279.3 Visual activism in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories: New media technologies enable witnesses and visual citizenship

Thursday, August 2, 2012: 11:09 AM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Gary BRATCHFORD , Faculty Art & Design - MIRIAD, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, United Kingdom
This paper will examine how Visual Activism impacts upon the visibility of the Israeli occupation locally and internationally. I will examine the relationship between Visual Activism and new media technologies in Israel and the Occupied Territories (Gaza and the West Bank), investigating how Palestinian, Israeli and international visual practitioners have engaged in anti-occupation political protest and collective action since the second Palestinian Intifada (2000-present), and specifically from 2004 onwards.

My intention is to frame Visual Activism as a tool which draws the addressee into a new critical paradigm of spectatorship; a perspective that contributes to, and enables the development of new political subjectivities. My contention is to examine what it means to be a visual citizen or an enabled witness through the use of interactive media technologies and networks related to activist activities in Israeli and Palestine.

The thrust of my research will focus upon the work of multinational visual activist collectives (Active Stills), individual Israeli practitioner David Reeb, the social-media resistance group for the protection of Bilin, Palestine (Bilib-village.org) who produce a sustained attention to the occupation, enabling a different type of visibility. Significantly, recent scholarly work by visual theorist David Campbell (2009) writing after the Operation Cat Lead, 2008, brought to question the need for what he called a  ‘continuous narrative’ within the Occupied Territories. Campbell called into question the role of military censorship and visual reportage during the conflict as conflated and misrepresentative, suggesting the conflict exacerbated the normal conditions of occupational practices as temporal and exceptional. This paper will highlight the significance of Visual Activism as a tool which enables activists and visual practitioners to sustain a political visibility across a number of mediums and technologies, addressing the issues raised by David Campbell.