I just got back from a week in the Marble Mountains wilderness of Northern California with the wildlands education and residency organization Signal Fire. Ten artists and activists, from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds, trekked through ancient forests, apocalyptic burns, and across high alpine ridges to an isolated high-mountain lake. Along the way we shared thoughts and discussion about the work that we do, how we do it, and why wild lands and wild nature are important to it. It was an amazing experience, which you can have a bit of a vicarious experience of through photo essays here and here. I strongly encourage any and all artists and activists to apply to their variety of amazing outdoor programs!
On this day in 2010 there was a march in Detroit that inspired a print I recently released called Solstice. The march was part of a decades-long struggle to take on the Detroit incinerator, a structure that has cost so much to the living beings in southeast Michigan, in health, safety, and money. It was organized by the Zero Waste Detroit coalition and allied EJ organizers from around the country including Ananda Tan, Ahmina Maxey, and David Solnit and, although it didn't take down the incinerator, was an invigorating event of solidarity, beauty, and community power. You can learn more about the ill effects of the incinerator from Zero Waste Detroit. If you live in Michigan, consider taking action right now on House Bill 5205, which would potentially increase the amount of incinerators in Michigan!
Justseeds artists Santiago Armengod, Nicolas Lampert and Roger Peet each made a graphic for the recently released Public Energy Art Kit, which is a collection of posters addressing aspects of our out-of-control energy system, and ways in which we might develop a new relationship to how we power ourselves. It's a nice, big, bright and beautiful full-color newsprint object, full of interesting information and gripping images. You can read more about the project at its website here, and you can sign up here to get a pile of them shipped to you free. Art at right here is by Santiago Armengod- click to make it bigger, and then click through for images by Nicolas and Roger!
There's a nice little article about me in the Oregonian today, and it mentions an event that I'm hosting tomorrow at the Alleyway Bar in Portland, OR. I'll be showing pictures and video from my recent project in Congo, as well as telling stories and playing some of the music I recorded while there. If you're in PDX, come by and check it out! The Alleyway is at 2415 NE Alberta, and the event, which is free, starts at 7:30 pm.
The organization I've been working for in Congo, TL2, performs many of the functions that people in western countries would consider to be the responsibility of the state. From road-building to education to the provision of security against murderous bandits, TL2 is an organizational presence that would otherwise not exist in the remote locations in which it operates. In the absence of a state, it's organizations like TL2 that end up doing a lot of the work that people appreciate- and a lot of the work that many of them resent greatly. This is the first part of an essay that aims to consider, from an anti-authoritarian point of view, what it means to work for a non-state entity that essentially is acting as a sort-of state, including implementing elements of law-enforcement and trying to fend off powerful and extremely violent criminal forces that have previously been the de facto authority over much of the area in question. Click through to continue!
This week from Submedia.tv:
1. Warming up police intelligence
2. A hungry man is an angry man
3. Farm land not airports
4. Vintage riot porn: The battler for Narita
5. Bosnia burns
6. Bilbao welcomes the IMF
7. African migrants bum rush fortress Europe
8. Brujeria: La Migra
7. Breaking down the riots in Venezuela
Earth First! is running an Idiegogo campaign to raise some loot to print a new edition of the Direct Action Manual. Help them out!
A group of frontline activists has come together to update and revise the Earth First! Direct Action Manual. The manual was originally published nearly two decades ago. Tactics have changed and the landscape of bridges to rappel from, buildings to lockdown to and roads to rip has changed over time. This manual has over 300 pages filled with diagrams, planning and descriptions on how to implement effective and safe actions.
IndieGoGo link to their campaign
I'm in the Democratic Republic of Congo for the next two months, working on a conservation theater project in and around a new national park in the east of the country. It's going to be an interesting effort, writing and directing some short skits about conservation with Congolese researchers and fieldworkers that we'll take out to small, remote villages in the upper reaches of the Lomami river. Our goal is somewhat complicated- to promote the idea of community forests, of community stewardship of forests and their fauna and flora, in the hopes of helping to defend those forests against commercial exploitation by criminal networks and well-funded poaching enterprises. This is an experimental effort- at least half the time we spend out in the field will be put to the use of determining if what we're doing gets the point across in any useful way at all. You can follow regular updates from the project here on its tumblr. If you're curious about what exactly is going on in that photograph, click here to read the most recent update from Kinshasa, Congo's vibrant and sprawling capital. If you feel like you want to support the project (which is running on the tiniest of budgets), you could consider buying a download of some amazing music I recorded in the region when I was last there.
If you're paying attention to the horror-story that is the continued development of tar-sands infrastructure in Canada, then you've heard about the megaloads. These are enormous shipments of equipment destined for the tar-sands projects, moving through Pacific Northwest ports and up small highways into Canada. There's been some pretty fierce opposition to these shipments, which is ongoing. The Nez Perce and Umatilla tribes have blockaded roads, activists from Oregon, Idaho and Montana have locked down to the machinery to prevent it moving, and more people are joining in. You can read about some of the opposition on the website of Portland Rising Tide. I made a graphic for the campaign, which you can see above, and you can download a high-resolution copy of to print out and put in your window by clicking on that image and then right- or function-clicking to download.
A 2-color print that I made of the image will be available in the Justseeds store soon!
I'm pleased to announce the release of Obenge Recordings- a compilation of music I recorded in the now-vanished village of Obenge in Democratic Republic of Congo in the fall of 2012. This is a collaboration with Portland's Ewe of Now label. It's available as a cassette and as a digital download on Bandcamp- you can get it here. You can read more of the story of Obenge and the projects I'm involved in in Congo here, or click through- the text included in the cassette is reproduced after the jump.
I'm just back from three weeks in Mexico, most of which I spent traveling with Santiago Mazatl in Chiapas, the southernmost state and home to the Zapatista movement and its system of autonomous rural municipalities. These communities are built on land expropriated from underutilized ranches, owned by wealthy land-barons and seized from them during the initial uprising of indigenous communities on January 1st, 1994. That was the date that NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement) took effect, something which has been utterly disastrous for Mexico in general and the indigenous Maya communities of Chiapas in particular.
This year was the 20th anniversary of that uprising, and Mazatl and I traveled to San Cristobal de las Casas in hopes of painting a mural to celebrate the fact.
An ad put out by Exxon Hates Your Children who point out the following:
In short, if you judge Exxon and other fossil fuel companies not by the words on their press releases, but by their actions and predictable consequences, Exxon really must hate your children. The facts speak for themselves.
Roger and Mazatl are in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico, to participate in some of the events taking place around the 20th anniversary of the emergence of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation from the forests of highland Chiapas. We brought solidarity portfolios printed at the Martires del 68 studio in Mexico City featuring artists associated with the Martires as well as several other Justseeds artists. We'll be painting some murals in the communities later this week with fellow Justseeds compa Favianna and the illustrious Emory Douglas, of Black Panther party fame. Above is a picture of a mural by some artist colleagues from San Cristobal that we helped with. It reads " the struggle is for life and happiness."
The struggle for indigenous self determination embodied by the Zapatista communities remains intense, twenty years after masked villagers occupied San Cristobal and several other towns in the early hours of January 1, 1994. Powerful interests encroach, seeking control of water, minerals, oil, and timber, and the restive and resistant populations of Maya that comprise the Zapatista base remain a thorn in their side. It's worth doing a little reading to remind yourself exactly why these people are defending themselves, and how their struggles illustrate the basest foundation of predatory capitalism and the long colonial twilight.
1. 19 COPs won't do
2. Mi'kmaq kick out the frackers
3. Thai pigs back the fuck down
4. Front End Loader Dreams
5. Greek cops on Fire
7. Zwarte Piet is Racism
Today is the official launch of the newest "WorldWord" short video series. This is a collaboration between Becky Stark, Peter Glantz, and Kevin Hooyman. This series premiered on the relaunch of "Liquid TV" which can be watched here.
To purchase the poster that corresponds to this video click this link.
On a grim and drippy morning earlier this week I sat in my house reading an article about slave capitalism in the magazine n+1, specifically a review of Walter Johnson's new book River of Dark Dreams: Slavery and Empire in the Cotton Kingdom, published earlier this year by Harvard. The author, Gabriel Winant, compares Johnson's analysis of the slave economy with an opposing take, written in the 70's by theorist Eugene Genovese, and points to the way he sees each view as arising from the specific historical moment in which it was written.
This year I put a ridiculous amount of time and energy into making a solar powered remote control car demolition derby (Green Mini Demo Derby). From asking numerous businesses if they would consider sponsoring a solar powered remote control car demolition derby, to building a mobile solar power station, to learning about remote control cars, retrofitting them so they are able to efficiently destroy each other, and spending countless hours painting corporate logos on cars and uniforms, it was a long, often confusing, process. I was nervous and excited (mainly terrified) for the first event, hoping the cars got charged efficiently, ran well, broke well, and that the event would be exciting.
I spent two weeks in August traveling around Montana. My sweetie Elizabeth and I hiked to hot springs in the Bitterroot Wilderness, counted Golden Eagles and Nighthawks in the Paradise Valley, and watched the beetle-killed mountains burn. On our way back to Missoula we took an alternate route through the town of Anaconda, heading north on State Highway 1. Just outside the town of Drummond, we passed a small ranch-house with a yard full of impressive metal sculpture- a bear, a rhino, and was that a mammoth? A big hand-painted sign on the fence said "Usually Open". We turned back to check it out.
As we pulled into the yard, a man was leaving the building marked "Museum", moving slowly, tall and thin, bent slightly over a walker. He noticed us, waved and approached. "I just closed, but I can open up again. No, it's no problem." He swung open the door and we went in.
The interior was a big white space full of paintings and wood-carvings, lit by big windows. "This is all my work," said the tall man, who introduced himself as Bill Ohrmann. "Stay as long as you like."
We started over to the walls and began a cursory ogle of the hanging work. It became immediately obvious that we had found something absolutely amazing. Our jaws dropped as we moved from piece to piece. We were in the presence of greatness.
New installment of It's the End of the World as We Know it from Submedia
More info here.
I’m excited to finally have completed the first car for my upcoming Green Mini Demo Derby. I have sponsors that will have their own hand painted cars. After many tests, I have been building all the bodies out of wood and aluminum flashing, and on inspection you can see this one has already had a few repairs after testing. This car is sposored by Midwest Photovoltaics.
If you have been paying attention to the news lately you've heard about a lot of human caused ecological disasters related to petroleum extraction; Tar Sands oil spills, exploding train derailments, pipeline leaks, and too much more.
I wanted to highlight some graphics produced by Justseeds members and allies on the Tar Sands for the Resourced Portfolio.
I was recently commissioned by Dissent magazine to provide some illustrations for their special issue on climate change. Check out the magazine here and consider a subscription! You can see a couple more images after the jump.
A Kickstarter campaign to fund the creation of glowing plants just reached its funding goal. The plan, put forth by a small startup in the Bay Area called Genome Compiler Corporation, is to use synthetic biology techniques to engineer a species of cress that will glow, which apparently seems like a cool thing to a lot of people. Many of the backers of the project on Kickstarter will be receiving these plants in the mail. Sounds harmless enough, perhaps. The problem is that synthetic biology represents a gamble with natural systems similar to that involved in genetic modification, and is at the moment entirely unregulated. Although this project involves the first public distribution of a synthetic biological organism, and a quite simple and frivolous one at that, it represents the potential opening of floodgates for similarly engineered and untested organisms to be released. There's no oversight of this technology by health or agriculture agencies, and no understanding of what impacts these technologies might have outside of their initial release sites. It's a bad, arrogant idea. Read more about the project and its critics here and here. There's an FB page about the opposition here.
Fire is part of the suite of factors on the short list for major contributions to human development. When we learned to control fire, we started using it to harden sticks for hunting, and eventually for cooking the food we caught. The flood of nutriment that we got from that food helped feed the development of these grotesque brains of ours, which must be seen as a dubious gift at this point. We used fire to do a lot of things as we spread out across the world, transforming landscapes into ones more suited to our needs, and driving a lot of species into the dustpan of history as we did it. One of the places where our fire practices had an impressively deep and even more impressively abiding impact was the island continent of Australia.
Notes from the farm: is the first in a series of drawings and
writings telling of my experience coming back home to my family's farm.
It's been nearly three years now of watching the weather, the landscape and
the seasons change, as well as the shift from a family farm into a nature reserve.
I was recently commissioned to design a poster for the law firm Meyer, Glitzenstein and Crystal to commemorate their 20th anniversary. MG&C has spent the last twenty years aggressively defending the livelihoods and habitats of a broad array of species across North America, and they've had considerable success doing so. The occasion of their twentieth anniversary, however, has been clouded by developments in one of their most prominent struggles- against the abuse of elephants in circuses.
A doomed past doesn't mean a doomed future. The weight of history doesn't bear down forever- people shrug their burdens off. I've got two new prints (here and here) up on the site right now inspired by the time I spent last year in one of the world most dangerous and damaged countries, the Democratic Republic of Congo. They're attempts to talk about the history and the present of the Congo in the same breath- to mash together Congo's terrible colonial history of enslavement and exploitation with its contemporary struggle to rise above the shattered landscape and become a place of possibility for all.
I thought I'd share a bit of the process of making these prints, specifically where some of the imagery came from, and a bit of the thought process as well.
Image from Copperflora.org.
When I decided to reembark on this series of posts about extinct species, I did a check through my copious bookmarks to see if anything jumped out at me as an appropriate subject. Nothing did at first, so I decided to consult the great Extinction Oracle: the Red List of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Lacking any particular direction I clicked to the list of extinct species and then clicked on the item at the top of the list, a plant in the Euphorbia family named Acalypha Dikuluwensis.
A serendipitous choice.
It turns out that Acalypha Dikuluwensis (hereafter referred to as A.D.) grew only in the Democratic Republic of Congo. I spent three months in Congo last year, a culmination of a personal obsession rooted in family, history, and biology, and to find this small flowering plant at the top of this list took my breath away a little bit. As I read the entry on the Red List, it dawned on me that the story of A.D. had those peculiar characteristics that so often inhabit news or stories about the Congo, a synthesis of diverse factors leading to a haunting coda.
Part of the month I spent at the Caldera Arts Center was taken up by attempts to fashion some music videos out of the clips I shot while traveling in Congo. Lacking an enormous amount of video editing experience, I ended up doing a bunch of dragging-and-dropping in IMovie while trying to sync things up with some of the recordings of choral groups from the tiny village I was staying in. I think they turned out pretty well! I showed some of them at a couple of presentations I did in Portland last week. Just prior to the first presentation I had some crazy news: the crashed plane that I and some Congolese colleagues found in the forest near Obenge had been tentatively identified by some people at the Aviation Safety Network.
Islands: they're good places to show up at if you are looking to evolutionarily diverge. If your species manages to arrive at an island with no native predators on it, you stand a pretty good chance of radiating spectacularly into a variety of odd forms. Charles Darwin saw this phenomenon, called biogeographical isolation, at work in the Galapagos Islands among the finches he made famous. Later on in his journey he came to another group of islands, equally remote, but with a resident animal that puzzled him greatly, and which continues to confound modern biologists. That animal was the Warrah, or Falkland Island Wolf.
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!
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.
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!
Ten days ago I returned to the US after three months in the Democratic Republic of Congo. I'm still adjusting to being back, waking up at 4 in the morning, grumbling at the cold rain. I've been wanting to write here about my experiences but have had trouble figuring out where to start.
I spent two and a half of those months in Obenge, a village of about 350 people far up in the midreaches of the Lomami river, Orientale province, eastern DRC. I was volunteering with a project called TL2, named after the three rivers that drain the area, big rivers winding torturously north towards the mother river, the Congo.
Last week I was interviewed by an Australian radio program about my "Meatscapes" collage series. Here's a link to the five-minute interview:
I was out of the country for the past year. While I was away my father Neil designed and built a solar powered golf cart (in our case a work cart). I worked with him this summer installing electric at the Jefferson County Fair and it was amazing to see how effective the solar cart was. It was as fast as the gas powered carts, completely quiet, and was used for over 12 hours a day never needing a charge or any maintenance.
Neil making sure everyone knows he is solar powered.
I'm currently in DR Congo, in the capital Kinshasa, to be precise, waiting for a dawn flight to Kisangani in the Northeast. I'm volunteering with a team of scientists led by Drs. John and Terese Hart, who are leading a push to establish a new national park in the east, straddling the borders of Maniema and Orientale provinces. The Harts announced today the discovery of a new species of monkey in the forest where I'll be working for the next few months. It's an exciting announcement, the first new monkey species described for 29 years. The story of this little beast, known as the Lesula, is pretty poignant- a team of Congolese field researchers working for the park project noticed an unusual monkey coming ashore off a pirogue from a remote upstream region in the arms of the local schoolmasters' daughter, Georgette (pictured above).
Opening: Saturday, September 8, 6 - 8 PM here
421 Hudson Street Greenwich Village, NYC. Show runs until October 6.
Information about the opening can be found HERE.
Portland-based Justseeds colleague Nina Montenegro coordinated a great project last month in the St. Johns neighborhood of northeast Portland. Working with Depave Portland, Nina painted a giant mural on the asphalt of a decommissioned parking lot scheduled for removal. The word "WILD" was cut from the asphalt some weeks prior to the depaving process and sown with grass-seed, resulting in trenches of green springing up through the tiger's stripes. Nina says: ""The mural was inspired by William Blake’s poem “The Tyger” which marvels in the beautiful duality of ferocity and tenderness in nature and in our own hearts. Painting the tiger on asphalt before we depaved it became a way to welcome back the soil beneath that hadn’t seen the sunlight for sixty years, and to celebrate the plants that would begin to grow, and the animals that would make this place their home. The mural was painted entirely with dry milk and iron oxide pigment." More pictures after the jump.
On an invitation from curator Amanda Donnan, I initiated a collaboration with friend and local field botanist Jessica McPherson as part of Project: Lido - a temporary collection of installations in the decommissioned Leslie Park Pool in the Lawrenceville neighborhood of Pittsburgh. After some initial on-site conversations with Amanda and Leslie Pool Collective member Susan Englert, I got the idea that, in the context of several other large-scale sculptural projects that other artists were planning for the pool grounds, it would be intriguing to research and highlight the pool's diminutive bryological communities - patches of moss whose thriving presence is a welcome contrast to the pool's chlorine-scrubbed past...
Over at Mythological Quarter, cohorts Bonnie Fortune and Brett Bloom are constantly letting loose sharp, well-researched and inspirational projects all over the place, and thankfully documenting them relentlessly! Bonnie most recently designed a series of ten posters: "Metropolitan Habitat" details incidents of animal "encroachment" in urban, human-built environs. Bonnie says: "News stories play these incidents from a few common angles: comedic effect, danger to humans, or the nuisance factor of the animal population. The posters appropriate the language of the news but for me are part of my larger interest in how animals shape and are shaped by our urban spaces. Ultimately, I want to know how human habitat can be better designed to accommodate the inevitable wild life visitors. We should not be surprised when the coyote enters the sandwich shop, rather we could expect it and be prepared for this kind of eventuality." Download each of the posters as PDF's here, and keep your eye on Mythological Quarter.
I've finished the drawing for my project in DR Congo this fall- I'll be printing the image at right (click to embiggen) onto about four hundred big bright bandanas and taking them with me to hand out to the people who live near the new Lomami National Park in eastern DRC. It's an exciting project to be a part of, conservation from the ground up! I've started a Kickstarter campaign to help me fund it, please take a moment to go check it out! Rewards aplenty. I'm pretty excited that the project was featured on the fantastic conservation news website Mongabay, and the write-up has a little interview with me.
I recently finished reading a book called "Built by Animals", by Mike Hansell, published by the Oxford University Press. It's a quick read, but quite full of fascinating things to think about. I picked it up because I'm always looking for engaging pop science reading, especially if it includes any ruminations on the biological aspects of human culture. This book is no exception. In one of the chapters, entitled "Two routes lead to trap building", Hansell reveals a simple and elegant fact that is one of my favorite minor eureka moments of the year. The fact is this: out of all the tens of thousands of vertebrate species on Earth, including the mammals, the birds, the reptiles, and the amphibians, humans are the only species that makes traps.
I've got a video featured in July's Acid Rain public access television series, curated by Jerstin Crosby. You can see it online, but my intention was to create something that would operate in the channel-surfing realm - timed to (roughly) coincide with the cable television and DVD release of "The Grey" (2012), a Liam Neeson survivalist blockbuster...
I just finished the first sketch of the image for the Lomami National Park Bandanas! What are those, I hear you cry. Well, they're going to be a pile of brightly colored bandanas with a refined version of the above image screenprinted on them. I'm making them to take with me to DR Congo this fall, where I'll be volunteering with a group that is working to set up a new national park in the east of the country, in one of the last patches of unbroken forest left in the country. What's really great about this project is that the idea of the park is being promoted from the ground up, agreed upon by the people who actually live there, instead of being decreed from on high by those with political clout. The bandanas are intended to be useful objects that also carry information about some of the species the park will protect. It's my hope that people will see a lot more of these than they would of a poster hung in an office somewhere. Something that occurred to me while drawing this is that I seem to be designing a logo for a national park. In Congo. The mind boggles slightly. I'll be running a Kickstarter campaign in July to help fund the project, please do stay tuned for that. Also, below the jump: the cover for the Justseeds/ Culture Strike "Migration Now" portfolio, which should be done in mid-July. Busy times!
Josh Fox (dir. Gasland) has a new video on hydrofracking and media/industry propaganda, "The Sky is Pink" (18:34). It's certainly worth watching and spreading far and wide. Annotated Documents featured in the film can be found here.
“If you all stick around long enough today, you’ll start to feel it in your throat. Your nose feels sore, back of your throat feels raw.” Greg Lancaster* is telling us about the new air in his neighborhood in rural Butler County, SouthWestern Pennsylvania. Twelve of us are gathered in their modest living room inside a trailer that he and his wife Susanne have spent most of their lives, and their children’s lives, calling home. We’re a scant 45 minute drive North from Pittsburgh, and we’ve come to meet folks living in one of the epicenters of natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale - specifically, folks who no longer have drinking water, bathing water, or clean air to breathe. Gallon water jugs bulwark the front doors of their humble homes.
"The whole story has still not been told. The agencies have gotten away with everything, a lot of people involved with the agencies have gotten away with everything, and nothing has changed for the benefit of the jaguar at all. Nothing in conservation, I mean, these fools can do this all over again. They got away with it once, why not try it again if the opportunity presents itself?"
In March 2009, headlines told us that “the last jaguar in the United States” had died in the Phoenix Zoo in Arizona after being snared in the wild during a routine study. His given name was “Macho B,” and his death – euthanasia at the hands of veterinarians shortly after an orchestrated capture – was originally publicly lamented as a necessary course of action for the aging, endangered cat, whose last days were wrought in an agony that could have only been brought by fifteen years of living wild. That’s how the story played, at least – until Janay Brun, a field tech for the Borderlands Jaguar Detection Project, came forward to blow the whistle on the operation, out her superiors for neglect and hubris, and set the wheels in motion for a federal criminal investigation into the illegal “take” of an endangered species.
A list of disappointments from the Obama administration would fill a volume, but close to the top would be his support of the Keystone XL pipeline. Obama (and his supporters) might want to check out this documentary about the devastating impact of tar sands on Canada and beyond. Now, imagine if political leaders truly supported renewable energy, instead of the oil and gas industry.
The second round of Endangered Species condoms have been released! I was commissioned by the Center for Biological Diversity to produce five original paper-cuts for the series, which also incorporates the panther image from my "Ecology of Fear" print. The packages were nicely laid-out by graphic designer Lori Lieber, and will be distributed by thousands of volunteers around the country starting on Earth Day. Click through to see all of the images!
For the past seven months I have been an artist in residence / teacher at the Burren College of Art on the West Coast of Ireland. Eileen Hutton is getting her PhD here and focusing on art and ecology.
She is making super inspiring work in collaboration with honeybees and small birds. Here are a few images from her thesis show.
Some exciting news for me- I'm going to be working with the Center for Biological Diversity to develop art for the next round of Endangered Species Condoms. The condoms are a part of the Center's work to bring the subject of human overpopulation to a wider audience, a goal I wholeheartedly share.
Discussions of human population are hair-triggers for many on the left who feel that any mention of overpopulation is code for racist eugenics programming. Simultaneously, those on the right looking for a backdoor into the environmental movement have tried to make immigration-related "population control" an issue. All demagoguery aside, however, the exponential increase in human population is a fact, and a fact that brings with it a raft of consequences impossible in a world with fewer humans. Humanity monopolizes an enormous percentage of the world's surface, as well as the products of that surface, and whether rich or poor, more humans means less room for anything else. It's past time for a non-ideological discussion on population that cuts through the hate and fear and gets to the heart of the matter: other species live on this planet as well, and they need to be able to get away from us. As our numbers increase, that is becoming impossible. This project aims to make the link between the dwindling numbers of so many distinct forms of life and the swelling of one big, rude one: humanity.
The Center for PostNatural History announces the Grand Opening of its permanent exhibition facility in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on March 2nd (tonight) at 6pm at 4913 Penn Ave. The Center for PostNatural History (CPNH) is dedicated to the research and exhibition of lifeforms that have been intentionally altered by humans, from the dawn of domestication to contemporary genetic engineering. The CPNH presents the postnatural world through diorama, taxidermy, photography and living exhibits, from engineered corn to Sea Monkeys to modified Chestnut Trees to BioSteelTM Goats.
We at the Escuela Popular Martires del 68 are happy to announce that the 2012 portfolio is printed and ready to go!
This year’s portfolio is centered around the defense of the sacred site of Wirikuta, in the heart of Wixarica territory municipality of Catorce, state of San Luis Potosi, Mexico.
The Martires del 68 school and the Convención Metropolitana de Artistas y Trabajadores de la Cultura (CMATC) coordinated this amazing piece of collective graphic work in benefit of the Wirikuta Defense Front: Tamatsima Wahaa.
Check out the new Stim for Pres episode that includes some reporting from Australia.
or at Submedia
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.
Last year two species of Rhinoceros went extinct. The Vietnamese sub-species of the Javan Rhino and the Western Black Rhino of Africa are gone forever, casting no more shadows. Their lengthy presence on earth was snuffed out not by any phenomenon of natural pressure, but by the real-world consequences of human beliefs.
The world's rhinos are dwindling faster now than ever before, pushed to the utter brink by the adherents and practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). The burgeoning purchasing power of the human populations of China, Korea and Vietnam has led directly to a surge of growth in the number of rhinos of all species being poached for their horns. The horns are used in therapies for colds and minor flus, and not, as is often mistakenly stated, as aphrodisiacs. Regardless of the purpose, those in Southeast Asia and the diaspora who are currently paying equivalents of upward of $2000 per pound are being fleeced: Rhino horn is composed of keratin and nothing more, just as are human hair and fingernails. Until quite recently there was additional poaching pressure from nations on the Arabian peninsula, where rhino horn was traditionally made into the handles of the ceremonial daggers that represent the passage of boys into manhood. The massive increase in price and conservation pressure have reduced that demand, and almost all horn is now traded to Asia.
Our Hen House recently posted this short video interview with Sue Coe, wherein she discusses the powerful motivation behind her work. It's part of their "Art of the Animal" series of videos, articles, podcasts, etc. Take a few minutes to watch it, and then take a few minutes to dive into their website, which is loaded with "resources that you can use in order to find your own way to change the world for animals." There's a podcast with some more of the Coe interview here.
When my friend Katherine Ball was being interviewed by the Oregonian here in Portland during the Occupation this fall, she asked me to write up something to address the so-called lack of demands on the part of the occupiers. This is what I came up with: the paper didn't run it, but I think it works. Demand the Impossible! Impunity for All!
What do we want?
Empathy. Generosity. Solidarity. Creativity. Mutual Aid. Personal Responsibility. Inter-ethnic, trans-gender, omnisexual and pan-national notions of kinship and respect. A demolition of materialism and crass consumption. A washing away of bad fear. An end to the brute conversion of the glories of the natural world into abstract quanta that serve no purpose except to warehouse crude and gloating power. A notion of connectedness to the networks and webs of life. An end to our humanist hubris, our presumption of supremacy and dominance. A new rule of nature to supersede the rule of law- you must not take what can't be replaced. More importantly even than that- you shall not lie to yourself about the good you are able to do, whether by action or by inaction or by refusal. You cannot buy your way out of a burning world. We want all of this and we want it yesterday, or better still we want it ten thousand years ago, and forever.
photo: Getty images
The two big blockprints from the We Agree project are finally available today in the Justseeds store; one made by three Justseeds artists, and the other by the Taring Padi cooperative of Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Each one is 3 feet by 9 feet, printed on heavy canvas. Read more about the project here. Click through for images, and click over to the store to check out the prints.
For years I've stubbornly paid my bills by writing a check, licking an envelope, placing a stamp, and marching to the post office. Even—no, especially—as the electric, gas, and credit card companies send more and more and more missives claiming the benefits of online bill payment, I've always taken a certain satisfaction in my little "fuck you," my small personal attempt in forcing them all to keep employing at least one human being to open the envelopes, look over the checks, and sort the payments.
Wal-Mart store map, circa 2008.
In 1995 David C. Korten wrote “When Corporations Rule the World,” an important book that synthesized the history of corporate rule in the US. Like most books that present thoroughly depressing material on how corporate power has run amok, he ended it with a chapter on how to fight back. His timing was ideal. The mid-1990s was an era when social justice movements were beginning to move away from single-issue campaigns and started to aim their sites at those at the top who controlled the economic pyramid. 1999 became synonymous, at least in activist circles, with Seattle (November 30) and the anti-globalization movement. The call for fair trade momentarily drowned out the practice of free trade.
Twelve years later corporate capitalism is still pillaging the planet but one great result of the on-going anti-globalization struggle can be found in the emphasis to build alternative movements – be it the independent media movement, the organic food movement, or any other number of grassroots movements and infrastructures. In my hometown of Milwaukee, I can look at a number of collectives, community groups, businesses, and urban farm projects with great pride – projects that embody community based economies. A short list would include the Riverwest Food Co-op, the Walnut Way Conservation Corp, Sweetwater Organics, and Growing Power.
Last April, Roger Peet and myself, traveled up to northern California immediately after the Bay Area Anarchist Bookfair. Justseeds was invited to exhibit the RESOURCED portfolio and A Crisis in Common, at the Black Butte Center for Railroad Culture, in Weed, CA. It's in a gorgeous place and the exhibition was hung in an antique refrigerated train car from 1923.
I have finally uploaded some images up to our flickr account, check them out at Justseeds/Visual Resistance. Thanks to everyone that I met in that adventure, Crackbox (who played in the adjacent railcar), Austin/the flopbox, and to everyone at BBCRC for making the exhibition possible.
The Black Butte Center for Railroad Culture was founded in 2008 as a way to support and develop a community-building institution focused on railroad culture in the western United States. The BBCRC is located on the site of a long-abandoned junkyard amid several acres of forest, chaparral, and wetlands directly adjacent to Black Butte Siding, the junction of the Union Pacific and Central Oregon and Pacific railroads right on the southeast edge of Weed, California.
Watch the raffle drawing LIVE with host Annie Nonymous on Monday, July 11th, at 8pm Eastern here
Win prizes from Spectacle Theater, Book Thug Nation, Champs Family Bakery, Autonomedia, Black and Red Books, Mooshoes, Lula's Sweet Apothecary,
Acupuncture by Famous, Sparrow Media, Prints by Justseeds artist Molly Fair, Arissa Media, Kingsland Sandwich Shop, Green is the New Red, Bluestockings, Amie's Vegan Truffles, & many more!!
Read on for more info about Marie, Eric, and the Green Scare...
Two weeks ago, I traveled down to West Virginia for the 5-day, 50 mile March on Blair Mountain, nominally a peaceful march to demand that Alpha Natural Resources not blast out the rest of one geological formation with particular historical resonance but also, perhaps more urgently, a symbolic action to demand an end to mountaintop removal coal mining as a practice in the United States. Personally, I need some time to parse out everything that happened throughout that week... but in the meantime, here's a slideshow of some of the signage from both protesters, supporters, and counter-protesters along the winding route from through the West Virginia coalfields.
The Bushmeat Food-cart is opening today, in Downtown Portland, on the third floor of Pioneer Place Mall! Corner of SW Fifth and Morrison. Come and check it out between 6 and 9 pm. It is pretty unnerving, and the fact that it is in the mall makes it even more so. For more information, click this link.
I created this image a while back for my old friend Marie Mason, who's currently serving out a 22-year prison sentence for charges related to two acts of property destruction that occurred in 1999 and 2000. Noone was injured in either attack -against a facility researching/developing GMO crops- but Marie got swept up in the Green Scare hysteria- and is now serving a disproportionately long sentence as a result.
The good folks at Support Marie Mason recently printed up these t-shirts as a benefit and if i do say so myself, they look pretty sharp and are darn comfortable to boot. You can buy them directly from their site here- and i highly recommend you do.
Direct action gets the media coverage. Yesterday, Greenpeace activists brought much needed local and national media attention to the Fisk and Crawford power plants in Chicago by hanging a banner off the tower of the Fisk plant and rappelling off the Pulaski Bridge, near the Crawford coal plant, and dropping a banner that blocked coal barge traffic on the river.
This action is civil disobedience at its finest. As a part-time resident of Chicago this issue hits close to home and was the topic of my print and sign project (in collaboration with the Rain Forest Network) that I created for the Justseeds RESOURCED portfolio project. Below is a link to a five-minute film that documents the June 2010 action and discusses the issues behind the campaign to close down Fisk, Crawford, and ALL coal-powered plants.
Here's a new project: a bushmeat food-cart. The project is called Viande de Brousse, the French translation of bushmeat, meaning simply wild meat hunted from the forest, or bush, as it's referred to in much of Sub-Saharan Africa. I (Roger) and my colleague Ryan Burns have built a small mobile food-cart which will be selling the severed hands of Chimpanzees to the horrified public in Portland, debuting at PLACE gallery downtown next month. This is the result of years of attention to and research in the history, economy and environment of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Congo is a vast pentagonal tranche of Sub-Saharan Africa, and has been a grim laboratory of capitalism's extractive priorities since Belgium began its colonial project there in the late 1800's. The stories of Congo's debasement and butchery at the hands of the Belgians, the Americans, the Chinese, assorted homegrown tyrants and the murderous throngs of small armies that swarmed through it during the African World War of the 90's-early 00's are woefully underreported. The history is nearly invisible. This is our attempt to dig our fingers into that steaming pile and pull it reeking into the light.
Our friend and collaborator Laura Scheinkopf is putting on this benefit tomorrow for the March on Blair Mountain. Come check it out!
Tuesday, May 24
@ The Commons
388 Atlantic Avenue, between Bond and Hoyt
High Peaks, Low Coal
New York Loves Mountains hosts a screening of the new documentary Low Coal, an exploration of the sacrifices made by Appalachian communities living with deep mining and Mountaintop Removal. The film's director, Jordan Freeman, along with former union coal miner and environmental activist Chuck Nelson, will be present for a talk-back after the screening. The discussion will be followed by a concert featuring local musician Morgan O'Kane (who played the score for the film).
Funds raised will be directed towards the March on Blair Mountain, a unifying rally in West Virginia from June 5-11th, 2011, which calls for historical preservation of Blair Mountain and an end to Mountaintop Removal.
This year commemorates the 90th anniversary of the Battle of Blair Mountain, the largest open class war in U.S. history, when 10,000 coal miners rose against the rule of the coal operators and fought for the basic right to live and work in decent conditions.
For more information visit www.appalachiarising.org.
Many folks are gearing up for the June 4-11 March on Blair Mountain. The excerpt below came down the wire from organizers, along with this awesome new print from Providence-based artist Noel'le Longhaul (see a full view after the cut). People interested in attending the five-day march, or just attending the rally and day of action after the march, can find significant details here.
"Ninety years ago, in 1921, thousands of coal miners marched from Marmet, West Virginia to Blair Mountain in Logan County. They were West Virginians from a variety of backgrounds, standing up against coal companies for their freedom and basic human rights. They tied red bandannas around their necks and marched to throw out local politicians who had aligned themselves with coal companies. They marched because they were dying from unsafe working conditions, because they were being cheated out of their rightful pay. They marched because they were being denied the right to join a union, because their families were living in terrible conditions and dying from ill health, because coal company thugs subjected them to violence, because the companies and state government were taking away their basic civil liberties.
I haven't had a chance to post new work on the site for some time, but its not like I haven't busy. I though I'd share some photos of an installation I just had up at the University of New Mexico. This thing is a bunch of paper cuts, linoleum prints, paint, glue and wire. It takes up a space about 12 feet by 12 feet by 8 feet tall. This is a bit of an exploration as to where I can take the city prints, such as "Endless City", I've been making the past year or so. Let me know what you think.
Our friend, collaborator, and fellow activist Laura Sheinkopf is putting on this event and fundraiser for Appalachia Rising and the Safe Water Movement- all-volunteer, grassroots organizations dedicated to protecting our region from the highly destructive practices of mountaintop removal coal mining, and hydrofracking - drilling for 'natural' gas.
Blue Sky Bakery (@ 53 5th Avenue, Brooklyn)
on Wednesday, April 27th, from 6:30-9pm.
Admission, snacks, and music are all free!
Musician Chris Van Voorst playing on bass
You'll also have the opportunity to check out and purchase:
- Handmade jewelry by lalaloops
- Beehive Collective True Cost of Coal posters
- Glory to the Mountains, a chapbook of short essays written by NYC-based activists organizing against mountaintop removal
- and a selection of other art
Profits from sales will go directly to support on-the-ground efforts to protect our fresh water and mountains, and to stop hazardous energy extraction, in favor of renewable alternatives. Funds raised will also support artistic efforts to raise awareness about environmental issues.
This video, filmed and directed by Laura Klein, documents an art and ecology project by Amy Mall and Sherwin Ovid, one of 12 intervention projects that took place in Milwaukee during July of 2010 for the project Watershed: Art, Activism, and Community Engagement, organized by Nicolas Lampert and Raoul Deal. I will post other short documentary films from Watershed in the coming weeks.
Amy Mall and Sherwin Ovid write "Our conversations with elder Wisconsin dairy farmer John Kinsman explored the topic of water in the rural landscape. His land is at the peak of three watersheds. In stark contrast to factory farming situations, Kinsman’s small pasture-fed dairy farm exists in a paradigm where the earth is honored, ecological balance respected, animals are given a healthy long life, and manure is considered a resource rather than a waste product. The trees he planted over 50 years ago and woodlands that he maintains heal and restore natural ponds and streams. We visited his land, recorded his stories, and responded through art making to create images that correlate with his storytelling."
The Justseeds Resourced portfolio is up in the concert hall at Casa Del Popolo and will be there until July 31st. If you are in Montreal come check it out at 4873 boul. St-Laurent.
Last weeks opening event was a 5 à 7 and discussion with local environmental activists, myself and members of The Dominion who were launching A People's Forecast, a special issue on climate justice.
More photos and and links below.
Thanks to Keith Race for all the photos
Black Butte Center for Railroad Culture
800 Black Butte Rd.
We will have an opening for the exhibition RESOURCED, a production of the Just Seeds screen print cooperative, which will be on display in our "reefer" gallery through June. It focuses on resource extraction and climate issues, major issues in our region, and includes 26 artist prints. See RESOURCED for more info. The show will also feature work by two of the individual Just Seeds members, New York City-based "Kevin Caplicki" and Portland-based "Roger Peet".
Later in the evening we'll have a boxcar music show with "Crackbox" (punk), featuring some BBCRC supporters and frequent visitors, on tour from New Orleans, making a stop at Black Butte.
This van (seen in Pittsburgh) wryly references the myriad, often toxic rainbow of chemicals found in the hydraulic shale fracturing (or "fracking") method used in drilling and stimulating natural gas wells. Although it's a hot issue in New York and Pennsylvania, these chemicals are making their way into groundwater all over the US - including the "over 32 million gallons of diesel fuel or hydraulic fracturing fluids containing diesel fuel (utilized without permits and despite denial by industry spokespeople) in wells in 19 states between 2005 and 2009.(source)"
A long time in the making, my collaborator Jesse Goldstein and I just finished a 10 color print called "Wild and Neglected Like Me". The piece refers to line in a poem by John Clare the Peasant Poet of Northamptonshire (1793-1865). It is a love poem written to a weed, and its untamed beauty.
Here is an essay by Jesse about the piece and Clare's lament about the destruction of the commons.:
Ah cruel foes with plenty blest
So ankering after more
To lay the greens and pastures waste
Which profited before
(John Clare, The Lamentations of Round Oak Waters)
Recently, Molly and I made a print based on a line from John Clare’s poetry: a love poem written to a weed. The poem offers some interesting insights into commoning as a way of life, and in particular how unused, unnoticed, and untamed natures – which capitalists saw as wasted resources, were a source of value to the commoners that lived on them. Commoning was an entirely different way of relating to the world, than what comes to be naturalized through our capital-infused culture. There’s so much interest in the idea of commons today – whether digital commons, cultural commons, political commons – but less attention is spent on understanding commoning and private property as qualitatively different relationships to the world.
So, I thought it could be a good idea to use Clare’s poem as an entry point, to go back to the history of English commons and reflect on this way of life, especially some of the different sorts of ‘values’ and ‘wastes’ that it entailed. These are values and wastes that are still with us today, and appreciating them in a new light might help us find some of the radical possibilities that lurk in the most mundane and overlooked corners of our social lives and landscapes.
I've got a new print on the site called "The Burning World". It's based on a graphic device called a radial tree of life, which is a method of depicting the incredible diversity of life on Earth and the ways in which those life-forms are related, and when they diverged from each other. Here's the tree of life with it's radii labeled. You can click on the image for a larger version.
I found this online summary of my art.
Now I can quit!
The install for the Watershed show in Milwaukee is getting closer to completion. Six days to go.. Here are some photos of the progress. The show opens Friday, January 28th 5:00-8:00 if you're in the Milwaukee area.
(foreground) "The Future of Farming" (aquaponic sculpture/fish-vegetable farm system by Sweet Water Organics.)
Busy days in Milwaukee. Here are a few install photos of the Watershed exhibition that opens in Milwaukee on Friday, January 28th at the Union Art Gallery at UWM (same space that Justseeds created an installation at in 2008.) Watershed: Art, Activism, and Community Engagement addresses the shifting ecological and political dimensions of water. This project, organized by Nicolas Lampert and Raoul Deal brings together artists, scientists, and urban farmers and uses art as a form of activism to comment on water issues in Milwaukee and the Great Lakes Basin, and their impact on the world at large. It tackles issues such as water shortages, notions of abundance, water privatization, invasive species, industrial pollution, and water as a human right.
Here's a link to the site of photographer James Mollison, who has undertaken a great project of portraiture in Indonesia, Cameroon and Democratic Republic of Congo: Passport photographs of apes. These are truly wonderful images of survivors of the trades in live pets and in bushmeat. Mollison's got some pretty great pictures of the life and times of Pablo Escobar on his site too.
Happy New Year! I hope you all had a great time. Here's a little something for your hangover!
The National Science Foundation released a report on the 29th of December showing that an influx of non-native species can be a progenitor of a mass extinction event. The report draws on fossil evidence from the mass extinction of the late Devonian, approximately 375 million years ago, to describe what happens when hardy, adaptable species colonize areas dominated by more locally-focused ones. What happens is pretty chilling, as the report descibes: as the Devonian continents slowly merged, previously isolated species were able to enter new environments where those who could source their food more broadly tended to out-compete those with more limited menus. The newcomers, with their catholic tastes, were able to sieze control of the food chain for themselves and their exploding populations, leaving the natives to dwindle. In addition to their triumph in the field of nutritional economy, the newcomers accomplished something else: they dramatically slowed the rate of speciation. Most speciation, or the creation of new species, happens as a result of geographical isolation. A new mountain range, or perhaps a new channel cut through a continent by a rising sea, creates isolate areas from a previously contiguous mass. Within these disparate areas, species diverge according to the whims of natural selection, drifting towards different strategies of life, different food sources, different reponses to conditions of weather and wild nature. What the NSF report describes is what happens when this process occurs in reverse. New species are no longer busy being born- they are busy dying. This is mass extinction: old species disappear, and few or none rise to replace them.