In 2012, Brooklyn artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh launched Stop Telling Women To Smile, a traveling art series that addresses street harassment with portraits of women speaking in captions aimed directly at offenders. Last fall, Fusion‘s digital voices and storytelling editor and Jezebel founder Anna Holmes commissioned Fazlalizadeh to take the project where it had never been–outside the U.S., to the streets of Mexico City, where a Fusion crew followed the artist through her process of listening and creating. The result is “All the Time. Every Day.,” a moving multimedia piece that, after six months in production, tells the stories of 76 Mexican women’s experience with street harassment, and reveals some of the multicultural TV network’s ambitions for its interactive side.
The project is anchored by a four-minute overview documentary about Fazlalizadeh’s work and the women’s daily endurance of invasive attention from men, with shorter videos highlighting various elements of the project including meetings with the women, the artistic process, and the range of catcalls faced, from impolite to obscenely graphic. Throughout the piece are sketches, photos, and Fazlalizadeh’s posters of the women’s defiant faces and quotes about both their fear and determination not to tolerate the constant aggression they face.
“Speaking with women, there wasn’t one who hadn’t suffered some kind of various, different aggression,” explains Mexico City activist Maricela Contreras in the piece, “from the tiny aggressions to things that are truly vile [said] to adolescents, like, ‘Now that you finally have boobs, I can suck on them.’” Fazlalizadeh says that it was this nearly universal experience of women rather than any single event that inspired the art series. “People have asked, ‘Was there one thing that happened that made you start this project?'” she says, “And there wasn’t. It’s the sheer fact that it happens all the time.” And while Fazlalizadeh found no shortage of subjects and stories in cities like New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago, Mexico City’s incidence of sexual violence and harassment is so bad that the city has introduced female-only buses and subway cars.
Fusion’s interactive digital presentation is particularly effective because it puts all of these women and their experiences in a visible, fluid format that makes it impossible to deny the scope of the problem and the diversity of women it affects. Right up top, a gallery of mini-videos gives voice to each of the six dozen women featured, and the rest of the project is experienced simply by scrolling. It’s a seamless design that requires very little clicking around or getting lost in menus or sections. “All the Time. Every Day.” goes deep in a sharp and engaging way.
“I was interested in the subject, her as an artist, in telling the stories about women whose stories don’t usually get told in the U.S. media,” says Holmes. “The higher ups agreed to let me do it because they’re generous and trusting.” Holmes joined Fusion in May of last year, seven months after the launch of the joint venture between Univision and Disney/ABC. The young Miami-based network made headlines throughout 2014 for hiring top journalists from more established outlets, including Holmes, Felix Salmon of Reuters, and the Atlantic‘s Alexis Madrigal.
Experimentation in in-depth digital storytelling is something that Fusion is clearly eager to establish as a defining characteristic of the brand, and while Holmes led the vision for the piece, she’s quick to give credit for its elegant form and and function to Mariana Santos, Fusion’s interactive designer. “I’m a writer and editor of text in my background, so this is a new thing for me and I learned a lot,” says Holmes. “I’ve gotten increasingly bored with just writing, both my own writing and the sheer volume of things on the Internet to read. I’m tired of everyone’s opinions, even though I contributed to that culture. I wanted to find a way to share content with a point of view and opinion, but that wasn’t reactive, that took longer to marinate.”
Holmes says that Fusion is working on a number of interactive pieces both from her department and others. She says several projects that have been in the works, including “All the Time. Every Day.” had been held back until the completion of a site redesign last week. But readers should expect to see more multifaceted pieces roll out from Fusion’s digital operation, even as much of the site’s work is also tied to the news cycle.
“There will be ambitious content on Fusion,” says Holmes. “Will there be something every single day? Highly unlikely, because this took six months.”