Collecting the egyptian revolution

Seven years after the beginning of the “egyptian revolution” of January 25, 2011, and against the silence, the Mosireen Collective inaugurates an online video archive of events …

After years of work and the effort of hundreds of people, we are finally able to present the 858 Archive.

858 is an initiative to make public all the footage shot and collected since 2011. Some of the footage has been seen before, in videos we edited and uploaded to YouTube. But much of it is being made publicly accessible for the first time — this is the raw, unedited footage shot and gathered over the years.

On launching, the archive has 858 hours of indexed, time-stamped video material along with thousands more photographs and documents. All together they present thousands of histories of revolt told from hundreds of perspectives.

While the regime is using every resource to clamp down on public space and public memory the time has come to excavate and remember and re-present our histories. The uprisings that began in 2011 changed the world forever and their visual memory can serve purposes as yet unknown within struggles both local and international.

There are 858 hours of video on launch. This number will only increase as we connect with more filmmakers and archives and documentarians. In particular it is critical to expand the depth of material from outside of Cairo.

858 is, of course, just one archive of the revolution. It is not, and can never be, the archive. It is one collection of memories, one set of tools we can all use to fight the narratives of the counter-revolution, to pry loose the state’s grip on history, to keep building new histories for the future.

In the words of one member of the collective:

An archive is never finished, certainly not impartial and never perfect, full of flaws of both the collectors and the makers. We acknowledge that images in and of themselves are problematic, who owns them, who gets to see them, which are shown to which public, when and in what context, when they are hidden or when they stop getting shown.

This archive is not ours, firstly, the events depicted are not our events, wewere just specks of dust in the midst of it. In regards the images, yes “we” filmed much of the footage and made the decisions of what goes in it and what doesn’t, we wrote the letter of welcome and we took the decision to put this online now. But also a lot of the footage was shot by others and are prepared to add more. We have asked for input from our communities and responded to and integrated feedback and will continue to do that. But again, no archive is perfect.

858.ma is just one attempt amongst many to try and engage with the events that took place especially from January 2011 till the end of 2013 — that is the majority of the footage currently in the archive — but we don’t want 858 to be limited to that timeframe because the injustice preceded those dates and continues today and yes, even if small the battle goes on too, and certainly will explode again in the future.

We should remember and we should mourn, but we did not simply create an archive of nostalgia, of reminiscing, or of mourning, it is also an archive of anger, of desire for justice, an archive that might play a part to keep us keeping on. An archive is only an archive. Let us not over-celebrate this or glorify the images or lose friendships over it. We believe the 858 archive helps engage in an important battle over the ongoing narrative of an event that brought with it great hope while costing many dearly. But an archive is only an archive, without bodies on the street, nothing happens.

For now, if you like, spend some time watching and listening and send us feedback. In the coming period we will release some added features many of which will require your participation. So please keep visiting 858.ma and follow us.

(Roarmag 25/01/2018)

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