Photo Exhibition: "Something out of Nothing"

Volunteerism and the Information Society, Crossroads between the North and the South...
Image © : Viola Krebs
Image © : Viola Krebs

Project at a glance

Dates and Place

09 - 12 December 2003, Geneva (Switzerland), Barcelona, Sevilla (Spain), Uganda, Mali, Shanghai (China)


This is a project implemented by ICVolunteers, in the context of its activities as the focal point for the WSIS (World Summit on the Information Society) Volunteer Family focal point.

We would like to thank the following entities for having made this exhibit possible:

  • Arcodis
  • Banque Lombard Odier
  • Centre culturel français de Bamako
  • European Volunteer Centre
  • ICT4D Platform

Project details

The exhibition "Something out of Nothing" provided a concrete illustration of the digital divide. The exhibition shows photographs by ten volunteer photographers from Africa, Asia and Europe. Photographers explored how communities integrate imported technology (computers, mobile phones, television, radio) into their own cultures. The goal was to try to capture inventive ways people are exchanging, patching together, recycling and even bartering technologies around the world.

Through their images, the various photographers take us with them on their travels and wanderings to explore exchanges between the North and the South.

The exhibition amalgamates divers perspectives of how "volunteering" relates to new information and communication technologies and makeshift craftsmanship and recycling. Telephone lines being rebuilt for free, computers being used as coffee tables, a singe portable telephone being shared by a whole village...

The multi-cultural group of photographers shares this exploration, allowing each photographer to develop his or her own view; starting from here and going there, or starting there and coming here. For example: Sheba Okwenje, an African living in Europe, went back to her home country, Uganda, to focus on mobile telephone technology powered by solar energy. Paola Cassola, an Italian living in Geneva, developed the theme of literacy and computer literacy of immigrants, thanks to classes taught by volunteers. Randy Schmieder showed that at the end of the day, the usefulness of technologies depends on by whom they are being used. Pascale Linares, French by origin, but a citizen of the world through her many experiences around the planet, explored through her photography the theme of volunteering and the new information technologies in the Cape Verde Islands. Steve Szoradi worked on the theme of recycling of computers to be sent to Africa. There is a particular focus on Mali, where two European photographers?Patrice Moullet and Viola Krebs-- and two Malian photographers Emmanuel Bacary Daou and Mamadou Konaté--exchanged views linked to the contrast between technology and tradition, mutual help and solidarity.

Besides Geneva, parts of the exhibition were also shown in Brussels (Belgium), Barcelona and Sevilla (Spain).

Short Term Projects

ICVolunteers promotes volunteerism and its recognition, by enhancing civic commitment and involvement, and by providing leadership and links between organizations, individuals and communities. With this perspective, ICVolunteers develops projects and leads initiatives.

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