One of the things we are working on here at the Cabaret Commons is a way of doing things that does not normalize exploitation.
One of the ways we are doing this is to think critically about images and how they circulate, especially online. Rather than understanding people’s images (both the photographs people take and those taken of them) as already in circulation, or already-public, we seek permission both from the photographer and from everyone in an image. Sometimes we cannot get in touch with everyone in the photo; in this case, if others in the image have given their permission to use the image and want it in circulation, we blur out people whose permission we do not have. If at some point we are able to contact those people (or they contact us) we can leave it as it is, un-blur them if they want the picture in circulation, or take down the image if they do not.
We’ll also be posting captions with the names of people who want to be named, as well as context statements or stories in order to situate the image. We want to ensure that the images being posted on our site are not there because they will generate clicks, but because the action or people or feelings of an image actually relate to and/or emerge from the article, interview, review or other materials. So often images of cabaret performance/performers and shots of activists-in-action circulate outside of their original context in ways that seek to provoke a kind of shock or an encounter with absolute difference or freakishness to readers who are not part of the cabaret or activist scenes from which the images emerge. We don’t want to use images this way. We want to use images out of respect, love, and care-fullness to, for and with the people whose work motivates us to make the Cabaret Commons in the first place.
Cabaret is a collective, relational practice. At the Cabaret Commons we are trying to follow what we understand as cabaret ethics and methods by following a collective, relational image permissions. We are thinking about informed consent for all materials we publish through this practice as well. If you have any questions or concerns about any of the materials on our site, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Photo of the Delaware Storefront Mural (Concept Design: Paula Gonzalez; participants: L.O.F.T. Youth Programs © 2014) was taken by TL Cowan and Jas Rault.