On February 21st, the Newspace Center for Photography, in collaboration with BARK, hosted a community discussion on the pointed usage of images in environmental activist campaigns. A range of questions included: Do images have the transformative abilities that photojournalists have long claimed? How do organizations and community groups utilize images to forward social change? How are they manipulated or staged to align with a campaign agenda? When does the image cross over to the realm of propaganda, and what are the implications to activists?
How do these debates play out through the lens of environmental activism? Four panelists presented video/images and perspectives on this question, including filmmaker/videographer Trip Jennings of Balance Media; Julia DeGraw from Food and Water Watch; Amy Harwood from BARK; and 350PDX’s Arts Team coordinator Barbara Ford. The activist photography of Rick Rappaport was featured in Barbara’s presentation.
This led to a lively discussion of current initiatives and actions around Oregon and how images are (and can be) utilized and manipulated to forward work of this nature. It was a lively discussion, exploring imagery as a vehicle of witness, inspiration, solidarity, and truth-telling.