continue to be driving forces for change and an essential tool for organising protests, debating on the state of those ideals for which they fought and condemning injustices that persist. Discuss the importance of the immediacy of messages on the Internet, their depth, their effect; the impact of their mass distribution; the need for a plurality of voices that inform us; the connection between the work of photojournalists and activism on the ground, social change and cyber-dissidence.
Samuel Aranda (Santa Coloma de Gramenet, Catalonia, 1979) garnered the World Press Photo 2012 award for a poignant photograph taken during the uprising in Yemen. He began working for El País and El Periódico de Catalunya and, in 2004, joined Agence France-Presse (AFP), for which he has covered many events in Spain, Pakistan, Gaza, Lebanon, Iraq, Palestinian Territories, Western Sahara and China. Two years later, he won the Spanish National Photography Award from the photojournalist association ANIGP-TV for a feature documentary about African immigrants. In 2006, he returned to freelancing. Since then, his work has included assignments in Uzbekistan, India, Kosovo, South Africa, Colombia, Moldova, Italy and Romania. In 2011, he began ongoing coverage of the Arab revolutions. His work on this issue has been exhibited at the Cervantes Institute in New York and featured among the “2011 Photos of the Year” by The New York Times. He mainly works for The New York Times.
Mayte Carrasco (Terrassa, Catalonia, 1974) is a freelance war reporter and writer. Among other awards, she was named best foreign correspondent in 2011 by the International Press Club and was a finalist in the 2012 Cirilo Rodríguez Award for war correspondents. She has been a correspondent in France and Russia, and, in recent years, covers armed conflicts, working with national and international media such as iTELE-Canal Plus (France), El País, La Nación (Argentina), DPA and Die Welt (Germany), Cadena SER, Foreign Policy (Spanish edition), among others. She covered almost all the Arab revolutions: Syria (two months and a half in Homs and Damascus), Libya (Benghazi and the fall of Tripoli), Egypt (Cairo and Tahrir Square) as well as other conflicts in Afghanistan, Georgia, Sahel (Mali) and North Caucasus (Chechnya and Ingushetia). She published the novel La kamikaze (published by La Esfera de los Libros) and the e-book Estaré en el paraíso (published by Debate), stories of life and death in the Syrian resistance, and has contributed to the book Queremos saber (published by Debate).
Blogging for Revolution is a documentary produced by Nezvanova that follows the activity of secular and Islamist cyberactivists in the course of 2007, in the images captured by Catalan journalist Lali Sandiumenge. Its principal value is as historic evidence of the virtual and on-the-spot struggle for freedom of expression and human rights, and against Mubarak’s regime. It is a testimony to history as it happens and shows the importance of the blogosphere in sparking the revolution of 2011. its slogan then was “Blogging for the revolution”. Excerpts from this documentary in construction can be seen in the exhibition.