I've been slowly updating the tumblr about my Congo trip, dropping in some photos and telling some small stories about them. There's so much to tell! The total chaos and weird glory of the world of Congolese nature conservation is so strange that it seems like a dream. My friend Dino, a Congolese researcher, told me a story about walking into a dense, wet forest in the Northeast searching for okapi, the elusive forest giraffe. He and his team ran into a group of heavily armed rebels, who agreed to escort them for a fee. They crossed over two ridges, and a scout came back saying that there was an army post ahead. The rebels stopped to clean and oil their Kalashnikovs and the rocket launcher prior to attacking the army post, assuring Dino that this was covered by the fee he had paid. DIno waited until they were engrossed in their task and hurried his porters and fieldworkers ahead towards the army post. The army let them pass, in exchange for another fee, and they went on through the forest, looking hard through the dappled madness of foliage for the delicate camouflage of the okapi.
For the next month I'll be in Eastern Oregon, at the Caldera residency, staying in a fancy A-frame cabin in the snowy high-altitude pine forests between Three-Fingered Jack and the obsidian monolith of Black Butte. While I'm there I'll be working on some big blockprints and preparing some drawings to make into big screenprints. Probably I'll focus on Congo, but I've got a bunch of other ideas in the pipeline as well. I'm going to be writing a good deal too, trying to craft a narrative from the stack of journals I filled up while in DRC. Stay tuned!
I read an article yesterday at the Cluster Mag about the ever-widening circle of art-superstars who never actually participate in the fashioning of their own work. While this is nothing new, the recurring image of toiling masses laboring to produce works of supposedly high aesthetic rank always, well, rankles. I've always had a pretty general disdain for this sort of hierarchical creative process, with its cynical manipulation of our culture's lust for both the celebrity velvet-rope sausage factory and the shiny dream-deferred golden ticket mirage. How important can one person's ideas really be? The dreck dripping from the orifices of culture is a byproduct of our over-consumption of this art-world Olestra, the product that aims to provide the mouthfeel of real emotional involvement with creativity, but which causes an unfortunate level of leakage. We need more real-time, real-world collaboration, not this pseudo-epic horseshit.
The Unist'ot'en Camp is a resistance community in Northern BC whose purpose is to protect sovereign Wet'suwet'en territory from several proposed pipelines.
To mark the closing day of the "Posters of Inspirational European Women: Taken from the zine Shape & Situate" exhibition, Space Station Sixty Five will be hosting a collection of resources from other sociopolitical art, poster, zine and publication projects for everyone to explore.
Justseeds is represented with the Celebrate People's History poster series, Firebrands: Portraits of the Americas, and videos of Justseeds artists Melanie Cervantes, Jesus Barraza, Favianna Rodriguez and Mary Tremonte talking about their work.
Remembering Who We Are: Exploring artistic and creative sociopolitical memory, and art in social change movements
Saturday 26th January 2013
Space Station Sixty Five, 373 Kennington Road, London, SE11 4PS
A day of presentations, exhibitions, a resource archive, video screenings, discussions, participatory zine-making, and more.
I have four exhibitions in the next few months. Lots of new work that I made while living back and forth between Milwaukee and Ireland the last two years.
To read more click here.
Probably the first Justseeds post about billionaires. Here is Bloomberg's list of billionaires and not so equal distribution of wealth.
Justseeds will be tabling at the first ever Los Angeles Art Book Fair in a week and a half. Meredith, Josh, and friends will be table-jockeying all weekend. It's free! Come say hi!
February 1-3, 2013
Opening: Thursday, January 31, 2013, 6-9 pm
The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA
more info HERE.
While collecting books from the African Writers Series published by Heinemann (I'll be featuring those books in a future post), I stumbled upon a small series of African novels produced a little closer to home. Collier Books was originally a spin-off from Collier's Magazine, but by the late 1960s it had largely become a paperback subsidiary of the Macmillan Company, at the time one of the oldest and largest independent book publishers in the US and UK. In 1969, Collier launched the African/American Library, a collection of inexpensive (most for $1.50) mass market paperbacks consisting of contemporary African and Caribbean fiction, as well as excellent African-American novels from the Harlem Renaissance and earlier. My rudimentary research has turned up thirty eight books published in the series, of which I've found copies of twenty four, and cover images for another nine.
After a year of hard work, the Justseeds/Culture Strike "Migration Now!" portfolio is finally finished! It's a collection of 37 handmade prints from the artists of Justseeds and Culture Strike, addressing the full spectrum of migrant issues, from the drug war to deportation. The portfolio was co-organized by Favianna and Roger, and printed at Mullowney Printing in San Francisco and Flight 64 studio in Portland. Check out the project website for images of the individual pieces, all of which you can download at high-resolution. The portfolio is for sale now in the Justseeds store.
I woke up early and read another great post by filmmaker Adam Curtis on his excellent blog. In it, he describes the rise of fear and hatred among a populace searching through rubble for the remnants of their broken dreams. It's about Palestine, Israel and Egypt, and what happens when people stop believing that they and their world can be transformed, and instead take faith in the idea that there is evil in the hearts of all.
Curtis outlines a history of the conflict between Zionism and Arab Nationalism, and their twinned descent into poisonous right-wing self-destruction after the deeply flawed utopian ideals that informed both ideologies fell apart. Arising from the pit into which those ideals crumbled was a sort of many-headed Gorgon of grimly conservative reactionary politics, which attempted, through violence, to turn volatile, fluid societies into stone.
I guess did this a little backwards. I focused on the later published books last week, and now here is Puerto Rico: Analysis of a Plebiscite, as far as I can tell the first English language book published by Tricontinental Press—otherwise called "Tricontinental Collection" on these early books. It was printed in March 1968, the "Year of the Heroic Guerrilla," a translation of a Spanish language text published originally by Tricontinental in 1967. Although not attributed, I suspect it was designed by Alfredo Rostgaard.
The cover is handsome, but a bit oblique for OSPAAAL. A protesting crowd is rendered in large halftone dots, with some police presence apparent front and center. The policeman is further singled out by being stamped "Made in USA" in blue, a smart use of duotone. The title is in a simple stencil font, but laid out with character, and the subtitle is placed on a blank white shape, evoking the protest placards in the photograph.
Atomic Age Rodents
Specimens of Interest in the National Museum of Natural History
As Israeli missiles rained down on Gaza in November, Bay Area Art Queers Unleashing Power (BAAQUP) took over advertising space at two Bay Area Rapid Transit stations to counter Israel’s claims of eternal victimhood...
As I've written about elsewhere, my Celebrate People's History poster series is in part inspired by the down-and-dirty poster printing of 1960s and 70s Third World liberation movements. In many ways the posters created by OSPAAAL (Organization in Solidarity with the People's of Africa, Asia, and Latin America) in Cuba are paradigmatic of this phenomena. They are infinitely inventive in design and color scheme, yet printed on cheap acidic paper, often printed off-register, and were regularly folded into little paper missives that could be stuffed into propaganda publications. In the thirty-plus years since the peak of this kind of production, these OSPAAAL posters have become highly collectible—you can find them being sold for upwards of $500-$1000 a piece. Not surprisingly, this is largely due to their innovative design, rather than their internationalist politics.
OSPAAAL didn't just print posters, but were (and still are) a political organization focused on fighting US imperialism and supporting leftist liberation movements around the world. It developed out of the Tricontinental Conference, a 1966 meeting of delegates representing national liberation movements and political parties from around the world, almost exclusively from the global south. Based in Cuba, OSPAAAL became propagandists for these movements, supporting them through poster production, two different regularly produced journals (Tricontinental and the Tricontinental Bulletin), and a series of longer format books focused on the writings of the intellectual leadership of the movements.
New from Submedia.tv
Drawn by the child of a man in Tamms. December 18, 2012.
From the TAMMS Year Ten website: "In February, Governor Quinn proposed the closure of Tamms supermax prison and has been steadfast in standing up to opposition from the guards union. After a year of battle in the legislature, the courts and the press, the closure has finally gone forward and will be completed on Janaury 4, 2013.
Shutting down the supermax will not only relieve the suffering of hundreds of men and their families, but it is a huge symbol to the rest of the country that the use of the supermax trend was a historic wrong turn and should become a thing of the past. Thank you to the hundreds of volunteers and organizations who pitched in to make this happen. We could not have done this without each one of your contributions. There is still a lot of work and advocacy going forward, but for now, we are celebrating a huge and rare victory!
I've been back from Congo for nearly a month now, which seems crazy. It was very odd to travel from a place like Obenge, the Congolese village where I stayed two months, and where it is almost impossible to buy anything, to the United States in the throes of the annual Christmas conniption. I'm slowly putting together some writings and posts about my time there, seeking out a little press, and starting to process some of my experiences into art. One of the prints that I cut while in Congo is up on the Justseeds store today, check it out.
You can follow posts specifically about the bandana project (as well as some of my recordings from Obenge) on the tumblr I set up for it. I also recently wrote a guest post for bonoboincongo, the blog written and curated by Terese Hart for the conservation project with which I was volunteering, about the tomb that I helped to build for a dead park-guard. I wrote an essay about the bandana project for Portland's environmental arts journal Bear Deluxe, which you can read here. Lastly, there's an Antonov-load of photos from my trip on my flickr page. There's more to come!
If your in Milwaukee, stop by ReciproCity on Wednesday, January 2nd at 7:00pm. ReciproCity is a new experimental art space located inside the Sweet Water urban farm. ReciproCity is designed as a space for presentations, discussions, art exhibits, film screening, residencies, and more. It is a place for artists, community activists, academics, urban farmers, and many others to come together and to collaborate.
January 2, 2013, 7:00pm. Presentations by:
Alan W. Moore “Art Squats”
Sara Daleiden, “MKE<->LAX”
I've been enjoying the teaching materials and modus operandi of the Zinn Education Project ever since I discovered them back when we were working on the Firebrands book. These days they continue to grow, including some great articles lately in a series called "If We Knew Our History" on Huffington Post (there's a great new one about Abraham Lincoln here). I'm basically just using our blog as a platform to promote these folks because I think the work they do is utterly crucial - and hey, they're also doing a fundraising drive, and 'tis the season for that. As they say, "If every Facebook fan or registered user committed to make an annual contribution of $20, we wouldn't need to spend time fundraising. Instead, we could focus on providing teachers more resources to bring people's history to the classroom." (Click here for more info on giving Zinn Education a donation!)