In Depth

Image-Making as a Form of Resistance

WITH CLEMENT SACCOMANI OF NOOR AGENCY

#RESIST by NOOR

 

“Our images have been our form of resistance. We create them with a shared respect for the courage and humanity of those fighting to live free and fair lives everywhere”.

 

Banner image: SOS South Side, USA, 2012 © Jon Lowenstein / NOOR. “While this picture is subdued – the subjects of the photograph were anything but subdued. Each man represented a passion for humanity that was unbridled and displayed through their ultimate sacrifice that heart, ideals and a willingness to put your life on the line for a cause is what a human life is to be measured by” – Jon Lowenstein

Since NOOR Photo Agency was founded in 2007, it has been dedicated to covering the struggles for human rights and social justice that exist around the world. From wars in Pakistan, Iraq and Syria, to racial discrimination in the USA, via global warming and rising sea levels, modern day slavery and diamond mining, the fourteen NOOR photographers have unrelentingly shone a light on the world’s inequalities and prejudices, seizing the power of photography for social awareness and change. The word ‘NOOR is in fact Arabic for light – a reference to both the process of image-making, and ideas of education, understanding and hope.

To celebrate their tenth anniversary and to reaffirm their principles of amplifying crucial issues, they are sharing #RESIST – a curated group print sale, featuring thirteen images that represent resistance; each a reminder of that fact that resistance can take many forms, and an affirmation of the power of standing up against authoritarianism, racism and oppression.

To support NOOR’s efforts, we share a Q&A with the Managing Director Clement Saccomani, and a few of the stories behind the #RESIST images. Prints are priced at a very reasonable €100, and the sale ends on 16 February, so get in there quick!

Discover and buy the #RESIST prints

Life-Framer-Nina-Berman

F*ck the KKK, USA, 1990 © Nina Berman / NOOR

“When the Ku Klux Klan, a white supremacist terrorist organization, decided to march around a baseball field in a small town in southern New Jersey, a crowd of protestors showed up to resist. As the KKK donned their white robes and waved their confederate flags, the protesting crowd, led by many black high school students, pushed the Klan behind the ball field fence and into the wooden bleachers. The Klan grew frightened and weak as the protesters outnumbered them. Chanting with righteous anger and moral authority, these teenagers drove the racist hate mongers off the field and out of town. It was my privilege to witness this beautiful moment of resistance when young people stood up for their ancestors and their own dignity.” – Nina Berman

Clement, tell us a little about how NOOR began…

NOOR started 10 years ago in September 2007 in Perpignan during Visa pour l’Image Festival. Samantha Appleton, Jodi Bieber, Philip Blenkinsop, Pep Bonet, Jan Grarup, Stanley Greene, Yuri Kozyrev, Kadir van Lohuizen, Francesco Zizola and Claudia Hinterseer agreed that together they were able to “make changes” through photography, making stories that would impact humanity. They decided to unite their individual visions and reflections and they founded their own agency to have full control of their professional lives and to be able to carry on pursuing their projects, and to strengthen their ability to work independently. NOOR is a family, a family of light, a place where they can safely pool their resources. Today, 10 years after, we still strongly believe that some things simply need to be seen.

What does your role as Managing Director at NOOR entail?

My role is to make it happen. NOOR Individuals are visual story-tellers, photographers, film-makers, writers, artists using photographs, videos, drone footage, 360 cameras, sounds and writing to see, to document, to investigate, and to witness our world. My mission is to make sure that NOOR helps, hosts and supports each author’s needs, wishes and aims in order for them to produce, to work, and to express their creativity. I am a lucky man.

Life-Framer-Pep-Bonet

Kalone, Sierra Leone, 2003 © Pep Bonet / NOOR

“Kalone is a football player from the National amputee football Team in Sierra Leone. He is stretching while training on the beach. The football team is entirely made up of players with one leg and goal keepers with one arm. Amputated by machetes of the Revolutionary United Front, they are residents of the Murray Town amputees’ camp, which is home to victims of rebel atrocities committed during the civil war. Resist. Supposed to be outcasted by society and left aside, they resist to their destiny and to the aftermath of a 10-year war. Resistance is what made them stronger human beings. Resist. For some people there is no other choice than to resist.” – Pep Bonet

Life-Framer-Tanya-Habjouqa

Javelin team practices along side the Separation Wall, Occupied Palestinian Territories, 2013 © Tanya Habjouqa / NOOR

“The West Bank institution often finds itself a focal point of violent clashes between Palestinian students and Israeli soldiers, with Israeli forces regularly storming university campuses across the occupied Palestinian territory. Students say a good day is not breathing tear gas, and experience incursions at minimum every few months. The ability to find pleasure can be a form of resistance … the human spirit cannot just live on misery and drama. These “amazon warriors” stopped me in my tracks watching their grace and fierceness as they practiced along the wall. There is a tension and even aggression on the edge of daily life for the students. And it is beautiful to see them rise above it.” – Tanya Habjouqa

How do you work with the 14 NOOR photographers? How does being part of an agency benefit them?

This is a good question. Well, basically, there is one rule and 14 exceptions and that’s the challenge of working with such amazing individuals. Each of the NOOR photographers has a clear vision of what and how she or he wants and what she or he needs. Being part of NOOR helps them to focus on their stories and commitments, and we as staff take care of the rest, making sure their only priority is to be able to work and inform us on what’s going on in the best possible conditions.

Photography is generally a solitary pursuit and so I love that NOOR supports group projects as well as individual ones. Can you tell us about one or two of those, and how does a group project work in practice?

I think Consequences and Solutions, two group projects on Climate Change from a few years ago were amazing projects. I remember