Jesus and I have been invited to speak at UC Berkeley working as movement artists, working in collaboration with other community and artist activists as well as working in collaboration with grassroots organizing groups. We are both very excited about having the opportunity to do this presentation and talk as part of a Chicana/o Studies class MeXicana/o Art Thought and (Art)Practice. Jesus is excited about presenting at UC Berkeley because he emerged as a graphic designer/artist-activist during the 1999 twLF (third world Liberation Front) hunger strike and actions. I am particularly excited because my art practice also grew out of my experiences at Cal
Celia Herrera Rodriguez an incredibly talented and sage Xicana artist and bad ass professora encouraged and pushed me to create art even when I was afraid of the process of creating art because it told me so much about myself. Because Celia helped me become more grounded in my worldview my politics became that more clear.She brought in amazing artists to our classes in my eyes were celebrities because of their profund and prolific work. I had the luck of meeting amazing artists like Cherrie Moraga, Juana Alicia, Yolanda Lopez, Emmanuel Montoya and Consuelo Underwood Jimenez in her classes. And now...I am both proud of and humbled by what her mentorship has helped me to achieve and am happy to be invited to her classroom to share my practice and art.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the third world Liberation Front Hunger Strike, where seven college students camped outside of California Hall and fasted for what they believed in. I was at Chicana/o Studies conference in Texas when the strike started. I was there with friends that attended UC Berkeley) and we were spreading the word of the upcoming strike and the struggle to keep the Ethnic Studies Department alive and keep it from getting folded into the Cultural Studies department.
I was a student at SF State where I was in the Raza Studies Department. Sf State is where the Third World College was established in 1969 after its own student struggle won it. I lived in Berkeley and had been a part of MEXA and Layout Editor of La Voz de Berkeley since 1994 and had been making flyers for organizations on campus since. Starting with the the third world College action in 1997 to the Crossing Over Conference in 1999 and the Hunger Strike I made flyers to promote the work that was being done.
I returned from the conference 4 days into the strike and I went to meet up with friends who were camped out in front of California Hall. I was going to leave before if got dark but people started talking about something going down because all the cops were getting together at their Sproul Hall office. It wasn't until 3 or 4 am that the police came down to the encampment and issued their order for people for protestors to disperse. At that point there were people who had decided to get arrested as a strategy and they gathered in front of California Hall and prepared to have their camp to be ripped apart by the cops. My friend and roommate Sean O'shea was going around taking pictures with his digital camera and we stayed around protesting as the cops started hauling people away.
I first became interested in moving to Detroit when, living in Ann Arbor, I read some grad students' thesis paper about urban agriculture in Detroit, as I copied it for him super s-l-o-w-l-y at my copy shop job near the campus of U of M. After that I began to look for books about the city, and Detroit: I Do Mind Dying quickly made it to the top my reading list. Within the book, the names Jimmy Boggs and Grace Lee Boggs stuck out in my mind, and pretty soon after I moved to the city in the summer of 2000 I began volunteering for Detroit Summer, "a youth program / movement to re-build, re-spirit and re-define Detroit from the ground up;" Jimmy and Grace were among the founders of the organization. I continued to learn about them and their ideas, reading almost all their other books during the last nine years I've spent in Detroit.
In The American Revolution: Pages from a Negro Worker's Notebook, Jimmy, a auto factory worker, lays out what has turned out to be a prophetic vision of labor. He explains that with the advent of automation, there will be less work as we know it, and that many people will be unemployed, and suggests that in this technologically advanced society "productivity can no longer be the measure of an individual's right to life." This book was published in 1963. In chapter 4, The Outsiders, he asserts that our definition of work will need to change from production of goods to the mental work of re-organizing society: "The revolution which is within these people will have to be a revolution of their minds and hearts..."
Another book, Revolution and Evolution in the Twentieth Century, came out in 1974. It consists of Grace and Jimmy's analysis of revolutions that happened all over the world, as well as ideas of how revolution might happen in the U.S. Conversations in Maine was published in 1978, and summarizes discussions that took place during ten years of retreats about politics and revolution. Grace published Living for Change: an Autobiography in 1998, which explains the development of her political sensibilities.
Jimmy died in 1993, but Grace still lives at The Boggs Center, the community center they established in part of their house on the East side of Detroit. At almost 94 years old, Grace is still quite active and writes a column weekly for the Michigan Citizen, "America's Most Progressive Community Newspaper." What impresses me most about Grace is how flexible she is in her thinking. She is very open to new ideas and ways of doing things, and is very creative in her perspective about everything she theorizes about. That includes just about everything, but recently she often focuses on schools and the economy. I am grateful to have been able to show the poster to Grace for feedback before printing, and to hand the finished copies to her afterward. In what was one of the most rewarding moments so far of my art-making life, she looked at it and said simply "I love it!"
This just in from Vanessa Renwick, one of my favorite film makers (with what I believe is an Alec 'Icky' Dunn original on the flyer!):
House of Sound
An installation by Vanessa Renwick
New American Art Union
922 SE Ankeny St., Portland, OR
March 7-April 19, 2009
opening Sat. March 7th, 6-9pm
If you're in Pittsburgh this week, come to Morning Glory Coffeehouse to get a last look at the beautiful prints and print collages of Meredith Stern. A lot of this work is new, and it is colorful, loving, inspiring! Meredith will be here to play a reunion show with her old band The Accident. Other unusual and crucial live music and DJing, see below. FREE!
CLOSING PARTY! FREE FOOD + DRINK! SWEET JAMZ!
February 25, 2008 - 8pm at:
MORNING GLORY COFFEEHOUSE
1806 Chislett Street in Morningside, Pittsburgh, PA 15206
live music for the closing party--
The Accident (Meredith + Deanna one-time reunion)
2 DRAGONS BLACK + RED (underage and all the rage)
Etta - solo accapella - yessir
DJ MARY MACK will make your squirrel tail go BUMP!
Joel Kovel is a professor, and writer, working at Bard College, who was recently
notified that his contract will not be renewed. In the statement below he illustrates his political beliefs that he believes have led to his termination.
In January, 1988, I was appointed to the Alger Hiss Chair of Social
Studies at Bard College. As this was a Presidential appointment outside
the tenure system, I have served under a series of contracts. The last
of these was half-time (one semester on, one off, with half salary and
full benefits year-round), effective from July 1, 2004, to June 30,
2009. On February 7 I received a letter from Michèle Dominy, Dean of the
College, informing me that my contract would not be renewed this July 1
and that I would be moved to emeritus status as of that day. She wrote
that this decision was made by President Botstein, Executive
Vice-President Papadimitriou and herself, in consultation with members
of the Faculty Senate.
This document argues that this termination of service is prejudicial and
motivated neither by intellectual nor pedagogic considerations, but by
political values, principally stemming from differences between myself
and the Bard administration on the issue of Zionism. There is of course
much more to my years at Bard than this, including another controversial
subject, my work on ecosocialism (/The Enemy of Nature/). However, the
evidence shows a pattern of conflict over Zionism only too reminiscent
of innumerable instances in this country in which critics of Israel have
been made to pay, often with their careers, for speaking out. In this
instance the process culminated in a deeply flawed evaluation process
which was used to justify my termination from the faculty.
If you're in Providence, or will be over the next month, stop by and check out this exhibit, which includes the Celebrate People's History posters:
Tricks of the Eye: History and Memory in a Shifting Social Landscape
Opening Night, Thursday March 5th , 6-8pm
RISD|Public Engagement, 2nd Floor
CIT Building, 169 Weybosset Street
March 5 thru April 3, 2009.
RISD|Public Engagement is pleased to sponsor the upcoming exhibit Tricks of the Eye: History and Memory in a Shifting Social Landscape. The exhibition highlights the ways that local and national artists respond to the shifting landscapes that backdrop and underline our society’s actions and intentions. Viewed together, the documentation of these at projects foster a vibrant learning environment for the RISD and Providence communities to develop an expanded horizon of what it means to make socially- and publicly-engaged artwork.
Tricks of the Eye incorporates documentation of past and current projects that invite multiple methods of engagement from the viewer. Documentation strategies include web presentations, printed material, models, as well as ephemera from the original artwork.
Artists and projects in the exhibition include:
220 Glimpses of Utopia (John Malpede and the Los Angeles Poverty Department, Los Angeles, CA)
Arctic Listening Post (Jane D. Marsching, Boston, MA)
Armadillo FEMA Trailer Project (Jae Rhim Lee, MIT, Cambridge, MA)
Blue Hammer and ReMEMBERing Wilde (Leon Johnson, Portland, ME)
Celebrate Peoples' History Poster Project (Josh MacPhee, Brooklyn, NY)
Just Fish (Pam Hall, St. John’s, Newfoundland)
Navigating the Space between Home & Exile (Sheryl Mendez, New York City, NY and Iraq)
The NY Times Special Edition (Steve Lambert, New York City, NY)
Meyers Bitter Survey (National Bitter Melon Council, Boston, MA)
Voices and Visions (Holly Ewald, Warwick, RI)
Complementing the exhibition, RISD | Public Engagement has programmed a series of discussions throughout the month of March around emergent and interconnected themes, featuring presentations by exhibition artists, informal panels, and class visits. For updates on the schedule of events, artists’ bios and project descriptions, please visit: www.risdpublicengagement.net
Elige Tu Propia Desventura: La Increíble y Triste Historia de una Cualquiera de Nosotras
(Choose your own dis-adventure: the incredible and sad story of any one of us)
Mujeres Públicas, 2008
While in Buenos Aires I met with one of the women in the feminist art collective Mujeres Públicas, which has been reclaiming public space for six years. They often combat sexism by creating posters and wheat pasting them to advertisements, or printing stickers. I noticed that they recently started a blog, which lists an event they held at the end of January with 28 participants, in which the subject of birth control was addressed in a hands-on workshop!
Amid one of their brainstorming sessions, they came up with the idea of writing a book which would represent challenges women typically face in a Western, industrialized county, challenges which are largely invisible to men. They had the idea to make a book in which the readers control the journey through a series of choices about body image, sexual abuse, sexist encounters and depression. They decide to use the format of a "choose your own adventure" novel, which would cleverly reveal the limits to our "choices" in "free" societies.
After three years of work, the final result is a book that is well-written in a simple style that many different types of women may relate to, and the illustrations are charming. The most impressive thing about this book to me, however, is that it was written collectively by five women, whose lives are embedded in the stories of hope and despair. The cover image reveals their process; behind the image of the woman, a criss-cross of arrows links one situation and event to another. It was explained to me how they laid the paper out on the kitchen table and mapped out the stories of their lives - and the lives of their mothers and sisters - in scrawling text. Then, they linked these stories with dots and red arrows, and spent hours talking while scribbling out, erasing, and redrawing lines. The book is copy-left and self-published, and hopefully will someday be translated and printed in English to reach a wider audience. What's most inspiring is the idea that such an interesting book could be collaboratively written by a group of artists, a feat that is definitely worth repeating.
There are some really interesting films regarding Palestine coming up in Southeast Michigan. Tonight will be the second showing of a one-hour film called Once a Wall, a Ripple Remains by Tirtza Even, a University of Michigan professor originally from Jerusalem. I saw the first showing of this film in and was very moved. The film uses still photos Even took while in Palestine in 1998, and uses digital animation to make the images move and interact. Her work seems to play with the idea of the wall as a metaphor, as she undermines our idea of what is real or unreal - people that seem real become cardboard cutouts, or become transparent so that they are only outlines. The host for this event is a fabulous new gallery in Hamtramck, called 2739 Edwin. I also saw a really inspiring show of papercuts about Palestine at the same gallery last Fall, by Detroit area artist Toby Millman.
The Arab American National Museum in Dearborn is hosting a film series called Chronicles of a Refugee. Here is a description from their website: "Chronicles of a Refugee is a six-part documentary series created by Perla Issa, Aseel Mansour and Adam Shapiro looking at the global Palestinian refugee experience over the last 60 years. Filmed in over 15 countries, with more than 250 interviews of Palestinian refugees who have lived in over 25 countries, the series aims to provoke debate concerning strategy and asks: ‘What makes the most sense for a strategy to achieve Palestinian rights as part of a vibrant and viable Palestinian national movement?’" Today at 4 pm, Episode 3 of the series will be shown; Episode 4 will be shown March 11 at 6:30 pm.
Also on Wednesday, March 11 is the debut of the first ever Ann Arbor Palestine Film Fest! According to the organizers: "The Ann Arbor Palestine Film Festival showcases films about Palestine and by Palestinian directors. Educating through the screen arts, the film festival amplifies the voice of the Palestinian people as a nation and a diaspora. The film festival is an independent and non-sectarian organization." The festival runs through Saturday, March 14.
Alongside historians Jerry García and Benjamin Smith, I have been working on the curation of a small exhibition called 'In the Name of the Blood Shed.' Focusing on photographs, street art, and installation work from Oaxaca, the exhibition includes works by Lapiztola, Zzierra Rrezzia, Edith Morales Sánchez, and Antonio Turok.
If you happen to be in Three Fires Territory any time soon, stop by the show at LookOut! Gallery. Turok and Morales Sánchez will be at the opening, while the members of Lapiztola and Zzierra Rrezzia should be at the closing.
02 March 2009
6:30-9:00 with a panel at 7:00
27 March 2009
6:30-9:00 with workshops at 7:00
This is a design I made recently for a t-shirt for the Earth First roadshow. It got me thinking about how nice it would be if the beavers did take some kind of action against the destruction of their worlds, because they'd probably do a better job of it than humans ever could. Human ideas are a toxic and destructive force in and of themselves, but seldom more so than in the service of righteousness.
My friends WERC and Geraldine (who I went to Mexico with back in October), have been working with a great team of artists on an exciting new project in San Diego: La Entrada. The basic core of the project is an attempt to infuse art into a low income housing project as it is being built. WERC has been painting some amazing murals on the outside. They are also organizing a barrage of workshops for community residents. You can check it out in this short video:
Back in 1997, I was living in Boulder, CO and working with the Prisoners Rights Project, a group dedicated to improving the conditions of Colorado's prisoners. We were mostly collecting and tabulating data and anecdotes from men trapped in the Colorado State Penitentiary, a super maximimum security prison and the ugly little brother of the Federal Florence AdMax prison down the street (there is something like a dozen prisons all on the same drag in Canyon City). I had been working on prison injustice issues for a number of years, first in Washington, DC, then Ohio, and then Colorado. One thing that was constant throughout my time doing prison activism were the envelopes from prisoners, tattooed with ball point pen dragons, big-breasted women, and low riders. These were some of the smallest, most intense and photo-realistic drawings I had ever seen; I had no idea the depth and detail one could extract from a Bic pen.
Illustrations from the Inside isn't exactly a collection of prison envelope art, but it has all the best qualities of that art form and more. The book is an amazing collection of images created by juvenile prisoners that are part of The Beat Within, a long running weekly magazine and writing program for youth in juvenile detention and prison. The pages here are a rush of imagery, from Chicano clown faces to Black super heroes, prison bars to indigenous spirituality. In many ways this is a tour through the mind of most teenage boys, but with a darker twist, as even the most banal images begin to feel infected by fear, control, domination and violence. The quality of the art jumps from childish to some of the most intense social realism I've ever seen. Cartoon Tupac scribbles share space with detailed drawings of riot cops beating Black youth. In some ways Illustrations reads like an American youth version of that popular Russian Criminal Tattoos book, not as esoteric or x-rated, but a serious window into the mindset of 11-25 year old prisoners (yes, some of the images are from imprisoned youth as young as 11!).
Images from Signs of Change Winter Harvest Reception, January 23, 2009
Join local printmakers and activists at a special Activist Print Open Studio, this Thursday, 5-8pm, at the Signs of Change exhibition at the Miller Gallery in Pittsburgh.
ACTIVIST PRINT OPEN STUDIO >>>
Thursday, Feb. 19, 5-8pm
@ Miller Gallery at Carnegie Mellon University
5000 Forbes Avenue
Free and open to the public
Screenprinting open studio provided by Artists Image Resource + The Andy Warhol Museum. Observe printers in action, roll up your sleeves and print posters promoting local issues, or bring $5 and create a screenprint from images that you provide.
When I was in LA I got over to the California African American Museum to see Howard L. Bingham's photographs of the Black Panther Party. The exhibit is made up of photographs from 1968 and ranges from the many different rallies and conferences to more casual encounters between the members. There are a few images of police repression, during an LA rally, and one of the bullet ridden headquarters in Oakland. Otherwise there is a different perspective, from the one I grew up with, in these photos of the Panthers. Absent were the, expected, "militants" with a guns imagery while portrayals of the organization and support being multi-generational and multi-racial. The Panthers did have their aesthetic and image down. A bunch of folks in black leather jackets with dark shades staring you down is super intimidating. The ability and seriousness of the party is conveyed in many of these images. There were also really incredible & beautiful "caught-in-the-moment" portraits of Eldridge Cleaver, Kathleen Cleaver, and Stokely Carmichael. Its some Panther history worth checking out.
In 1968, under the auspices of Life magazine, photographer Howard L. Bingham and journalist Gilbert Moore began a journey to capture the activities of the Black Panther Party. From March through October, from Los Angeles to Oakland, and Berkeley to New York, Bingham's camera immortalized moments in time with Huey P. Newton, Stokely Carmichael, Bobby Seale, Eldridge Cleaver and his wife, Kathleen Neal Cleaver, David Hilliard, and the many initiates, believers and observers.
October 2, 2008 - May 31, 2009
California African American Museum
600 State Dr.
Los Angeles, CA 90037
If you go you can also check out the Black Chrome, Black motorcycle gangs and their customized choppers!
I wanted to announce the release of a new Celebrate People's History poster! The Cherokee Writing System was designed by Frank Brannon, Jr., who runs his own letterpress studio SpeakEasy Press in Dillsboro, NC.
The Cherokee Writing System was developed in 1821 by Sequoyah. Frank was interested in doing a poster about Sequoyah's syllabary after researching the Cherokee Pheonix, the first newspaper that used the writing system, as well as the first Native American newspaper. After studying and giving talks on the subject, Frank realized how few knew about Sequoyah and his work. Frank says, "I felt the Celebrate People's History poster series was the perfect way to get out the word to the people on his story. That's what compelled me to write." He also says letterpress printing normally means a small audience. Making a CPH poster was a way to translate few copies of a poster on Sequoyah to a larger audience.
You can learn more about Frank and SpeakEasy Press at www.speakeasypress.com.
So, here is the English version of the article I had published in Zapruder magazine. This is a much longer version, very much still in process. I'd love to hear what people think, so please comment if you read it!
Street Art and Social Movements
In most societies, very few people have access to the mechanisms of mainstream media creation and distribution. Most of us have little to no input into the barrage of headlines, advertisements, news briefs and billboards we consume everyday. As such, this visual landscape often feels more like a system of control than a source of useful information. When these "legitimate" systems of communication fail individuals or groups in a society, people often turn to illegal ways of communicating with both each other and the system attempting to control them. Graffiti and street art have long existed as a safety valve for individuals to vent their anger and frustration, whether in the form of scrawling angry messages on bathroom stalls or pasting posters on the windows of government buildings. But it is when the vast majority of people begin to feel that they have no other outlet to communicate, that the media channels open to them are uni-directional and they are on the receiving end of a string of lies and half truths, that street art can act as an antidote to our visual space being used as a social control mechanism. There have been many of these moments, when street art becomes truly democratic and hundreds, or thousands, of people flood the streets with their messages in the form of posters and graffiti. It is at these times that people begin to look to the streets, and to their peers, to find explanations for their condition, not corporate television, state radio, or ruling class newspapers. I'm going to discuss four historical examples here; Paris in May 1968, Nicaragua in the late 1970s, South Africa in the early 1980s, and finally Argentina from 2001-04.
Part I: France
In Paris, in May and June of 1968, there was a student and worker revolt that brought France to the brink of revolution. Accompanying this revolt was a groundswell of creative street expression, especially in the form of graffiti'd poems and slogans and rapidly mass-produced silkscreened political posters. The posters often responded to the direct material reality of what was happening on the streets and in the factories, while the graffiti was largely more poetic and metaphysical, speaking to its readers on a much more emotional level. This counter-narrative written on the street not only attracted people because of it's graphic power or sense of humor, but also because there were days at a time when the workers in French TV, radio and press were on strike. The walls were literally the only place to get the news.
I've been spending a lot of time in the studio in the day working on some new screen prints. At night I've had the time to work on some new digital prints. Here are a couple of prints, one of Marcos from the Festival de Digna Rabia (Festival of Dignified Rage) and another of Che from a old photo of him in Cuba.
Hobos to Street People:
Artists' Responses to Homelessness from the New Deal to the Present
February 19 - August 15, 2009
The California Historical Society
678 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA
Reception: February 19, 6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
Hobos to Street People is a traveling exhibition organized by the California Exhibition Resources Alliance.
Curated by Art Hazelwood.
Charles Wollenberg advised on historical matters.
Paul Boden advised on contemporary issues.
A preview the exhibition can be seen at the Western Regional Advocacy Project website.
Recently my friend who works at the Buckminster Fuller Institute in Brooklyn told me a story about the connection between visionary Bucky to the much beloved community group CHARAS that, "was instrumental in starting community gardens, the University of the Streets performance space and the first Lower East Side recycling center. CHARAS helped open a local credit union, developed solar energy for urban use, and developed and implemented a housing program that provided the first sweat equity buildings in the U.S, and became a National model for low income home ownership." I'm a sucker for NYC radical history in general, and I asked him to write it up the story of their forays into dome building to share:
R. Buckminster Fuller is well known for a variety of ideas, inventions, and curious tales. One of particular interest, and minimal publicity, is his involvement with and influence upon CHARAS, the Lower East Side community group. CHARAS (an acronym for its founders Chino, Humberto, Angelo, Roy, Anthony, and Sal) came about in the late 60’s in the wake of a 5 hour lecture delivered by Fuller to The Real Great Society (RGS) in an empty loft on East 7th Street.
A member of RGS, a collective attempt to transform a community suffering from the plagues of poverty, drug abuse, and crime into the much talked about “Great Society”, contacted Fuller in 1968 after hearing about his ideas of improving the human condition and radical housing. Despite his age (72 years old), upbringing (New England WASP), and appearance (black suit, thick black-framed glasses, and large hearing aids) Fuller was able to relate very well with the group through his vision of a world of change, equality, and opportunity.
CHARAS were the ones that took to Fuller’s ideas the most. They reached out to him again in 1969, and soon got involved with dome-building projects. The geodesic dome was a manifestation of Fuller’s ideas about humanity’s survival and “doing more with less.” Fuller sent an assistant of his, Michael Ben-Eli, to introduce CHARAS to geodesic math, and guide them along in their building projects.
The process of teaching and learning spherical trigonometry was difficult at first, but they persisted for a full year with no money or regular meeting space. They began to build models, reached out to organizations, and secured a grant from the NY State Council on the Arts. While their first ferro-cement dome (built from cardboard and covered with cement) was constructed on a development site in East Harlem, as a sponsored installation tackling issues of urban space diversity, their eventual focus was the construction of two 20-foot diameter domes on a plot of land at South and Jefferson Streets in the Lower East Side. The process became a huge project for the neighborhood, bringing in many outsiders and media, including the New York Times and CBS, to witness the construction.
There were many setbacks to the cardboard structures due to high winds and extensive rainfalls, but both domes remained fully assembled and covered in plastic sheets, awaiting cement covering, come Fall of 1971. It was at this point that one of the domes was destroyed by the fire department, when an unknown person had entered the dome to escape the rain, started a small fire to stay warm, and eventually filled the entire structure with massive amounts of smoke. Nevertheless CHARAS continued on the remaining dome, covering it tightly with a plastic lining, chicken wire, and eventually concrete. The dome, with its hard concrete exterior and open window sections, was complete just in time to coincide with Fuller’s next trip to New York City.
On January 15, 1972 Buckminster Fuller, along with his wife and secretary, came to visit the dome on South street. He greeted CHARAS members and Michael with great enthusiasm and joy insisting that everyone, including neighborhood children and even his cab driver, take a group photo in front of the structure.
Here's the last bit I want to share about Rome for now. One of the last days we were in Rome we got to take a trip out to the edge of the city to one of the longest running squatted social centers, Forte Prenestino. Set within a public park, Prenestino is literally an old military fort, surrounded by a moat and sitting on top of 100 centuries old jail cells. It was originally squatted in 1985, and is one of, if not the oldest, social center in Rome. It is still a squat, but is involved in some sort of legalization scheme, so sits in a semi-legal zone. We weren't able to get the whole story about this, but it seems pretty controversial.
The fort itself is split into 3 major areas. First, a central indoor corridor, with rooms and paths off to the sides, that lead to rooms on ground level and above, as well as to the jail cells below. Off this main corridor are a restaurant, a bar, a cafe, a movie theater, an infoshop, a long running pirate radio station and a wine bar! They are all run by people involved in Prenestino, and appear to be cheap and not for profit. Second, the corridor opens up onto two huge courtyards, one on each side. These are half-football field sized open areas which hold huge concerts (all the classic punk bands of played here, from the Dead Kennedys to Fugazi), encampments of trailers, buses, and RVs, and a monthly farmer's market. The walls were covered with graffiti and wheatpasted posters, with one whole side dominated by a giant mural by Blu. Off to the sides of each courtyard are additional rooms, which hold things like a Yoga studio and a musical instrument workshop. Third, ringing above the whole thing is a raised trail and a bunch of green space. Built into the earth are a number of small houses and private dwellings. The trails are all marked with super professional signs which clarify and distinguish all of the native plants that live in the Forte. All in all it is pretty overwhelming, just an immense amount of space and activity. There's simply nothing comparable in the US.
I uploaded a set of flicks from the install and opening of Chris Stain's Up on the roof counting pigeons over on our Flickr page.
If your in Chicago or close by, come celebrate Mess Hall’s 5-Yr. anniversary this Sunday, Feb. 15th!
Mess Hall is an experimental cultural space. Located in the Roger’s Park in Chicago, Mess Hall is a place for visual culture, creative urbanism, sustainable ecology, food democracy, radical politics, and cultural experimentation. Mess Hall runs on the generosity of those who use it. This allows us to provide everything for free - from food and drinks to workshops and events.
Over the past five years, hundreds of events have taken place from art shows, film screenings, discussions, meetings, potlucks, sewing rebellions, performances, and everything in between.
So join us Sunday, February 15, 2009, 7:00pm to celebrate the past 5 years and make your mark on the space for future events.
What you can expect:
-An exhibit of Mess Hall archives & proposals for our next 5 years.
-The Justseeds Prison Portfolio Project
-Art by Burtonwood and Holmes (http://www.burtonwoodandholmes.com)
-This Is Not A Truck (http://www.blocartiststudios.com/index.html)
-kick-ass music with Mess Hall’s own Aay Preston-Myint DJing.
Mess Hall links:
Mess Hall website:
(BRAND NEW!) Mess Hall blog:
Links to some recent press...
News Star article on Mess Hall
Loyola Phoenix article on Mess Hall
Mess Hall's Ten-Point Statement:
While in Rome we took a couple trips to San Lorenzo, a working class neighborhood which is both the locus of current student activism, and the historical center of the Autonomia movement in Rome. We saw a lot of evidence of both. The graffiti seemed to call out from the past, with slogans from the height of the autonomous workers' movements in the 1970s:
Stickers, easy to make, easy to use, a quick and cheap way to get a message, name or image out into the world. The kid brother to wheat-paste posters, stickers are so cheap to make and so unassuming that they might be the most democratic form of street art. You can put them up here and there and almost forget what you're doing is illegal. This is great in many ways, an unprecedented number of people are using stickers to express themselves, and stepping over the mostly invisible barrier of "private property" that controls so much of our behavior in life. At the same time, because there are so few obstacles to entry, the world of street art sticker makers is filled with the most mundane and banal imagery and ideas. It seems like stickers often capture the worst in street art, the most unoriginal graffiti-style faces and characters as well as endless pop culture recyclings. PEEL: The Art of the Sticker captures both the good and bad of street sticker culture.
First off, it's a great looking book! Hardcover, embossed metallic logo on the cover, endpapers, and a nice, large 9"x10"' format. It is cleanly designed, richly printed, and even comes with 8 sheets of diecut stickers bound into the back. This is definitely a book by sticker lovers for sticker lovers, and by far the most comprehensive collection about the art form out now (Izastikup by Bo130 and Stick 'em Up by Mike Dorian are both decent books, but really glorified scrapbook collections of stickers). PEEL was always a labor of love for Dave and Holly, and this book is the same, not just simply compiling material from old issues, but pulling from the magazine and adding material to create a comprehensive book.
Continuing the travels of art on water, Swoon is hoping to create some crafts and travel into Venice. They need some help so there is a benefit for the project called the Swimming Cities of Serenissima.
Friday, February 13th
Flight and Flurry
484 Union Avenue
an evening of songs and aerial performance featuring:
hannah marcus and tianna kennedy
My friend Eric Triantafillou, a teacher, artist and designer in Chicago, has been following all the dialogue around the Shepard Fairey controversies, and wrote up the below piece in response. Check it out:
Shepard Fairey: Sideshow; Shibboleth
I’ve been following the debates around Shepard Fairey for the past couple years and finally decided to respond with some of my own thoughts. I want to start by briefly mentioning an encounter I had with Fairey in San Francisco back in 2000.
It was during the height of the dot-com induced housing crisis that was forcing thousands of (mostly Latino) residents out of the Mission District. One night some friends and I were out pasting up posters for an anti-gentrification rally at City Hall. On the vertical supports of the Highway 101 overpass were Fairey’s long red banners with the Andre/Obey/star motif in a circle. The circle was the same size as the round black posters we were putting up, so we pasted one on each banner. They looked really tight together. I didn’t realize it at the time, but a lone Shepard Fairey was working just few steps ahead of us. He must have seen our handy work because minutes later he pulled up alongside us in his SUV, honking and yelling “Hey! What the fuck?!” I was thrilled. I had always thought Fairey was a sellout and now was my chance to confront him on common ground. I detested him less because he “steals” other people’s images and more because he seemed to have no regard for the spaces and places he puts his stuff up. Here he was, obliviously working away in the middle of a neighborhood that was socially hemorrhaging. To him it was just another space, an empty canvas on which to point out what advertising had long since proven. So add to the gripes that his work whitewashes history (time) by unhitching social struggle from its representational forms, the fact that it also has no relation, except on a purely formal level, to the space it occupies. Space for Fairey is simply a backdrop. When we pressed him about this he said that all the space around us is there for the taking and that we, as fellow street artists, should know better than to paste over someone else’s work; that we all know how much time and labor goes into making and putting it up. Aside from his idea of street art as a kind of Manifest Destiny, we agreed that it’s hard work but said that it also requires a degree of mental labor, and maybe his work would really take root if it reflected something about it’s environment, like a connection to an existing social movement; a commitment to something greater than himself. He didn’t get it. Instead of haranguing him further, we left to finish our work.
My interest in recounting this moment is not as a window into Shepard Fairey’s self-understanding but my own at the time and how it’s changed since. So much of what has been said by Fairey’s detractors is about questioning his intentions or about holding him personally accountable. It’s been said in various ways, and it sounds like many of us agree, that Shepard Fairey is a symptom of a far deeper malady. I think if we look at Fairey as a symptom rather than a cause, as Josh did in his post, it helps reveal how our discontent with the system, this includes the histories of struggle that Fairey poaches from, is made part of the dominant ideology. I think these discussions would benefit from addressing how the socio-economic system we all live under is able to reproduce the Shepard Faireys of the world AND his dissenters (us: Left artists), generation after generation, without a serious challenge to its hegemony. Here’s how Josh finishes his post:
“His work will only be successful (at more than making money) when he cites his source materials and tries to cut through the amnesiac haze of our society instead of adding to it. When a Fairey wheatpaste on the street becomes not an advertisement for his clothing line but a site for arguing over how we fight and struggle in this world today, I'll be the first one to send people out to look at it and argue about it.”
As far as I can tell, Shepard Fairey’s practices have managed to generate a pretty vibrant conversation on this site and elsewhere. It remains to be seen if these arguments stay mired in issues of fair-use, theft, and Fairey’s self-promotional motivations, or develop into more fundamental questions about “how we fight and struggle in this world today.” I would add that a big part of “fighting” and “struggling” is thinking. I can only hope these conversations expand to include questions about our own political consciousness.
In that spirit…
I've been meaning to write down some thoughts on my trip to Rome since I got back over a month ago, but time has been crunched and re-crunched with other commitments. So, the basic story is that Favianna and I (and Dara) got to head off to Rome for a week back in mid-December to have a Reproduce & Revolt book release and a print show at the House of Love & Dissent in Rome. And it was awesome. Marco, Domizia, Luca, Pado and everyone at the gallery were awesome. Love & Dissent is in the neighborhood of Monti, which is pretty tourist-y because it is literally down the street from the Coliseum.
There's not too much to say about the show itself, we hung it, it opened, and people seemed really into it! Upstairs we put a mix of our prints, images from Reproduce & Revolt, and in the basement I installed a ton of Celebrate People's History posters. I'm just going to let the photos speak for themselves (all show install photos by Favi):
I'm trying to take in as much LA as I can before I head up to the bay. I made it over to the Crewest Gallery the other day to check out The Sharpie Show. Crewest is a real nice gallery and graffiti "boutique" in downtown LA. The show is packed with some talented sketches while the Mike Giant pieces had the largest impression on me.
The Sharpie Show, an exhibition curated by renown graffiti artist Man One, featuring original pieces created using Sharpies by some of the best known graffiti artists in the country (and beyond). Aside from graffiti artists, work by tattoo artists and known illustrators; Lalo Alcaraz and Overton Loyd will be on display. From stylized hand signatures, to throw ups, piecebooks, stickers, and any other possible object that can be marked upon, this exhibit will demonstrate the level of creativity that can be achieved between an artist and his/her most basic tool - The Sharpie.
The show will be on view until March 1st.
Visit the show at
110 Winston St.
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Or check it out on the Crewest Flickr set
CALL FOR SALON SUBMISSIONS
Call for artists to donate a work of art to a benefit exhibition for the Iraq Veterans Against the War. We are dedicating one wall of the space for a floor to ceiling installation.
Space is limited to the first 100 works submitted.
The exhibition will run from
Thursday March 5th through Sunday March 22nd, 2009
The Powerhouse Arena in Dumbo
opening with an evening of celebration and performance
Saturday March 7th, 2009
Filmed over the course of two years, OUR CITY DREAMS is an invitation to visit the creative spaces of five women artists, each of whom possesses her own energy, drive and passion. These women, who span different decades and represent diverse cultures, have one thing in common beyond making art: the city to which they have journeyed and now call home - New York.
You can catch it at the Film Forum
February 4-18, 2009
209 W Houston St
New York, NY 10014
There are Q&A's with Chiara Clemente, the filmmaker, Thursday, February 12, 6:00 show and Tuesday, February 17, 6:00 show.
You can watch the trailer at First Run Features.
Ever since Chris & I finished the installation and hung his show I've been taking in LA. I wanted to post a bunch of photos and links right after the opening but, go figure, real life is more interesting than staring at my extra brain.(photo by Kevin Caplicki-while borrowing Sesper's fisheye lens, thanks for showing me that trick!)
I mentioned to Chris awhile back that I wanted to make a rooftop installation in a gallery. When he was offered this solo show at the Carmichael Gallery, he asked me if I wanted to actualize that idea. Working with Chris is really enjoyable, so I jumped at the chance. We get along well and provide some balance for each other when things go awry. I really appreciate Chris for his confidence and encouragement in others, and feel the freedom to influence and create whatever is on my mind in these installations. So with that, I'm proud of what we made and encourage you to check out the show, in real life, and in the links I'll post below. First the info
"Up On The Roof Countin' Pigeons"
a solo exhibition of Chris Stain
February 5 - 26, 2009
Carmichael Gallery of Contemporary Art
1257 N. La Brea Avenue
West Hollywood, CA 90038
or this flickr set from Carmichael Gallery
Our very own Erik Ruin will be giving a fireside chat in Philly tonight about his work and Justseeds!
Potluck Tonight: Tuesday Feb 10th 2009, 6-8pm EST
basekamp space: 723 Chestnut St, 2nd floor, Philadelphia
Local Philadelphia artist and puppeteer Erik Ruin will speak about Justseeds Cooperative, a graphic art distributor which he co-founded.
He'll be giving an informal slideshow on the imagery and themes that inform his work as a printmaker/puppeteer/editor. This discussion will touch upon everything from his influences and interests in/from epic theater, the history of radical graphics and direct film to collective work as a member of the Justseeds Radical Artists' Cooperative, Upsidedownculture Collective and Barebones Productions.
Chris & I were fortunate enough to go check out an exhibit in LA on Saturday. It was called Gouge: The Modern Woodcut 1870 to Now, at the Hammer Museum. We noticed an ad for it in one of the local weeklies and snipped it hoping to catch it after the install. In a borrowed car we made it over to Westwood, an affluent area of LA, where the Hammer Museum resides, part of UCLA.
Gouge: The Modern Woodcut 1870 to Now examines the woodcut in terms of its diverse forms and uses in the modern era. A thematic survey, it invites parallels between the medium in countries as diverse and geographically distant Mexico, France and Korea. Woodblock printing is, in fact, one of the most common artistic practices throughout the world. Although the motivations of each artist and the circumstances in which the woodcuts were made may differ greatly, the visual character of the gouge cuts is a defining thread among the selected works in this exhibition
There were a handful of really inspiring prints and original woodblocks alongside the pieces. Chris became really stoked when he realized there were some Kathe Kollwitz prints in the show. He is a real big fan of her work, so he studied her self-portrait and the Woman in the Lap of Death, 1921, Woodcut for quite some time.
Along with the German Expressionist work that I enjoyed seeing in person was some Gaughin, Matisse, and Munch pieces that i found really inspiring. I wasn't entirely surprised but excited to see the familiar likeness of Zapata printed on grey paper. I immediately knew it was a print from one of the ASAR-O artists from Oaxaca. The print was made during the APPO uprising yet strangely made it into the Images in the Grain section and not the following room, The Voice of the Activist.
These just anonymously flew into the inbox:
Dara passed along this LA Times story about organized attacks on advertising in Paris. It's reminiscent of the actions of StopPub from the early 2000's, where they would organize times to go into the Paris subway system and destroy all the adverts...
In Paris, an anti-ad insurgency
Activists opposed to billboards invite police to rallies where they tag the offending signs, seeking a day in court.
By Sebastian Rotella and Audrey Bastide
7:33 PM PST, January 31, 2009
Reporting from Paris -- Over the centuries, the French have cultivated the fine art of rebellion.
The list of targets encompasses tyrants, wars, colonialism and, above all, capitalism in its many manifestations. The latest enemy may seem unlikely: billboards.
The Dismantlers, as a nationwide group of anti-ad crusaders call themselves, aren't violent or loud or clandestine. In fact, they invite the police to protest rallies where they deface signs. With a copywriter's flair, one of their slogans warns: "Attention! Avert your eyes from ads: You risk being very strongly manipulated." The goal of the Dismantlers is to get arrested, argue the righteousness of their cause in court and, you guessed it, gain publicity.
"We challenge the mercantile society that destroys all human relationships, professional relationships, health, the environment," said Alexandre Baret, 35, a founder of the group. "It's a message that proposes to attack advertising as the fuel of this not very healthy society."
Despite the stick-it-to-the-man rhetoric, there wear neckties and briefcases in the crowd at an evening rally here a while back. Part-time insurgents had come from work for the gathering in the Place Malesherbes, an elegant, tree-lined plaza graced by statues of the author Alexandre Dumas and his musketeer hero D'Artagnan, one of literature's most irrepressible swashbucklers.
The 80-odd demonstrators, looking bohemian and stylish, listened to Baret set the ideological stage. The red-bearded schoolteacher and father of four explained that he doesn't want to abolish advertising, just limit signs to no more than 1.2 feet by 1.6 feet. The current wall-size dimensions are obtrusive and oppressive, he said.
It feels like all I do lately is work on some (anal) design-y shit on the computer or (anal) letterpress and typesetting in my basement. So it was really fun to sit down and just draw a big goofy image. This is for a conference focused around urban issues in social struggles called the City From Below, held in Baltimore in late March. We'll be posting more about this conference as it comes closer, but for now....
Today the Associated Press threatened to sue Fairey. "The Associated Press has determined that the photograph used in the poster is an AP photo and that its use required permission," the AP's director of media relations, Paul Colford, said in a statement. "AP safeguards its assets and looks at these events on a case-by-case basis. We have reached out to Mr. Fairey's attorney and are in discussions. We hope for an amicable solution." You can read story here.
As someone who has criticized both Fairey and the Copyright monster (which does little for artists but tons for corporations), I have mixed feelings about this. Here are some points I want to share:
- Fairey rarely credits his sources, which is problematic. You can read an earlier post by Josh MacPhee, here. In the past, those who have critiqued this did not have the legal nor financial means to sue him. Now he may be getting sued by the big guys. This is something he could have avoided if he were to have credited his sources. He has a team working with him, it's not impossible, its the right thing to do.
- Copyright laws work in the favor of the corporate elite. So what is happening to Fairey is bound to affect us all as artists, in negative ways. My friend Gan Golan said it best, "If Fairey gets sued by AP it could set a precedent that is harmful for all artists who use photographic imagery that appear news media. It is bad for parody artists and satirists. It is bad for all artists who re-appropriate and reinterpret imagery of any kind.
- Fairey loves to rip off the art of people who are part of the counter culture, many times they are people of color, or groups who have fought for social justice, or radicals who have fought against their own countries. In my opinion, this is commodification. The fact that he feels entitled to do this points at his white privilege and white entitlement. When you rip off Cuban artists, Chicano artists, even groups like the Black Panthers - and you fail to give credit - that to me is an excercise of white privilege. Now, the person who took the original photograph is a Latino, and from his commentary, it sounds like he is a working class Latino.
- The original photographer, Mannie Garcia, said this. "This is not about me making money off this, it's about recognition. I made the most iconic image of our time, and I'd like it to make a difference, not make me money. I'm a blue collar photographer - I am out there on the grind every day. I spend more energy looking for work than doing work. I just want Shepard Fairey to say "Alright, you're the guy. Thank you." See full story
- The whole monster that is copyright infrigement works in favor of corporate America. But let's be clear that this is not a case of Corporate America vs. Street Artist. Fairey regularly consults for corporations, and he has done some campaigns in which he outright steals revolutionary imagery to use for capitalist agenda's. So again, this is about an artist who loves to with corporations. See this really sad example.
- Fairey threatened to sue Baxtor Orr for parodying his work - which is baffling to me
- And finally, the folks repping Fairey in his legal case are people I align with. "He's hired Anothony Falzone, a lawyer and executive director of the Fair Use Project at Stanford University. Falzone is also the heir apparent to Lawrence Lessig, the famed Stanford copyright law professor and founder of Creative Commons, the movement that encourages creators to modify copyright terms in order to increase the amount of creativity (cultural, educational, and scientific content) in the commons." I am a MAJOR proponent of Creative Commons, in fact, the new book I worked on with Josh MacPhee, Reproduce & Revolt, is licensed under Creative Commons, and it includes work by Fairey himself.
So these are my thoughts...some contradictory yes, but it's important to see this from the perspective of a woman of color, artist, activist, propagandist, agitator... my opinion is in formation, and I'm open to hearing other's perspective on this.
I'm pretty happy right now, today I was swimming in an outdoor pool in Southern Texas. 80 degrees in February, yeah I could get used to this.
I am working on an installation at the University of Texas Pan American. For all of you in Edinburg Texas, the show will open tonight, Thursday, February 5, 6-9pm. I will be talking about the work at 6:30. Here are a few preview picks.
Last minute blog update for all you northwesties...
Two events in Portland tonight:
Justseeds' comrades and our local printer, Eberhardt Press is part of a group art show downtown tonight at the Independent Publishing Resource Center. The show is focused on book design, at which Eberhardt excels.
917 SW Oak Street #218
Then head back across the river to Marc Moscato's collection of short films about rad-i-cal underground Chicago past and present called:
A NOT TOO DISTANT PAST:
FILM & VIDEO FROM UNDERGROUND CHICAGO
CURATED BY MARC MOSCATO
Thursday, February 5, 8PM
The Waypost, 3120 N. Williams Ave, Portland, OR, $5
Tamms Year Ten and Mess Hall are holding another event related to the Justseeds Prison Portfolio, a poster critique and discussion of aesthetic strategies! I wish I was in Chicago, because this is exactly what I'm into, trying to discuss and suss out how to improve the effectiveness of our visual propaganda. If you are in Chicago, check this out:
Poster Critique + Discussion of Visual Strategies for Resisting the Prison Industrial Complex with Dan S. Wang & Laurie Jo Reynolds
Saturday, February 7 at 6:30pm
6932 North Glenwood Avenue
Chicago, IL 60626
Tamms Year Ten is hosting an open discussion of the prints in the Justseeds poster portfolio — each which critiques the "prison industrial complex." Let's talk about which images are effective for you--and use this as a basis for considering the visual and rhetorical strategies in the movement. We want to learn from the decisions made by these artists, and then we want to work with you to consider the very real representational problems we face as a movement!
- How do we depict the experience of long-term isolation? Or communicate the experience of long-term incarceration?
- What visual language will help us to imagine the abolition of prisons? To urge rehabilitation over punishment?
- Can commonly used motifs—fists through prison bars/broken chains/doves/barbed wire/slave ships/prison stripes—still work? Are new metaphors required?
We'll be talking about prison-related issues, but we hope that this event will be of interest to all artist-activists bedeviled and/or charmed by the problem of producing movement art which translates our political passions into visual form, renders visible the (often unacknowledged) problems of the present, and/or serves as an irresistible invitation to join us in our efforts to get free. We also invite you to bring other anti-prison movement ephemera (t-shirts, posters, stickers) for discussion!
Roman from InCUBATE recently turned me on to a really cool project that recently came out of Cuba. Cuba since the Revolution has had an amazing culture of poster production, which has been especially strong in the realms of international revolutionary propaganda (the posters of OSPAAAL), and film promotional posters created by a couple different agencies. For years every film that played in Cuba, weather a domestic one or a foreign release had a poster produced to promote it, almost always silkscreened, and usually always the same size, the exact size to fit in all the kiosks that line the streets in Havana. [For a good intro to Cuban posters, check out ¡Revolucion! by Lincoln Cushing]
Anyway, Roman told me about this great project called Ghost Posters, which is a collection of 25 silkscreened movie posters for Cuban movies that were never made, either because the manuscripts for the films were censored or funding fell through. Each poster is made by a different Cuban graphic artist, and there are some really pieces. It's a great concept, and the posters are touring around. They were recently on display at Rutgers University in NJ, but I missed them. The project has a website, but it doesn't list any future venues.
The awesome old school flyer says it all:
PAPER TIGER BENEFIT DANCE PARTY
Thaw out your dancing paws!!!
Saturday February 7th 7 PM at The Yippie Museum/Cafe
9 Bleecker Street (btn Bowery & Elizabeth), NYC
Sliding scale $5-$10
This is a re-post from: http://boryana-rossa.livejournal.com/17089.html
My friend Boryana, an artist from Bulgaria, keeps me informed about the political art scene in Russia and Eastern Europe. I took a long time to re-post this (it's from November) but I think it is still worth learning about what's happening with political art in Russia and with this case specifically. The full essay is below:
MasterPeaces: High Art for Higher Purpose
June 6 - 27, 2009
Da Vinci Gallery
Los Angeles City College
855 N. Vermont Avenue
Los Angeles, California 90029
In conjunction with Otis College of Art & Design- Integrated Learning Project
The Center for the Study of Political Graphics (CSPG) is asking artists, organizations, and activists for poster submissions for our next exhibition, Masterpeaces: High Art for Higher Purpose. From Dada to Punk, from anti-war movements to feminism and ecology, high art has been repeatedly incorporated into a visual language that ranges from the iconoclastic to overt protest. MasterPeaces will show how works by Leonardo, Michelangelo, Munch, Ingres, Delacroix, Picasso, Lichtenstein, Warhol and many others have been parodied, appropriated or altered to make statements about a variety of contemporary issues including censorship, disabled rights, ecology, HIV/AIDS, homophobia, war, and women's rights. Through annotations it will also introduce the viewers to the historical context of the original work, thus expanding viewers' visual literacy. Masterpeaces will premiere June 2009 in Los Angeles. Your posters will impact and educate a large audience of artists, community activists, university and high school faculty and students.
Submission deadline: March 20, 2009
By donating your posters, they will become a part of CSPG's unique archive that will be accessible to the general public and researchers for years to come.
Criteria for Posters:
1. Must be produced in multiples such as silkscreen, offset, stencil, litho, digital output etc.
2. Must have overt political content.
I saw posts for this action on a few blogs and thought I should re-post it here.
This blog has the whole series:
Above are photos from an important event that took place at Mess Hall in Chicago on Feb. 1, 2009. The TAMMS YEAR TEN CAMPAIGN organized a show of posters, flyers, letters, poetry, postcards, banners, photos, videos, and ephemera from their multifaceted campaign. Included in the show was the Justseeds Portfolio Project: Voices from Outside - Artists Against the Prison Industrial Complex.
The event focused attention on the current campaign against TAMMS (a super max prison in southern Illinois) and urged more people in Illinois and beyond to get involved in speaking out and contacting legislators about the horrid conditions and the methods of psychological torture that take place at TAMMS.
If you are outraged by Guantánamo Bay and encouraged by the Obama Administration’s call to close it down, learn more about TAMMS and speak out against torture in Illinois prisons.
About TAMMS YEAR TEN CAMPAIGN:
In 1998, the first prisoners were transferred from prisons across the state to Tamms CMAX, in Southern Illinois. This new “supermax” prison, designed to keep men in permanent solitary confinement, was intended for short-term incarceration. The IDOC called it a one-year “shock treatment.” Now, ten years later, over one-third of the original prisoners have been there for a decade. They have lived in long-term isolation—no phone calls, no communal activity, no ocntact visits. They only leave the cell to exercise alone in a concrete box 2-5 times per week. They are fed through a slot in the door.
Year Ten is a coalition of prisoners, ex-prisoners, families, artists and other concerned citizens who have come together to protest the misguided and inhumane policies at Tamms C-MAX, and to call for an end to psychological torture. We have initiated a program of cultural, educational and political events to publicize Tamms after ten years of operation.
Chris Stain & I are out in Los Angeles this week to build an installation for his solo show at the Carmichael Gallery. If you're around here or know anyone that is interested in hanging out with us on a NYC rooftop tell em to swing by the gallery. Maybe we can shoot the shit and drink 40's on the roof.
Here's the skinny:
A solo exhibition of new work by Chris Stain
Carmichael Gallery of Contemporary Art is proud to present "Up on the roof countin' pigeons", the first West Coast solo exhibition of work by Baltimore artist Chris Stain. Artwork featured in the exhibition will include stencil, spraypaint and mixed media on metal and found objects.
For "Up on the roof countin' pigeons", Chris Stain will transform the gallery into a NYC rooftop scene, complete with pigeon coop and live jazz music. The enigmatic stencil portraits integrated into the large-scale installation pierce the gaze of viewers and offer a unique perspective of contemporary inner city life.
"My work explores the emotional and physical struggle of growing up in an urban environment. Through hand-cut stencils and installations made from found materials I hope to inspire compassion for the often overlooked individuals of society." - Chris Stain
Thursday, February 5th
7.00pm – 10.00pm
Open to the public February 6th – February 26th, 2009
1.00pm – 7.00pm
I hope to tickle your fancy wih some tastes as the install progresses so check back here
or on our Flickr
February 3 - March 7, 2009
Reception: Wednesday, February 4, 5-8pm
College of Architecture and the Arts
University of Illinois at Chicago
400 S. Peoria Street (MC 034)
Chicago, IL 60607
Paper Trail is an exhibition of historical and contemporary ephemeral material originally produced by disparate communities using remarkably similar forms of rhetoric and graphic styles to visually articulate their collective revolutionary agendas and concerns.
The historical material was created, produced, and distributed in the late 1960s by Chicago's original Rainbow Coalition—an alliance between The Black Panther Party, the Young Lords Organization, Young Patriots, and Rising Up Angry. This material is presented "in conversation" with what can be considered its contemporary counterpart—visual reproductions of the Barack Obama presidential campaign, language of the newly formed Rainbow Coalition Council of Elders, and publications from other contemporary initiatives in Chicago and beyond that re-engage with the principal of grassroots political organizing and cross-cultural solidarity. The movements share a common idea that despite our dire collective circumstance a spirit of hope and optimism results and acts as a unifying, mobilizing force.
This exhibition is organized by curators Nancy Zastudil and Julia Hamilton, with the support and participation of Kathleen Cleaver, Michael James, Bill Jennings, Cha Cha Jimenez, Jaqueline Lazu, and countless others.
Above are photos from the “Artists Against the Prison Industrial Complex” show that took place on January 30, 2009 at Project Lodge in Madison, Wisconsin. The exhibition was organized by Wisconsin Books to Prisoners (a project of Rainbow Bookstore) and over 70 works of art were on display (including the Justseeds portfolio project, other prison related images from Justseeds artists, art by prisoners, and art by local Madison artists. As well, spoken word artists from the First Wave Spoken Word and Urban Arts Learning Community, including Sophia Snow and Alida Carlos Whaley performed and inspired us with their words.
The opening was packed with people from Madison, Milwaukee, and beyond and the organizers did an incredible job in bringing everyone together and using culture as a tool to combat the prison crisis.
The organizers from Wisconsin Books to Prisoners kept the focus of the evening on activism and reminded us that the State Government in Wisconsin bans used books from being mailed to Wisconsin prisoners and urged people to phone the Governor’s office at 608-266-1212; the WI DOC Administrator at 608-240-5104; and the WI DOC secretary at 608-240-5055 to voice their objections.
To learn more:
To contact one of organizers of the show:
Camy Matthay: firstname.lastname@example.org
Also check out Community Connections -- a volunteer organization that does a myriad of programming and prison/family support work with inmates at the Oakhill Correctional Institution (OCI) in Oregon, WI.
My friends over at Not My Government have been consistently churning out political posters and anti-police brutality propaganda for years. Head over to their site and check out what they've been up to, and support the cause!