I just got this announcement, and found out that some really kick-ass artist and thinker friends of mine have formed a group in San Francisco called The Counter Narrative Society (TCNS). Mabel Negrete, Fernando Marti, Fiona Glas and Chris Carlsson are working together as TCNS to collect and divulge stories and histories in innovative and interesting ways. There next project starts December 1st in San Francisco:
As part of the 1st Public Art/Urban Interventions Day called "GROUNDED?" (organized by Southern Exposure and Intersection for the Arts), TCNS are making a public art project on the theme of “Hunting the Now/Cazando el Momento.” It is a bilingual treasure hunt game, intended to divulge unique features of the present social-urban development of Mission and Valencia Streets between Cesar Chavez and Duboce Street. For more than two centuries these two streets have had a long history of various developments contributing to the cultural mixing, segregation, and iniquities exhibiting today. From the Mexican, Central, Latin American to the European, Asian and African American experience, all of these communities have had a major role in shaping the cultural face of both Mission and Valencia streets. In every instance urban developers, landowners and occupants are contributors to their transformations and vestiges of the past, present and future. In search of this epoch, Hunting the Now creates an unusual foundation or ground into how we look at these two streets as we playfully gaze over them in a Saturday Afternoon. The game will launch on Saturday December 1st, 2007 and be distributed through various venues over the month of December.
This friday in New York City there is a benefit event in support of the San Francisco 8. The SF8 are eight former Black Panther Party members and active supporters (now ages 56 to 72) who were arrested last January on charges related to the 1971 killing of a San Francisco police officer. Some of these men faced virtually identical charges almost 35 years ago—charges that were dropped after it was revealed that police torture had extracted the “confessions” used to justify the case.
Now the case is back on, based on the same flawed evidence. The judge has released the 6 bail-eligible defendants on bond, and I was able to see them speak in San Francisco a couple months ago at a benefit event put on for them by Freedom Archives and the San Francisco Print Collective that was also a book release event for Emory Douglas. The SF8 were incredibly humorous, humble, thoughtful and moving to a man, I was very impressed.
Of course I was not able to meet the 2 defendants who are not eligible for bail. They are political prisoners Herman Bell and Jalil Muntaqim. Both have already served more than 34 years in New York state prisons. This new case charges them again with actions for which they are already serving time.
Former Black Panther Minister of Information and propagandist Emory Douglas is one of many cultural workers that has done a lot to support the SF8. He has created a special poster to raise funds for them, it is intense (and it is the top image in this post). You can buy a silkscreened or offset printed version here and support the struggle.
The 2007 issue of the Journal of the California Society of Printmakers, "Prints in All the Wrong Places," has just been released. This years issue is all about political printmaking, with a guest editor, Art Hazelwood.
Art has put together a huge collection of images and essays bringing together a real cross section of political printmakers, exhibitions, and political action. There are pieces focusing on printmaking in revolutionary Oaxaca, the San Francisco Print Collective, and Inkworks Press. Exhibitions such as Yo! What Happened to Peace and the Art of Persuasion are discussed, and really great writers, artists and poster archivists like Lincoln Cushing, Favianna Rodriguez, Mark Vallen and Carol Wells all show up. I also wrote a couple short pieces on the Celebrate People's History poster series and the Paper Politics exhibition.
The best part about it is that you can download a pdf version of the issue for free right here.
WRAP (The Western Regional Advocacy Project) is a homelessness advocacy group that has realized the power art has in spreading a message. For the past year or so they have been working closely with San Francisco printmaker Art Hazelwood to develop a series of mass-produced posters to illustrate the main points in their Without Housing campaign. Four Bay Area artists (Ed Gould, Art Hazelwood, Claude Moller & Jos Sances) created poster designs which are now available from WRAP. You can see the posters and order them here. To learn more about WRAP go here. And they are hoping to work with more artists in the future, so if you are interested, contact Art Hazelwood.
Good friends Lize Mogel and Alexis Bhagat have been hard at work on a really great project called An Atlas of Radical Cartography. A collection of maps and essays illustrating the intersections of geography, mapping, politics and activism, it is finally coming out! Beyond being politically engaging, it is an amazing book object, a slip case that contains a book of essays and 10 actual full-size fold-out maps dealing with such issues as extraordinary rendition/torture planes, garbage and waste removal, water pathways, borders and surveillance cameras.
Here's a couple shots of the maps:
They will be on display in Chicago starting this weekend:
November 27 2007 – January 19, 2008
Gallery 400, University of Illinois, Chicago
OPENING RECEPTION and book launch: Wednesday, November 28, 5-8pm
Gallery talk @ 6:30pm
the Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP)
Institute for Applied Autonomy with Site-R
Trevor Paglen & John Emerson
the Speculators of AREA Chicago
Organized by Lize Mogel and Alexis Bhagat
An Atlas is a traveling exhibition of artists working with “radical cartography”—a practice that uses maps and mapping to promote social change. The participating artists, architects, and collectives take on issues from globalization to garbage and explore the map’s role as a political agent. The exhibition and accompanying publication contribute to a growing cultural movement that cuts across boundaries of art, cartography, geography, and activism.
The companion publication, An Atlas of Radical Cartography (Journal of Aesthetics and Protest Press, 2007) will be available for purchase at the gallery, and available online as of December 1.
Click here for more information and Chicago-area lecture schedule.
And finally there will a New York City book launch at Bluestockings Books on 172 Allen St. on December 6th.
The Celebrate People's History posters are included in a new exhibition organized by The Production Unit called The Long Distance Runner. The show is at Den Frie Udstillingsbygning in Copenhagen, Denmark. If you are in Denmark, definitely check it out, they are deeply influenced by one of my favorite filmmakers, Peter Watkins.
Here's some info on the show from the curators:
The Production Unit is a network of artists from Sweden and Denmark working with narrative experiments, the construction of history and media critique. The exhibition at Den Frie Udstillingsbygning will be the first public presentation of their archive THE The Long Distance Runner, which includes both collaborative and individual projects as well as works by a number of other international artists. The show is part of Den Frie Udstillingsbygning’s focus on self-organisation and collectivism and gives an example of how a group of younger artists works collaboratively across languages and nationalities. The artists of The Production Unit are Petra Bauer, Nanna Debois Buhl, Kajsa Dahlberg, Sara Jordenö, Conny Karlsson, Runo Lagomarsino and Ditte Lyngkjær Pedersen.
The Long Distance Runner is comprised of projects, which in various ways discuss current political and cultural questions as well as historical events. The different parts constitute a series of discussions related to communities and publics with emphasis on questions concerning nationality, identity and language. The material varies in form covering video installations, poster projects, sound-based work, photography and various publications produced by the members of the group and artists as Josh MacPhee, Carlos Motta, Jenny Perlin, Hito Steyerl and Ylva Westerlund.
A central part of the presentation of The Long Distance Runner is Peter Watkins film La Commune from 1999. Through its’ controversial form the film challenges prevailing notions of documentary film experimenting with an unconventional way of discussing the historical event of the Paris Commune in 1871 and the relationship between subject, community and revolutionary action.
The exhibition is open daily from 10am to 5pm Thursday 10am to 9pm
Free guided tours Saturday and Sunday at 3pm
Den Frie Udstillingsbygning
DK-2100 København Ø
Tlf. +45 3312 2803
Ricardo Levins Morales, one of the main artists and organizers behind the Northland Poster Collective in Minneapolis has just released a great new collection of work in the form of a calendar. The 2008 Coffee Calendar is a wall calendar, a full color collection of Ricardo's art, and an introduction to the history, culture and politics of coffee. He has created an completely new body of art work around coffee and done a huge amount of historical investigation into the politics of coffee production. The calendar can be seen in all its glory here, as well as a list of online stores that carry it. The calendar is also union printed using high quality recycled paper and soy-based ink.
For everyone in New York City:
I've been invited to give a short presentation along with trouble-making artist extraordinare Steve Lambert as part of Anne Elizabeth Moore's Unmarketable book release event. Here's the details:
Sponsorships got you down? Lackluster branding no longer giving you the thrill it once did? Psyched to join the revolution . . . the shopping revolution? Did the murky stench of corporate advertising upset the partygoers at your last soiree? Confused about which big business best correlates with your lifestyle? Can't get rid of those greasy stains since that last meeting with the major label A&R rep? Want to sell out, but not quite sure where to turn?
Well, the good people behind Unmarketable: Brandalism, Copyfighting, Mocketing, and the Erosion of Integrity can help: Just attend this focus group now forming in your area. Also, be sure not to miss our exciting co-promotional opportunities listed below.
7 p.m. November 14
Ad Hoc Arts
49 Bogart Street Unit 1G, Buzzer 22
Slide talk with guest presenters Steve Lambert, Josh MacPhee
In collaboration with Not My Government, Art for a Democratic Society announces an open call to all visual artists in the Bay Area interested in creating a social/political poster zine. Our goal is to get ten different artists to make one poster each, with the final product being ten 18"x24" posters, probably printed one color on newsprint.
Once we have the crew of artists together, we will all collectively decide the theme of the poster zine. Possible themes include: health care, war, police brutality, opposing the "new Jim Crow," etc. The process of poster design and printing can be done collectively or individually. A skill-share will be organized to help any or all of the artists involved in the project.
If interested please contact us at:
art4democraticsociety [at] earthlink.net
Please tell us your name, email, phone number, what days and times you would be available to meet, and a little about yourself - your background, interests, skills, etc. Artists at any level of experience are welcome.
I recently traveled to Argentina and Chile. My intention was to travel more in Chile and not Argentina, so I only spent 4 days in Buenos Aires before taking a bus over the Andes Mountains. In that time I got a glimpse of the stencil art that graces the walls of B.A.
Similiar to other latin American cities, I am familiar with, political slogans and sayings were painted everywhere. But traditional aerosol graffiti was kinda sparse.
I got to check out the FLA, Federacion Libertaria Argentina, an anarchist organization that has been around since the 30's! They have, what they say is, the largest anarchist archive in the world. Publications from so many countries, Israel to Japan, spanning over a hundred years. They also house an incredible library, an infoshop, a large "auditorium," a silkscreen workshop, and publish their own paper, El Libertario. In the time we spent there, I interacted with the most diverse age group i ever have, in an anarchist space. It was an incredible and inspiring environment to be in.
I was also able to attend an "orgazmica" before I moved on to Chile. Its much like the Really Free Markets that we throw in NYC, some films showing, free stuff, hanging out, and some folks slinging products they make.
I got just a tiny taste of Buenos Aires, hopefully I will be able to go back in the future to explore more.
Our hosts, Finn and Kiersten, in Copenhagen ran a great little space called YNKB. Josh gave a talk/slideshow there on political printmaking. Located in the diverse working class Outer Northern Bridge neighborhood, it's a pretty little storefront, fairly neutral with white walls and a bookshelf alongside one wall with their publications.
From Brett Bloom's article in the book Realizing the Impossible:
" YNKB (Ydre Norrebro Kultur Bureau [Outer Northern Bridge Culture Bureau])is a space for meetings, film screenings, art projects, informal symposia and campaigns. YNKB has published numerous small books related to their programming, research and initiatives."
The publications document current projects as well as past ones. Finn and Kiersten are of a generation older then Josh and I (they have grandkids), they were inspiring to me in their current projects (the YNKB itself, but also a video project about Palestine they produced for the local pirate TV that we saw at a contemporary art museum, work about immigrants in northern Denmark, and work to change an old rail terminal into a public cultural space. Talking with them and reading their publications it was also inspiring to see their past projects, to watch the trajectory of two political/politicized artists, to see how they've changed and stayed engaged, curious and playful (high compliments from me).
So amongst the older project documented (off the top of my head): a book of Finn's photos of Copenhagen in 1968, mostly depopulated street shots, after being in Copenhagen the sites pictured were both familiar and foreign, maybe most striking in the lack of visible signs of global capital and youth culture.
Their work 'rag-picking' (a term that I think has more resonance as a political act in Denmark (maybe kind of Tolstoyan?)), collecting clothes and fabrics for revolutionary groups in Africa in the 1970s.
Another zine documented the adventure playgrounds in Copenhagen, a utopian project for kids, where the kids created their own spaces to play...
And as mentioned above their work trying to make a cultural space in an abandoned (an now demolished) rail-freight exchange in Copenhagen. They worked on this project on a few levels and have two publications documenting this, one slightly more official showing architects plans for how it could work, interviews with neighborhood residents, local artists etc... and the second publication documenting their work putting up giant speech bubbles on the building itself with proposals of what could be done there.
Josh's talk at YNKB went well in that people responded well to it and seemed engaged but also we learned some things as well from the folks there. YNKB has a website with a lot of documentation and information and if you're in Copenhagen look for their events!
We live in a very, very strange world. The Street Art Workers have had a little blurb about them published in the Oct/Nov issue of the Indian edition of Elle Decor Magazine?!?!?
Check it out:
Australian activist artists and designers extraordinaire Breakdown Press (Tom Civil & Lou Smith) have just released their 3rd political poster series, this one around nuclear power and waste. I was lucky enough to have one of my designs chosen, along with 16 other artists and designers. Breakdown prints thousands of newsprint booklets of their posters (similar to the Street Art Workers project) and then distroes them world-wide, as well as pastes them up on the streets. Check out Breakdown Press, and the new poster set here.
For those in Melbourne, check out the launch party on Tuesday November 13th at The Artery, 87-89 Moor St Fitzroy, from 6pm-8pm.
My friend Bettina recently sent me this list of links to stories and images of graffiti in Baghdad. Most of them are old, back from the beginning of the war when the graffiti was being heralded as a sign of "new found freedom." It's interesting to go back and re-read these, and also look at the youtube videos of more more recent graffiti:
National Public Radio
Christian Science Monitor
Two Justseeds members, Swoon and Stain, have an opening this weekend in Paris, France. They are building an installation of their work with photographer Mike Brodie at the Galerie LJ Beaubourg. Chris explains the installation as "based on the decay of industry, its effect on the individual and the environment."
Construction is under way in the gallery, while the streets have seen some activity in recent days, thanks to Paris' new bicycle program.
If we have any French viewers or folks in the area the opening will be November 10th at 7pm. The exhibit will run until December 8th.
Art from the Justseeds Coop is featured this month on the website Rejected Letters to the Editor. An interesting project, RLTE is a collection of letters to the editor, op-ed pieces, and editorial cartoons that have been submitted and rejected by the press. The goal is to publish this material in order to illustrate a much broader spectrum of ideas than we get in the mainstream news. The editors of the site can explain it best themselves:
"In the press, “Letters to the Editor” and “op-ed” pages silently assert that journalism includes a place for the voice of the public. But inconvenient truths are too often absent. Visionary thoughts are too rarely heard. Proposals for democratic social change and improvement are, for the most part, out of sight. Rejected Letters to the Editor, an independent online magazine, is designed to provide an important, if only partial, corrective. It is available to readers at no cost.
Our goal at Rejected Letters to the Editor is to expand the visible spectrum of ideas. To publish letters, etc., that will broaden public discussion beyond the boundaries set by the gatekeepers of our mental environment. We hold to the democratic conviction that public opinion must be educated by, and conversant with, the course of human events, and we will seek to publish work that allows essential perspectives, presently unacknowledged by respected newspapers, to see the light of day."