There's a May Day conferance in the works! We'll keep you updated with more info.
A New World in our Hearts: Building for Revolution May Day Conference will be held in NYC
Thursday, April 28 – May 1
There will be workshops, skill shares, music, a really free market, a critical mass bike ride, parties, speakers, films, and more...
Some of the workshops we will be hosting:
-Bridging the Generational Divide: An open dialogue between older and younger radicals to learn from the past
-The A-word: Is Anarcho-pride Always a Good Thing? With the Curious George Brigade
-Networking: In what ways can radicals in different areas coordinate and work together better?
-Actively Supporting Political Prisoners
- Are computers secure? When and for what?
-Building Permanent Autonomous Zones: creating the infrastructure to support a successful revolutionary movement.
-Blogging the revolution: anarchists on the web, the potential and the limitations.
-Radical mental health.
-Free School education
Guerilla workshop space will also be available for those who don't organize with us ahead of time.
The folks from Un Mundo Feliz who particpated in the NoRNC Poster Project sent us this call for artwork.
See their NoRNC poster here.
MALAS NOTICIAS / BAD NEWS
Diseño para la solidaridad
Design for solidarity
From the 8th to the 11th of March, Madrid welcomes an international summit on "Democracy and Terrorism", in honor of the first anniversary of 11M. We would like to take advantage of this international event so that designers from different countries and cultures contribute their views and personal opinions regarding this subject. We have created a virtual gallery and would like to display in different spaces throughout the city with all the works that we receive.
This is a project for the creation and free distribution of graphic material against terrorism and supporting the victims, on the first anniversary of the 11M terrorist attack in Madrid.
This project intends to be a public design forum for the creation of images that express points of view on terrorism and promote public debate.
Bad news/ design for solidarity wants to be a symbol for democratic response and citizen participation, on behalf of designers, against terrorism on the first anniversary of the 11M.
The project is conceived as a space that is open to designers all over the world and comes forth parallel to the conference on "Democracy and Terrorism" that will be celebrated in Madrid in February of 2005.
Bad News/ Design for Solidarity hopes to be a symbol for international solidarity against terrorism. For this we need for you to contribute with your creativity and talent.
Bad News/ Design for Solidarity
This is a gallery for activism, with free domain usage without commercial intentions.
RULES FOR PARTICIPATION
1. Submit your work:
- Files must be provided as PDF, TIF, JPG only
- Preferably DIN A4, A3...
300 dpi Resolution for printed images (that should be no bigger than 4.5 MB)
- 72 dpi Resolution for online images
- Please consider the possibility of using vectorial images and texts converted to paths (vector), since this will allow for better quality and versaility.
2. Send your work to: love[at]unmundofeliz.org with the information you deem important.
(C) 2005 Un mundo feliz /a happy world production against terrorism
N.J. trio accused of leaving graffiti on `The Gates'
Police had no trouble locating three men suspected of scrawling graffiti Saturday on four of "The Gates": the trio allegedly had written their names on the saffron-colored art installation in Central Park.
The three suspects, all from New Jersey, had their first encounter with police at about 1:30 a.m. near East 62nd Street when they were ticketed for being inside the park after the 1 a.m. closing, police said. A short time later, officers spotted graffiti written on four of the 16-foot high gates; the men had allegedly signed their names to the work created by artists Christo and Jean-Claude, police said.
The Change You Want to See Gallery in Williamsburg, Brooklyn would like to invite you to huddle up this Sunday at 3pm. We're drafting a dream team of creative folk to take on Dr. Doctoroff and the city's insidious Williamsburg/Greenpoint Rezoning Plan. This is one of the most aggressive rezonings in NYC history. Don't get me wrong... brownfields are eyesores and a waste of space. And they make your hair fall out if you live too close to them. Development can be a great thing. It can revitalize the local economy, give businesses a boost. But there's good development and there's bad development.Come plug in at this planning meeting so's we can raise a ruckus and paint a picture of the world that we want to see.
WHERE: The Change You Want to See Gallery, 84 Havemeyer St @
Metropolitan Ave (across from Black Betty's)
WHEN: 3pm, Sunday, February 27
WHAT: planning powwow to save our city
RSVP: beka [at] notanalternative.net
The city's plan will create as many as 22 new 40-story luxury condos along the East River, will privatize and limit access to the waterfront, it provides no minimum requirement on low-income housing, will kick out the light industries in W'burg (metal shops, furniture shops, etc), won't add parks or green space, won't re-open the firehouse, won't increase L or G train service, but will bring 40,000 new higher-income residents to the hood. Instant Soho-fication on steroids. You, me, local industry and businesses, and long-time residents...PRICED OUT.
We have to move fast...there are just a few months to affect the process. A number of bad apples with dollar signs in their eyes and designs on development have partnered with the Mayor. They seek to push the diversity and creative energy that defines the Big Apple toward the fate that has destroyed the core of so many small towns across the country. There's been a lot of resistance to their rotten plan, from religious institutions, community groups, schools, and local residents. But the creative community needs to step up to the plate to support this work. We can fight back to stop the homogenization and borification of our neighborhoods. To preserve the diverse cultural landscape of our mixed-use, mixed income communities.
Invitees Include Reps From: Art Hijack, Art is Permitted Everywhere, Autonomedia,
AWAG (Anti-War Action Group), Axis of Eve, Black Label Bike Club, Blacked Out Media, Block Magazine, Bowery Poetry Club, Breaking in Style, Cinders, Circus Amok, Complacent.org, Flavorpill, Glassbead Video Collective, Greene Dragon, HOWL Festival, Hungry March Band, Independent Media Center, L Magazine, Madagascar Institute, Music for America, NoRNC Bike Project, North Brooklyn Alliance, Not an Alternative/The Change You Want to See, Oh De Twirlette, Ohms Video Collective, Repo History, Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping Gospel Choir, Ring Out, Rubulad, THAW (Theaters Against the War), The City Reliquary, The Eh Team, The Lucky Cat, The Roundtable, The Williamsburg Warriors, Toyshop Collective, Visual Resistance, Vomitorium
About us: The Change You Want to See Gallery and Convergence Stage is a project of Not an Alternative, a Brooklyn-based arts collective. In support of creative resistance to the Republican National Convention last summer, Not an Alternative offered resources to artists and groups in the form of a space, arts materials, production crews, and organizing support. Not an Alternative also produced and curated larger-scale events including Majority Whipped at WhiteBox in Chelsea, and the NEO-CONey Island Block Party and Fashion Show.
Carlos Cortez was an extraordinary artist, poet, printmaker, photographer, songwriter and lifelong political activist. His mother was a German socialist pacifist, and his father was a Mexican Indian organizer for the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), also known as the Wobblies. Carlos was a Wobblie until he died. He spent two years in prison for refusing to “shoot at fellow draftees” during World War II.
After his release, Carlos took a series of jobs: in construction, in a small imported foods shop, in a chemical factory. He also started drawing cartoons in 1948 for the Industrial Worker, the IWW newspaper, but soon learned to do linoleum block prints. “Many radical papers --- not having advertising, grants or angels who are rich radicals --- operate on the brink of bankruptcy. So Industrial Worker couldn’t afford to make electric plates out of line drawings. I saw that one of the old-timers was doing linoleum blocks and sending them in because the paper was being printed on a flatbed press. I started doing the same thing, and each issue would have one of my linocuts.”
When the price of linoleum became too steep, Carlos started using wood. Used furniture was easy enough to find in any alley. “There’s a work of art waiting to be liberated inside every chunk of wood. I’m paying homage to the tree that was chopped down by making this piece of wood communicate something.”
In my mind, Cortez is a legend, and it saddens me that I only learned of his death today, after John Emerson posted a tribute at Social Design Notes. Carlos Cortez should be a household name in the political art world --- while never "famous," his influence is certainly widespread. Of course, he never sought fame,
“When you do a painting that’s it, it’s one of a kind. But when you do a graphic the amount of prints you can make from it is infinite. I made a provision in my estate, for whoever will take care of my blocks, that if any of my graphic works are selling for high prices immediate copies should be made to keep the price down.”
Compare his celebrations to Ricardo Flores Magon and Joe Hill, pictured above, and Lucy Parsons (below) to some of the work in the Celebrate People's History posters, for just one example. Cortez's influence will most likely also be apparent in the forthcoming graphic history of the IWW co-edited by Nicole Schulman which will feature a whole slew of World War 3 Illustrated artists.
For more on Carlos Cortez, check out:
--- Rebel Graphics;
--- Drawing Resistance; and, especially:
Spread is a magazine by and for sex workers of all genders, sexualities and backgrounds, as well as those interested in the sex industry.The magazine aims to provide a forum for marginalized voices, a sene of community and support among sex workers, as well as a balanced view of the sex industry.
$pread wants/needs illustrations of all kinds. They must relate, somehow or someway, to sex, gender, sex work, gender structures, or power. Think strip club, whorehouse, prostitutes, s&m, doms, subs, pretty much anything sexual done for profit.
Contributions to the second issue are to be made by mid-May. Contact the editors at: contribute [at] spreadmagazine.org or mail contributions to:
PO Box 305
New York, NY 10276
Milwaukee artist Brandon Bauer sends in an email: I just wanted to pass on this piece of radical political art history --- it's a book by the artist Giacomo Patri done in the 1930's called "White Collar". I have been searching for a copy of it for a long time and had only seen excerpts from it until recently. I think the last full published edition of the book was done in the mid-70's.... Check it out! ---Brandon
White Collar is a novel in linocuts by Giacomo Patri portraying the injustices of workers during the Depression. There are 128 prints in this unique visualization of the daily life hardships of a middle class family through the 1930s.
Unfolding in stark, monochromatic pictures with no text, his novel recounts the experiences of an artist in the years after the 1929 stock market crash.
Unable to find work with advertising agencies, the novel's protagonist loses his house just as his wife informs him that she is pregnant. He soon learns that he shares much with blue collar workers and, like them, can benefit from union organizing.
Largely undiscovered, because the images of class struggle, unionization, and abortion were controversial for their time; Patri was forced to print and publish White Collar privately in limited numbers. Even now, the copies that survive are few and far between.
The book in it's entirety can be viewed online here.
In Detroit, an artist will go to jail today. His crime? Recreating a Michaelangelo mural that includes a nude figure:
He painted Eve as God created her: nude.
And when he finished including the bare-bosomed Biblical first woman, he inscribed the word "love" on the mural that covers the outside wall of his Roseville art studio.
In Ed (Gonzo) Stross' eyes, his variation on Michelangelo's "Creation of Man" mural is art.
In 39A District Judge Marco Santia's eyes, it's a crime.
Santia ordered jail time, a fine and probation -- a sentence that sounds a little harsh to a state senator, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan and fellow artists.
Santia ordered Stross, 43, to serve 30 days in jail, do two years' probation and pay a $500 fine for violating a city sign ordinance. Roseville officials said letters were prohibited on the mural and Eve's exposed chest is indecent.
Besides jail time and the fee, Stross is to tastefully cover Eve's breasts before reporting to the Macomb County Jail on Monday morning, and to paint over "love" by May 1.
"Removing the work is the ultimate punishment. The jail time is nothing compared to removing what I painted," Stross said Thursday.
New York isn't the only place where The Buff is pushing into overdrive. Five teenagers were arrested last week in Grand Rapids, Michigan for tagging on a commercial building, and city officials are promising a wider crackdown. From Grand Rapids independent media source Media Mouse:
Fresh off the arrests of five "taggers", the Grand Rapids Police Department (GRPD) is promising an aggressive crackdown on graffiti artists that may result in prison time. Of course, the police cannot do this on their own and the corporate media are obligingly doing their perceived duty to "help the community" by acting as official conduits for police misinformation. Central to this effort has been the portrayal of the city as "under siege" by graffiti artists. The GRPD and the city of Grand Rapids are making use of this supposed "rash" of graffiti to suggest draconian measures such as electronic tethers and outlawing the sale of spray paint to minors to create a public climate of fear in which there is no discussion about the ramifications for civil liberties of using tethers and other methods to stop graffiti, methods which will undoubtedly target primarily youth.
Not surprisingly, the corporate media's coverage of the "graffiti crackdown" has been full of sensationalism, effectively portraying graffiti as a type of crime that residents need to fear. The local print and broadcast media has run a number of stories that create a sense of hysteria, with graffiti "tagging" being portrayed as out of control. The articles have been full of completely ridiculous assertions, with Guy Bazzani claiming that graffiti is "robbing the soul of this community," parents supposedly wondering "oh no, where are my kids living?," and even news readers trying their hand at spray paint while talking about how the police are "aggressively searching for the spray paint perpetrators." WOOD TV 8, who claims to have "broken the story," ran a piece last night in which they claim to have urgent information, reporting the supposed "new information" that graffiti artists engage in "competition" and that graffiti involves both art and "protest against capitalism."
A while back we posted some information about Mujeres Creando, an anarcha-feminist artists and activists collective based in La Paz, Bolivia. We mentioned how they had just come out with a new book, Mujeres Grafiteando. But, we didn't know how to get a copy. Well, I just got word that their book is available for purchase on their new website, www.mujerescreando.com
The new website features:
- a mission statement
- articles written about the group
- essays and manifestos
- an online magazine called Mama No Me lo dijo (Mother didn't tell me)
- an online store where you can order books and movies
- an open forum for dialgue
- an archive of their projects and actions
M-city in a first place is a play with the form and space of the city, played on the walls, posters, billboards, stickers and in the virtual world. All of the pieces of M-city --- there is about 100 of them --- were made as stencils [...].
The architecture of the town is in a sense a promotion of groups of people who work together for society. These include independent media, charities, non-governmental organisations, off theatres etc. Most of the project realisations are on especially chosen walls and matching the historical or architectural context of the surroundings. People on the stencils are mostly author's friends or people involved in some local social activity. (source).
The whole project seems like both a loving tribute to the artists' home cities, and a utopian reimagining of the same. Check out the whole site. My favorite gallery is the buildings; there are anarchist squats, castles, bike repair shops, an Indymedia office building, factories, Food Not Bombs headquarters, and more.... The people are amazing, too.
It had to happen sooner or later. Technology similiar to that found in projects like Grafedia and YellowArrow will now be used to the buff's advantage. Mirroring the interactive and participatory aspects of those projects the premise of this new system is simple --- take a picture of graffiti and then watch it disappear. The article found at the BBC puts it like this:
Lewisham Council's Head of Environment Nigel Tyrell has been developing a system that allows the public to see problems solved before their very eyes.
From Monday, anyone living in the south-east London borough can take a snap using their camera phone of the many problems that blight London's roads, such as graffiti or fly-tipping and send it to the council.
Then all they have to do is keep an eye on the new Love Lewisham website to see a photo of the cleaned-up area.
Timed to correspond with the Valentine holiday, the Love Lewisham campaign gives local residents an opportunity to save their beloved community from the perils of graffiiti. Interestingly enough, it seems to offer only one "solution" to a problem that is not so easily defined. Rather than open up a dialogue about public space, the initiative capitalizes on the fact that, as Tyrell puts it, "Most people just want to live their lives and only contact the council if something goes wrong."
Not only does the project use some of the same technology that fuels participatory street art-documentation projects, it's also being pitched with some of the same grassroots-democracy rhetoric! The program claims to offer residents a "voice" in their community, and, Tyrell notes that the " success of this new system depends on the response of local people. "
You never know, perhaps the locals of Lewisham will flood the new webpage with pictures of advertisments that they would like to see eliminated. One can only hope --- unless you live in or around Lewisham.
Dont Buy Coke! The largest Coca Cola union in Colombia has called for an international campaign against Coke to stop its violence against workers, which has included a half-dozen murders at one plant alone in the mid-1990’s. Reports of these crimes sparked a historic lawsuit against the Coca Cola Company and their Colombian bottler by the International Labor Rights Fund and the United Steelworkers of America on behalf of the Colombian union.
Coca-Cola has formally stated that the “Company does not anticipate supporting in any way any form of ‘independent fact-finding delegation to Colombia,’” and has even refused a preliminary meeting with the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC), an objective monitoring group created by college and university administrations, students and labor rights experts.
There is also an intense struggle being faught by people in India against the Coca-Cola Company.
An independent media website called Inida Resource Center charges that Coca-Cola is guilty of:
- Causing Severe Water Shortages for Communities Across India
- Polluting Groundwater and Soil Around its Bottling Facilities
- Distributing its Toxic Waste as "Fertilizer" to Farmers
- Selling Drinks with Extremely High Levels of Pesticides
I downloaded the above photo from the Indian Resource Center photo page. The photo features anti-Coke demonstrators who clashed with police in Mehdiganj, India.
Currently, there are many local students working to get coke banned from their campuses and to get their school administrations to endorse an investigation by the WRC into the allegations of violence in Columbia.
Here are some visual resources (poster and flyer designs) that have been used to rally oposition against Coke. If you want to start organizing around this issue, or if you already have, please feel free to download these images or to send us images you've made yourself.
From the Queens Chronicle:
Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. admitted it sounds crazy, but on closer inspection he said, legislation banning the sale of spray paint in all of New York City makes sense.
“Whatever we’re doing right now to fight graffiti is barely keeping it in check,” he said. “Some version of this bill is absolutely necessary”...
Included in the ban are broad-tipped markers and etching instruments. Exceptions would be made for contractors and artists. It is unclear what method would be used for proving one is an artist (emphasis added).
Vallone is the councilman from Astoria, if you live out there he's supposed to represent you. Give him a call at (212) 788-6963 or drop him a line at: email@example.com. More contact info here.
BAST's First NYC Art Show "MAS VINO"
And the release of his new book "REVOLUTION DE PAPEL"
Opening Reception and Release Party: Saturday February 12, 6-9pm
Transplant Gallery is pleased to present the first solo exhibition of Brooklyn-based artist BAST titled “MAS VINO” This show will also celebrate the release of his new book "REVOLUTION DE PAPEL". A 60 paged soft covered book released in limited edition. Signed copied will be available on opening night. The exhibition will showcase a collection of new paintings on canvas... (more)
Bast is one of the first artists I noticed on the street when I woke up to street art years ago and i'm super excited to see some posters up in full, not ripped, torn, or weathered. So if your in NYC this weekend come out to the opening, or try to make it here while the show is up! The show will be exhibited from February 12-March 10, 2005 at: Transplant Gallery, 525 West 29th Street, second floor (bet. 10th and 11th Avenue).
A heads up to our artist friends:
Calling all artists and designers! On May 1st , 2005, there will be a huge demonstration in New York City highlighting the critical need to ban nuclear weapons.... This event needs to be publicized with unique, eye-catching, heart-stopping imagery. We need homegrown provocative design to remind people that the nuclear issue isn't over.
We're asking local artists to submit work that will be splashed on posters, banners, flyers, websites and tshirts around the world. The work should be passionate and pointed, focused on this giant new effort to abolish nukes exactly 60 years after they destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We're looking for designs that are bright and forward-thinking, taking anti-nuclear and anti-war symbols into a whole new era. See AbolitionNow.org for more information about the movement and the event.
Read the whole call here.
I've been looking for Garrison & Ray since July, when I first came across their "Sgt. Guy Debord" riot cop on the Manhattan Bridge bike path. So when Garrison introduced himself at the And So Forth I was ecstatic. Together, Garrison & Ray make up Peripheral Media Projects, a culture jamming, apparel-making, bad-ass screenprinting collective. They put out a pretty diverse range of work, and are also getting ready for a show at Zakka in Soho this Friday, so the timing seemed right to send them a few questions:
How did you get started doing street art?
We started doing street art though our mutual interest in Adbusters magazine and wanting to be active in culture jamming. We were hyper-aware of the lack of image diversity in our public living space and sought to change that fact. Using the Adbusters black spot logo/anti-logo to alter, disrupt, obliterate, enhance the urban landscape of NYC was our first foray into reclaiming our visual environment.
Tell us a little bit about Peripheral Media Projects, how you got started, what your goals are, etc....
We met in graduate school, that was the kickoff. The more we hung out and talked, the more we realized we had many similar interests along the socio-economic-environmental-activist avenues and decided to be in action about our desire to create a different reality. This creation happened though an escalated level of commitment, connection, and contribution on our parts as a unit, with the world. Peripheral Media Projects is these notions made manifest.
We have many objectives/goals. One of the main ones is to stimulate independent critical thinking. There is no right or wrong but there are dualities and both sides should be represented. In our surroundings, we only see corporate advertising, messages companies are paying a boatload of money to put out there. We are inundated with advertising and it just keeps increasing. We are not saying our message is the right one and that others are wrong. We are merely expressing our ideas and understandings. It is up for the viewer to decide what they think. If people questioned answers and thought more, the world would be a dramatically different place.
Our vehicle for stimulating thought is via our images. Another goal is to continually grow our abilities and be a badass silkscreen collective that bases our work in activism, social consciousness, and the belief that connection is a cornerstone to creating a sustainable future.
We want to serve as a resource for others seeking to collaborate, produce, and create. We want to generate dialogue, strengthen community, and empower individuals to self-actualize.
We want to set up an international exchange where street artists from around the world spend time with one another, sharing experience, creating synergy, and increasing momentum.
What's the process that goes into a piece like the Sgt. Guy Debord pasteup?
First comes the idea itself from within or without. The idea for the riot cop came from an artist mentioning it as something that we should do. We thought it was a great concept and went with it. Once the idea is in place, deciding on the image that best conveys the message we are trying to get across comes next. The image is manipulated and modified through many means, ranging from old school hand altering (cutting, pasting, painting in, whiting out, copier enlarging, etc.) to computer-based designs. The image is usually reworked again and again until we are happy with it.
Once it is there, we photocopy, computer output, or hand-generate the stencil. The size of the image is a factor in how the setup takes place. The Sgt. was shot in four screens, one each for the head, chest, midsection, and feet. It could be shot in one screen, which we would love to have the resources to execute it like that. Til then, it's hardcore tiling. We have paper rolled out on a long table where we put the screens down and start from the top down.
It's been challenging as far as balancing the whole time/energy aspects go. Both of us are loving the street art/postering/apparel facets right now and these are where we funnel most of our efforts at present. Much of the imagery we poster is incorporated into our clothing line, called Plan D.
We anticipate balancing out things down the road, where we spend more time doing our painting, but with all four burners going, the painting is on the back one right now. The activism and expression of our ideas on the street and as wearable art is what is fueling the fire.
Our work comprises all of these varied expressions as they mingle with and inform one another. They are a reflection of who we are and what we do. If any one of them were removed from the equation, that void would impact all the others in some fashion. Most of all, we believe having fun and enjoying what we do is paramount. If there is ever a day when that isn't there, we can make a choice from there. Until then, we're having a blast.
We want to get our imagery out there as much as possible. Our website,
PeripheralMediaProjects.com is almost complete. It will be up in time for our show at Zakka on Friday, February 11th. We're pumped about that show, where we will put out our latest installation and clothing designs. It's located at 147 Grand, between Broadway and Lafatette in Soho, 7-9pm.
As our work opens up to a larger audience we want to collaborate with people in all sorts of fields to create environments where people get together and exchange ideas, information, dreams, stories...
We have ideas for installations and big street art stuff we'd love to do. Basically we want to do whatever we can to facilitate and encourage relating with other human beings. It sounds simplistic, which it is, but so true, natural, and necessary. We weren't put on this planet to be filed away in our homes, like a paper in a folder. Connection is fundamental to our existence. That's what we have in store.
Thanks for your time and attention,
Garrison and Ray
Mujeres Creando (Women Creating) is an Anarcha-Feminist Group based in La Paz, Bolivia. They are graffiti writers, film makers, radical activists and much much more.
Mujeres Creando just came out with a new book called Mujeres Grafiteando. I haven't been able to find this book any where. So, if anyone knows how to get ahold of a copy, let us know.
More pictures and a statement by one of the members of Mujeres Creando are featured on Indy Media Ecuador.
Bellow is an article about them that was featured in Quiet Rummors, An Anarcha-Feminist Reader.
Mujeres Creando interviewed by Katherine Ainger
OVERNIGHT, in beautiful handwriting, words appear on the walls of La Paz, the high-altitude capital of Bolivia. They speak truths Bolivian women won't say out loud. Deconstructing machismo, anti-gay prejudice and neoliberalism, Bolivian anarchofeminist group Mujeres Creando takes art back to the streets. Theirs is a politics of creativity, of interventions in everyday life. Tired of the traditional Left where, they say, 'everything was organized from top down, the women only served the tea or their role was a purely sexual one, or they were nothing more than secretaries,' three friends - Maria Galindo, Julieta Paredes and Monica Mendoza --- started Mujeres Creando (Women Creating) in 1992. Two are the only openly lesbian activists in Bolivia. At the time, they explain, there was little talk of feminism - a militant, radical feminism, a feminism of the streets, of everyday life.
'We decided on autonomy from political parties, NGOs, the state, hegemonic groups who wish to represent us. We don't want bosses, figureheads or exalted leaders. Nobody represents anybody else --- each woman represents herself.'
'We believe that how we relate to people in the street is the most important thing. We have a newspaper which we edit and sell ourselves, and creative street actions. We paint graffiti - las pintadas - this is one of the communicative forms that really gets through to people. It began as a criticism of what the Left is --- and the Right. It was our response to their painting in the streets saying "vote for so-and-so". They were affirmative or negative phrases, "no to the vote", "yes to this", "no to that". What we do instead is we appeal to poetry and creativity, to suggest ideas which aren't just "yes" or "no", "Left" or "Right".'
They have targeted all kinds of oppression from a feminist perspective --- racism, the dictatorship and debt.
'Our aims aren't always centred on women's themes like abortion, reproductive rights, motherhood. The Government says: "you can dedicate yourselves to those issues, full stop." And we may say "no". Or we may say "yes, that interests us". We have positions on abortion, birth control, but don't categorize us! We are involved' in everything: we are part of society. And for this reason we paint graffiti about different things. There is graffiti which provokes men, graffiti provoking the Government, graffiti which is only directed at women, graffiti about the political situation.
'For us, the street is a space like a common patio, where we can all be, including children. In Europe, everything is controlled: whether or not you can march, whether or not you can protest, whether or not you can sell things. In Bolivia, the streets belong to the people: people doing things, people selling things --- the streets are ours.
'It is very important that what we do in the street interacts with people, talks to them so that they can see the graffiti, that it should provoke something in them, provoke laughter, provoke annoyance, provoke anger, provoke many things.
'People want to dispossess us of something that is ours. To turn creativity into something elitist. But creativity is human --- it belongs to all women and men. It is fundamental to everything we do, in the books we make, in the street actions, in the graffiti. There are people who say to us: "you're artists." But we are not artists, we are street activists.'
This year a group called Deudora ('debtor'), made up largely of poor women from the barrios, came to La Paz to protest at the crippling rates of interest on their microcredit loans. 'We spoke to them about pacifism, we carried out some creative actions against interest, against the banks, against money... painting murals in the streets.' Mujeres Creando brought paint, and the Deudora group took off their shoes and dipped their feet into the pots, then lifted each other up to leave their footprints on the wall. This was a symbol of their long journey to the capital. On another street action the Mujeres threw themselves on the floor to shield the debtors' protest from attack by police.
'After three-and-a-half months, we managed to sit down with the large banking and financial associations and the Deudora group and achieved an agreement. Now people whose houses were being auctioned off have had their debts excused.
'Once an agreement was signed that benefited the debtors, we organized a kind of festival with flowers and bread. The children began to share out the bread with everyone, a symbol of the olla (collective cooking pot) of the poor- the poor who share what they have.'
1. How did you first get involved with street art?
I have been posting web-based projects on my site since 2001, but I started to switch my focus from the web to the street about a year ago. Moving to New York City and seeing all of the amazing graffiti and street art happening here played a major part in this shift. I find experimenting in the street similar to the web as both offer a highly democratic and un-curated arena where one can put up work without having to ask permission.
2. a. The All City Council Project was huge in scope --- it directly challenged the new anti-stickering law while indirectly commenting onstreet art itself. Was it initially imagined this way? Can you offer the background and context on how you got started and what the inspirations were?
Initially I was working on a very simple computer application written in C that could mix an ASCII art image (an image composed only of text) with a legible text document (as read from left to right). After this tool was completed I was thinking about how it could best be used within the context of graffiti. At first I was creating pieces which read as a 'ni9e' tag from a distance and read as the HTML code from my website close-up. While interesting, this was not all that hard hitting. Then a classmate, Josh (bikesagainstbush), told about me the sticker law the New York City Council passed. My reaction to the law, which was probably the reaction of a lot of people reading it for the first time, was “wouldn’t they be guilty of their own law if someone put their names on stickers?”
b. What was the response?
This project was different than previous work because the audience I was trying to reach was very specific. In other projects, my aim was to reach a wide group of people walking around the city or surfing the web, but the All City Council Project was aimed very directly at the council members. In some cases, I was literally putting these up on their office doors. The response on the Internet was huge. The WoosterCollective linked me up initially, and from there it spread to boingboing.net and other web sites. In terms of web traffic, it has been one of my most viewed projects. I wondered if the Internet popularity might bring the police knocking at my door, but so far that has not happened. In general, I respect the intelligence of the City Council and hope that they will get the joke rather than feel threatened (which was not my intent).... perhaps this is overly optimistic, but time will tell.
3. What do you think of Bloomberg's renewed interest in the "Vandal Squad"?
In my opinion, anti-graffiti legislation is shortsighted and blames the victims of a problem as if they were the cause. Rather than deal with larger issues, such as poverty, racism, and classism, we blame those being affected. Graffiti is not a "quality of life offense." The over saturation of advertising, the price of rent and health insurance, the lack of funding for arts and music programs in public schools, the "no child left behind" act--these are the real "quality of life offenses". Graffiti is a reflection of these issues, not the cause.
4.a.Your current project focuses on graffiti analysis. How did this interest first develop?
Graffiti is often misunderstood by the public and local legislators. This lack of understanding leads to fear, which is why I think the discussion of graffiti most often revolves around legal rather than artistic issues. The "Graffiti Analysis" studies are an attempt to express the intent and beauty I see when I walk down the street and present it in a language that communicates to a larger audience. If more people can view tags as something other than an eye sore, we will see less legislation and more creative new graffiti forms.
b. Can you discuss the differences between analogue and digital and their relationship to graffiti and street art?
Graffiti (both traditional writing and "street art") is usually something made by hand. While some have started using the computer and home printers in the production of graffiti, there is a lot of room for experimentation in what new media and code can create in the streets. I see digitally created graffiti not as a necessity to the art form, but simply another voice to be added to the discourse happening in public urban spaces.
5. Both of your projects have a pronounced technological aspect, both in the use of technology to create the art itself and the incorporation of video communication. Any thoughts on the points where graffiti and media intersect?
I go back and forth on this issue. While I understand the inherent problems with mediating the viewing of graffiti in the streets, those who don't think that the Internet is a part of getting up are kidding themselves. I would never claim that seeing a piece on the web is equal to the power of seeing it in the streets, but the Internet, for better or worse, is now a part of graffiti. Having never seen a BANKSY piece in person, I have been profoundly influenced by his work through the web. Although this may be an unpopular sentiment, I embrace the web as part of getting up and put a great deal of emphasis on how my work is documented and presented in this medium. It would be a shame if graffiti was only viewed on the web, but it would be a bigger shame if would-be graffiti artists were never exposed to the brilliant work happening outside their own city.
6. Who or what inspires you to go out and put your work up?
I feel strongly that even the smallest "I was here" tag is a social and political statement. If people can become comfortable in questioning (and at times breaking) laws which are imposed upon them than we will be one step closer to real change in this country. I would encourage everyone to see how different the world looks when you walk around with a UNI in your pocket. I am inspired by the thought of everyone in the city writing their name on the wall and taking back control of the space in which we live.
Some tragic news from the Globe & Mail:
When Bardia Bryan Zargham got serious about graffiti, he chose Alpha as his tag and set about painting all over Toronto.
That was about five years ago, and since then, "Alpha" and "Alfa" have appeared from back alleys to boxcars, bringing underground fame to the 18-year-old artist and frustration from those who wished he would stop.
"One time I asked him, 'Why did you pick that name?' " his father, Saeed Zargham, said yesterday, "and he said, 'Because Alpha is the beginning of everything.' "
On Tuesday night, Alpha marked the end of everything for young Mr. Zargham. At about 9:45 p.m., right after he tagged a parked freight car with baby-blue spray paint, he was struck dead by a train near Dupont and Christie streets....
[Alpha's father] is taking comfort from the passion he showed for his work, fatal as it was.
That passion, the father said, sprang from a simple desire to be known and for his work to be seen, not to harm anyone.
"From the outside, when you look at it . . . it's not worth it. But for him, he put his life on the line for this.
"I lost a son, an 18-year-old son, but I'm proud of him."
It's sad that the first newspaper article I've read that isn't snide or condemning about graffiti artists has to be about an artist's death.... My sympathies and regrets go out to family, friends, fellow writers. R.I.P.
Pictures below courtesy of d r :
It's the mystery that has baffled many people in Raleigh. A grinning graffiti face has popped up all over the place and they're calling him "Borf."
We don't know who he is, but we know he has become the talk of the town.
The rest of the story is less positive, and mostly gets the story wrong. An article in today's News & Observer is far less incoherent than the TV news story, but still doesn't seem to really understand the concept of stencil graffiti:
With many of the images, the most impressive feature is sheer audacity. In Washington, the artist decorated -- or defaced, depending on your view -- the Key Bridge. He changed stop signs in bustling Logan Circle to read "CAN'T STOP BORF." In New York, he slapped a "Bush Go Home" sticker on a police car.
Raleigh police spokesman Jim Sughrue said police had seen the faces but had not received any complaints. The images will be examined to see whether they are linked to gangs, but "it clearly would not be typical of gang graffiti," he said. (emphasis mine)
BORF is a stencilist who, during this summer's anti-RNC protests, delighted visitors to the Time's Up bike space on Houston St. with a nearby 2-color, 4-foot stencil reading "RNC Fuck Off!" We spotted the same figure on the Anarchist Resistance site right before the Inauguration protests.
You can check out BORF's gallery on stencilrevolution.com to see more work.