The video camera as another
By Grupo Alavío
Through the recording
and elaboration of audiovisual materials we are battling directly against
the imagery of fascism. The camera is a tool, another arm, like a stick, molotov,
miguelito or covering our faces, Grupo Alavío (direct action
and video collective in Argentina).
Making technologies and skills accessible and available to exploited sectors
by democratizing audiovisual production and language is a priority of Grupo
Alavíos work. For over 10 years, Alavío has been participating
in working class struggles, supporting with audiovisual materials. As activists
struggling for social revolution, the debate of whether the reach of the camera
is enough is an inevitable discussion. We are working to construct an
identity and thinking that reflects the working class and exploited
sectors specific interests and necessities. The camera is a tool, another
The adaptation and appropriation of technologies-originally targeted to improve
capitalist production has been one of the most important tools for activists
to develop new communication practices in the past decades.
The participants in Grupo Alavío are not media activists. We don't
think that life passes through a camera lens or on a video screen. We see
the camera as another political tool and we are conscious that at any moment
it may be necessary to put down the camera and adopt other roles along side
those struggling. Activism can not be pushed into the singular role of filming
with a camera or transmitting a TV signal, it is part of a demand for the
right to organize: political formation of activists struggling, the right
to self-defense against violence on part of the state and the creation of
our own media.
In our experience materials have been used as a quick response as counterinform
against the mass media, as proof against state repression, as an intervention
in internal debates of organizations, preparing activists in direct actions,
evaluating actions, and as tools for popular education, etc. Only afterwards
were they presented as documentary films.
Fundamental to Alavíos work is the groups integration into
organizations struggling. This allows the group to establish collective spaces
for audiovisual narration and on the other side actively participating with
activists in social movements, assuming that activism goes far beyond producing
One of Alavíos most recent actions was participation in a week
long camp in front of national congress in Buenos Aires from November 19 to
November 27. In a state of alert as the courts launched an eviction order,
the workers of the occupied ceramics factory, Zanon, mobilized activities
which included presentations by the workers, art work, video projections and
music concerts. The video screenings were used to create a nexus between the
different social movements struggling to defend Zanon. Workers from Chilavert
printing factory came to a video screening and presented the documentary Chilavert
recupera (Chilavert recuperated) by Grupo Alavío. The workers of Zanon
expressed before the screening the impact that the presence of the workers
from Chilavert had at the camp. The workers of Chilavert said that they were
proud to have their film shown at an event in defense of Zanon.
A few days later Grupo Alavío screened a short documentary about Bauen
Hotel, a hotel occupied and managed by workers. Three woman who work at Bauen
came to present the video. Cepillo, a worker in charge of security at Zanon
thanked the workers at Bauen for their solidarity. During the workers
stay in Buenos Aires, Hotel Bauen (a hotel self-managed/organized by its workers
since 2002) has been hosting them. We thank the compañeras of
Bauen for their solidarity, for opening up their hotel rooms and feeding which
has made our stay here during our struggle much more comfortable, said
Cepillo. Both of the documentaries intend to act as a nexus to help movements
realize their bonds and unite.
Grupo Alavío has been producing short news pieces for airing on television.
The most recent piece is the documentary, Mujer (Woman) as part of the campaign
for the release of two political prisoners, Marcela and Carmen. They were
arrested during a protest in front of the city hall in Buenos Aires, where
demonstrators attacked the building during protest in July against a misdemeanors
code to make prostitution illegal in certain zones, lower the minimum age
to process minors to 14 and to criminalize street protest. The women arrested
form part of the Association of Women Prostituting. They were captured by
police while leaving the protest - military style - and have been in jail
for over four months. The news piece tells of their lives in prostitution
and how the state profits from prostitution. The video was shown to over 100
people at an event at the Zanon camp for the day against violence against
women and is used in the campaign for the release of political prisoners.
As a video collective we become available to the demands of organizations
and often times our videos take on a life of their own. Alavío uses
the camera as a political organ and as a tool to reflect the subjectivity
of the working class, which the protagonists in the films appropriate and
use to organize. Grupo Alavío holds internal and external video workshops.
Alavío is building video libraries in the subway lines with transport
workers organizing a wildcat union, land squats on the outskirts of Buenos
Aires and in recuperated factories.