Orwellian Cat and Mouse in the Maghreb

I remember that it is George Orwell’s birthday tomorrow. I usually celebrate the event at his graveside in Sutton Courteney with my good friend, Christian Payne. In Algiers an equivalent number of policeman, often armed with Kalashnikovs, do the work of London’s CCTV cameras. As in the UK, photographers are equated with terrorists in Algeria, but with better reason. In the 1990s civil war Islamists often identified those they would assassinate by photographing them. For want of Google maps, they also photographed buildings to be blown up. But, at least the work of surveillance has a human face here.

The only way I am able to work here as a photographer is by using an iPhone or a Canon G11 with a swivel screen. The iPhone is an inconspicuous camera to use in a country swimming in jailbroken units. The crumbling buildings and vibrant trade in pirated technology remind me of Blade Runner.

I am told that, in Annaba, near the Tunisian border, where I am going next, I may even be assigned my own personal policeman. He will be there to attempt to ensure that no photographs are taken. It may be cat and mouse all the way.

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1 comment so far

  1. kenza nezzar on

    Hello,
    you remind me here of Joseph’s : if photographs could talk,when he couldnt sleep all the night and then he resolved to take some pics,the sight of the policeman bellow was like the sight of a real ghost( you do have ghosts,we do not have as much as you have,Henry V actually beheaded many of his wives,it is said that the ghost of Anne Boulyn is taking some walks hahahah on the white tower),when Joseph saw the policeman he went back to his room waiting for he door to knock,fortunately it didnt hahahahah.


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