The #Dysturb Project: Disturbing A Street Near You

By Ruby Cairns

Today’s fast-paced society has us all trapped tightly by the claws of consumerism and obsessed with ideas of excessive objects and wealth. Yet in such a rapid changing world such as our own, reminders of issues which are often undervalued and overlooked, are hard to find.

This profound feeling prompted French photojournalists, Pierre Terdjman and Benjamin Girette to found the #Dysturb project. Pulling people away from their own little worlds and forcing them to pay attention to urgent world events, via the streets of their very own towns.

In short, #Dysturb is a diverse network of photojournalists and volunteers who provide news on international events and issues to everyday citizens all over the world. However, this news isn’t distributed by conventional means of a website, or newspaper. Rather, the #Dysturb team pastes large paper posters on walls and in spare spaces around cities. Each poster, showing a controversial image relating to a relevant issue, accompanied by it's story and background information.

The main idea of decorating a city with #Dysturb-ing images is to enlighten random passersby with something intended to shock and expose them to events which they are likely to be unaware of.

“There’s no predetermined reaction and that’s what we like about it,” said Co-Founder, Pierre Terdjman.

The #Dysturb team paste images in countries such as Australia, France, Norway, USA, Colombia, Belgium and Spain (to name a few) yet the reaction from the people is genuinely positive. Passers often stop, read the stories and take photos to show others.

All of which is the key aim of the project - getting important, untold stories out there.

Despite their valiant efforts in reaching as many blank walls as possible, #Dysturb is not funded and relies on the good-will of photojournalists and volunteers around the globe to keep the project running. Pursuing photojournalism seems like 'the dream', yet it entails many risks. Photojournalists can be sent to capture some of the most terrifying moments of war, natural disasters and famine- often putting themselves in the midst of a dangerous situation, purely to capture the moment.

Despite their role in the public’s eye, the #Dysturb team are not activists by definition. 

“We are photojournalists, and our work’s purpose is to witness and document stories, and to make them visible to the public,” Pierre Terdjman explained. It is fact that often provocative images make history and stand out because of their ‘shock factor’, which Pierre Terjiman explained, “is the best way to represent the matter of urgency.”

“The famous photo of the Sudanese child being stalked by a vulture, by Kevin Carter, is such an example. The public criticised his ethics for taking this picture instead of intervening in the situation. However, it’s not the purpose of photojournalists to save the people. We are not doctors, and we don’t go there to provide them with food or medicine. We are there because we want to tell people stories, and we believe we contribute a cause by doing so,” Pierre said.

Street art is often criticised or labelled as “graffiti” yet the images selected by #Dysturb differ from this perception, mainly because they don’t consider their images to be ‘art’. “We are journalists who display photographs that have a current information value. It is unlikely that we would publish a picture just because it is a beautiful shot. Also, we don’t paste in any illegal spots, neither do we vandalize,” Pierre said.

The work #Dysturb are doing all over the globe is quite amazing. In the day and age of fast paced news and media coverage, it is a valuable thing to be able to open the eyes of many to something shocking and “dysturbing” (mind the pun). The finer details of war, violence and other disasters are often forgotten in our first world conversations, which is exactly why we need groups like #Dysturb.

To open our eyes and show us what is really going on, in the world which we are all apart of. 


Find out more about Dysturb and their projects at http://www.dysturb.com/

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