Saturday, September 18, 2010

Media Release: Five Years of Visual Activism

Five Years of Raising Her Voice
Independent Photographer/Filmmaker Celebrates Five Years of Documenting Edmonton’s Activist Scene

In the summer of 2005, Paula E. Kirman was scouring the Internet, looking for a place to connect with Edmonton’s activist community with the goal of putting her lifelong interest in issues concerning peace and human rights into practical action. “I knew there was a scene going on, but it was difficult to find where they were or information about what they were doing,” she explains.

Kirman was able to connect with a few groups and started to showing up that fall to rallies, marches, speakers, and other events, with her camera. She began posting her pictures and videos online, just as a matter of personal interest to share with other activists. The demand for her work by the community was so strong that she began, an internet portal to her work that features thousands of photos and videos from almost every major activist event and group in the city.

“I started posting my photos online on a free service. After my first peace march, the download rate was so high it crashed the site,” Kirman says. “I purchased a domain and hosting package, and put together a quick and dirty website, just to get my work out there.” celebrates five years this month, and has expanded to include the use of social media. Most of the photos are now hosted on associated sites on Flickr and the videos on YouTube. The YouTube videos have received almost 700,000 views and feature not only clips of rallies and marches, but entire speaker presentations. The Flickr site has grown into a photo blog not only of Edmonton’s activist scene, but the almost 12,000 photos are also of festivals, events, and general photos from Kirman’s artistic perspective.

Kirman is an avid organizer in the activist community in the areas of peace, community media, poverty/housing, and labour issues. She maintains the Twitter account @yegactivist to send out announcements of local activist events and links to her work, as well as doing the same with her own account @livingsanctuary and active Facebook presence. In the last couple of years, she has also emerged as a political singer/songwriter, often performing her original songs at protests and rallies. She continues to work at her activist photography and film making completely independently, putting in “an uncountable number of hours” without any funding or monetary support.

“What is happening in the activist community is part of our history as a city,” says Kirman, who works as a freelance writer, editor, and photographer. “No one has been documenting it, until now. Whether they agree or disagree, people are fascinated by it and it prompts a lot of discussions of the various issues at hand. It helps activists in Edmonton share what we are doing with the rest of the activist world, and gives those from outside our community a real education into what some of the issues are and what our events are all about.”

For more information/interview requests:
Paula E. Kirman
paula at
(780) 905-6094

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