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Six Moments from a Revolution

Martyrs of the Egyptian Revolution: December 2011

010 / 4 July 2017


Martyrs of the Egyptian Revolution, December 2011


10 mins 54 secs


I don't know if I would actually watch this video now, the violence is almost unbearable. But it is useful to consider within the history of the Arab revolutions and the images they produced.


At the time, December 2011, the argument we were making to the public in Egypt was simple: the revolution was ongoing and the state, particularly the Army, was using incredible amounts of violence to suppress it.


The violence of the suppression was, in fact, proof of the strength and legitimacy of the revolution.


A lot of our videos were made by one or two people, many are simply raw footage uploaded urgently. But nearly everyone worked on this one. I remember very late nights of difficult research into the names of the dead to make the terrible roll-call of the fallen at the end of the video.


It was around this time that we realized we were becoming trapped in a cycle of violence and images of violence. In March people were shocked by a video of whipmarks on a protestor's back. But in October tanks ran over protestors. By November we filmed the body of a young man killed in a protest being dragged by a policeman into a pile of garbage. Within a few months those whipmarks looked almost merciful.


What does such exposure to violence do to us all, in the end?


We believed that exposing the violence of the state revealed its true nature, and that the knowledge could only propel the revolution forward.


But what if it did the opposite? What if it enforced the doctrine that the state can be the only arbiter of violence, that the state is violence - and the citizen's role is to stay out of its way?


Perhaps both are true. Perhaps both are always true.

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