Framing moments of dissent

Alexandria photography gallery puts protest on display.

Photo by Tim Hyde
Protester at Occupy D.C., which lasted from 2011-2012. / Photo by Tim Hyde

As the country grapples with a political climate marked by recurring controversy, an Alexandria gallery is emphasizing one of our basic rights: protest.

Hear Our Voices! Photography of Protest runs through June 18 at Torpedo Factory’s Multiple Exposures Gallery, a photography cooperative with 15 members that got its start in 1985. 

“In D.C., we have almost unrelenting protests. They are weekly. For a while when we first started talking about this, they were daily,” says gallery president and photographer Tim Hyde. “And some of us, me for example, have been shooting protests for years for a whole variety of reasons, and some members actually were participating in some of the protests.”

Photo by Alan Sislen
Photo by Alan Sislen

One of the earliest pieces from the show, pictured above, is an image of a college demonstration against the Vietnam-era military draft captured by Bethesda-based artist Alan Sislen. Though he knows the image is from Syracuse University in the mid-to-late ’60s, Sislen says it’s difficult to identify the specific event due to the sheer number of protests going on in that time.

“It was just not all that unusual; it wouldn’t be unusual if there was a demonstration once every week or two during that period of time. And I don’t want to say it became routine because there was really nothing routine about that period of time,” Sislen says.

The exhibit also showcases more solitary moments of protest, as with Sarah Hood Salomon’s raw depiction of a weeping woman, “First Morning in Paris” (pictured below). 

“My husband and I took this great trip, and we started off in Paris. And the very first morning, we were having coffee,” Salomon says. “I looked out the window, and there was this homeless woman crying. If you look at the picture, her foot is deformed, and she looks fairly clean but just completely ignored by the world. The people who are behind her with the big loaf of bread, they weren’t ignoring her; they just didn’t see her.”

Photo by Sarah Hood Salomon
Photo by Sarah Hood Salomon

Hyde is hesitant to characterize Hear Our Voices as a show about politics or partisanship, arguing that defending one’s beliefs is not about being a Republican or Democrat. 

“If it celebrates anything, it celebrates the enthusiasm and ebullience on the part of these disparate groups of protesters. All the different protesters are not homogenous by any means,” Hyde says.