Nevertheless they have led to an imbalance in the images that emerge from the slum and hence how we collectively imagine it. These are images that support certain agendas; images of suffering children, thin men and burdened women.


Of course these images are a reality, standards of living in areas such as Mathare can be horrific, but to reduce a neighbourhood entirely to these stereotypes, is to two-dimensionalize a situation. One of the key criteria of Slum TV is to nuance the representation of Mathare, to add unexpected images, to fill in the gaps and by doing so maybe this can even humanize a life which is being presented as inhuman.


Although the 'international community' is an audience for the images that Slum TV produces, the primary audience is the local one. Seeing oneself perpetually represented as being in need has a deep impact on self-confidence and self-consciousness. Slum TV is trying to interrupt this process.





Slum TV is a grassroots media initiative based in Mathare, a slum in Nairobi's Eastlands. For this project, rather than work with their usual medium of digital video, the collective used photography as a tool to document and interrogate their surroundings. Instead of using digital cameras, Slum TV worked with LOMO, basic film cameras that offer varied, and unpredictable results. 


The logic behind using LOMO, a camera with an unconventional aesthetic and an often blurry image, is that it creates other opportunities of image-making; one that is more imaginative and lyrical, images that are both enigmatic and difficult to read. But the question is; why produce  images in this 'pop aesthetic' from a context of poverty and suffering? 


To answer this it is critical to bear in mind the broader context within which Slum TV operates; the dominant discourse of 'Development' that exists in Kenya. Slums are sites of 'upgrading', areas for 'HIV awareness' and for 'Water and Sanitation' projects. These are, without doubt, critical issues.