Brooklyn, NYC, USA (perhaps for waiting on the bus? Thanks Josh!)
I am always fascinated with how creative resistance tactics resurface and share commonalities with the actions of the past decades. A prime example is the fake New York Times paper that the Yes Men and the Anti-Advertizing Agency distributed in 2008 that shared similar tactics with the New York Crimes paper that Gran Fury /ACT UP New York distributed in 1989. When I first saw the clip of the Glitter Bomb actions I immediately thought of the work of the Biotic Baking Brigade that have targeted a long list of people, including anti-gay hatemongers.The performative aspect of both projects are contagious and critique those in power while embracing tactical media and direct action. To view one of the BBB classic "pie-in-the face" stunts, check out the short clip below.
I was recently interviewed for Healthy Artists, a new Pittsburgh-based project which features video portraits in which artists talk about their lives, their work, and why universal health care is important to them. This video was shot at Justseeds HQ, and serves as a nice video tour of our current exhibition, Voices From Outside: Artists Against the Prison Industrial Complex, on view now through April 1. For interviews and info, check out healthyartists.org
Dara Greenwald, February 27, 1971–January 9, 2012.
Working on the Angela Davis covers has got me thinking about representations of Black liberation. In particular, I've been trying to sort out and understand the surprisingly successful cover to Stokely Carmichael and Charles Hamilton's Black Power, the 1967 text which defines the transition from the Civil Rights movement to the Black Power movement.
The original cover for the 1967 Random House first edition dust jacket was designed by Larry Ratzkin, a well-known graphic who created upwards of 1000 book covers. Ratzkin passed away last year, and in all of the writings about him and his work I could find online, including Flickr groups and other image collections, not a single one mentioned or included Black Power.
Hacavitz is a Black Metal band from Mexico City (formerly Queretaro). The band took their name from the Mayan god Jacawitz that is a mountain deity. Jacawitz actually means Mountain Fire in the old Mayan language.
So lyrically and graphically they take most inspiration from Pre-Hispanic indigenous spirituality and beliefs. Drawing from some of the darker aspects of indigenous cosmology. In this and previous records they mix Nahuatl, Spanish and English in their lyrics, song titles and album titles.
Opening Friday February 24th, 6-10pm
Interference Archive, 131 8th st. #4, Brooklyn, NY 11215
(3 blocks from the F/G/R trains at 4th Ave. & 9th St.)
The Archive is also open Sundays, noon-5pm, and by appointment, email@example.com
The Interference Archive and House Magic have collected and assembled a large-scale library of books, pamphlets, periodicals, and posters produced by and focused on the squatting and autonomous social movements in Europe—beginning in the 1960s and carrying us up to today. This collection of over 250 publications from a dozen countries and in half a dozen languages is one of the most thorough and comprehensive in the United States, and is a treasure chest for researchers, activists, and anyone simply interested in looking at Europe "from below."
Voices From Outside: Artists Against the Prison Industrial Complex, the 2008 Justseeds/Critical Resistance portfolio, is on view at Justseeds in Pittsburgh until the end of March. The exhibition kicks off this Friday with a Book'Em (Pittsburgh's Books-to-Prisoners project) benefit, including the release of new Book 'Em posters designed and printed by Justseeds Pittsburgh members with graphics from the portfolio. Friday's event will include a one-night viewing of Etta Cetera's sculpture of a solitary confinement cell constructed from letters from inmates, and audio from Mumia Abu-Jamal. 20% of all Justseeds sales that evening will benefit Book 'Em.
Friday February 24th, 6:00-9:00
Justseeds World Distribution HQ
3410 Penn Ave, 2nd floor (enter in back on Spring Way), Pittsburgh, PA
FREE---donations for Book 'Em accepted
20% of all Justseeds sales benefit Book'Em
email bookempgh (at) gmail for more information
Victories in the prison justice movement are few and far between but a huge people's victory is unfolding in Illinois. Governor Pat Quinn has announced plans to close the TAMMS prison - a maximum isolation prison in southern Illinois that is notorious for human rights abuses. He also announced the closing of a women's prison, two youth-detention centers and six secure halfway houses - which could result in the early release of close to 1,000 inmates. The closings are due to the budget crisis in Illinois AND, in the cases of TAMMS, the decade long pressure by numerous prison justice groups, including the work of TAMMS YEAR TEN. Please follow the link to the TYT website and their request for citizens to thank the Governor for his support in closing down TAMMS once and for all.
A link to a Chicago Sun Times story on the planned closing can be found here.
Join us, Wednesday Feb. 22nd, for the forth Interoccuppy Arts call at 10 PM EST/7 PM PST.
To register, click here.
We will hear from artists who are doing powerful, innovative work of 'bridging', using the unique power of art, music, performance and spectacle to connect Occupy to new issues and communities, and vice versa.
Occuprint, a group I'm involved in that has been helping to organize, produce, and distribute posters and graphics for the Occupy movement since the early days of Occupy Wall Street in September, is trying to raise enough money to print and distro 30,000 posters over the next six months. Take a minute to watch the video, and if you can HELP OUT, please do!
Pittsburgh, PA, USA (full image below... and hey, tired of seeing all these images coming mostly from Pittsburgh? Then please start sending me your photos, I'm running out! Details below.)
Born Eunice Waymon on this day in 1933, Nina Simone has been one of my greatest heros since I bought the 1974 album It Is Finished when I was fifteen. Ten years later I finally saw her in concert, only a few years before her death. Wearing a homemade ball gown and a fancy coat borrowed from a drag queen, I wept upon hearing her sing Black Is the Color of My True Love's Hair and Mississippi Goddam in person. Sassy, emotional, fierce, graceful, and imperfect, I always appreciated the way Nina mixed her passion for justice with her love of music. In her concerts, she morphed with the mood of the room and kicked down the imaginary boundaries of genres like "classical," "pop" or "jazz". From her position as the "High Priestess of Soul," Nina could easily have been broken and humbled by the persistence of racism and ignorance in the U.S. or the corruption in the music industry, but she kept it real: "Ha! Do you know what an Obeah woman is? I kiss the moon and hug the sun, call the spirits and make 'em run. They call me Nina, and pisces too…there ain't nothin' I can't do." I still listen to Nina when nothing else helps.
Illustration from Firebrands: Portraits From the Americas.
In Manitoba, the Canadian province north of Minnesota and North Dakota, today is officially Louis Riel Day. For many, Riel is a controversial historical figure. Seen by many as the ‘father of Manitoba,’ he was hanged by the Canadian state for treason in 1885. For many Métis and other Indigenous people, Riel is seen as a prophet who used direct action tactics to confront the incursion of white Canadians into traditional Indigenous lands and their subsequent disenfranchisement. Of course, Riel was neither a saint nor was he without his flaws. Riel is a figure who stood for Indigenous sovereignty, even while he was strongly aligned with the Catholic Church (albeit he practiced a very unorthodox Catholicism). Before his state-sanctioned assassination, Riel is known to have argued: ‘My people will sleep for 100 years, but when they awake it will be the artists that give them back their spirit.’ A century later, Métis activists pushed the Canadian state to recognize the Métis as a distinct aboriginal nation (no such luck for Métis living below the 49th parallel). On this Riel day, I say ‘Vive Riel! Vive la résistance indigene!’
The above image is from my 2011 exhibition at Urban Shaman Gallery in Winnipeg. For the show, I addressed Métis history on both sides of the US-Canada border, as well as the significance of Métis armed insurrections of the late-nineteenth century.
I recently spent eleven days in the Arctic Circle working on an installation, giving some lectures, and celebrating Sámi sovereignty. Jet Pascua, the Filipino artist who runs Small Projects (an artist-run center in Northern Norway), invited me to Tromsø for a solo show and collaboration with the Sámi community. As you probably know, the Sámi are one of Europe’s only remaining Indigenous people, many of whom herd reindeer across Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia. Recently, the Tromsø city council approved making the municipality part of the Sámi Language Area, facilitating that public signage be printed in both Norwegian and Sámi. Unfortunately, the newly elected conservative mayor decided to reverse this decision. I decided to respond to this situation.
Dan S. Wang has been one of the more astute critical voices reporting on the Wisconsin Uprising. Wang is based in Madison and has wrote about the successes and shortcomings of the movement since it erupted twelve months ago. His writings are posted on his blog Propositions Press and his most recent entry looks at the movement at year one. Wang focuses on three sub-plots "1) the massive grassroots recall effort and election, 2) the battle over new mining up north, and 3) the ongoing FBI John Doe investigation into illegal activities in Scott Walker’s office when he was Milwaukee County Executive and running for governor in 2010." Check out his full post here.
Check out the new Stim for Pres episode that includes some reporting from Australia.
or at Submedia
This Friday 17th of February we will be opening a graphic art show in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas.
These posters are a collection of silk screens that were created to use as a tool to bring attention to the Climate Crisis, Natural Resource extraction.
So if you are near San Cristobal please join us at the opening of this exhibit at 8:30pm.
The show will be at:
El Paliacate: Espacio Cultural.
5 de Mayo # 20 Col. La Merced
San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas
Meet Felipe, a father who is on the verge of losing the right to his children forever.
Felipe Montes was deported to Mexico about a year ago, away from his wife and three children, the four of whom are U.S. Citizens. Now the North Carolina Division of Social Services (DSS) wants to take his kids away from him forever, claiming that he has no rights to his children because he is a deported immigrant. We only have only days before they petition to strip away Felipe’s parental rights in court.
Help us pressure DSS to drop the case against Felipe. DSS is acting in court to legally separate Felipe from his children, and if enough of us speak out, we may be able to stop this.
I've long been a fan of the posters of Luba Lukova, looks like a show of her work is coming up here in NYC!
Luba Lukova: Graphic Guts
February 16–March 4, 2012
Opening Reception: Thursday, Feb 16, 6–8 pm
La MaMa La Galleria, 6 East 1st Street, NYC
(between Bowery and 2nd Ave)
Gallery Hours: Wednesday-Sunday, 1–7:30 pm
I recently wrote a short text about the work of Rafael Trelles in the new book Art and Social Justice Education: Culture as Commons edited by Therese Quinn, John Ploof, and Lisa Hochtritt. Below is my text, posted by permission from the editors. Over twenty other activist artists and art collectives, including Justseeds, are discussed (along with a number of essays) in this highly recommended book that is essential for artists, activists, and educators alike.
Portland, Oregon, USA (full article with photos here - thanks Vanessa!)
Hey all- I'm trying to raise funds right now for a really exciting portfolio project on the theme of religious heresy featuring Justseeds artists Bec Young, Dylan Miner, Santiago Armengod and myself alongside other luminaries like William Schaff (be sure to watch to the end of the video for his bit!), Xander Marro, AMTK, Charlotte Desedouey, Corina Dross, Ian Cozzens, Lee Relvas, Mandy Katz and Katrina Avocado.
Click here for more info and to contribute!
For only $40, you get the whole thing shipped to you (in the U.S.)!
One year ago, on February 14, 2011, Wisconsin erupted in demonstrations against Governor Walker's assault on collective bargaining rights for public employees. A two-week occupation of the State Capital Building ensued, along with the flight of 14 state Democrats who left Madison to seek refuge in Illinois in order to delay a vote. All the while massive protests took place daily at the State Capital Building with weekend demos witnessing crowds of 100,000 plus.
Bear 71, an experimental documentary co-directed by Leanne Allison and Jeremy Mendes (in collaboration with the National Film Board of Canada's digital studio), deftly blew my mind this past week. Partially an imagined narration from a wild grizzly from Banff National Park, and partially an interactive map of trail cameras and radio-collared wildlife, the story weaves a haunting narrative around our contemporary relationship with wildlife, the absolute inundation of surveillance, and human interactions with (what's left of) the Wild. Take 20 minutes to explore Bear 71 when you have the time to sit with it. It's not immediately apparent, but when you are launched into the abstract mapping grid you can navigate via your mouse. If you have a webcam, turn it on and be tracked with the other humans who are watching the video while you are...
Here are a couple of interesting stories from the gorilla regions of central Africa: The Fossey Gorilla Fund, which operates a variety of active conservation efforts in Rwanda and DR Congo, reports that some wild gorillas in their study groups have been observed dismantling snares. These homemade traps, set by poachers to catch wild forest animals for meat or for the pet and zoo trades, kill significant numbers of gorillas each year. Meanwhile, in the border region of Cameroon and Nigeria, scientists are making progress in surveying the territorial connections of groups of the Cross River Gorilla, the rarest of all gorilla species. These gorillas, down to about 280 individuals in the wild, normally flee when encroached upon by humans. In past years, however, the gorillas have been observed throwing sticks and tufts of grass and mud at bushmeat hunters in an attempt to drive them off. While stories like these really don't represent any real positive trend toward the attenuation of the grim dangers wild populations of these animals face, they are at least a spot of good news for them, and a moment of inspiration for the rest of us.
Here's the last hurrah of the Angela Davis covers (pending any great ones y'all might send in to me!), a collection of books by other authors about Davis and her trial. I found my first copy of If They Come In the Morning, and got turned on to Davis and her prison-activism, when I was a young, budding activist working with the Anarchist Black Cross in 1993. I picked up that book in a store in Texas while on a cross-country trip (along with a copy of George Jackson's Soledad Brother). Soon after I was introduced to the flip side of representations of Davis while digging through a strip mall book exchange in Massachusetts. Amongst the pile of Harlequin Romance novels I found the copy of Angela by "The Professor" on the right here (Leisure Books, 1971). This ghost-written book is pure exploitation, an attempt to cash in on Davis's fame—which I would suspect was successful to some extant since copies of this book are much easier to find than If They Come.
My friend Carolina just sent me this awesome article she wrote on the on-going battle of the Triqui people for their Autonomy and self determination.
San Juan Copala: Autonomous Triquis want to go home
Oaxaca Governor Gabino Cue protects paramilitaries; people mobilize
Now it’s back to the streets, or rather the mountain highways of Oaxaca for the Triqui comrades expelled under fire from the Autonomous Municipality of San Juan Copala on September 27, 2010. After 15 days of frustrating, deceitful negotiations, the Gabino Cue government was unwilling to keep its promise of guaranteeing a safe return to their homes. So the displaced Triquis announced an 80-mile march-caravan for Tuesday, February 7, from Yucudaá to the City of Oaxaca to take their demands for social justice to the forum of public opinion.
They want to go home. They want justice. They want to live in peace.
Last year while I was visiting Pittsburgh for the Justseeds Biennial show I got to stay with fellow Justseeder and friend Shaun Slifer. While my stay at his house, we talked about the influence DIY punk has in the Justseeds Cooperative and the conversation developed into us talking about the illustration work that many of the coop members in Justseeds have done for a wide range of music projects.
I showed Shaun some of the illustrations I have done mostly for DIY punk and underground metal bands and he suggested that I should post some of this work on the blog sometime.
For several years, I've had the idea to create a souvenir penny-crushing machine which would imprint pennies with designs relevant to working class struggles for social justice in Western Pennsylvania's past. Unfortunately, I've hit a number of dead-ends in the process of trying to make this project a reality. In it's current incarnation, the machine would incorporate an updated, slimmed-down, somewhat mobile design based on that of former Westinghouse engineer Bill Ball, constructed by Stuart Anderson and myself, and incorporating illustrations by Pittsburgh labor history artist and political cartoonist Bill Yund. Although my inclination is to keep the scope of the project regional, I'm open to reinterpretation if it influences the possibility of realizing the finished project. In its ideal state, this machine would be mobile enough to migrate to several museums and other relevant venues. Please get in touch if you have serious funding ideas or other relevant leads!
Arlington, Massachusetts, USA
Every blue moon a truly exceptional book on art and activism is released. The latest one is Art and Social Justice Education: Culture as Commons edited by Therese Quinn, John Ploof, and Lisa Hochtritt. I am still making my way through it, so this post is not a definitive review, simply a first impression. For starters, the book, unlike so many Routledge books is relatively affordable (around $40 for the paperback). Yes, that is high for a paper book, but many Routledge books are over $100 and simply inaccessible to just about everyone besides those who find them hidden away in the stacks of a University library.
So, why should one purchase this book? Simple. The book is written in clear prose, it synthesizes a vast range of activist art being produced NOW, and provides an excellent balance between short biographical essays on activist artists and critical essays in defense of the public sphere (including public education) during an era of right-wing privatization. In short, the book acts as a useful "first text" to those just learning about activist art, while also operating as a text that adds much critical discussion to those already versed in the practice and the theory.
Turbo Sculpture is a video essay by Aleksandra Domanovic which questions the emergence of a new kind of public art in ex-Yougoslav republics...
What interested me about the “turbo sculptures” in the former Yugoslavia was precisely the lack of any apparent local connection to the figures honored. The inhabitants of Zitiste, in northeastern Serbia, had no immediate link to Rocky Balboa or Sylvester Stallone or Philadelphia, but still they decided to build a monument to Rocky. They believed the character represented noble values which are universal, and also that it would bring media attention to a remote Serbian village, which it did.
– Aleksandra Domanovic in conversation with Dean Kissick
Onward to the Angela Davis pamphlets! Because these have been produced by a diverse collection of publishers and activist groups, the design is much broader and more interesting than the mainstream books. There must have been at least a dozen different groups organizing for Davis' release while she was on trial in 1972, and all of them produced publications in support of her cause. One of my favorite covers is the pamphlet to the right, On Trial: Angela Davis or America? with a main essay by Civil Rights Movement veteran and celebrity Ralph Abernathy (Angela Davis Legal Defense Committee, 1971). This cover has all the elements of good publication design. The type treatment is subtle, clean, and modern (literally, it is Futura!), leaving the singular central graphic to do the primary communication work. And that it does. The simple gesture of turning the stars on the U.S. flag into vertical bars instantly conjures prison associations with the word and idea of "America," and clearly answers the question in the title of which is on trial. In addition, the designer (uncredited) is smart enough to play to the strengths of single color printing, and the necessary conversion of the flag into black and white furthers the prison association.
2011 was a busy year for Justseeds! Amidst all of the art-making, art shows, installations, posters, murals, occupying, teaching, protesting, de-colonizing, DJing, graphic making, illustrating, book designing, book writing, blogging, mud stenciling, protesting, organizing, wheat pasting, speaking engagements, and slide shows done by individual members of Justseeds, we also found time to come together and work on many projects collectively. Here's a rundown of our last year:
Opening party: Saturday, February 4, 6 – 10 pm
Queens Museum, Flushing Meadows Corona Park
Fifteen Islands for Robert Moses is a site-specific art infiltration into the Panorama of the City of New York, which was built for the 1964 World’s Fair by urban planner Robert Moses and is now a centerpiece of the Queens Museum of Art. Artist and theorist Greg Sholette made and placed new islands about the Panorama’s waterways, where they exist as silent, post-9/11 observers of the City’s past, present, and future.
Leon Reid IV, intelligent street artist and cohort of Justseeds' Chris Stain, is working on a new project called The Hundred Story House (with Julia Marchesi). It's based on an idea true to me, that Brooklyn is a great place for a lover of books, and that we can do more to circulate these amazing objects to more and more people. They're building a mini-house to distribute books out of in public parks. Check out their fundraising campaign HERE.
Marlon Riggs was born on this day in 1957. A political filmmaker, Riggs started exploring themes of race and sexuality in his films while attending Harvard University. As he was originally from Texas, a film festival in Dallas named for him will run it's third annual event this year. The following text is from Firebrands: Portraits from the Americas: "Banned from numerous public-broadcasting stations, Riggs’ work sparked debates about funding and censorship in public television, and encouraged him to rally support for a more inclusive, diverse popular media. After contracting the HIV virus, Riggs became an outspoken AIDS activist, exploring his experiences in his film Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien (No, I Regret Nothing). He continued to work on his film Black Is…Black Ain’t, a personal journey and examination of a myriad of African-American identities, until his death in 1994."
Alec "Icky" Dunn, Josh MacPhee, and myself each designed a place mat for Edith Abeyta's Panther Lunch Club, part of the Food For Thought exhibition at Wignall Museum of Contemporary Art at Chaffey College in Rancho Cucamunga, CA, on view now through March 23rd.
Our LA and Southern California readership might want to check out the new exhibition Capital Offense curated by Jennifer Gradecki and Renee Fox that opened this past weekend (and runs through the second week of March) at the Beacon Arts Building in Inglewood. The show has a great line up of artists and scholars, including a number of Justseeds artists. The exhibition itself is dedicated to Dara Greenwald and features her 2011 essay "Does Corporate Culture Still Suck?" Other Justseeds work includes prints by Josh MacPhee and Pete Yahnke Railand, and a sign project by myself (must say this is one of my all time favorite placements for my sign work.) Other artists in the show include the Aaron Burr Society, Bankster Games, Critical Art Ensemble, Steve Lambert, and Holly Crawford, among many others. Congrats to Jennifer and Renee for curated one of the most promising exhibitions of the year.
Christiania, Copenhagen, Denmark (full sign below)