Denise, our Peruvian colleague, has sent us this piece of information on a project which could be considered as a sort of “photo voice”. The organization, in charge of this project, provides equipment, initial training and follow up workshops and presentations to the marginalized communities in Peru. As the you tube video demonstrates, the participants document their perspective of community, environment, life standard, etc through the cameras provided. Thus, the subaltern part of society is offered a way to represent and communicate their ignored life. The visual outcome claim to be reflecting the immediate experience of the participants.
Seeing the video and photos, a crucial question arises: can the subaltern speak? or in other words: do the photos reflect an immediate experience of the participants or is it already coded within our aestheticism and symbolism (as the participants have gone through workshops)? Are the participants attempted to put their experience in the already existing system of concepts and sign provided by training?
Nonetheless, this project depicts an unseen aspect of economically oppressed communities. And its presentation is privileged through the fact that it is constructed not by a passive observer ( a stranger photographer) but by actively engaged members of the community. It signifies a desire to change and an act towards a change.
INICIATIVA SOCIAL BLANCO Y NEGRO
The vision of the social actors
The organization “Iniciativa Social Blanco y Negro” generates visual information based on the viewpoint of the social actors themselves. To that end, the organization provides cameras and training. The objective is to produce and spread images that reflect the reality and the vision of people who live in a context in poverty, discrimination and/or exclusion. The images incite a process of reflection and promote change among the communities and social actors who participate in our projects.
To achieve our objective, we develop training workshops in photography. Examples are our workshops with an Awajún community in the Amazon region, to contribute to the preservation of their culture; with health promoters, to create images that are to be used in their educational and health management tasks; or with teachers, inhabitants and park keepers in the high jungle of Peru, to promote photography as a tool for education and surveillance of the environment. We have also worked with adolescents, to continue the graphic history of their community and to value the contribution of its founders; with elderly people, to promote their memory, concentration and coordination capacities; and with children, to promote their concentration and verbalization capacities and to produce graphic material for learning in the class room.
One of the most important results of the workshops consists of the collections of digital images produced entirely by the participants. They are a real visual -social and institutional- memory. In that way, we intend to contribute to the processes of affirmation and recognition of the institutions and individuals who participate as representatives of their community and as co-managers of the photographic projects.
We give sustainability to our projects as we donate the cameras to the local institutions or individual participants. In addition, we provide follow-up and support to the photographic production after the workshop, which progressively enriches the collections of images.
Our initiative has led to the production of numerous photographs and to interesting individual as well as social processes of identification, reflection and discussion on the registered topics. This happens not only among the participants but also among those who organize and visit the public expositions that are organized after each workshop.
These experiences affirm and value photography as an important social document. As the possibilities and problems of a community are visualized, processes of reflection and education are supported and valuable information promoting participation, management and surveillance is created.
We believe that these images taken by the social actors themselves on inequalities and gaps as well as on the great possibilities of our society will make the people who see them reflect on pending issues and problems in Peru. In addition, they should stimulate the engagement by institutions and authorities to resolve the serious and enormous challenges posed to our development.
Unfortunately, it is not possible to upload the video so please visit the link: