This is what democracy looks like
A photographic protest in two symbolic acts
On 26 March 2011, thousands of people will take to the streets of London to demonstrate against the government’s cuts to public spending. These cuts will wreck the lives of millions, devastating our jobs, pay, pensions, NHS, education, transport, postal and other services. The government claims the cuts are unavoidable because the welfare state has been too generous. The protestors say this is nonsense. Ordinary people are being forced to pay for the selfish and reckless behaviour of bankers.
A Photographic Protest
Owing to the cheapness and pervasiveness of digital photography, these protests have the potential to be among the most photographed in history. Existing as data on computers and phones, the pictures can be straightforwardly distributed and shared. We aim to put these photographs to use, as a means of furthering the campaign against the cuts.
How can we realise the political potential of these images?
Act 1: Mass Email of Photographs
– Photograph the protest. Show you were there. Document what you saw.
– On 1 April follow this link: http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/#O, where you will find a list of MPs.
– Click on their names to find their contact details. Email your photographs to as many coalition MPs as you can.
Through this act, we aim to confront the politicians responsible for the cuts with an image of the growing number that oppose them. We will do this not through the biased depiction of violence within the mainstream media, but through the lenses of the citizens whom politicians are appointed to serve.
The photographs will form a critical mass, infiltrating the walls of parliament to stage a virtual occupation.
It is our aim to create a democratic archive, existing in the minds of citizens and in the inboxes of coalition MPs.
Act 2: Mass Freedom of Information Request
The protest in March will also be photographed by the state. The pictures taken by police intelligence officers will play a part in the wider efforts at surveillance and control by a police force that has, in recent months, resorted to increasingly violent tactics in dealing with citizens exercising their democratic right to protest.
As UK citizens, it is our legal right to request access to this information. We ask you to:
– Complete the online Freedom of Information Act Request Form on the Metropolitan Police website to ask for access to the photographs of the protest: http://www.met.police.uk/information/metric/index.htm
By acting en masse to request and share the photographs, we aim to demonstrate whom the police are appointed to serve and from where power emanates in a democratic society.
We aim to utilise the democratic machinery of the state to create an archive of photographs belonging to us, the UK citizenry.
Two Symbolic Acts
We are proposing a symbolic exchange between citizens and the state. We aim to subvert the dynamic of power and control by using existing democratic apparatus. This is what democracy looks like.