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Viral Images Ignite Calls for Social Change, Aperture

On the Internet, there’s power in numbers. Viral images, videos, and even live feeds posted by ordinary people can upend mainstream media and drive political dialogue. But, the impact of citizen journalists isn’t a phenomenon unique to our hyperconnected era. When photojournalist and Bronx Documentary Center (BDC) cofounder Michael Kamber first conceived of the exhibition New Documents, he began with what he describes as the “disintegration of the traditional media and professional journalism [into] citizen journalism,” propagated on social media. “Increasingly,” Kamber explained to me recently, “ordinary citizens who happen to be on the scene with cell phones are not just influencing, but really controlling our national conversations and agendas.” Kamber worked with Danielle Jackson, former cultural director of Magnum Photos, to compile a selection of photographs and videos made between 1904 and the present. The images and their associated texts in New Documents, on view through September 18, demonstrate the indispensable role citizen journalists have played in the documentation of violence and social injustice, and, perhaps most importantly, the widespread circulation of evidence.

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Amelia Rina