Demonstrating with Mandela

Zwewla, April 2, 2015.

Zwewla, January 16, 2013.
Watchword. Such a magnificent - well, word, but magnificent in its meaning of standing guard, and words and images alike are precisely that to Zwewla.

Their use of imagery and slogans may seem almost stripped raw and kept unto their very basic idea. They each embody a shouting out; a physical presence of having broken the silence and that it is now the time to take up their invitation and speak too.

Zwewla, January 19, 2013.
Zwewla has all along been true to their first objective to give poverty a voice. Given all that has taken place since we first heard from them at the onset of the Arab Spring, where they themselves were taken to court for addressing what should not be talked of, i.e. "spreading lies" and a constant menace of possible legal intervention since, add to that the fact that the Tunisian constitution eventually became a reality - all of which into one sentence alone is too much - it is all the more laudable how they have kept to said objective, pointing to the fact that the reality of poverty is as pressing a fact now as before.

Zwewla, March 31, 2015.

Since it is all too long since we last took a look at what Zwewla is up to, combined with the fact that they have been utterly busy, let us take a look across in time to imagery being reused for the Forum Mondial Social in March. Mandela was there, and Chaplin, Mohamed Bouazizi and Farhat Hached, all of them even larger in size that we have seen them before.

Zwewla, March 31, 2015.
Zwewla, March 31, 2015.
- Note the victorious arm for size.

In fact the persons chosen are still the very same ones, but their imagery has undergone quite a few significant changes. The photo used of Farhat Hached for instance has been substituted for another than the one first used. The trade unionist Farhat Hached took part in the national liberation and became a symbol of resistance and freedom after his murder in 1952.

The stencils above provide him with a direct, almost smiling presence, whereas he is looking away now as if to a higher cause. In the original photo he is actually looking in our direction, but the amount of darkness into which his eyes has been set provides him with a concentration as if looking away from us towards a greater future.

Zwewla, April 2, 2015.

His is the portrayal of a dynast, as are the portraits of Mohamed Bouazizi, who ignited the call for change in a cry against the immobilization of poverty and Chaplin's tramp, the fictional character giving poverty a face.

Zwewla, April 2, 2015.

Each is drawn as a monument where the areas left in white seems as if highlighted by the spotlights of public attention. They are taking on the role as monuments in public space creating a narrative of the whom of action through recent history. The poor do have a voice and a face, and their story is being told. In fact the story is literally being configured before our very eyes and the characters in it given the identity of the protagonists of the action.

The language of power through monuments; that most solid agent of public narrative, revealed for its inherent dynamics as it molds the contours of the action itself. And as that is a recurring theme on this blog, the photos shown here aim at recreating a little of the energy of Zwewla.

As Oussama Bouagila keeps stressing, there is need for action, not theory. These very characters keep reappearing in public space, and the ray of sunlight is quite fitting for that most empowering thought of them all:

Zwewla, March 31, 2015.

Imagine having demonstrated alongside Mandela.

Zwewla, March 31, 2015.

The photos shown are courtesy of Zwewla.

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