During the #Jan25 revolution—the hashtag used by online activists during the 2011 Egyptian uprising—the world watched as Egyptians toppled their president, Hosni Mubarak, transforming Tahrir Square into a vibrant place for demonstrations of social solidarity and political struggle.
Just as the YouTube video “Tiananmen-Cairo Courage in Cairo” went viral, a friend posted on Facebook a speech Jean Paul Sartre had delivered to an audience of striking French autoworkers 40 years earlier. As the political tension grew, more and more images and videos of a packed Tahrir Square were uploaded to YouTube and other websites. They echoed footage from other uprisings across the Middle East and North Africa, as well as the sights and sounds of a vast array of past social movements. It was as though Sartre were protesting with everyone in Tahrir. As of today, the Egyptian revolution and its aftermath remain the most digitally documented and disseminated event in modern history.
Vox Populi, Archiving a Revolution in the Digital Age, is a project based on an archive of articles, images, and YouTube videos MIT OpenDocLab Fellow Lara Baladi has gathered on and since the beginning of #Jan25. It will come into being at the place where creative technologies, the challenges of archiving history at the height of the digital age, contemporary art, and innovative forms of documentary meet. This “monumental” trans-media documentary will challenge structures of archiving and interpreting History using Tahrir Square as a case study. While the project will be a tribute to an unprecedented moment in Egyptian history, its architectural frame will be adaptable to archives related to other Arab uprisings, occupy movements, and/or contemporary historical events.
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GENERAL INFORMATION ON LARA BALADI’S WORK