This weekend ABC No Rio celebrates its 25th anniversary with a lineup of art, music, and performance that showcases the legendary art/activist squat's place in Lower East Side culture. The open house Friday night at 7 will feature art by Christopher Cardinale, Fly, and Seth Tobocman, and the weekend continues with a whole host of great events.
ABC No Rio was founded after a collective of artists took over an abandoned building on New Years Eve, 1979 to stage the Real Estate Show, an exhibition about housing and land use issues. The show was shut down by the police, and the city let the artists use an empty storefront at 156 Rivington as a concession. Over 25 years later, the collective that runs ABC No Rio is trying to raise about $150,000 to officially purchase and renovate the building. You can donate here, read more about their history here, and get the full details on the anniversary celebration here.
Soon. has two updates on the decentralization of Borf. Somewhat in the spirit of Subcommandante Marcos' famous self-description, Borf's first communique begins:
Borf is many. Borf is none. Borf is waiting for you in your car. Borf is in your pockets. Borf is running through your veins. Borf is naive.... Borf is everywhere. Borf is the war on boredom.
The Meet Borf event in Dupont Circle seems to have drawn a good crowd (and some police). For the next step in the conspiracy, Borf's face stencil is being made available for download. Print it, cut it, spray it.
Michael De Feo organized a panel lecture at the McNally Robinson bookstore on Prince Street in New York City for tonight July 25th, 7 pm. It's titled, "The City as Collaborator: Documenting Contemporary Art on the Street". Thus far the panelists include Kelly Burns, Martha Cooper, Dan Witz and Michael De Feo. The moderators are Marc and Sara of Wooster Collective.
Also check out Michael's recent flower paste-ups in Colorado, the pics are gorgeous.
Below is one of the more intriguing e-mails we've ever gotten --- looks like some folks in D.C. are taking on the idea raised by one of our commenters to make Borf a "horizontal conspiracy."
I noticed your article on Borf being caught, and I thought I should let you know that Borf is not caught. Borf cannot be caught. There is going to be an event in Dupont Cirlce in Washington, DC tomorrow and we need help publicizing. If you can help at all that would be great. Here is a description of the event:
Tomorrow, Saturday July 23rd
MEET BORF at Dupont Circle
Meet at 4pm in Dupont Circle for a celebration and discussion of public art, graffiti and vandalism. There will be sidewalk chalk, stencil cutting materials, free spray paint, hopscotch, handstands, millions of dollars, and the first in a series of communiques from Borf. Borf is not caught. Come tomorrow so we can talk about what all this shit means."
Thanks so much, your website means a lot to us.
Any readers in D.C. should try to make it out --- let us know how it goes at visual.resistance[at]gmail[dot]com.
David Lester knows that art and music can change the world, and I believe it. His projects are are rooted in radical history and punk rock, ranging from the band Mecca normal, to poster projects, books, newspapers, and youth workshops.
We'd like to know about your background and what has inspired you to make political art.
I grew up in Vancouver, Canada in a conventional family where my mom worked in the home and my father worked at the post office. There was nothing particularly artistic minded about it. But I did have a much older brother who was involved in 60s radical politics, which gave me access to underground newspapers and alternative music from an early age. Following the heroic stories of the civil rights and anti-war movements (over 50,000 Americans fled to Canada to avoid the draft) gave me a life long inspiration for the struggles of social justice. This combined with a natural love of drawing and playing guitar led me to want to express myself with politics and art in the same breath.
When I was a teen, I did cartoons and graphics for a youth liberation publication out of Ann Arbor called FTP Magazine. This was over a period of several years. After high school I went to art school briefly, but found it all too slow. I already knew what I wanted to do in life, so I quit and joined a collective putting out the international anarchist journal Open Road. I did page design, wrote and illustrated/designed full colour centre spread posters. One of my favorite designs was of Emma Goldman (it was later re-printed in Germany). I tried to approach graphic design with a boldness in line and colour that reflected the desires and positiveness inherent in working for a better world. I tried not to be drab and predictable.
I followed this with countless posters for political events and groups. This being the late 70s, early 80s I also did album designs for political minded punk bands like D.O.A. In the mid-80s I formed the underground rock duo Mecca Normal with Jean Smith. From the early 90s I designed community theatre posters, and also book covers for progressive and alternative minded publishers.
I paint, I draw cartoons and illustrations, write books, do graphic design (t-shirts, postcards, posters, books) and play guitar and write music in a rock duo.
I approach all these areas of my artistic work with the same aesthetic sense. The same thinking process that goes into planning a set list or a guitar riff is also there when designing a page in a book or doing a painting or a cartoon. The use of white space in a design is similar to the use of silence in a piece of music or between tracks on an album. The dynamic of spatial relationships whether soft or loud (music) or bright or somber (colour) can be applied to either sound or visuals. This leaves the mind to think of the colour of sound and the sound of colour.
So this means a consistency of style is developed. It acts as a springboard for creativity that then has its own limitations just waiting to be broken. It gives a necessary friction to the creative process. The more I am limited, the more I want to push those limitations, to break those boundaries. It leaves the creative process open to endless possibilities. My work then is in a combined state of building and growing. This is vital to avoiding aesthetic stagnation and increase longevity as a cultural activist.
What is it like to collaborate with your bandmate Jean Smith?
Jean Smith brings a dynamic artistic and personal inspiration to our partnership with a focus and vigor I have rarely encountered. She is always full of exciting ideas and approaches to the creation of art, music and words. To be friends and bandmates with someone for 20 years feels in itself an amazing reality, yet to also be working with a person you highly respect as a novelist, songwriter and painter, well life just doesn't get any better.
What issues do you address in your work?
My artwork has often concerned the social dynamic between men and women; as well as militarism; social justice; poverty; prisons; pop culture; media and the general state of an often-insane world.
What kinds of responses have you received from people?
Responses vary of course, and as an artist you have to roll with that. It is healthy not to let any response go to your head whether it is good or bad. Though, overall what you remember is when people tell you personally how something you’ve created affected them in a positive way.
How did the "Inspired Agitators" project get started, do you put the posters up on the street, distribute them to community groups, or schools?
"Inspired Agitators" is a series of posters (and postcards) based on the actions of a selection of international activists whose vision and determination inspired me. The series includes John Heartfield, Mordechai Vanunu, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Victor Jara for a total of 17. History is embedded with obstacles that must have seemed insurmountable. Yet, again and again, battles are waged in climates of indifference, hostility and brutality. This collection represents inspired moments in history when an Indian Nation wore down the U.S. government, an artist defied the Nazi party, women achieved the right to vote, a socialist government was elected in North America, universal healthcare was implemented, a union for all was organized, a woman was finally accepted legally as a person and a black man fought public lynching."
After many years of creating posters that were meant to be up as temporary street posters I wanted these posters to be more permanent. So they are treated more as art prints and printed as necessary using computer technology that allows for unlimited colour usage that was previously not possible financially. So wherever Mecca Normal performs in North America we try and put the posters up (as well as our other art) in settings not normally known for political posters. The poster of Paul Robeson was also printed conventionally as part of Josh MacPhee’s People’s History Poster series.
What technique do you use to make them?
I try to mix old methods of art making with more modern technologies. Each poster is approached differently. I may do an acrylic mono print as is the case with Red Cloud or a traditional charcoal drawing of Phil Ochs or a continuos line drawing (without looking at the paper) of Lucy Parsons. But from these tactile beginnings I scan the artwork and in PageMaker I design the poster with text. The final step is choosing coloured archival paper to make a giclée print on a DeskJet printer.
Is there personal relevance in selecting each agitator?
I read a lot of biographies and autobiographies of artistic and political people and I find that they help give me perspective in my own work. Life does not always follow a clean trajectory of this leads to that. It is often messy, full of setbacks, hard work, luck, and opposition. I also selected people from a wide political spectrum because I realize social change occurs on many different levels. With the posters I wanted to encourage and inspire an eclectic activism that is not always obvious when we think about activism.
Tell us a bit about your book"Gruesome Acts of Capitalism", what inspired it, what information you included, how you created the images to accompany the text?
I’d been reading The Guardian newspaper regularly for years, and would come across these amazing statistics and studies that made me go "WOW, I didn’t know that. That’s incredible." So I decided to start collecting this information in a file with the purpose of making a chapbook which I did. I would have the book available at Mecca Normal shows and the response was immediate. I’d watch people reading it and it was apparent that the statistics had the same effect on others as they did on me. I later expanded the text into what is now the full book.
The book uses statistics to illustrate the gap between rich and poor. It is graphically designed to highlight the cold hard numbers that represent this gap. You also find out the cost of celebrity weddings and the cost of renting oxen for a day of ploughing. I also included some of my cartoons to add levity. I had recently been drawing a lot of cartoons and found that they thematically fit well with the book. There is also a handy list at the end of the book of organizations that work in the area of social justice.
The book has many statistics on the wealth of the rich and they are used as a reminder of the trivial nature of wealth. To show the imbalance that exists in the world. I think there should be a healthy level of disgust at the obesity of the rich. Incredible wealth is absurd.
So I designed, typeset, drew, and researched the book. I approached Arbeiter Ring (a small political publisher based in Winnipeg, Canada and distributed by AK Press). They wanted to publish it and they did a fine job. I’m very happy.
The book is for those who are already activists but want a handy reference full of good information to help them in their activism; Its for concerned citizens who lost track of why everything is so messed up in the first place. It’s for those who want a better world but need an inspired kick in the pants. Its also for those with an absurd sense of humour who find the cost of Lionel Ritchie’s divorce proceedings mind-numbingly insane compared to those in the world living on $2 dollars a day.
I know it is just a little book in the world but as Mahatma Gandhi said: "First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win."
My next book will be a graphic novel called "The Listener" The story is set in 1933 Germany, and concerns the last free election that occurred just before the Nazi Party achieved power. The outcome of this vote shaped the course of history. Had individuals acted differently, Nazi Germany might never have come to be. I’m still looking for a publisher.
My band Mecca Normal is writing and recording a new album to come out on Kill Rock Stars in the spring of 2006. We will continue to present our lecture/slide presentation/performance "How Art & Music Can Change The World" (recently presented in front of 150 high school art students in a suburb of Vancouver).
My musical partner Jean Smith is working on her next novel and also has a new book of poems coming out called "Glasspool Freighters", (co-written with Matthew Wascovich) which will be published by Slow Toe: The cover art will be by Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth.
On the way from my apartment to the subway every morning, I come across a small battlefield in the war for control of public space. That may seem like a melodramatic way to describe some cardboard boxes taped over a payphone advertisement, but fuck it. This little ad display has been scratched, smashed, spraypainted, graffiti'd, and, most often, covered with cardboard boxes and wood boards (picture at right). Every morning, someone covers it up, someone else comes and cleans it up, and the next morning it's covered again.
The ad is one of three for beer companies on my morning route. One is a billboard obviously targeting young African-American males, the other two are generic payphone displays. This one is in front of the local mosque, smack in the middle of the sidewalk hangout spot for the neighborhood's Muslim community. Since the Quran calls alcohol "Satan's handiwork" it's not surprising that this ad's arrival was probably viewed as an unwelcome intrusion.
I don't want to read too much into this, but after the recent controversies over Hummer and Time magazine's street art ad campaigns, passing by this one every day made me think about all the tiny ways that art, public space, and commercialism are contested day to day. Just thought I'd share.
There's been some rumors and confusion about this, hopefully this will clear things up: Last week, we got word that Andrew Morgan's Ghost Bike had been removed. After asking around, the story seems to be that a car had jumped onto the curb and knocked down the pole the bike was attached to. The Downtown Express has details:
Crashing the crash scene
The Houston St. area apparently isn’t even safe for the memorials to cyclists killed there. A cab crashed Saturday into a memorial bike placed on the sidewalk to honor Andrew Ross Morgan, 25, who was killed by a truck at the same spot last month while biking to work. The cab collided with another taxi at Houston and Elizabeth Sts. and then the cabs hit a parked car, knocked over a motorcycle and plowed through a no parking sign with the locked memorial bike placed by a group called Visual Resistance. One taxi passenger reportedly suffered minor injuries and two bar customers outside Tom & Jerry’s on Elizabeth St. were nearly hit. One factor that may have contributed to both accidents is that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is working on a subway ventilation project on Houston St. between the Bowery and Elizabeth St., which has taken a traffic lane away on either side of the major cross-town artery and caused decreased visibility in the intersection for turning traffic. Cyclist Brandie Bailey, 21, was killed on Houston St. in May.
The good people at a nearby bar took in the bike so that it could be put back. We got in touch with them and replaced the bike and plaque Fridy afternoon. The memorial is back up just a few feet from its original location. As of this writing, all three ghost bikes are still in place. Thanks for everyone who has paid their respects at the memorial sites with flowers and messages. And thanks most especially to the friends and family members of Andrew Morgan and Liz Padilla who have contacted us since we started this project. Your support means the world to us.
Cristy c. Road is an illustrator who started making punk zines at the age of 14. Her drawings capture the beauty of people who defy traditional beauty standards. Whether she's portraying the dystopian future or quiet moments of friendship, her work sticks in your head. On her website she says:
"I contribute work to ideas I vouch for and bands I dance to. Sometimes, I spend too much time thinking of the role of art in social change. One day, I decided illustration could take form of a weapon to dismiss exclusion. Then, I decided it could manifest into a tool that presents ideas in accesible and beautiful ways. In the end, I don't think making some drawings or saying the right words maks us immune to being the oppressor.... Through some drawings, I'm trying to make imperfections shine."
She's one of our favorite artists, so we were excited to set up the following interview:
How did you get started making political art and what issues do you address in your art?
I think integrating political ideas into my drawings was just a natural progression, cause I've thought of art as my primary craft since puberty. Whatever affects my life is usually what's represented in my art.
Ten years ago I was only doing art for fanzines and show flyers, the occasional spurt of, say, sexism and classism that affected me would pop up here and there in my drawings. However, as I grew up, I felt a lot more confident in discussing (visually) where I was coming from politically. For me, it took a lot of growth and healing to even talk about things like sexism and racism. And although I can't say that three years ago, when my art became more strikingly political than it was in the past, I had healed from all repression that had pounded me in my life, I sure as hell had learned and strengthened from some of that pounding. Fighting for yourself and those around you is a lifelong challenge, but I feel that the initial year when I felt strong enough to talk about what constricted me while growing up was when I felt strong enough to make drawings about it.
In regards to issues I tackle, I think for a while I was really into focusing on making art about gender, feminism, and combating sexism. It depends on what's happening around me. There was a while when I did a lot of art about Cuba, the US, and immigration policies. During the inauguration protests, I did a lot of drawings about Bush policies and how they're all silent killers. Right now I'm gonna start working on a new zine/novel about teenagers, queerness, punk rock, and the latino community in Miami --- so I'm gonna start pouring out drawings about that.
What/who are your inspirations?
Growing up I was really obsessed with all the bands I listened to and all the artists that persisted with them, or at least made art for them, and I think that that heavily influenced my aesthetic.
In that subcultural context I always really liked stuff by Fly, Evan Dorkin, Cometbus, Nikki Mcclure, and whoever drew all the covers for that band Grimple. Eventually, I realized that art I looked at outside of punk rock, both as a kid and now, was as beautiful and enlightening. And I think that a lot of those more accessible artists like Faith Ringgold, Ben Shahn, and Frida Kahlo, really triggered what I wanted to make art about. But I know there’s always room for growth and I think its really easy for me to totally fall in love with something new that could pull me in some inane direction.
What mediums do you use?
When I was fourteen I think I used to only work in black and white because the art in all the zines and records I liked was black and white, but eventually I also realized that I could get away with this cause its economically feasible. And hell knows I wasn’t the only artist in punk rock who felt this way. I always wanted my art to get out there, whether it be through zines or flyers or whatever, so black and white just made sense for a poor teenage girl with wicked photocopy-scamming abilities.
Now I draw with pens of various sizes. I think that’s why its really difficult for me to make art that’s bigger than 11x17. All my stuff is travel-sized, except it doesn’t suck like travel sized bathroom products. I ideally like coloring with pantone markers, but those fuckers are THREE DOLLARS EACH. They're so amazing, but not very friendly to the economically disenfranchised.
I made these two books once and I wanted them to have a really raw appeal, so I made all the colors with with acrylic paint, all the shading with markers, and all the lines with pens. Some of them are in the 2003 section of my webpage and you can tell how less refined they are from my more recent stuff.
A year ago, I got a computer, which definitely lasts longer than a stupid marker, and I've been teaching myself how to do shading and coloring with photoshop and it doesn’t cost me anything. Sometimes I paint backgrounds with acrylic paint, scan them in, and impose them on the scanned line-drawing.
What's the process for making your drawings?
It definitely depends on what I'm doing. However, I always start by making my friends model for me. I never draw from pictures that already exist --- I usually make people pose doing ridiculous things and pay them back with breakfast. Each element in my drawings is from a different reference, then I just piece them together into one composition. I then add colors and shading either digitally or with markers and paint. I think whats really positive about doing stuff digitally is that making prints is really accessible, and I can make the art as public as possible.
How do you address your identities (feminist, queer, latina, punk, etc.) in your artwork?
At first, I was afraid of tackling too much in my art, because I felt one issue would be marginalized and it would come off as, you know, my “token piece on sex and feminism”, or my “token piece on Cuba”. At the same time, I felt, if anyone thought I was doing that, it would be a little awkward cause those are backgrounds that I identify with. But while my identities are things that I, and those around me, have to interact with everyday, I think that they aren't going to persist with every single drawing I make because different battles affect me more or less at different times. Although making art that strictly defines these identities/struggles is important to me, I still like to make art in which the concept is neutral. However, its safe to say that my political identity is always gonna seep through one of my “neutral” drawings. For example, I did a drawing for the cover of MAXIMUMROCKNROLL the other day, and I just drew a bunch of kids hanging out playing music, but when choosing who I wanted to draw, I was pretty damn crazy about not everyone being male, not everyone being white, you know. Lately, reaching that inclusiveness in my art has been difficult, because I've been doing lots of work in small periods of time, and its mostly been work for projects I'm doing with other people. In the end though, that need for representing both my identity and the concept of inclusion through random ideas is always somehow generated.
What piece(s) are you most proud of?
That constantly changes, I think. But right now I really like the drawing of the cops that says “State Sanctioned Terrorism.”I had been working with other people on different projects for a long time, one of which was a record cover that had a drawing about cops on the back. So I really missed making art that had no particular use. And one day I just snapped when I heard about something that happened to a friend during a run-in with the popo, and I made that drawing and liked it.
You mentioned that you are interested in starting to make street art. What mediums? Do you have any ideas for pieces?
I think initially when I think of my art as street art, I think of wheat pasting iconic images. I really think its important to make political art accessible to people outside of the art bubble, or even the radical bubble. Leftist ideas aren't that accessible to a lot of poor communities who comply with these ideas, and I think its important to realize that these images can positively affect people outside of our direct communities. However, lately I've been wanting to refine my stenciling abilities --- all my friends do these wicked stencils and they're all over Brooklyn and Philly and I get so inspired when I see them. They become so permanent and ingrained in the aesthetic of the town itself.
What is your favorite thing to do?
That’s the hardest question ever. So, right now I’m living off my artwork, so I'm financially stable and have all this free time --- so I finally have the privilege to do things outside of working and crazy stupid things. Like having drawing/crafts parties, eating food all day, partying, being in groups that support sexual assault/rape survivors, having long talks about privilege, having long talks about sex, aimlessly exploring my crazy city, partying harder. I can't have one favorite thing to do. I really like all those things.
For everything Cristy c. Road, check out http://croadcore.org
The big news in the street art world this morning comes from Washington, D.C., where three people, allegedly Borf and two friends, were arrested early yesterday morning. The Washington Post, which had been working on a story about Borf for several months, rushed the story into print after the arrest. The article is fascinating for its portrait of a smart, audacious, impulsive kid who's made a huge splash in D.C., and provides answers to many of the mysteries that Borf himself cultivated so well:
The man primarily responsible for Borf is, it turns out, an 18-year-old art student from Great Falls ... according to D.C. police inspector Diane Groomes. He was arrested along with two other young men in the wee hours of yesterday morning after officers received a tip that graffiti artists were spray-painting at Seventh and V streets NW....
Borf was the nickname for a close friend of her son's who committed suicide about two years ago. The Borf face featured in his graffiti -- which many who've walked through Dupont Circle would recognize, and which looks somewhat like TV actor Jerry O'Connell -- belongs to that young man. Murphy suggests that for her son, the Borf face and moniker came to stand for all that he felt was wrong with the world....
Over and over, the man who wanted to be known simply as Borf said his identity was not important. What was important was his message -- an earnest though sometimes muddled mix of progressive politics filtered through a lens of youthful optimism....
Once upon a time, Borf said, he was "just, like, some liberal, like anybody," but then he started reading, and found out he really wanted to be an anarchist. He decided he doesn't believe in the state, capitalism, private property, globalization. Most of all, he doesn't believe in adulthood, which he considers "boring" and "selling out."
"Growing up is giving up," he said. "I think some band said it."
Read the whole thing here. Like most mysteries belatedly solved, finding out the real story is a little bittersweet. We interviewed Borf a few months back and our interactions were great. He's one of the most prolific, inventive, and funny stencilists working; his impact on D.C. over the past year has been huge.
The three kids who were arrested are being charged with misdemeanors for defacing property. One of the them told the reporter "Borf is Dead." Let's hope not. Long live Borf!
Photo at top from Michael Oliver's flickr photoset: Finding Borf. Post edited for clarity.
Charles at Stay Free! has posted a description and flickr photoset of a recent excursion to one of New York's worst kept secrets: the High Line, an abandoned elevated freight railway that runs through Manhattan's West Side from the Meatpacking District to Midtown:
Three weeks ago, Carrie, my brother (Steven), and I headed to Manhattan's west side to climb the High Line, an elevated rail line above 10th Avenue (mostly). The current High Line is a remnant of a much larger elevated freight rail system, and it has been out of use since 1980. The trackbed provides a glimpse of what New York would look like if it were abandoned and turned over to nature.
The High Line starts at 33d Street and 12th Avenue near the MTA's Hudson Yards and runs to Gansevoort Street and Washington Avenue in the Meatpacking District. I have wanted to walk the line for years and it was exactly as much fun as I thought it would be.
You can read the full article here, but the real gems are in the captions to their photo gallery. There are tips on entry and safety, and the photos are fantastic: see especially the Cost & Revs roller, the sculpture garden, and the spider.
Brandon Bauer sent us a call from the Center for the Study of Political Graphics for poster art related to the prison-industrial complex. The CPSG is a great institution that documents and supports contemporary political artists and the exhibition they're planning sounds wonderful.
Check out the text of the call below, or download a PDF version here. And don't forget the other two great projects that are still seeking submissions: Street Art Workers and Josh MacPhee's Reproduce and Revolt!.
WANTED: Posters on the Prison Industrial Complex
The Center for the Study of Political Graphics (CSPG) will premiere an exhibition on the Prison Industrial Complex at the Watts Towers Art Center, Spring 2006. CSPG is asking artists, organizations and activists for poster donations to help develop this exhibition.
We also are looking for artists to make posters for organizations doing prison work. The United States has the largest prison population in the world—over two million inmates. In California, 32 prisons house over 160,000 men and women at an annual cost of $6 billion. Since the 1970s, the rate of most serious crimes has dropped or remained stagnant, yet prisons have been filled at double capacity. People of color, the poor, the illiterate, the mentally ill, youth, and women are the primary occupants. One in three black men between the ages of twenty and twenty-nine will spend time in prison or jail. The majority of those entering prison are convicted on non-violent drug charges.
Under the California three-strikes laws, many prisoners are serving life sentences for petty theft convictions. In California, 80% of incoming prisoners are returning on parole violations. The number of women in U.S. prisons multiplied more than seven times between 1980 and 2003, from 13,400 to over 100,000. Valley State Prison for Women, in Chowchilla, California, holds over 3500 women—twice its capacity—and is the largest women’s prison in the world. This phenomenal growth is due to mandatory drug sentencing laws, conspiracy provisions, a dysfunctional parole system, inadequate legal representation, and huge profits made by the multinational corporations servicing the prisons.
The posters in CSPG’s prison exhibition will cover many of the critical issues surrounding this system of mass incarceration including: the death penalty, Three Strikes, racism, women’s right to self defense, access to education and health care, sweatshop labor, divestment, privatization,
torture, and re-entry into the community.
Posters should be submitted by January 30, 2006. Criteria for posters CSPG collects: 1). It must be produced in multiples such as silkscreen, offset, stencil, litho, digital output etc. 2). The poster must have overt political content. If you would like to create a poster for an organization doing prison work or to donate posters, please contact:
Center fo rthe Study of Political Graphics
8124 West Third Street, Suite 211
Los Angeles, CA
With more than 50,000 posters, the Center for the Study of Political Graphics has the largest collection of Post World War II graphics in the U.S. Through traveling exhibitions, online photo albums, internships, and volunteer opportunities CSPG actively shares this valuable resource with a broader public. CSPG is reclaiming the power of art to educate, agitate and inspire action.
This happened some time ago, but is totally worth mentioning.
On June 4th, 2005,Signs of Truth, a group of Israeli and international activists acting in solidarity with local Palestinians, altered signs in the West Bank. The day was the 38th anniversary of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Activists changed a sign to the largest settlement in the northern West Bank, Ariel, to say "stolen land" in Hebrew, Arabic and English.
Al Jazeera reports:
"Another sign that indicates the distance to Ariel from an Israeli checkpoint 12km away reminds drivers of the ongoing occupation and of the separation wall being built around Palestinian towns. "1967: Occupation; 2005: Apartheid Wall in Salfit" read the signs."
Its really inspiring and impressive to see these tactics being used in such a clever way. Some of the signs were pulled off so well, which must have invoked such an emotional reaction with the people who saw them. Its moments like these that have some potential to jolt people out of an ordinary routine and experience, which can (hopefully) change how the occupation of Palestine is spoken about.
...will be at the opening of Swoon's gallery show at Deitch Projects tonight. For her debut solo show, Swoon has transformed the gallery into a giant, precarious dreamscape. It's a real knockout.
As a sidenote to the previous post, folks who missed the Design of Dissent show can still get a glimpse of it, thanks to public broadcasting. Last week's episode of NOW featured a half-hour interview with Milton Glaser, legendary graphic designer and co-editor of the Design of Dissent book. An overview of the show is available here, with links to the interview transcript, a short slideshow, and more. A video of the whole segment should be up soon here.
This art show ends tomorrow!!! Sorry I didn't post it earlier. Go see it if you can.
The Design of Dissent ends Saturday, July 2, 2005
School of Visual Arts presents “The Design of Dissent,” an exhibition of over 100 political posters and other graphic art from around the world, curated by SVA faculty, board member and legendary designer Milton Glaser and graphic designer and SVA faculty, Mirko Ilić.
The exhibition and book examine the varied, vital graphic response to the constraints of government and the “powers that be” from around the globe.
“The Design of Dissent” showcases posters, books, buttons, magazines and other ephemera from the 1960s to the present, from countries such as Israel, Palestine, the former Yugoslavia, Russia, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Iran, Turkey, Bosnia, Serbia, Spain, Poland, Malaysia, Germany, South Africa, Argentina, Mexico and the United States.
The graphic works tackle a variety of issues ranging from peace, animal rights, gun control, religion, the Iraq war, equality, women’s rights, gay rights and the corporate world. Milton Glaser articulates the power and need for dissent in modern life. “Part of the characteristic of dissent when it’s at its best is fueled by empathy, and it’s fueled by the idea that other people matter, and that if somebody is hurt or victimized, we are all hurt or victimized. It is necessary for dissent to be expressed. It has to be expressed because to protect democracy, it’s the only hope we have."
If you can't make it to the show, there is a book with all the artwork and you can view some of the posters on this website.
Your Mind Better Be Blowing and Soon has wonderful photos of Isaiah Zagar's mosaic murals in Philadelphia. I happened across Zagar's South St. murals in Philly a few years ago and was amazed --- think several blocks that look like Brooklyn's Broken Angel --- but didn't know their story until just now.
Influenced by folk art as well as Picasso and Gaudi, Isaiah Zagar has made these public mosaics his life work, with the goal of "making the city of Philadelphia PA USA into a labyrinthine mosaic museum that incorporates all my varied knowledge and skills." One mosaic covers the South Street Magic Garden, a community garden that was built out of an abandoned lot. The owner of the lot --- who first left it empty for years, then allowed it to be transformed into a beautiful public space --- now wants to sell it, and has ordered that the mural be taken down. Zagar is trying to raise $200,000 in the next two years to save the garden.
Just got word that WBAI's Rise Up Radio show will be doing a segment at 11am today (Friday) on graffiti and advertising. Cope2, who recently completed a billboard for Time Magazine, will be in the studio, and Josh MacPhee will be on the phone. k.see from VR will be on as well.