Perhaps never in history has one building been flipped off so many times. On the nights following the shock election results of November 8 in the US, groups of protesters, bystanders, tourists, cops and photographers poured on to the streets of New York City, particularly the pavement outside Trump Tower.
Sam Rock and Alex Austin were there, taking pictures and putting together ‘Demonstrate’, a collaborative zine showing different points of view of those turbulent nights – their own and of other contributors to the Gasoline photographic collective.
Limited to 50 copies, the handmade zine is being sold through their site and proceeds are going to Make The Road, a New York charity helping immigrant families who are facing injustice.
GOOD TROUBLE: How did this project come together so quickly in the aftermath of the US election?
SAM: We’ve been producing work collaboratively for a while now, bringing our images together covering the same subjects, and this opportunity was natural to bring the work together of the multiple photographers who were in attendance at the marches in New York.
What are your personal memories of those protests, and how do you think that comes across in the zine?
ALEX: What motivated me to march and document the protests stems from the idea that to stand by idly is to stand in support of those who wish to oppress us. We have to engage in order to have any effect. When I was on the streets, I looked for moments and people that struck me as I observed them in the power of their personal expression. In this way, the zine as a whole promotes this idea of action, or in a word, ‘demonstration’. To be active, to stand up for the change you want to see in the world, rather than stay being a social media activist behind your computer and doing nothing.
SAM: Some photographers focus on the empathy, some on the aggression, and some on the absurdities, which I feel are all very important. My personal experience was centred around the police and how they dealt with the situation. To be honest, I don’t think they were unfair… They didn’t use force until they had given a lot of warnings. That being said, it felt very Judge Dredd.
Why do you think it is important to put this together as a collaborative point of view?
SAM: We believe in providing images that come from as many different opinions and styles as possible to create a story that is less biased to a single viewpoint.
ALEX: We essentially lived through a reality TV show, watched each contestant fight against each other and voted for a winner. And the person who won was the person who stirred the most attention, and it didn’t matter whether it was good or bad attention, because attention is the key. The truth no longer matters. The ramifications of this are not only undoubtedly scary but completely unknown.
Why did you choose Make The Road NY as the beneficiary?
ALEX: There is a lot of press and support for charities such as Planned Parenthood. Choosing Make The Road was our way of recognizing a charity smaller in size, but not in relevance. If we are to be this collaborative, inclusive voice, it is our duty to use our platform to touch diverse groups.
SAM: Make the Road specifically helps families and individuals having problems with immigration, and who are feeling the effects of losing family members and support through deportation and legal issues. We felt this was important to help support this cause, as it’s an area that most definitely will be dealt with swiftly by the new administration.
What role do you think art, culture and creativity will have to play in the coming months and years?
SAM: There’s a huge battle going on between people and power, worldwide, but artistically and creatively I think we all need to make ourselves heard in avenues that we are not all being funneled into. That’s where the true creativity will come from. Not algorithms deciding on whose voice is more important.
ALEX: Throughout history, creativity, art and culture has always been the birthing agent of revolution that has provoked people, whether in a comfortable or uncomfortable way to enquire about various political and social and economical matters. Art can be forensic, and in years to come it will be an important way for people to reflect and dissect the effects the current situation has had on the future. These vehicles will bring people together, to create understanding, express anger, frustration, promote love and tolerance.
Demonstrate 1 is available from Gasoline.Pictures
Join a march on January 21 www.womensmarch.com
Find out more about and support Make The Road NY
Why not make your own zine? Get a few tips on how to go about it here
Writer and editor based in New York.