Red Light Campaign Uses the Power of Art To Stop Human Trafficking

The Power Of Art deployed in new charity initiative

Red Light Campaign is a new charity, created by UCL and LSE students, which uses photographic art to discuss and raise awareness of Human Trafficking. Their photographs have been securing ever more high profile exhibitions – from humble origins in the UCL print room, through to the Stop The Traffik Freedom Summit and, most recently, in the Houses of Parliament!

According to the Red Light Campaign, suffering – in a world saturated with images of suffering – has become a charity caricature. In the words of one spokesperson, ‘We feel guilt-induced, tired by images from a world far away filled with starving children that we can do little to help in our day to day lives, aside from donating money from our seemingly weary pockets’. The problem is, they claim, that while there may be an overwhelming sense that these types of images reflect vast and real problems, they do not encourage us to connect with the issues, aside from prompting guilt and fear.

The photographic images created by Red Light Campaign are meant to provide an alternative to these caricatures through the power of Fine Art. Sarah Kendal, the Creative Director of the campaign explains how the images they create are designed ‘to defamiliarise the spectacle of the victim motif’, and to ‘evoke an interiority that is lost when suffering is only a problematic spectacle’. Her work, Kendal explains, employs the aesthetic quality of Picasso’s Guernica – a work that she believes ‘will always be interesting, despite, or because, of the horror it depicts’. In other words, the Red Light Campaign insists that art depicting suffering can do what conventional promotional imagery cannot – prompt the viewer into action.

The campaign is certainly for a worthy cause. What would probably surprise most people about Human Trafficking is its astonishing proximity: there are 270, 000 slaves at least in the industrial west. Red Light Campaign takes this into account, and unlike the common images of suffering in far-away countries, their work primarily addresses the slavery that exist within our own communities. Most often, these slaves are illegal immigrants, and their illegal status in this country can mean that it is impossible for them to gain redress, and get their stories heard.

Red Light Campaign seeks to capture both our artistic and political attention, making art not just for art’s sake, but with a clear objective – to communicate the vital facts about human trafficking and bring about change.And now, alongside their day jobs as photographers, Red Light Campaigners are about to launch a designer clothes auction to raise funds for an awareness-raising campaign. They will also be running an exhibition with Rene Cassin. For further details on either events please check their Facebook page: or their website


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