In the era of fake news and rising authoritarianism, leading photojournalists present their images of resistance in defence of those documenting the world.
In the era of fake news and rising authoritarianism, leading photojournalists present their images of resistance in defence of those documenting the facts.
If it wasn’t all so painfully real, you’d think the world right now was just a backdrop for a particularly twisted episode of Black Mirror. In the midst of it all, Trump is busy branding any inconvenient fact as “fake news” (in caps, usually), lies he tells are dubbed “alternative facts” by his team, and actual fake news on all ends of the political spectrum pollute Twitter feeds and Facebook timelines with impunity.
In a bid to support efforts to document the world truthfully, a group of leading photojournalists has put together an anthology of images representing resistance around the world. NOOR, an Amsterdam-based collective of photojournalists and documentary storytellers, has asked 13 of its members to select an image of their own that best acts as a reminder that “resistance takes many forms, each essential and life-affirming.”
The initiative is part of a series of projects celebrating the platform’s 10th anniversary, and includes a print sale, the proceeds of which will partly be donated to the U.S. human rights organisation Center for Constitutional Rights.
The photographs range from Afghan women defying traditional gender roles through their practice of boxing, to descendants of slaves in Brazil empowering themselves through dance, via Bangladeshi resisting the effects of rising sea levels of climate change on their doorstep.
Together, they act as a statement that reminds us all of the importance of journalism, especially while “the turn toward authoritarianism in the United States and in Europe poses a threat to human rights everywhere, and journalists in particular,” say NOOR in a collective statement.
American documentary photographer Nina Berman’s photograph depicts a scene in which young protesters – many of them black high school students – faced down the Ku Klux Klan in New Jersey in 1990. “As the KKK donned their white robes and waved their confederate flags, the protesting crowd pushed the Klan behind the ball field fence and into the wooden bleachers,” explains Berman. “The Klan grew frightened and weak as the protesters outnumbered them. […] It was my privilege to witness this beautiful moment of resistance when young people stood up for their ancestors and their own dignity.”
“For some people there is no other choice than to resist,” says Majorcan filmmaker and photographer Pep Bonet, whose image shows a football player from the National amputee football Team in Sierra Leone stretching on a beach. “The football team is entirely made up of players with one leg and goalkeepers with one arm.”
“Amputated by machetes of the Revolutionary United Front, they are residents of the Murray Town amputees’ camp, which is home to victims of rebel atrocities committed during the civil war. Supposed to be outcasted by society and left aside, they resist to their destiny and to the aftermath of a 10-year war. Resistance is what made them stronger human beings.”
Sometimes resistance can take a much more subtle tone: the act of living joyfully, or even just living, can be a statement of defiance in itself, especially if your very personhood or humanity are under question.
In Jordanian documentary photographer Tanya Habjouqa’s photograph, a javelin team practices alongside the Separation Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. “The ability to find pleasure highlights humanity, and can be a form of resistance. The human spirit cannot just live on misery and drama.”
“These ‘amazon warriors’ stopped me in my tracks watching their grace and fierceness as they practiced along the wall, which is the primary view from their campus. There is a tension and even aggression on the edge of daily life for the students. And it is beautiful to see them rise above it,” says Habjouqa.
Lead image by Nina Berman.
Find out more about NOOR’s #RESIST collection.