A couple of weeks ago the AFL-CIO, the largest remaining union in the US, held its annual convention in Los Angeles. The centerpiece of the convention hall was a structure holding big, bright banners featuring the art of Justseeds artists, recontextualized to refer to 15 campaigns that the AFL-CIO is working on. Favianna and I (Roger) put the project together with help from Victor Sanchez of the union, and you can see all of the individual pieces here on Roger's Flickr page. A couple of them are included after the jump.
As you look at those images- notice something. Many of these campaigns are far away from the traditional purview of industrial unionism in this country: Carwash organizing, patient care workers, childcare workers- this represents something of a new direction for this sort of big-time national organizing (although I'm by no means an expert on current labor history or strategy). By bringing our art into this context, we're trying to contribute to that flexibility on strategy. Art is a tool for bringing people together, helping them realize that they agree, and giving them something to refer to when they doubt their path. While we don't often work this closely with the big unions, we found this project satisfying- helping to bring new tactics to new front lines. You can read a couple of articles about the convention and our art here, at the New York Times, and here at the Huffington Post.
Bradley Manning: 35 years
Donald Rumsfeld: 0
Number of people charged with espionage for leaking classified information in US history: 10
Number charged under the Obama Administration: 7
New installment of It's the End of the World as We Know it from Submedia
Could the devastating policies of the War on Drugs (i.e. the War on People of Color) and the mass incarceration of those with minor drug offenses that have been in force since Reagan and the early eighties be coming to an end? Attorney General Eric Holder has made some promising statements. According to The Guardian:
"Non-violent drug offenders will avoid mandatory minimum sentences under proposals to cut America's soaring prison numbers due to be unveiled on Monday.
Attorney general Eric Holder is expected to issue new guidance to prosecutors that could have a dramatic effect on the lengthy jail terms that judges are required to give anyone convicted of possessing more than a proscribed amount of certain drugs.
In the future, many low-level charges against dealers not judged to be part of a large gang or cartel will no longer detail how much they were caught with – side-stepping the federal minimum sentencing laws.
Holder is also expected to announce other proposals to curb America's vast prison population, including compassionate early release for elderly inmates who are no longer viewed as dangerous and will promote drug-treatment programs as prison alternatives."
If this policy shift truly does happen, that is very welcome news. On a side note, I made the above graphic after reading Michelle Alexander's book "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness" that details how African American and Latino communities have been hardest hit by the War on Drugs and the policies that have placed 2.3 million Americans behind bars and millions more trapped in the criminal justice system.
More reasons to despise Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker: He has made gathering in the State Capitol Building without a permit illegal. Of course people have defied this, but now the arrests have started in mass. Wednesday and Thursday witnessed about two dozen arrests each day as 300 plus people gathered and sang songs of solidarity. Watching citizens, including those over eighty years young, defy Walker and get arrested is beyond inspiring. Let's hope this starts a new Wisconsin Uprising. It is badly needed.
I've been following all the action in Pittsburgh following the Zimmerman verdict, and the connections to racial injustices locally in Pittsburgh. Yesterday, Pittsburgh folks delivered a letter of demands to the Mayor of Pittsburgh's office, conducting a sit-in for 18 hours when he refused to see them, and then going to the Mayor's house and tacking their demands on his front door, "Martin Luther style."
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.
In solidarity with whistle-blowers everywhere, here's a small graphic you can print out and put in your window. Access the high-res version HERE. Share widely!
Some colleagues made this awesome, star-studded explosion of a video tribute to Bradley Manning. Watch it, think hard about it. What are YOU willing to do for what you know is right, and against what you know is wrong? Time to draw new lines in the sand.
Today is the last day for donations! From IVAW: Since the Vietnam War Era, GI Coffeehouses have played an important role in the GI Resistance Movement. Today, these coffeehouses are crucial to IVAW's mission to end militarism.They provide active duty service-members with a place to gather, share their grievances and frustrations, and build a community - one that will support them when they decide they will not deploy. One coffeehouse that's been exceptional in catalyzing movement against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is Under the Hood, outside of Fort Hood Texas, and they need your help to continue to survive...
Radical Portland MC Mic Crenshaw has a new EP out and just posted a video for one of the tracks called "Free My MInd". It's a great cut: an homage to the Pacific Northwest, Black biker culture, and positive life changes. Also banging! He has another great new track up on his website called "Superheroes", featuring Dead Prez. Check it out.
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.
In this video report filed from inside Taksim Square, independent journalist Brandon Jourdan brings us the voices of union members and others who have continued to join in the protest that began nine days ago and has continued despite police violence that has left thousands injured. Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan is set to return to the country today after being silent so far about the biggest anti-government rallies in decades.
The workers at the Vio.Me. Factory in Thessaloniki, Greece have quickly grown into a symbol of self-management internationally. After going on strike and occupying their factory, on February 12, 2013 they re-opened the factory and started production under worker’s control. For many, the factory represents a new potential way forward for unemployed workers in Greece – seizing the means of production, running factories without bosses, producing only goods that are needed, and distributing them through solidarity networks.
From Bay Area Queers Unleashing Power! More below...
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.
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.
In the past two days both the New York Times and the New Yorker have featured the book bloc exhibition at Interference Archive, with a focus on the book shields as part of the organizing being done by students at both Cooper Union and CUNY (the City University of New York).
You might have noticed, joyfully, the news last week about grad student Thomas Herndon and his epic takedown of one of the pillars of the global austerity movement. Herndon was examining a paper by Harvard professors Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff which has served to justify the imposition of cripplingly cruel austerity measures when he noticed that they had made an error in the simple mathematics at the very heart of their thesis- they forgot to include about ten cells of an Excel spreadsheet in the equation they were using to prove that high debt means greater chance of inflation and economic trouble. Herndon pointed this out and blew a big, ragged hole in the idea that debt means disaster. Author David Graeber has a great piece in the Guardian where he points out what Herndon's insight means in the big context: when debt is seen as a moral problem instead of as a social relationship, economics functions like a pillory, where debtors go to get pelted with rotten tomatoes or worse. What's been revealed here, says Graeber, is that "austerity was never really an economic policy: ultimately, it was always about morality...it's never been particularly clear exactly what the original sin was: some combination, perhaps, of tax avoidance, laziness, benefit fraud and the election of irresponsible leaders. But in a larger sense, the message was that we were guilty of having dreamed of social security, humane working conditions, pensions, social and economic democracy." Maybe in the aftermath of this spectacular unearthing of a tiny fiscal gremlin that has done so much to scupper so many people's lives in the past five years we'll see some new priorities, but don't hold your breath. We're only going to get what we take back for ourselves, or what we're willing to give away for free.
I ran across this impressive piece of data visualization recently, which really sums up exactly how the US "war on terror" strategy has changed since Obama's arrival as commander in chief. Sanitary. Discreet. Not even a speck left to dust off your hands.
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.
I was interviewed a few weeks ago about Justseeds and Migration Now! for York University's CHRY105.5FM, definitely the most professional radio station I have ever been in. The interview will air this Thursday February 28 from 5:30-6:00pm as part of their News Now program.
The timing is amazing; hot on the heels of the city of Toronto's recent legislation (on February 21) to approve Access Without Fear, ensuring access to services without fear to immigrants without full status or without full status documents. This makes Toronto Canada's first "city of sanctuary," joining such US cities as Detroit, Seattle, and more.
For more information, check out No One Is Illegal Toronto's site HERE
To tune in live, go HERE . I will be posting an archived file too.
A really nice interview with me was just released on international conservation website Mongabay.com. I talked with journalist Jeremy Hance about my experiences in Congo, some of the history of the projects I was involved in while there, and the wild and crazy world of contemporary Congolese conservation. In addition, Bonoboincongo.com just published a post that I wrote about our expedition in search of the crash of an enormous Antonov AN-12 freighter in the forest near Obenge. Lots of good pictures! If you're in Portland, mark your calendar for March 7th- I'm giving a free talk at the Waypost Bar on N. Williams at 8pm. I'll be showing videos like the one above, playing some sound recordings of amazing Congolese music, and teaching a short class on how to build a drop-snare for an elephant.
There is a growing social movement in the small Eastern Europe nation of Slovenia. Protests against austerity and corrupt politicians began last December. Comrades sent this short video of the manifestation Friday, Feb 8th. I appreciate it for the translations of chants from Slovenian to English, and a sampling of the visual of the days protest.
ljubljana 8 feb 2013
The excellent magazine n+1 released a small book last year called "The Trouble Is The Banks: Letters to Wall Street". The book is composed of letters written to the officers and operators of big Wall Street firms by people who have been the victims of their unscrupulous predatory behavior. The magazine recently hosted a reading of some of the letters from the book at St. Mark's Bookshop in NYC, and they've posted some audio clips of people reading the letters here. The letters are poignant, enraged, and often hilarious.
(Image above by Alex Schaefer, who's done a whole series of great rage-fueled paintings of burning banks)
Occupied Greek Factory Begins Production Under Workers Control
Occupy, Resist, Produce!
“We see this as the only future for worker’s struggles.”
Makis Anagnostou, Vio.Me workers’ union spokesman
Tuesday, February 12, 2013 is the official first day of production under workers control in the factory of Viomichaniki Metalleutiki (Vio.Me) in Thessaloniki, Greece. This means production organized without bosses and hierarchy, and instead planned with directly democratic assemblies of the workers. The workers assemblies have declared an end to unequal division of resources, and will have equal and fair remuneration, decided collectively. The factory produces building materials, and they have declared that they plan to move towards a production of these goods that is not harmful for the environment, and in a way that is not toxic or damaging.
Roger posted a couple days back about Freedom Press Bookshop in London being firebombed. Insane. There is more about it HERE and HERE, but I also wanted to share this amazing photo by Max Reeves/Lois Olmstead. Anarchy keeps rising from the ashes.
Hey everyone- we're having a sale for the rest of February here at Justseeds. You can get 10% off every order when you use the coupon code "winter" at checkout. We've also got gift certificates now, check them out!
I've just seen (via Boing Boing) that Freedom Books was recently and mysteriously firebombed. The long-lived London Anarchist bookstore is 125 years old. Read more here.
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.
Probably the first Justseeds post about billionaires. Here is Bloomberg's list of billionaires and not so equal distribution of wealth.
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.
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!
Daniel McGowan is a Brooklyn-born environmental and social justice activist, political prisoner and the subject of the Oscar-nominated documentary film, If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front. Family & Friends of Daniel McGowan have marked the anniversary of Daniel's arrest on December 7, 2005, with a variety of events in the past.
This December, Daniel is finally getting released from prison and coming to a halfway house in Brooklyn. To celebrate, we are having a straight up PARTY.
Please come join our celebration the evening of Friday, December 7, 2012, 7:00-11:00 pm at The Commons.
We'll have music, snacks, and drinks, and lots of fun holiday surprises. Whether you're a long-time supporter or joining us for the first time, you're more than welcome and you don't want to miss it! We are accepting cash donations and gift cards. (see below)
Friday, December 7th, 7-11pm
@ The Commons
388 Atlantic Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11217
‘Sowing the Seeds of Love’ by collective group, Justseeds, is the newest exhibition in conjunction with Munch Gallery. Each artist has created a unique piece specifically for the gallery, and all original work will be accompanied by limited edition work. The exhibition will also include a site-specific collaborative mural. We are excited to present the first Justseeds group exhibition in New York City.
Artists include: Jesus Barraza, Kevin Caplicki, Melanie Cervantes, Mazatl, Alec Dunn, Molly J Fair, Thea Gahr, Nicolas Lampert, Josh MacPhee, Fernando Marti, Colin Matthes, Dylan Miner, Roger Peet, Jesse Purcell, Pete Railand, Favianna Rodriguez, Shaun Slifer, Chris Stain, Meredith Stern, Mary Tremonte, Bec Young.
Exhibition runs December 7-23, 2012
Check out the Facebook event
This just in from the California Department of Corrections:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 28, 2012 - San Francisco, California
Liberated Ads Highlight Israeli War Aims in Gaza
The California Department of Corrections (CDC) has unveiled a new campaign of bus shelter ads to support Israel’s right to bomb Gaza back to the Middle Ages.
On November 27, 2012 the CDC successfully apprehended and rehabilitated advertisements across San Francisco, including the intersection of Geary and Scott Street. The CDC released the corrected ads to mark two weeks since the start of Israel’s military offensive against the Gaza Strip, which resulted in 167 Palestinian deaths. The ads were discharged in areas adjacent to hospitals, schools and government offices, symbolizing the buildings that were demolished during Israel’s air and naval bombardment.
An innovative collaboration between the CDC and FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency), the ads feature the rubble of an anonymous city with a quote from Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai regarding recent hostilities: THE GOAL OF THE OPERATION IS TO SEND GAZA BACK TO THE MIDDLE AGES. Beneath the rubble, additional text poses the question: WHEN DOES ISRAEL’S SELF-DEFENSE BECOME A WAR CRIME?
The liberated ads can be seen on the CDC website at www.CorrectionsDepartment.org.
On November 14th 2012, thousands of people took to the streets of
Portugal as part of a European wide general strike. Until recently,
the International Monetary Fund held Portugal as an ideal example of
the effectiveness of austerity policies, but today, its economy is
heading in the same direction as Greece and Spain. This short
documentary details the week of the November 14th strike in Lisbon and
the events surrounding it.
Last week I was interviewed by an Australian radio program about my "Meatscapes" collage series. Here's a link to the five-minute interview:
As of October 4, 2012, Lumumba will have served ten years. It’s time to set him free!
14 months ago in July of 2011 Milwaukee Police left 22-year old Derek Williams to die as he begged for medical help from the back of an MPD squad car, hand cuffed. MPD had tackled and arrested Williams, breaking a bone in his neck, and refused to help him until he suffocated to death in the squad car several minutes later. Community pressure and the release of the squad car video of Williams death has placed renewed pressure on his case. Earlier this week Williams' death is now being ruled a homicide and not a natural death, according to the district attorney's office, and a federal investigation may be launched.
Two graphics, one by Paul Kjelland (top) and one by Jacob Flom (bottom) demand justice for Derek Williams.
Below is a link to the video, which is incredibly hard to watch, but vital in demonstrating why police accountability is needed to end these acts of police brutality and murder.
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).
Kimberley Rivera and Rodney Watson who have sought refuge in Canada are now facing deportation threats from the Canadian government. Kimberly Rivera, the first women Iraq war resister to come to Canada, after she grew disillusioned with the war was ordered to return to the United States by September 20th. Kimberly and her family are weighing their legal options and asking you to show your support by writing letters to Canadian Immigration Minister Jason Kenney.
Rodney Watson is a Fort Hood Iraq war veteran who after facing a second deployment to Iraq choose to resist, desert, and seek refuge in Canada. In 2009 after facing the threat of deportation and jail Rodney sought sanctuary at the First United Church in Vancouver, Canada.
This came in recently from my friend Sandy in Berlin:
Jordan Miles, a teenager in Pittsburgh, was the subject of extreme racial profiling and police brutality in the winter of 2010. Ambushed by three undercover cops a few blocks from his home, the unarmed teen was beaten so hard as to sustain brain damage. To the disappointment of many Pittsburghers, the jury for the court case which concluded on August 8th came back in support of the officers. The Miles family is still looking for justice in a retrial, and in Rustbelt Radio's coverage of the case, Miles' sister says, "please be encouraged, and don't give up, because we never will." More info at justiceforjordanmiles.com
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.
Romney's choice of Paul Ryan for VP candidate sets up yet another dangerous election scenario between two corporate-friendly candidates; one bad (Obama) and one extremely bad (Romney.) Ryan makes the election all the more ominous as he is one of the primary far-right austerity voices and one of the architects behind proposed cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
As the New York Times noted today in its editorial, Ryan "has drawn a blueprint of a government that will be absent when people need it the most. It will not be there when the unemployed need job training, or when a struggling student needs help to get into college. It will not be there when a miner needs more than a hardhat for protection, or when a city is unable to replace a crumbling bridge. And it will be silent when the elderly cannot keep up with the costs of M.R.I.’s or prescription medicines, or when the poor and uninsured become increasingly sick through lack of preventive care.
My good friend Sandy has been at the heart of an amazing housing struggle in Berlin, where residents of one of the giant residential buildings at Kottbusser Tor in Kreuzberg have had an ongoing occupation of the street in front of the building for 3 months, fighting against rent hikes and building solidarity with other Kreuzberg residents:
This is a gift. A gift of 1 love letter per night, for each of the 100 nights we’ve shared the Montreal streets together. The romantic rebel-red streets that they tried so hard to snatch away from us. To tear us apart. But our illicit affections for each other only grew stronger. And so did our determination. Emboldened, evening after evening, we increasingly gave voice and body to new social relationships. Winks toward a new world of abundance, popular power, social goodness, and so much more. Each 1 of these picture-poems is a small token of what we’ve gifted each other for 100 tender nights, on this first day of a red-hot August.
Love and rage, Thien and Cindy
Our comrade Cindy Milstein has been participating and writing about the Maple Spring from Montreal for quite some time now.
The following piece is from her blog, Outside the Circle.
June 29, 2012
Yesterday, I shared some Montreal street art on my Facebook page. A Montreal anarchist friend had just introduced me to the work of this particular Montreal street artist, Harpy, who produced the piece pictured below (and who self-describes as: “Harpies have wings, they can fly and shit… Also, they turned against the Gods”).
The image provoked a lot of “likes” & shares, but also a lot of heated feelings on my Facebook page and others. Many of the comments concerned what the wheatpasted image was getting at — or not — in relation to capitalism/anticapitalism. They also touched a lot on yoga.
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.
More attacks on labor rights in Wisconsin - this time on workers at Palermo's Pizza in Milwaukee - a frozen pizza company that ships nationally. A strike is in week one and management refuses to recognize a newly formed union and has retaliated by "blocking an exit at the factory so workers cannot join the strike, threatened termination of people participating, bringing in replacement workers as well as threatening to check workers legal immigration status." Boycott Palermo's and stand in solidarity with the striking workers at Palermo's in their time of need!
The graphic is by Paul Kjelland.
The Wisconsin Uprising ended with a recall election and the recall election ended with an abrupt thud. Many expected a razor tight contest – one that was sure to end in a recount. Instead it was over by 9:00pm, an hour after the polls had closed. It ended when embattled Republican Governor Scott Walker soundly defeated Democratic challenger Tom Barrett 53%-46%. It ended when a graph of the state pictured Wisconsin bright red, outside of a few blue pockets in Milwaukee County, Dane County, and a handful of other counties, including the far northwest corner.
For all of us who have resisted Walker’s agenda and helped create the Wisconsin Uprising this is a crushing blow. There is no sugar coating it. This is a loss that will be felt for years, if not decades. Walker’s attack on workers, public unions, public education, public health care, women, and the environment created a mass movement, and on June 5th Wisconsin voters voted against that movement.
This was not simply a vote for Walker over Barrett. Nor was it simply a vote against the recall process. It was a vote against public employee unions. This was the dream scenario for the 1%.
Our friend Tom Civil had a great show in Melbourne last month, and there's a bunch of pictures up of it HERE, and a really thoughtful in depth interview with Tom HERE. Take a second and read it, it's good!
There's an awful lot of mass murder going on in Mexico. Piles of dead bodies are heaped in public squares, hung from bridges, or dismembered and decapitated and laid out next to each other like so many beeves at the slaughterhouse. The cartel operatives who do the hard work of killing leave detailed messages with their victims, in the form of painted banners or sheets, sometimes with neatly plotted vinyl lettering on grommeted plastic canvas. These "narcomantas" state that the butchered corpses above whom they hang are members of rival groups who have been mown down in warfare, opponents eliminated in the course of securing new territory. Almost always these awful cenotaphs are employed to "send a message" either to a rival group or to the government. Over at the Borderland Beat blog there's an interesting new entry that is fascinating and horrifying in equal measure, dealing with an incredibly wild and insane characteristic of these mass murders that is coming increasingly to light (careful when you click that link; there's some graphic photos but the post is worth reading).
A beautiful video that isn't selling ANYthing!
It's message is stronger than any advertisement.
The fight song for the University of Wisconsin is "On, Wisconsin!" The Wisconsin state motto is "Forward." Lofty ideals filled with optimism, but those days seem long gone in the badger state. The tone in Wisconsin in mid-May 2012 is more somber. Off Wisconsin, Backward, Fitzwalkerstan.
Wisconsin has had the highest job losses in the country under Walker’s reign. A U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that Wisconsin lost 23,900 jobs from March 2011 to March 2012.
Wisconsin has witnessed the largest cuts to public education in the states history under Walker. Over $800 million in state aid to public schools has been slashed, while additional revenue cuts to schools will strip K- 12 education of $1.6 billion total over the next two years. In higher education, technical colleges were cut by 30% ($71.6 million) and the UW system by $250 million. All the while tuition increased at the UW system by 5.5%. In public health, Walker has cut over 500 million from the BadgerCare program. Talk has circulated of upwards of 50,000 people being cut from this essential state insurance plan.
On June 5th Wisconsin voters will go to the polls in a historic recall election that pits Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett against Scott Walker.
IVAW field organizer Aaron Hughes, a frequent collaborator with Justseeds, most recently on the War is Trauma portfolio, spoke today on Democracy Now! about plans for protesting the NATO summit meeting in Chicago this weekend. As always Aaron exposes the reality of a war economy and the military industrial complex from the perspective of a soldier and a GI resister.
Also, hear and interview with Aaron Hughes on NPR:
Milwaukee-based documentary filmmaker Brad Lichtenstein has posted a ten-minute trailer of his new film "As Goes Janesville" a powerful portrait of the decline of a one-industry town in south central Wisconsin. The film trailer documents the massive class divide between rich and poor as industry leaves (the GM plant) and right-wing policies take hold. Around the seven-minute mark of the trailer Gov Walker's assault on the public union employees is featured and Lichtenstein captures on film a conversation that Walker had with one of his largest backers - Beloit billionaire Diane Hendricks. The Defend Wisconsin website features the full quotes of Walkers "Divide and Conquer" mentality:
"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 stunning short film documenting the movement in Barcelona. Take a couple minutes and give it a view. "And we continue..."
It has been six years since the heavy repression in San Salvador Atenco in the State of Mexico, where people had gathered to protest the eviction of flower vendors from the Belisario Dominguez market.
The flower vendors therefore asked the Frente de Pueblos en Defensa de la Tierra (FPDT) for back up since confrontations with the police were escalating. In response to the vendors calls the FPDT blockaded the Texcoco-Mexico City highway in order to pressure police away from their violence against unarmed civilians that would later result in the death of 14 year old Javier Cortés y 20 year old Alexis Benhumea.
Adam Curtis, of Power of Nightmares fame, has a new long-read post up on his blog that is sure to rile many: he suggests that the modern yoga craze finds its root in the imperial neuroses of the moribund British Empire. Curtis describes a monied and landed class desperate to create a new reality in the face of the crumbling of their cultural and political authority, and suggests that their neurotic crazes for self-perfection crossed cultural membranes in India to become tools of the nationalist and independence movements. It's a great read, and certain to make any Western yogi's blood boil at high froth. He does a good job of describing the manufacture of the nation we know as Iraq as well.
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!
The Justseeds/IVAW print portfolio was just featured in The 22 Magazine. From the write-up:
Beyond being beautiful pieces of art, each work is a call to end unneeded violence and to curb the destruction of life as well as the recognize the emotional and physical mark it leaves on those who survive.Read it all HERE.
Some of the images draw upon the traditional tropes of radical poster design, others share more in common with gigposters than with agitprop. And this diversity is clearly part of the intent; this project references the agitational history of the poster, and also updates that tradition. The majority of these works are strikingly designed, with artists making highly effective color choices driven by economical two-color printing.Read the rest of the review HERE.
—There is a great write-up and slideshow about Erik Ruin's Little Lives zine on the Mythological Quarter blog. Check it out HERE.
Hey there! A new Kickstarter Project just launched featuring several Justseeds artists including Melanie Cervantes, Favianna Rodriguez, Molly Fair, Thea Gahr, Bec Young, Mary Tremonte, Meredith Stern, and several artists. Please check out the kickstarter video for info, and HERE is a link to the page!
The new President of Ireland Michael D Higgins is a politician, accomplished poet, sociologist, and author. He also served as the Minister for Arts, Culture, and the Gaeltacht. Here is a radio interview with him vs. an American right wing talk show host. If you want to hear a president call a corporate pawn a wanker this is worth a listen. Happy St. Patrick's Day.
We're in the last 3 days now of my Kickstarter campaign to fund a portfolio project i'm curating & publishing on the theme of heresy.
Witches & Mad Prophets will feature offset prints of original work by 13 amazing artists- AMTK, Bec Young, Charlotte de Sédouy, Corina Dross, Dylan Miner, Ian Cozzens, Katrina Avocado, Lee Relvas, Mandy Katz, Santiago Armengod, William Schaff, Xander Marro, and myself. The fundraising's been a runaway success, the band the Mountain Goats tweeted about it, we hit our goal in a day and a half and right now we sit at 240% of our funding goal with three days to spare! There's still 40-something portfolios available for pre-order, so if you want to make sure you get one (for only $40!), get them here! See below for previews and more info...
Wendy Redstar, a contemporary Crow artist who teaches at Portland State University, runs a blog on Contemporary Indigenous art. Along with her students at PSU, she conducts challenging and provocative interviews. Recently, I was interviewed by Wendy and her student Prudence Hayes. They posted the blog this morning. Check it out. See Contemporary Indigenous Arts' Blog.
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.
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.
Check out the new Stim for Pres episode that includes some reporting from Australia.
or at Submedia
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.
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.
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.
This past Thursday, Wisconsin witnessed another new low. State Republicans in the Assembly fast tracked a pro-mining bill (AB 426) that will allow the out-of-state mining corporation Gogebic Taconite to create an open mining pit just south of the reservation of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa - a process that will inevitably damage the watershed and the beds where sacred manoomin (wild rice) grows.
I received a press release this morning from a new political action group; Patriots for Self-Deportation, announcing the launch of their website SelfDeport.org. Taking inspiration from Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney's recent endorsement of self deportation as the only logical, humane and responsible solution to the cancer of illegal immigration, the group's spokesman Stephen Winters has this to say: "A surprising number of authentic patriots have found in their own genealogical searches that one or more of their ancestors came here or stayed here illegally, and yet continued to make a living in this country and have children who in turn became instant citizens. Some patriots, faced with this moral dilemma, have decided to set an example for others. Knowing that their own presence in this country is not on moral solid ground, they have decided to demonstrate the highest level of civic dedication and sacrifice, and engage in self-deportation. "
As a newly-minted US citizen, it made me flush with pride to see that there are patriots out there willing to step up and kick themselves out of the country they call home, simply because of some irregularity in their ancestors' arrival proceedings. I'm looking into it myself.
In drug-war torn Reynosa, Mexico, a large statue of a rooster has appeared on a busy roadside. The ten-foot sculpture is adorned with a flower wreath addressed to the memory of a murdered leader of the Gulf Cartel, Samuel Flores-Borrego, gunned down on the road to Monterrey in September of last year. The monument has its own power supply, as well as lights that illuminate it at night. Local governments have made no comment on the statue's provenance nor on who might be paying to keep the lights on.
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.
Adam Curtis, the BBC filmmaker behind a series of amazing documentaries like The Power of Nightmares and Machines of Loving Grace, has a great entry on his blog this week. He calls it a "ghost story for Christmas" and it's typical Curtis: insightful dissection of the weird realities that our spectacular culture creates and feeds to itself in strange ways. This entry in particular is about a BBC TV show called Ghostwatch, a fictional drama about poltergeists and ghost-hunters that provoked a massive reaction from the British public when it was shown in 1992: people thought it was real, just as happened with the War of the Worlds broadcast in 1938. Curtis breaks down the social psychology of this phenomenon in his inimitable way, demonstrating that the ghosts we fear now live inside our media, populating the fictions we build there, feeding our fear back to us like a shrieking amplifier.
Last Monday, people in cities up and down the West Coast came out to try to shut down the ports. My friend Chris and I put together some posters for the event here in Portland, which had pretty great turnout and succeeded in actually shutting down several terminals at the port for the day, as well as Schnitzer Steel. The call to shut down the port in Portland was directed primarily at SSA Marine, an unscrupulous union-busting subsidiary of Goldman Sachs that operates the terminals here in PDX. Tendrils of solidarity were also extended to ILWU workers struggling at the nearby port of Longview. While the local ILWU leadership eschewed any notion of endorsement of the shutdown, rank-and-file workers showed up with pizza for the occupiers.
On December 6th a group of over 1,000 went on a tour of East New York, Brooklyn, a neighborhood immensely affected by predator lending and foreclosures. It was a powerful event that the community supported and neighbors came out to tell the stories of their own foreclosures and evictions. The following video illustrates the culmination of the day, occupying a new home for a previously houseless family!
Pepper spraying cop on the Bowery, November 2011, NYC, NY
Look at Pepper Spraying Cop for more.
I'm enjoying the memes coming out of the Occupation movement. here's one inspired by the UC Davis officer that used "less than lethal" weapons on students last week.
More at Pepper Spraying Cop.
UPDATE @ 3:02 PM PST: Pancho has just been released!! Thank you to all who supported!!!
Francisco “Pancho” Ramos-Stierle was arrested on Monday as he was sitting in silent, non-violent protest against the deep inequality that pervades our society and affects so many people, including migrants. But what makes Pancho different from so many of the "Occupy" protestors who have been arrested is that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is trying to deport him!
Pancho's information was immediately passed from local police to immigration officials through the Secure Communities (S-COMM) program. So even though the charges against him were dropped, he is in ICE custody now! He was bravely standing up for his community, and now we have to stand up for him. Can you take a moment and sign this petition demanding that ICE release Pancho and cancel his deportation immediately?
Occupy Portland has been uprooted from its two downtown parks, and begins a new phase - whether that means a new location or a new course of action.
Since I returned from Slovenia, I've been working on art projects related to the Occupy phenomenon, designing posters and flyers and graphics.
I met with two colleagues, Katherine Ball and Chelsea Peil, to hatch a plan to create a more powerful graphic presence at the camps, something to complement the piles of damp cardboard covered in sharpie hatching.
A handful of us here in NYC have been hard, hard at work on an all poster edition of the Occupied Wall Street Journal, and it has finally hit the streets! Me and Molly from Justseeds were involved, but the real heavy lifting over the past couple weeks was done by Jesse Goldstein. (Thanks, Jesse!!!) If you are in NYC, head down to Liberty Park and pick up a copy!!
Check out this recent action in Chicago where Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker got an unexpected greeting by audience members that he did not expect to be in attendance --the working class. Let's hope that Walker continues to get berated everywhere he goes for the rest of his life, and let's ensure that he is recalled in Wisconsin in 2012 and never holds a public office again.
A creative action here in New York pulled together by Occupy the Boardroom.
A very powerful documentary, LOST IN DETENTION, recently aired on PBS's Frontline and revealted the devastating consequences of the mass incarceration of immigrants and the harsh toll it takes on families, women and children. You can watch it for free by clicking here.
The documentary was the work of award-winning journalist Maria Hinojosa, of NPR's Latino USA. The organization I work with, Presente.org, spoke with Hinojosa about her piece. Check it out.
The astonishing and unprecedented footage in Lost in Detention has the power to change how people understand the immigration crisis and motivate them to act. The film starts with the highly criticized Secure Communities (S-Comm) program and goes on to give a look at the overall system of detention and incarceration – and on the physical and sexual abuse that has become commonplace. Watch It by clicking here.
Show your support for IVAW member Scott Olsen - a 24-year old Marine veteran with two tours in Iraq who was critically injured by a police projectile at Occupy Oakland on October 25th. Olsen suffered a fractured skull and is currently in intensive care. Tell Oakland Mayor Jean Quan to investigate this incident and demand accountability and an end to police brutality.
Keep updated at the IVAW site / donate to Olsen's support expenses. Click here.
I recently returned from England, the most highly surveilled region of Earth. It's palpable. The presence of CCTV cameras is like the touch of a spider. Very like a spider, in fact, the analogy is apt. Many eyes, many legs, a great and sticky web. Spiderwebs have been used by humans over the previous centuries to staunch bloodflow and to catch fish, but it seems like they've reached their cultural apogee as a metaphor for the pervasive systems of observation in play in societies like England. The UK has taken public imposition of surveillance to a level not seen elsewhere: there is currently one CCTV camera for every 32 British citizens. CCTV coverage is sold as safety, as an antidote to "anti-social behavior" in a country so addled by fear and acid gossip that it makes the paranoia of the US seem quaint. There's no slouching going on elsewhere, however: everyone is getting in on the voyeur game. Sweden is developing the Eye-Roller, a rolling drone device for airports and military bases. Graduate design students in Berlin came up with a throwable camera-grenade, that creates a 360-degree stitch-scape when lofted up into the air.
Our friend Cindy Milstein has been posting great regular updates about what is going on inside Occupy Philly on her blog HERE. Check it out! [The image above is from a banner painted as part of the Philly occupation.]
Mother Jones just put up a cool article entitled "Octopi Wall Street!" about the historical use of the octopus as a representation of capitalism. Worth clicking over and reading it HEREhttp://motherjones.com/mixed-media/2011/10/occupy-wall-street-octopus-vampire-squid, including checking out the half dozen great historical images!
*Urgent News Bulletin: Ostula comrade killed in Xayakalan*
“We have to struggle, come what may, whatever happens, against anyone we
have to. A struggle isn’t easy. It’s exhausting—economically, physically, and emotionally. They want to fill us with fear with their arms, with their show of force. But we must not fear them. We must struggle without fear for our land, for our freedom, for our dignity.” —Pedro Leyva, Santa María Ostula, July 6, 2011.
Today at approximately 9 p.m. in the community of Xayakalan, Santa María Ostula, municipality of Aquila Michoacán, our comrade and community member, 34-year-old Pedro Leyva, was killed in a cowardly attack by paramilitaries operating in the region. Pedro has been a member of the Commission for the Defense of Communal Property, and of the Santa María Ostula Communal Guard, as well as Ostula’s representative to the National Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity. The paramilitaries are at the service of organized crime groups that have pursued, killed and disappeared members of this and neighboring communities with total impunity especially since the recovery of Xayakalan on June 29, 2009.
Here's Justseeds collaborator Jesse Goldstein's poster for Occupy Wall St.
Click on it to get the bigger version.
And here are his reflections on his experiences printing with folks:
This last few days I’ve been screen printing down on Wall Street with Josh MacPhee, David Spataro and a host of new friends who’ve offered their help in one way or another. Its been a great process – the first night we printed, Josh and I set up with a few screens, a squeegee some ink and not much of a clue as to how things would work out – especially considering we hadn’t brought anything to print on. So we started with some test prints to get the ink flowing (apparently Bob Avakian’s paper does have some use after all!) and got a few people interested – but it was cold and getting dark and there was nothing to print on. Then a young occupier wandered by and saw the problem. He said to us, “Why don’t we just buy some shirts?” He followed this up by pulling out a pocket of cash and said – I’ve got money to spend on this sort of thing, I’ll throw 40$ dollars at it.” So Josh and I – thankful for his common sense, added some cash and then Josh ran out to clean the local drug store out of tee shirts.
I've been trying to synthesize some of the ideas (and add some of my own) coming out of Occupy Wall Street here in New York City in order to try to create some better-designed messaging, possible posters, images for people to use, etc. I'm going to start posting some of these designs here on the blog, and I'd love feedback to help narrow down which ones work best. I hope to start printing some soon, once I get a handle on which are communicating.
The trick with doing this is that there has been little clear messaging out of the movement, especially with content I find compelling politically. Many of the signs at the occupation, and the Occupy Wall Street statement, reference a "THEY" as an amorphous bad guy? Capitalism is an economic system, one in which we all participate to varying degrees—and are all largely beholden to for survival—whether we are janitors, artists, or CEOs. When we start anthropomorphizing this system as a set of people, things get really slippery, and politically questionable, really fast. There is only a couple degrees between labeling the "Bankers" as the bad guys before we slip into the evil "Masons," "Lizard People," or "Jews." I ain't going there.
Anyway, here are some early designs, let me know what you think. Once I get some feedback, I'll start putting up higher-res versions for people to use and print out.
At some point during the first 48 hours of the occupation of Wall Street (or to be more exact, the encampment at Zuccotti Park, north of Wall Street), people there began painting and drawing signs on pieces of discarded cardboard. These signs, most of them simple slogans on old pizza boxes, have been laid out on the ground across a good quarter of the park, a cacophonous patchwork of words and images, many contradicting each other, some even contradicting themselves. When at the occupation, the first thing I am struck by is the explosion of people—talking, drumming, screaming, laughing, sleeping—but it is these signs that are the most striking graphic element. They contain some of the few visible graphics, but they are also some of the few messages easily read by those not engaged in the occupation itself, so there is regularly a diverse crowd of visitors and passersby viewing, discussing, and critiquing the signs. Stylistically some are witty and clever, some bold and direct, some naive and simple, some awkward, confused, and misspelled, but what content do they communicate? To me they represent the complicated jumble of ideas and motivations swirling in the background of this action. These signs represent the voices of hundreds of individuals. In some ways this is a refreshing contrast to a typical leftist event, where we are used to hearing or seeing the more controlled and crafted messages of the array of organizations that are often the backbone of political action (be it community groups, electoral parties, unions, or socialist cadre organizations—who often create mass-produced signs and distribute pre-printed newspapers and flyers).
It may appear to our regular blog readers that all of Justseeds is cavorting around Europe at international art biennials, but it isn't true! I've been at home in New York hanging around the Occupation of Wall Street, and if you are in NYC, you should be too! There has been little mainstream news, but an evolving crowd of 200-400 people have been living, working, and sleeping—day and night—at a small park just north of Wall Street—Zuccotti Park, at the corner of Broadway and Liberty—and another 200 or so people have been coming and going during the daytime. In this day and age of politics being defined by quantity, this may not seem like a large protest, but that's at least 300 people sleeping outside and occupying this park for an entire week!
More analysis later, but for now I'll show you some pictures and simply say that the occupation is both very exciting and a bit confusing to a counter-globalization movement veteran like myself. Almost everyone is 25 or under, and the assembly process is somewhat like, but also distinct from, the spokes council system we used 10 years back. This is definitely an attempt at direct democracy on a small scale, which is then strangely hitched to more reformist and electoral goals...More on this later, but for now, if you can, come down and show your support. Check out the live video feed of the occupation HERE, and the twitter feed with continuous updates is #occupywallst.
image: Cardboard signs with a diversity of occupiers statements and demands line the ground of Zuccotti Park on Monday.
Our friends from Black Mesa Indigenous Support are an awesome group of folks and do fantastic work. I am going to be going out to Black Mesa for the first time and I am really looking forward to it! Check out the call out below...
Join the Caravan in Support of Indigenous Communities Who Are in Their Fourth Decade of Resisting Massive Coal Mining Operations on Their Ancestral Homelands of Big Mountain & Black Mesa, AZ. November 19th – 26th, 2011
Communities of Black Mesa Have Always Maintained That Their Struggle for Life, Land, & Future Generations Is For Our Collective Survival.
Greetings from Black Mesa Indigenous Support,
We are excited to once again extend the invitation from Dineh resisters of the Big Mountain regions of Black Mesa in joining a caravan of work crews in support of the on-going struggle to protect their communities, ancestral homelands, future generations and planet that we all share. These communities are in their fourth decade year of resistance against the US Government’s forced relocation policies, Peabody Coal’s financial interests, and an unsustainable fossil fuel based economy.
We're getting ready to debut our huge installation in Pittsburgh this weekend as part of the 2011 Pittsburgh Biennial! We worked a lot throughout the summer, with one heavy group work week this July, to produce a series of immigration-themed billboards in the Miller Gallery at Carnegie Mellon University. Above is a slideshow of our in-progress install shots from our Flickr site - have a scroll-through! The installation was coordinated by Pittsburgh-based Justseeds members, exhibition curated by Astria Suparak. Stay tuned for more details, and visit the overall Biennial website here (details specific to the Miller Gallery show are here). The opening reception is this upcoming Friday, Sept.16 - please come by if you're in the neighborhood! Opening is 6-8pm, but there's an exhibition tour with all the artists (not just us) at 5pm.
It took awhile for me to realize that there was handwriting on the wall text, then I had to laugh at myself.
Not a laughing matter is how the Catholic Church harbors men that molest young people. I grew up and attended a church that did just that. Father Ed, moved from a church just 12 miles down the road in another town, preyed on many of my friends and peers. I thank him for placing the last, proverbial, "nail in the coffin" for me. I became an Anarchist as a result of his behavior and read Michael Bakunin's God and the State. I'd like to suggest the opposite of the imperative in this photo and ask all the priests to do only that.
Archdiocese Lists Priests Accused of Abuse
By ABBY GOODNOUGH
Published: August 25, 2011
BOSTON — The Archdiocese of Boston on Thursday published a partial list of clergy members accused of sexual abuse, nearly a decade after a scandal erupted here involving widespread abuse by priests and revelations that the archdiocese had been shielding molesters for years.
Read the rest at NYTimes.com
There is a successful campaign going on in Brooklyn right now. Last Friday supporters of, 82 year old, Mary Ward prevented Federal Marshals from evicting her from her foreclosed home. When I say prevented, I mean that the Marshals did not bother to arrive at the home, while 200+ people assembled outside her home. The elderly homeowner and her legal team also negotiated a meeting with her purported landlord, and are attempting to arrange an agreement. Organizing for Occupation will continue supporting Mary Ward, by gathering at 320 Tompkins Ave, Monday, August 22, 9am.
The Press release for last Friday:
NEW YORK, NY – Ms. Mary Lee Ward, an 82 year-old African American grandmother who resides at 320 Tompkins Avenue, Bedford-Stuyvesant Brooklyn, is facing a foreclosure related eviction from her home of 44 years this Friday the 19th at 9am.
Themba Lewis has a great gallery of pictures of street art from the revolution in Egypt on his website. His photos captured an explosion of public art onto the walls and sidewalks of Cairo as the revolution surged through the capital and swept Mubarak's regime into the Nile. From portraits of martyrs to the participation of Cairo's sign-painting guild to ominous warnings of the revolution's betrayal, this is an amazing document of ephemeral visual communiques.
In an article published yesterday in the Guardian UK (read HERE), it's come out that Shepard Fairey didn't receive the welcome he would have hoped for on his recent trip to Denmark, where he was beat up after his exhibition opening last weekend. It appears that Copenhagen youth decided to try to teach him that elusive life lesson that what you do as an artist might actually have real life consequences.
Fairey's mural on site of the former anarchist/punk squat Ungdomshuset (we ran a write-up on the importance of the site a couple years back HERE)—and ground zero for the youth riots of 2007—pairs a dove and the word "peace" with the Ungdomshuset rallying cry "69." The combination of Fairey's development of the cult of personality for Obama, the taking of Copenhagen city money, and the use of that money to paint a mural seen as trying to obscure the conflict between the city and the anarchist community was a step too far. Fairey's transgress, and attempt to shove his particularly friendly, Southern Californian-style neo-liberalism down the throat of Danish youth activists has landed him a black eye and bruised ribs for his troubles. To his credit, Fairey did go back and repaint a portion of the mural with input from some former Ungdomshuset members, but then again, when you depend on street cred to keep your career rolling, it's unclear if he had much choice. (photo: Tommi Ronnqvist for the Guardian)
I've been meaning to repost this for weeks, so better late than never. I stumbled across this short article on and set of images by the Deterritorial Support Group, a London-based artist/hacker grouping making graphics for the student/austerity protests in the UK a couple months back. The article is on Dazed online, and well worth taking 5 minutes to check out HERE.
Robert Tillman from Printeresting, one of our favorite blogs, spent a week in Pittsburgh in July.
He just put up a bunch of posts about the print places he visited while he was here, including Artists Image Resource (AIR), Tugboat Printshop, and Justseeds.
Check out his photo tour of our flatfiles HERE
And if you are in Pittsburgh, check out While You Were Out, Tillman's show at Future Tenant (which he printed at AIR), through July 15th.
With 1.8 billion dollars spent at the fair, Art Basel recorded its highest gross of sales in its 43 years.
In the context of this any meaning of Art is lost on me. It appears that the ruling class needs to find new objects to invest in.
Philip Hoffman, chief excessive of the Fine Art Fund Group who were selling pieces at the fair, said that "With currency volatility, cash earning next to zero and inflation at 4.5 pct in London, a lot of people are looking at art right now as a safe haven for their money..."
“There is a restlessness within our souls that keeps us questioning, discovering and struggling against a system that will not allow us space and time for fresh expression....” - Gil Scott-Heron
Gil Scott-Heron inspires the title of this issue – "Winter In America -- The Reluctant Welfare State.” Scott-Heron, who passed away in late May of this year, used winter as a metaphor to describe the bleak, challenging, and ofttimes depressing period in US history we find ourselves trudging through today. Do not despair. Though winter is hard it is also a time of coming together.
A great need for a joining of forces is brewing and cannot be ignored. Both dominant political parties in the US are forging budget policy that will forever place the burden of a balanced budget on the backs of the poor and vulnerable. Corporations plead poverty and policymakers listen, cutting taxes for the wealthy and programs that aid the poor. Many forces are gathering to protect public welfare, but more is needed. While it is sometimes an unsavory or uncomfortable position for leftists in the US to be in, the time to demand more government aid to the poor is now.
Families both rural and urban will bear a large brunt of cuts to social spending. Without assistance many families simply cannot survive. A thoughtful and poignant discussion of families and where they fit in to the movements for liberation and justice takes its rightful place in this issue. As Cynthia Oka and Vikki Law point out, our organizations often miss the mark when it comes to multigenerational organizing both ideologically and practically, as in providing kid and youth-friendly spaces at radical events.
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.
"...in Tahrir and in protests all over the country, people got a taste for expressing themselves openly, and the government can't easily regain that control over public space again.
"Creating graffiti involves taking ownership of the streets, just like we did during the uprising. And so of course it's political, and illegal."
Read the article at The Guardian
Check out Ganzeer's blog
This came down the wire a bit late, you can follow up on the daily details and updates from the union here (the following info isn't from the union itself).
CANADIAN POSTAL WORKERS NEED OUR SUPPORT!
Sometime after May 25th 45,000 Postal Workers across Canada may either be on strike or locked out from their workplace by their employer, Canada Post Corporation (CPC). Since January 31 of this year postal workers have been working without a contract. The Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) and Canada Post have been in bargaining since October of last year but have failed to come to an agreement on several issues.
There will be a second round of anti-nuclear protests coming up on May 7th.
Radiation and the horrors of nuclear catastrophe don't know any boundaries, this is an international issue. Only two months has passed since the earthquake, and the nuclear accident in Fukushima is still ongoing!
This tumblr site has info (mostly in Japanese) about the upcoming action:
Here's some more info from the April 10th action:
They are looking for international solidarity message (with name, job, and then the message in the email body and 'solidarity message' in the subject line) to 410nonuke --at-- gmail.com, and also info about solidarity actions worldwide.
I wanted to do a quick blog post about the April 10th day of protest against nuclear power and weapons. Kei sent an email describing the action in Tokyo that I quote from here:
"Yeah, the protest in Koenji was amazing, we were surprised at the
numbers of participants, 15000! This was the biggest march in here Japan in decades.
My friend and DJ/collaborator Cara Erskine just had an article published in Dis Magazine's Labor Issue. She writes about Tea Party-backed Maine Governor Paul LePage's removal from the lobby of the Department of Labor of a recently-commissioned mural by Judy Taylor depicting Maine’s labor history.
From the article:
Paul Le Page, a Tea Party-backed Republican candidate who was elected Governor of Maine with only 38 percent of the vote, has been a labor antagonist in his first ninety days in office. Le Page praised his Tea-Party colleague, Gov. Scott Walker for his success in stripping Wisconsin public employees of collective bargaining rights. Le Page has pledged to make Maine a “right to work” state, and ordered the removal of a recently-commissioned mural depicting Maine’s labor history from the lobby of the Department of Labor.1 Le Page’s actions define him as anti-union, anti-worker, and anti working middle-class. “Right to work” means non-union workers have the same protections and benefits of union workers, but without paying union dues. This means union legal responsibilities are increased while their economic resources are diminished. “Right to work for less” is designed to spread labor union resources so thin that the union breaks down entirely.
While Gov. Le Page seeks to destroy unions, he also is taking aim at art that doesn’t reflect his administration’s pro-business agenda. On March 23, Le Page ordered that a mural depicting Maine’s labor history be removed from the Department of Labor. The next day, which coincided with the one-hundred year anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City which killed 146 people, mostly women and girls, hundreds of protesters flooded the Department of Labor to protest the planned removal of the labor-themed mural from the building’s lobby. Despite the protests, the mural was removed over the weekend of March 25 and is currently being stored at an undisclosed location. One week after the mural was taken down, an artist’s group called “BrokeFix” projected video footage of the mural on the façade of the Department of Labor building, in a subversive act of art and protest dubbed “video-bombing” (see also “yarn-bombing”). The “BrokeFix” artists, who agreed to be interviewed by The Huffington Post on the condition of anonymity, criticized the partisan and ideological divides in politics, but also took a strong stance against the notion that labor unions bear responsibility for U.S. economic problems. “Even if the most severe of allegations against the labor unions were true, the money cost to the taxpayers is negligible when compared to the taxpayer cost of supporting the true parasites of our social, political and economic systems,” they argued.
Russian art interventionists Voina (whom you might recall from this wonderful action and it's hilarious world-upside-down aftermath) have donated a portion of the funds that Banksy gave them for bail money to a trio of young activists recently arrested for altering an anti-STD billboard. The action involved pasting images of Russia's political establishment in among the cartoony monsters of Herpes, Gonorrhea, and Syphilis. The STD campaign copy asks: Do you really want friends like these?
Ai Weiwei is missing! The provocative Chinese artist was arrested at the Beijing airport on April 3 2011 and hasn't been seen or heard from since. My friends Amy Harwood and Ryan Pierce of Signal Fire have started a campaign for artists to show their solidarity with him and their opposition to China's ongoing crackdown on dissent. The site is weiweiworkshere.org and features downloadable graphics for people to print out and post in studios, public spaces, galleries; wherever art appears. Do it now. You're next.
CALL FOR ACTION
"This is a global call for actions on 10th April.
We sincerely hope that you will take any actions together on that day.
Work with us in solidarity against all nuclear plants worldwide!"
April 10th Action tumblr site here
(for translations of the various texts: here)
more posters on the next page and more to come!
Journalist and photographer David Bacon has just sent out another good piece, reminding us that labor unrest and organizing is happening all over the country, not just in Wisconsin:
FOUNDRY WORKERS STRIKE TO SAVE THEIR HEALTHCARE
Photos and text by David Bacon
BERKELEY, CA 3/22/10— A strike of over 450 workers in one of the largest foundries on the west coast brought production to a halt Sunday night, at Pacific Steel Castings. The work stoppage, which began at midnight, has continued with round the clock picketing at the factory gates in west Berkeley.
Local 164B of the Glass, Molders, Pottery, Plastics and Allied Workers International Union (GMP) has been negotiating a new labor agreement at Pacific Steel for several months. The old agreement expired on Sunday night.
The strike was caused by demands from the company's owners for concessions and takeaway proposals in contract negotiations. Those include:
- requiring workers to pay at least 20% of the cost of their medical insurance, amounting to about $300 per month per employee.
- a wage freeze for the first two years of the agreement, and tiny raises after that.
- eliminating the ability of workers to use their seniority to bid for overtime, allowing criteria including speedup, discrimination and favoritism.
Justseeds was recently mentioned in a local article. Which is totally awesome press! However, I also want to avoid the possible interpretation of us as primarily competition for other local businesses, so I wanted to expand upon the conversation about small businesses in the struggling market.
You can read the original article
I love Tiny Showcase, and find what they do to be inspiring and vital to artists and people who love art. Justseeds has been selling prints online since 1998, but the print sales is a small part of what we do. However, more than anything else, I love and appreciate how vital Tiny Showcase, Justseeds, and every other up and coming artist run business is in bringing beautiful and thoughtful art into our lives. If there is currently an increase in artist run businesses, I see that as a success. We need to welcome and support all small artisan run businesses, and appreciate the diversity and uniqueness that every small business brings with them. There is also a lot of possibility for ways that small businesses can work together and support one another as well. Tiny Showcase and Justseeds can serve as an example for the way in which small businesses support each other rather than compete with each other. Last year, Peter Glantz worked with Black Cat Graphics to create two offset prints; 'Your Heart Is A Prism' and 'Change Your Relationship to Nature'. He had a signed, numbered, limited edition that was for sale first at Tiny Showcase (both prints sold out) and then after they sold out, an unsigned, unnumbered edition became available on the Justseeds website. This worked out beautifully. We do have some crossover of our audience (I for instance buy art from both Tiny Showcase and Justseeds), but also we do have our own unique audiences. Tiny Showcase has an audience of art collectors who appreciate special and small print runs, and Justseeds tends to accommodate more of the 'masses' seeking art from an explicitly social change perspective. We both are small organizations that are made up of artists, which serve artists and the people who need art, but I think it is a huge mistake to categorize our existence as competing with one another.
More about Tiny Showcase HERE.
Here's a couple of images in solidarity with the people of Michigan that were forwarded to us by Kathleen Judge:
Erik Ruin and I (Josh MacPhee) currently have work in a cool looking exhibition in Amman, Jordan at a venue called (The Studio). The show was organized by Nidal El-khairy (a fabulous graphic artist who was involved in social movements in Montreal—where I met him—before returning to Lebanon and organizing there). You can watch a short video about the exhibition HERE.
I was so excited to read about this on Alternet over the weekend!
Everybody knows the GOP's biggest weakness is money, so why not hit 'em in the sweet spot? That's what many amazing Wisconsin firefighters did yesterday when they collectively began withdrawing their funds from Madison's M&I Bank. Heeding a call by Firefighters Local 311 President Joe Conway to 'Move your money,' union members withdrew over $100,000 from the bank...a hefty enough chunk of change that M&I shut its doors and closed for the day at 3PM.
We all need to be thinking about moving our money out of the big corporate banks. This was inspiring! Read more....
Here are a few photos of the protest in Madison today. After some disappointing news this week, it was inspiring to see the largest protest in Madison yet. Labor is high-energy, determined, and a bit pissed in Wisconsin. The Tractorcade was yet another reason to love Wisconsin.
Thanks to Jason Urban for giving what's going on in Wisconsin more exposure over at Printeresting!
Most of us are watching events unfold in Wisconsin from a great distance but Nicolas Lampert and Colin Matthes of Justseeds are in the eye of the storm. The two have been screen-printing their support for unions non-stop and disseminating their images in Milwaukee and Madison...
Check out the rest on Printeresting.com
Also there is currently an exhibition called SolidARTity, "that reflects the incredible breath of creative voice that exists RIGHT NOW in Madison",
The Project Lodge
817 E. Johnson St
Paper Politics got props in the latest issue of the Providence Phoenix (our weekly paper). Greg Cook has constantly given positive and well written articles about printmakers in Providence: his latest is a review of "Printed In Providence" where both Paper Politics and myself are mentioned.
The full article is HERE.
The March on Blair Mountain will be June 5 to 11, 2011 in West Virginia. It commemorates the 90th anniversary of the Battle of Blair Mountain in 1921, 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. Today, Blair Mountain is threatened with obliteration by mountaintop removal (MTR) mining. It is here that a new generation of Appalachians takes a stand to preserve Blair Mountain, abolish mountaintop removal, defend worker's rights, and begin a just transition to a sustainable economy in Appalachia.
Wisconsin workers fight back! A slumbering labor movement has awakened in Wisconsin in response to the extreme anti-union legislation that Gov. Scott Walker (in office for six weeks) is attempting to pass that will eliminate collective bargaining rights for nearly all of the state's public service workers. Walker has threatened to call in the National Guard, but those fear tactics have not stopped upwards of 30,000 people who have been in the streets of Madison for the past three days. Today, campus and high school walkouts are taking place all over the state.
"heART of the revolution" is an online exhibit displaying art from around the world in support of the recent uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East. Website presented by elev8. elev8 aims to educate and empower through the arts.
If you would like to submit artwork for the site, please email sidroos (at) gmail.com
* Videos - please include url link.
* Photos - at least 72dpi
Due to the high volume of emails, submissions without a bio/description/artist name will be disregarded. We would like for all artwork to be credited to the artist as well a short description. Thank you!
The folks at Occupied London have set up a site for some comrades in Cairo to post on-the-ground updates about what's going on in Egypt. There are also a bunch of great political graffiti pictures on the site. Check it out HERE. The image to the left says "The people want to bring down the regime."
I'm still following the Egyptian demonstrations with an incredible amount of excitement. Almost 2 million people demonstrating in Tahrir Square in Cairo, with hundreds of thousands of people in many other cities around Egypt. Demonstrators from across all social and class boundaries are out in the streets demanding Mubarak "step down".
You can live stream Al Jazeera news at:
Al Jazeera Watch Now.
There is finally a position forming in USA foreign policy with Senator John Kerry saying
"President Hosni Mubarak must accept that the stability of his country hinges on his willingness to step aside gracefully to make way for a new political structure."in an op-ed in todays New York Times.
I've been glued to my computer screen and speakers listening to the news from Egypt. There has been a growing social movement the last few days that has erupted into a "leader-less" nationwide popular struggle demanding:
-The downfall of the regime of Hosni Mubarak and his ministers.
-The cessation of the Emergency Law
-The formation of a new, non-military government with the interests of the Egyptian people at heart.
-The constructive administration of all of Egypt's resources.
Al Jazeera has a livestreaming video that can be see at:
In preparation for the Friday protests against the 30 year rule of Mubarak, protesters created a primer for demonstrating in the streets. The Atlantic has published some pages, with English translation, on its website. The primer looks similar to many "how-to" demonstration pamphlets produced for the Anti-globalization demonstrations of the 90's and early 2000's. If anyone has any access to physical or digital copies of these pamphlets, please contact us- blog (at) justseeds.org.
It's an incredible manifestation of the human will for freedom, led by the people. It will be interesting to see how politics and ideology will shape the course of the movement. I found the government control of the internet to be an incredible use of state power, yet tactically inefficient illustrated by the mobilizations all around Egypt today.
Regular viewers of the Justseeds blog will remember Nicolas' essay on the censorship of street artist Blu's mural, a short while back. Recently a group calling itself LA RAW have executed a few actions against the LAMoCA, and director Jeffrey Deitch. They recently handed out the above condoms, and had this to say, on ArtInfo.com:
The action at the Fowler Museum consisted of passing out labeled "Deitch" condoms which said "Don't be Blu, Practice Safe Art" to people prior to them entering a panel discussion titled "How Does Street Art Humanize Cities?" The use of the condom as a product that speaks of how the artwork of an artist that challenges the current state of affairs is handled, and how the message of an artwork can be watered down in order to be deemed appropriate for the public by various institutions and/or individuals. The purpose of this action was to provoke a dialogue for those attending the panel, keeping the issue from being safely tucked away without addressing the dangers of impeding freedom of expression.
1) Chloe Eudaley of Reading Frenzy in Portland, OR chose Celebrate People's History! as one of her top 3 books of 2010! She calls the book "a beautiful document of history and hope and a handy primer for young upstarts!" Read it all at the Portland Mercury website HERE.
2) Truthout published a nice long-format review of Celebrate People's History! by Eleanor J. Bader HERE. She says, "Celebrate People's History is a paean to ongoing activism, and the book offers a graphic reminder that people all over the world continue to oppose colonialism, war, workplace violence and exploitation, sexism, racism, homophobia and discrimination."
3) Amy McKie wrote a really nice review of Celebrate People's History! on her blog Amy Reads HERE. She says the book, "certainly made me want to learn more about all of these events, and they made me want to be more of a participant in my community."
4) The British magazine Red Pepper just published a 3 page illustrated interview with me and Alec Dunn about our journal Signal! It piece looks great, and features the art of the Taller Tupac Amaru. It hasn't been published online yet, but you can find it in their Dec/Jan 2011 issue on newsstands now.
5) Art Crimes just wrote a nice short review of Reproduce & Revolt. Susan write that R&R is "for everyone from eager politickers to the street art aficionado who knows there's more to the genre than just Banksy." Read the rest HERE.
In February 2009, the Pentagon decided to lift the two-decade long ban on photographs of flag-draped coffins. Somewhere down the line the military brass reasoned (or was forced to admit) that it was contradictory to champion “Operation Iraqi Freedom” while denying the media the freedom to publish images of soldiers returning home in caskets. Apparently, Jeffrey Deitch missed the memo that censoring anti-war images of coffins is something that democratic societies do not take kindly to.
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.
RT (Russia TV), which appears to be a US-based Russian online TV station, just ran a story on NYC's Brecht Forum while our Justseeds print exhibition was still hanging there, so we're now window-dressing for a strange, but nice, promo piece on the Brecht!?!
image by Sue Pezanoski Browne
My home state of Wisconsin is in for some very difficult years -- years that will make the current economic crisis in Wisconsin seem minor. Why? Because Republican Governor-elect Scott Walker is taking charge.
Before winning the election, Walker was the Milwaukee County Executive and was notorious for gutting public programs. He follows the Republican blueprint to a tee: de-fund public programs, allow them to collapse, then make the argument that they need to be privatized to perform well. In the process, Walker attacked Unions, cut wages and benefits for city employees, and cut public transportation that working class people depend upon.
Walker has been a absolute disaster for Milwaukee - now the 4th most impoverished city in the US (2009 US Census Bureau Report). His reward for such terrible mismanagement, blame that he shares with many others? An election victory that will make him the incoming Governor.
Not sure if folks have been keeping up with world news, but I caught a glimpse of some photos and video of protesters and riot police clashing in the streets in Greece. People are protesting government cuts to the public sector -- saying that fiscal mismanagement by government should not be shouldered by citizens. The government wants to freeze pensions, cut salaries, and raise consumer taxes. Protest started peacefully and then some protestors clashed with police; though some police joined the demonstrators.
Here is an article that explains the specifics of the public sector cuts:
here is video showing the tail end of the protest...
I recently had an article published in the Portland-based environmental journal Bear Deluxe about the international bushmeat trade and the effects that it's having on the populations of our closest primate relatives; namely Chimpanzees and Gorillas. I thought I'd repost it here on the Justseeds blog so that everyone can enjoy some good, old-fashioned eco-doom hyperbole this holiday season. Included are some illustrations I did for the article. Enjoy!
At six hundred pounds, the adult male Mountain Gorilla of the Virunga Volcanoes region (comprising portions of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda) has few predators. His size brings him assurances: while almost every other primate on earth, including most of his intimate relatives, builds a nest in lofty branches or in the rotten hollows of giant trunks, the Silverback sleeps comfortably on the ground.
When he wakes, he trumpets into the dawn. He turns his face from the split roof of the forest and knuckles his way towards a clump of bamboo. He crushes the stems and scrapes out the pith with his broad teeth, lingering over some tender new growth. It's a season of drought, and the forest is out of fruit, so he must rely on massive amounts of rough forage for his daily meal. The enormous guts that fill his cavernous chest throng with fermenting bacteria that strip out nutrients from otherwise impoverished plant material.
The lack of fruit has driven away other primates; notably absent are the Chimpanzees, for whom a diet of fronds, leaves, shoots and pith would be a death sentence. The Chimpanzees need fruit, and will take meat where they can. In this lean season they'll be travelling alone or in small groups, opportunistic in pursuit of Colobus monkeys, into whom they will rip with the relish of an obligate carnivore. Their diet is richer, and thus their guts can be smaller, their internal microbial colonies less populous.
There is one more primate to contend with.
Slade Art School in the UK has been occupied. You can follow it HERE. Back in the 60s and 70s occupied art schools produced some of the best political posters of the 20th century. What will they produce today?
Hey folks! Check out this rad props we got onto a local RI blog! Celebrate People's History! Poster Book is on the front page!
I first saw Laura Lopez in her cap and gown after following a twitter to this article.
At the time, undocumented migrant students were conducting sit-ins in congressional offices on Capitol Hill, risking arrest and deportation in order to draw attention to the DREAM Act.
Because I was working alongside the Trail of Dreams campaign, I knew very well the dreams of these undocumented youth - dreams that were worth even the most dangerous risks.
But still, there are moments when I am greatly moved by the sheer courage of these young people. I grew up in this country as a citizen. I have never known the fear of what it means to be stopped in the street by immigration agents, to be taken from everything you have known as a child and put in detention centers that ship you off to countries you have never even visited.
History repeats itself, first as tragedy, and then as farce. I forget who said that, but the events unfolding in West Virginia at the site of the largest armed labor conflict in U.S. history appear to be both tragic AND farcical. Massey Energy, the same coal conglomerate responsible for the accident earlier this year that killed 29 people after a gas explosion in another West Virginia mine, has begun operations to stripmine the coal from Blair Mountain.
The clash between mineworkers and coal company agents at Blair Mountain in 1921 resulted in the suppression of a campaign for union representation, but thrust the Stygian conditions mineworkers faced into national attention. It was a step on the road in the volcanic struggle fought in the first half of the last century to claw back some equity from the titans of industry. The popular knowledge of this history has more or less bled from the public consciousness by now, however, making it possible for the National Park Service to delist the Blair Mountain site, effectively giving Massey the go-ahead. The bulldozers are already at work.
Just got this from a friend in Poland. Folks connected to Rozbrat, the longest running squat in the country (in Poznan), took some billboard real estate for their own use. The message roughly translates to: "Rozbrat is Here to Stay! Sołacz for them is just another business." Sołacz is the area Rozbrat is located in, and the squat is under threat of eviction because of development plans for the neighborhood.
1) The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal published a cool write-up by Faythe Levine (former owner of Paper Boat Gallery) on her recent trip to Pittsburgh, including a stop at Justseeds World Headquarters. You can read it HERE, and below is a photo I love that was printed with the piece.
Friends in Melbourne have been organizing against anti-low income housing policies in Melbourne, and produced this new video in lead up to a big protest on Nov. 12:
1) "Paper Politics shows there's more than one way to shout a message" in the Pittsburgh City Paper.
2) "'Paper Politics' exhibit takes ink-stained jabs at topics" in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
3) "SPACE wrapped up in ‘Paper Politics’" in The Globe, Point Park University's newspaper.
I also wanted to share some photos of the exhibition that Shaun and Mary took, it looked great! Click below to see more photos...
This just in: California billboard correctors have been hard at work again, this time with a round of billboard alterations aimed at defeating Proposition L, an anti-homeless initiative which would ban sitting on the sidewalk. Here's some images of the billboards, and their press release:
ARTISTS SEIZE BILLBOARDS CITYWIDE TO DEFEAT PROP L SAN FRANCISCO, October 26, 2010 – With one week until November elections, a group of artists has liberated six San Francisco billboards and sixty bus shelter ads to defeat Proposition L, a ballot measure that would ban sitting on the sidewalk. The group, calling itself the Sit/Lie Posse, replaced ads throughout the city with handmade prints rendered in the style of corporate advertising. Confronting the backers of the proposition, the posse lavished attention on sites around City Hall, the Chronicle, the Haight-Ashbury district and many other neighborhoods.
Justseeds has gotten a small flurry of online press recently, here's a couple highlights:
1) "A Print You Can Believe In" on The Link in Montreal with a focus on Jesse Purcell.
2) A small write-up on Apartment Therapy HERE.
3) A piece by Dara Greenwald in the online journal Affinities: A Journal of Radical Theory, Culture, and Action [Vol 4, No 1 (2010)]. You can read it HERE.
—A review at Dotrad, which calls Signal "a beautiful chronicle of political posters, fliers and rebel art, along with incisive interviews with the artists who made them."
—A nice mention on Five Leaves, a UK anarchist publisher's blog HERE.
—A great write-up with pictures on Printeresting.org just posted HERE yesterday. They say Signal is "filling a void in terms of political graphics."
I also did a short online interview with Teal Triggs, the editor of a new book coming out this month called Fanzines (which includes Cut & Paint). He's got a blog going with short interviews with lots of zinesters, you can check it out HERE.
Looks like Wichita, Kansas just passed a broad and sweeping bill outlawing all kinds of "graffiti tools." Below is the text of an article from the Wichita Eagle found HERE, and an earlier piece is HERE. The comments are crazy as usual...
Wichita outlaws tools for graffiti BY BRENT D. WISTROM The Wichita Eagle
Leave the spray paint and fat markers at home.
Wichita City Council members passed a new law Tuesday that bans people from carrying spray paint, broad-tipped markers and a variety of other potential graffiti tools on public property or within 100 feet of it. It also bans stores from selling the materials to anyone under the age of 18.
If caught and convicted, violators face a fine of $250 to $1,000 and up to six months in jail.
"We were taught how the pioneers went into the West. They opened their eyes, and made up what things could be."
On the minds and tongues of several of my friends and cohorts lately has been Levi's unveiling of their new ad campaign focusing on the near-to-Pittsburgh borough of Braddock, PA. Rumors that Levi's was throwing cash at Braddock-based projects and hiring local models turned out to be true, yet somehow the end product of their presence in the city has left most of us feeling a little more ill than we had anticipated.
Much has been written about Braddock in national news, touting the decimated city as a destination for young artists/entrepenuers and an example of innovative local government striving to build anew in the (very real) rubble of the old. For many, Braddock is iconic in it's present stature, and the historical injuries wrought upon the borough by profit-motivated power mongers continued most recently as UPMC withdrew it's Braddock hospital facility this January - managing also to remove the only ATM and cafeteria from the city.
While in London for the Anarchist Bookfair last year I got to meet a smart new street artist named Xylo. In a city where street art had gone just as commercial as NYC, it was refreshing to run into his work, whether it was critiques of the cctv system or "Lost Animal" flyers for endangered frogs. His latest work is a commentary on the recent rash of suicides in the tech manufacturing sector of China (more info HERE), a series of old iphone/ipods with small scale stencils on them. Check out more of his work HERE.
This is a long piece about art and activism for a mainstream paper like the Washington Post. Go Favianna, Cesar, and everybody who got this coverage!
Cesar Maxit, Graham Boyle, other artists inspired by community activism
By David Montgomery
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, June 20, 2010
The artists are just back from Arizona, where they have been playing activists, marching against that unforgiving new immigration law.
Now the erstwhile activists are at Busboys and Poets at Fifth and K streets NW, where they are playing artists again with a bunch of new work. The lights go down, the digital slide show comes up, and what we see is . . . art? Activism? Both? Neither?
Unclear, but let César Maxit be our guide.
Who's heard of Menhaden? Anyone? Show of hands? Certainly not me, before a couple of months ago. Now, however, the oily fish that once schooled in innumerable masses on the East Coast of North America and in the Gulf of Mexico keeps leaping into my consciousness on a near-daily basis. Right now, it's the oil catastrophe and the daily stream of images of oil-soaked brown pelicans that's the trigger.
Just got back from DC where I traveled to after spending week in Arizona, where I was with the Trail of Dreams as they faced off with Sheriff Arpaio on June 1, 2010. Like many others, I was extremely worried for the walkers facing one of the most anti-immigrant sheriff in the country. Three of the walkers are undocumented and Arpaio is dangerous and unpredictable, but their courageousness amazed us all. We traveled to Arizona to participate in the May 29th mega-march and to do what had never been done before - undocumented youth to confront Sheriff Arpaio. In their letter to him, the walkers said, "...we are writing to request an audience with you to discuss enforcement measures in your county, particularly the 287-G program. We want to share our stories so that you understand what it’s like for the millions of immigrants in this country who are unable to fully participate in society. We want to help you see the fear and destruction your policies spread, and convince you that there is a better way."
Ok—more insanity in the news... "The Texas State Board of Education adopted a social studies and history curriculum Friday that amends or waters down the teaching of religious freedoms, America's relationship with the U.N. and hundreds of other items." It also tried to change the word "slavery" to "Atlantic triangular trade" but thankfully was shot down. Check out these two articles. The rewriting of history is very real indeed—and anyone who needed proof need only to check these articles I have linked below. We need to make sure to keep real People's History alive, since we can not rely on the schoolbooks!!!
Ok—this is insane! Someone forwarded us this article and I am stunned. I understand with the current racist anti-immigration law in Arizona, this sort of racism is not surprising. However, I will never stop being shocked at just how backwards American mainstream politics is. It's crazy that Americans still consider ourselves the most "forward" thinking nation in the world when in the 21st century we are still censoring art because of our internalized and institutional racism. School administrators still believe that whiteness is the standard to emulate in art and media; even though we are a nation of ethnicities from all over the world and white people are the minority ethnicity when considering the world as a whole. America's first inhabitants were Native Americans, and everyone who has immigrated here (and stolen the land) come from all over the world. We are a nation of immigrants, and yet we have one of the most restrictive immigration policies- we deny our history and rewrite it constantly. When will we stop being hypocritical, judgemental, racist, classist, and so close-minded?
Here is the Article From the New York Daily News.com:
Bark is an Oregon-based environmental group that is primarily concerned with preserving and protecting the wild areas around Mount Hood. Roger Peet, Pete Yahnke, and I partnered up with Bark and Taring Padi to work on a giant portable print to discuss the proposed Palomar Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Pipeline that would run from the Oregon Coast and then through the Mt. Hood national forest (after extraction in Indonesia). We were taken on two Bark field trips, the first was a hike through some pristine forest which the pipeline is proposed to run through. And a second trip, where we got to meet people whose homes and livelihoods would be effected by the pipeline and its construction.
For the upcoming Justseeds portfolio I wanted to keep working with Bark. I called and asked if I could produce some more images for their campaign against the LNG pipeline.
This is old news now, but hell, I'm busy and can't always get this stuff up as it happens! For those that haven't seen it, pretty interesting action last week at the Tate Modern in London related to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. From the press release about the action:
Tate Modern was forced to close down parts of its No Soul For Sale tenth anniversary exhibition on Saturday (15 May) whilst it struggled to remove dozens of dead fish and oil-soaked birds hanging from huge black balloons let loose in the Turbine Hall.
Art activists from LIBERATE TATE, a growing network dedicated to ensuring the museum drop its sponsorship deal with BP (British Petroleum), infiltrated Tate Modern's Turbine Hall and released dozens of helium-filled black balloons with dead animals attached. Crowds of tourists and art lovers gathered to watch the balloons rise up in the air until they filled the ceiling of the Turbine Hall.
More info can be found HERE.
We've gotten a couple more hits around the blogosphere:
1) Justseeds interviewed (long-format!) on Arrested Motion, read it HERE.
2) Paper Politics reviewed in-depth by Eric Triantifillou in the Brooklyn Rail, read it HERE.
3) Our brand new (and first!) book, Firebrands: Portraits from the Americas, is number one on AK Press' May Top 10 book list, check it out HERE.
"It took me 15 hundred miles to lose the fear of being undocumented." - Carlos Roa
Today Gaby Pacheco, Carlos Roa, Felipe Matos, and Juan Rodriguez, arrived in their hometown, Miami, after being away for almost five months on their 1500 mile journey called the Trail of DREAMs. On January 1, 2010, these four immigrant students from Miami set off to Washington, DC on foot! Their uplifting journey educated communities along the way about the contributions of immigrants to the United States and shone a spotlight on the pain caused by our country's broken immigration system. I was fortunate to help them run this campaign through my work at Presente.org, joining them on their walk during various times.
Trail of Dreams arriving to DC on April 28th. Picture from the NY Times - Read full story here
In DC, they showed up at the White House with other undocumented students, to demand that Obama take immediate action to stop the deportations of students like them. “Our dream is the opportunity to fully participate in and give back to the only country we know as home, and not live in constant fear that we will be sent away,” said Felipe Matos, one of the walkers “We have been waiting for years to speak up about our situation as immigrant students. President Obama, we cannot wait any longer!”
Arizona is on the verge of enacting the most anti-immigrant legislation the country has seen in a generation, SB 1070. This is a bill which apparently mandates racial profiling. This bill allows Arizona law enforcement stop and search any person that they have “probable suspicion” may be “illegal”. SB 1070 is quite literally intended to terrorize immigrant families and force “self deportation”.
We are hopeful Governor Brewer will consult with her legal counsel, issue a veto, and spare Arizona the expense of defending an unconstitutional, unwise, and odious bill in federal courts. But we will not rely solely on hope. We urge all artists who are opponents of this bill to TAKE ACTION and create a IMAGE. The images will be used as part of our online viral campaign for ALTO ARIZONA. Selected images will eventually be published as prints to generate revenue for this campaign with consent of the artist.
Create an image that shows your opposition to SB 1070. Keep in mind the effect that this bill will have on immigrants if fully enforced.
Make sure to include the title of the bill in the work which is: “SB 1070”.
Send all submissions and questions to
orders (at) hechoconganas.com
Image size must be 18x24 inches with a 1/2 inch border all the way around.
The reason for these dimensions is because if in the future your image is chosen to be published the image is ready to go.
If you failed to pick up your April 2010 issue of Artnews you missed an article on Swoon. What you would also miss is that we have prints of hers available here on Justseeds.
This last 3rd and 4th of May was four years since the people in San Salvador Atenco were brutally repressed by the PFP police in Mexico. Here's a beautiful poster for the anniversary to not forget our prisoners nor the States crimes.
One of my new prints, Blackboard, is based on a poem by Will Copeland called "Freedom Schooling," in which he elaborates on a vision for education that sparks the imagination. Schools are an intense issue in Detroit, with many concerned parents choosing charter schools over the problem-ridden public schools, while other parents can't afford that option. Detroit faces a 50% dropout rate among teenagers, and lack of funds has caused Detroit to close over 50 schools in the last three years. Now, the school district head Bob Bobb has announced the closure of 45 more schools in conjunction with the mayor's plan to dismantle select neighborhoods in an effort to downsize the city. Raising inspired, knowledgeable, empowered young people is extremely important for Detroit, as well as all cities in crises, and I hope this poster puts the shine back on the idea that quality education is a possibility, now and infinitely. Here's a sweet video of Will performing Freedom Schooling.
Our friends in Japan have spent months protesting the purchase of Miyashita Park in Tokyo by Nike, who intend to turn the park, now a home for many of Tokyo's homeless, it into a giant advertisement for their brand. Info about the struggle is hard to get in English, but there are a number of sites with bits and pieces, as well as tons of photos of great protest art and cultural interventions. The main protest site in HERE, and there are other photos and info HERE and HERE. A short 4 minute doc about the struggle can be viewed by clicking below:
Photo: Meridith Kohut for The New York Times
Justseeds and related-projects keep popping up around the web, here's a recent list of activity:
3. Ryan found a NY Times story about immigration illustrated by a photo that contains signs created with Claude Moller's stencil that was printed in both Stencil Pirates and Cut & Paint (wow, talk about meta-media). Nice catch! You can see the story HERE. The photo was taken by Joshua Lott.
4. I just found a very strange video presentation of my book Stencil Pirates on Vimeo. It appears to be produced by a Chilean, Javiera Andrade, for an exhibition. Weird, weird, and weird. Click below to check it out...
My friend Charlie just sent along this follow up to last week's post about creative attacks on H&M for their support of Israeli apartheid. French activists dressed up like IDF soldiers occupied the H&M in downtown Paris. More info HERE and HERE.
"Opposition supporters burn a billboard displaying Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev during a rally in the northwestern town of Talas on April 6, 2010. (REUTERS/azattyk.org)"
Hey Justseeds enthusiasts! Breaking news! Justseeds will be moving our headquarters from Portland to Pittsburgh in May. Justseedsers Mary and Shaun will be driving a well-laden U-Haul across the country, leaving behind our beloved Portland basement in the neighbourhood that smells like cookies to a much larger base of operations in the other City of Bridges. We're all excited about the move, and hopefully we'll be able to generate a photo essay or two for the blog, as well as candid shots of the flat files, dehumidifier, and piles of cardboard tubes in scenic locations across the wide continental center. Keep your eyes on this space for further updates....
Troubling news. Ricardo Dominguez, known for Electronic Disturbance Theater (EDT)
is taking heat for a Floodnet action against the University of California Office of the President during the March 4th National Day of Action. It is incredibly inspiring to see a professor stand up for student rights and public education and now it is time for students and everyone else to stand up for Dominguez as the UC system threatens his job and important research.
Below is the latest press release from the bang lab.
Bang.Lab / EDT Update, Call for Accountability and the Criminalization of Research
Update 4/1/2010: Yesterday, March 31st, 2 UCPD detectives showed up at Ricardo's office at Calit2 to question him, indicating that ...Read More
There are two main ways you can show support at this time. Thank you all for the signatures! The showing of support from around the world will surely help our case and hopefully demonstrate to the UCOP how difficult it is going to be for them to continue this repression of us.
Now, here’s what you can do to help:
I've referenced this graphic a few times in the last few days. I don't remember where I came across it, I find it quite intriguing. It asks folks in the USA:
Using the density of Brooklyn as an example at about 35,000 people to a square mile, what state would we all fit into?
I nicked this from Strange Maps
Here's some of my latest activity around the world of the web:
2. B. Cortez & B. Riley's Dolores Huerta Celebrate People's History Poster was used to illustrate an article on the Ms. Magazine website HERE.
4. I was just on the Jeff Farias Show radio program a couple days back, you can listen to it HERE, it's the 3/25/10 podcast.
(Readers of the Justseeds blog may be aware that SDS Milwaukee was the co-sponsor of the Justseeds exhibit "Which Side Are You On" that took place last Spring.)
From SDSMKE: "Over 70 students, professors and teachers assistants picketed outside the chancellor’s office, as four organizers met inside with the chancellor to demand that he drop the threat of academic punishment for the 16 student protesters who were arrested during the March 4 National Day of Action for Education Rights.
“15 police in riot gear were inside the building protecting the chancellor,” noted Students for a Democratic Society organizer Rachel Matteson who met with the chancellor. “We won two basic demands today, which were to have the chancellor participate in a public forum about the demands of the UWM Education Rights Campaign and to have more investigation into the excessive use of police force on March 4, but the academic punishment of the protesters is still uncertain and the much larger struggle for student and worker rights must continue.”
SDS Condemns Repression of Education Rights Rally
Drop All Charges Against the Milwaukee 16!
Milwaukee Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) is proud of the 250 students and workers who stood up for the March 4th National Day of Action to Defend Education at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM).
The university administration is intimidated by the UWM Education Rights Campaign, an alliance that Milwaukee SDS helped create of over 20 organizations that are demanding to lower high-level administrative salaries, democratize the school, and establish just policies for workers and students.
There's been a small flurry of press and features on a couple of my recent projects, the Paper Politics: Socially Engaged Printmaking Today book, and the Signs of Change exhibition in Portland. Check it out if your interested:
1. Paper Politics interview on ZNET
2. Paper Politics review on Alibi.com
3. Signs of Change review on Printeresting.org
4. Signs of Change review in the Portland Mercury
5. A great radio show on KBOO about Signs of Change (narrated by none other than Justseeds' Alec Icky Dunn and Dara Greenwald)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Milwaukee Students for a Democratic Society Condemn Police Brutality, Demands Justice, Continues the Struggle for Education Rights.
18 arrested, 250 rally for education rights at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee for the March 4 National Day of Action for Education Rights.
March 4, 2010 – Milwaukee, WI - Students for a Democratic Society is an organization that stands for social justice, peace, and equality. In the face of massive budget cuts at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, we helped form a campus-wide coalition for education rights, called the UWM Education Rights Campaign, consisting of dozens of organizations, including the professor and teacher assistant union.
The campaign organized a peaceful demonstration on March 4th, part of a national day of action to defend education (www.defendeducation.com). The local campaign organized a speak-out to bring attention to our demands. The rally ended in a march to Chapman Hall, to deliver petition signatures to a Chancellor that has thus far refused to meet with us, instead choosing to introduce us to more campus police and locked doors.
All Gaby Pacheco ever wanted was to finish college and teach music to disabled children. Brought to the United States by her parents as a young girl, Gaby has excelled in school, done extensive community service, and become an accomplished musician. But in spite of her hard work, she’s excluded from the workplace solely because of her immigration status. And she’s not alone. Her story is like those of thousands of other immigrant children who every day are robbed of basic opportunities to live and thrive in this country.
So on January 1, 2010, Gaby decided to walk. She and three fellow students, Carlos, Juan, and Felipe are walking 1,500 miles from Miami to Washington, D.C. to call on policymakers to fix a failed system that has kept them and millions of other immigrants in the shadows, with no pathway to a better life.
They call this their TRAIL OF DREAMS and they need your support. It easy, click on the link: http://www.Trail2010.org/action
After walking 600 miles, they recently entered the hostile territory in the Deep South. Last week they encountered an anti-immigrant rally led by the Ku Klux Klan. Today they walked straight into Gwinnett County, Georgia -- home of Sheriff R.L. “Butch” Conway, who is notorious for his anti-immigrant policies. Conway is known for being one of the most aggressive law enforcement officials to employ the 287g program, which authorizes local police enforcement to act as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.
Our friends at Riseup.net just sent out a new newsletter, which contained a short but useful section on online privacy. I've reprinted it below:
How to protect your privacy online ----------------------------------------------------
Working on this issue is really a social problem, not an individual
problem. Asking individuals to spend a lot of time practicing 'privacy
hygiene' is both impractical and politically dubious. Creating privacy
online, in our opinion, should be done communally by supporting
However, there are some things which we recommend that are mostly
'install and forget' measures, and don't require ongoing or tedious
If you use Firefox, a web browser we recommend
(http://help.riseup.net/mail/#use_firefox), you can install various
extensions to use when browsing. Firefox is free software, and community
members have written software to add new features, and anybody can
download these extensions (see https://addons.mozilla.org/ for more
information about Firefox extensions.)
Here are some Firefox extensions that we recommend:
You can also do web searches at https://ssl.scroogle.org/
I'm in Providence, RI, currently the Artist-in-Residence at AS220, a fascinating complex of facilities with a community performance space and gallery, artists' studios, a community printshop, a restauant and bar, and much more. My dad insisted while I was here that I check out the Roger Williams National Memorial. This is a small park with a information building, complete with federal park rangers, in the middle of downtown Providence, dedicated to a pastor who spent much of his life telling folks that if there's any two things in life that should be kept separate, they are Church and State. He also founded the first Baptist church in the country, and was of the belief that people should be baptized when they are adults capable of making that decision, not children with the decision being made by the parents. His term for this was soul freedom, and he said: "...at last to proclaim a true and absolute soul freedom to all the people of the land impartially; so that no person be forced to pray nor pay, otherwise then as his soul believeth and consenteth" (The Complete Writings of Roger Williams, Vol. VII). If you're following the news about the Texas Board of Education rulings on what goes into textbooks then you know that the debate over the separation of Church and State is far from over. As such a large state, Texas holds a lot of sway with textbook manufacturers, so what is created in Texas, Creationism or creativity, doesn't necessarily stay in Texas. Personally, I remember trembling with anger in my highschool history class because of the slant of the textbook, and I sincerely hope that, as a nation, we will stop forcing young people to consenteth to what they don't necessarily believeth.
An entire generation of anti-authoritarians are passing on. With Zinn last month, and Colin Ward on Feb. 11 (and Alex Comfort in 2000, Paul Goodman in 1972, and...)... They remind us of the day when anarchists engaged in a more holistic way with society, as urban planners, lawyers, psychiatrists, architects, educators, historians, and engineers, and rooted their politics in a broad participation in the world. Kate from AK Press compiled a nice piece on Ward over at the Revolution by the Book blog, check it out HERE.
Justseeds NW (Icky, Pete, and Roger) have been working on a large scale project challenging the building of a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) pipeline in Oregon. They have teamed up with an environmental organization, BARK, as well as the Indonesian printmaking collective Taring Padi (Roger is over in Indonesia right now! Hi Roger!). It looks like the story has been picked up by The Jakarta Post, which appears to be the English language Indonesian daily paper. A story about the project, "An Artistic Alliance," was published a couple days back, and you can read it HERE. I'm also embedding it below for those that don't feel like clicking away from the blog (I know you want to stay...)
My friend Gabriel was denied entry into the country and has had to cancel his US tour. We've got serious problems when artists, writers, and musicians are not allowed into the country because of their political beliefs (as if we didn't already have a nice size stack of serious problems....). There's a good article about it HERE, give it a read...
There is something oddly mesmerizing about this video. I guess a guy just walked into Wal-Mart and started swinging!??! More info HERE.
I'm working hard installing Signs of Change in Portland, OR this week (we open on Thursday night!) and wanted to throw a couple quicks items I've run into up here on the blog:
1) Anarchist Author Gabriel Kuhn turned away at US border! Gabriel is great, I've tabled next to him at multiple international Anarchist bookfairs, and am pissed I wont get to see him on his now-cancelled US tour book tour (he has 3 books out or coming out on PM Press—and I thought I was prolific!). Check out more info HERE, and get pissed off.
2) Part Two of Erick Lyle's great story about Art Basel Miami is up on the Bay Guardian website. Read it HERE or you'll be very sad later when everybody is talking about it!
3) I found a nice little write up and set of photos on Swoon on the Indonesian website Cream, check it out HERE.
4) PM Press has just released on CD the amazing discography of the Dutch political punk band the Rondos. The set has 2 cds and 4 books, and is well, well worth getting. The Rondos were engaged politically on a level few bands ever truly are, and have written a fascinating history of 1980s Rotterdam, Dutch communism and anarchism, and the larger punk and squatting subculture. Check it out HERE.
Just heard the sad news, Howard Zinn died Wednesday of a heart attack. I know all of us here at Justseeds were inspired by this great historian. These are some big shoes to fill...
image by Rober Shetterly
Last week, on Jan. 19th, two groups from St. Petersburg, Russsia, Autonomous Action and Anarchist Artists, carried out a large scale street art action on the outside of the State Museum of Political History. They wheatpasted what looks like about 30 ft. of collaged posters in memory of murdered civil rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov and anarchist journalist Anastasia Baburova. The action can be seen in the film below, more images if you click to the following page, and more info can be found HERE and HERE.
Iranian filmmakers have called for a boycott of this years Fajr Film Festival in Tehran, Iran in hopes of pressuring the government to ease up on repression and release political prisoners, some of whom are filmmakers. Other international artists are supporting the boycott, including Ken Loach, one of my favorite contemporary directors, whose new film "Looking for Eric" was supposed to play the fest. More info can be found HERE and HERE.
Billy da Bunny, of Loop Zine Distro, has started putting up very strange, yet engaging, video zine reviews on the We Make Zines website. He recently put up a set of reviews that includes my zine Pound the Pavement #8. It's the last zine he reviews, and he says some very nice things about Justseeds:
My good friend Dwight, owner-operator of the Tucson multi-functional art/community/print space the Gloo Factory and allied enterprise Peace Supplies has been struggling against eviction from his crazy downtown space for years now, in the face of idiotic plans for redevelopment. At this point it looks like he's going to lose the space, but he's energized to find a new spot! A vacant lot with a big steel shed! Dreams of a Quonset hut! Located in the city of South Tucson, away from the boondoggles of Tucson proper! To accomplish this, he needs our help. Take a moment to navigate to the Save the Gloo Factory website and make a donation. Tucson's radical print infrastructure will thank you.
The 800 individual letters (in solar-panel font) that I helped to print for Katherine of SEA Change Gallery here in Portland were stitched together and made into banners in several different languages, which were then carried in marches during the climate forum. You can see some more photos of the banners at the SEA Change Gallery site.
Welcome to the Teens, hard on the heels of the Noughties. As humanity continues to hack and chew at the earth, extinction rates continue to rise. I have a really hard time caring about anything but this issue, because it is an emblem and a symptom of a much larger phenomenon than any sort of social-justice issue could ever be. I'm currently reading an excellent book called "Where the Wild Things Were", by William Stolzenburg. Stolzenburg describes in this book what happens to ecological networks in the absence of large, powerful predators. Drawn from research in diverse locations all over the world, from the Aleutians to Venezuela, from Yellowstone to Rock Creek Park in DC, the worldwide crash in predator populations has caused ecological disruption on a scale hardly imaginable.
Al Jazeera online just posted an interesting short piece on graffiti in the Gaza Strip. It's well worth taking a minute to click over and read it HERE. All the images in the article are from a new book, Gaza Graffiti, by Mia Grondahl and published by the University of Cairo Press.
On Tuesday, August 3, 2010, long-time political prisoner and acclaimed poet and translator Marilyn Buck, 62, passed peacefully at her home in Brooklyn, New York.
A few short weeks earlier, on July 15th, Marilyn had been released from the federal Bureau of Prisons medical facility in Carswell, Texas and paroled to New York City. Thanks to the efforts of her long-time friend and lawyer Jill Soffiyah Elijah, her release came several weeks before the date originally set for her release on parole, August 8th.
Marilyn served a total of 33 years of an 80-year prison sentence for politically motivated actions undertaken in support of self-determination and national liberation and in opposition to racial injustice and U.S. imperialism. Throughout her years in prison, Marilyn remained a steadfast supporter of fellow political prisoners and an advocate for the women with whom she was imprisoned.
Ricardo Levins Morales, one of the driving creative forces behind the much missed Northland Poster Collective, has opened up a new store and website. He's got much of hiss material (posters, prints, notecards, etc.) from Northland, and new material. Check out his new site HERE.
The Yes Men in Copenhagen = a corporation and/or government is going to get humiliated for good reason. This time it's Canada.
More here: http://theyesmen.org/canada
Some links to keep up with whats happening at the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen and the protests in the streets:
Indymedia Danmark: http://indymedia.dk/
Democracy Now!: www.democracynow.org/
I just wanted to send a shout out to our comrades in Vancouver and Victoria who have been struggling against a completely invasive, parasitic, and brutal Olympics campaign.
There's more info HERE and HERE. And the above image is a nice banner from the Victoria campaign.
Words of wisdom from historian Howard Zinn on Obama winning the Noble Peace Prize and using it as a forum to declare the war in Afghanistan as a just war.
"Nobel Prize for Promises?"
Saturday 10 October 2009
by Howard Zinn
posted in Truthout
"I was dismayed when I heard Obama was given the Nobel Peace Prize. A shock, really, to think that a president carrying on wars in two countries and launching military action in a third country (Pakistan), would be given a peace prize. But then I recalled that Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt and Henry Kissinger had all received Nobel Peace Prizes. The Nobel Committee is famous for its superficial estimates and for its susceptibility to rhetoric and empty gestures, while ignoring blatant violations of world peace.
Wheeler Hall at UC Berkeley was occupied again today, and halfway across the globe students from AmirKabir Uniiversity in Tehran tore the gates off their school! Check out the video below:
Here's a couple of photographs from an epic day of screen-printing, Roger of Justseeds and Heather of Flight 64 cranking out hundreds of individual letters for Katherine Ball's (of SEA Change gallery in Portland) banner project.
10 Years since Seattle and this is where we are.
I saw the below last night and was totally gobsmacked:
I've been trying to think of what to write until this morning when my friend Anna sent me this reply video by Canadian HipHop artist Testament she found which sums it up pretty good.
Please comment wildly.
A handful of my favorite media-making friends were in California documenting the recent actions over the "austerity measures" in the California University system.
Brandon Jourdan has some strong feeling about these actions being the beginning of a serious movement. We shall see
Check out info on the STUPAK part of the current health care bill.
Women are denied access to abortion coverage- the bill actually denies coverage to women who already have it. Abortion is a procedure 1 out of every 3 women have at some point in their lives. Males' reproductive health coverage remains in the bill- men still have access to Viagra, prostate cancer coverage, male infertility, vasectomies, etc.
(a Great article is here:)
We don't see men's health being compromised- only women's,
If you are in RI
contact Langevin... you can reach his staff at this email:
put pressure on him to reverse STUPAK!!!
if you are outside of RI- email your local statehouse reps NOW!!!!
make posters about this issue... don't let the coathanger return!!!
Put the fun between your legs: Become the Bike Bloc
Bristol and Copenhagen Nov – Dec 09
An irresistible new machine of resistance will be launched during the COP15 UN summit protests in Copenhagen. Made from hundreds of old bicycles and thousands of activists' bodies 'Put the fun between your legs: Operation Bike Bloc' is a collaboration between Climate Camp and art activist collective The Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination.
David Bacon just sent out a nice set of photos and a short text on the hotel worker's strike going on right now in San Francisco. One of the things I really like about the photos he's taken is that they capture some of the joy of the picket line, workers laughing and playing with each other, not simply marching around in circles with dour faces, which is so often the images of contemporary labor unrest.
(banner drop on a bridge where bankers at the conference were passing by on tour boats)
“The major banking institutions, who have been raked over the coals of public opinion, saw their main public lobby, the American Bankers Association, assemble in Chicago, only to face the wrath of organized public outrage. Thousands of activists and citizens converged to take the ABA to task...Protesters entered the lobby of the Sheraton Chicago to face the ABA directly. This was followed by marches through downtown Chicago where thousands voiced their concern and called for accountability and positive change.”
October 28th, 2009. For over one and a half hours, hundreds of corporate lobbyists wishing to attend the annual BusinessEurope conference were prevented from entering the Charlemagne building.
The Climate action group Climate Alarm!, consisting of activists from Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Germany, blocked the main entrance to the conference.
Some more info on this action can be found at Climate IMC
This makes me so happy tears form in my eyes, I like people that care. Thanks to everyone that organized and executed this!
It should happen everywhere, everyday!
[Full disclosure - the author of this article has been employed multiple times in the Education Department of the Andy Warhol Museum as recently as June 2009, teaching screen-printing to high school students.]
Last week, Shepard Fairey opened a massive retrospective exhibition at Pittsburgh's Andy Warhol Museum. "Supply and Demand" drew a sold-out opening night crowd that watched Fairey DJ alongside Z-Trip while sporting a swank three-piece suit. In the months prior, Fairey and his team toured around Pittsburgh wheat-pasting his familiar designs on building facades both permitted and not, and across from the museum he installed a temporary mural over top of a pre-existing mural by a younger local artist. The silent, creeping presence of Fairey's designs around the city felt eerily similar to the lead-up for the G20 summit this past September, in which faceless PR firms delivered meaningless graphics touting business and lifestyle opportunities to cover dozens of vacant storefronts in downtown in an attempt to scrub the visual landscape. All of this new wallpaper gave an impending and queasy feeling to anyone paying attention: Pittsburgh, once again and without consent, would play host as a playground for the powerful.
On October 24, 350.org organized the most widespread day of political action in history -- over 5,200 events in 181 countries -- to call for a clear solution to the climate crisis: reducing the level of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere below 350 parts per million.
There's a ton of photos of the 350 campaign on the 350.org Flickr page. I found the one to the right to be one of the more powerful "actions". The undeniable human impact is illustrated along with the gathering of humans to characteristically form the 3-5-0.
This campaign has been interesting to watch and exciting to see the grassroots mobilizing around such a clear message. I'm not sure of the campaigns efficacy, it has been covered in plenty of media. Human activity and impact on this planet is definitely something that needs to be acknowledged. It may be a good jumping off point for most people, and especially legislators, around the world to discuss such matters. It is most definitely a problem that isn't going away.
Maybe a goal for the demonstrations in Copenhagen could be to make sure all the representatives attending come to some sane agreements, representing all our interests, before they are allowed to leave.
I've been reading articles on climate change and our food system and have found that the costs of transporting food across the country and around the world is totally unsustainable. I was also somewhat surprised to learn that the cost to our environment to sustain the meat industry has actually surpassed the damage done by transportation of vegetables. Around 30% of the greenhouse gas emissions come from the meat industry. If that isn't enough to make you become a vegetarian, we can feed 8 times the amount of people on a vegetarian diet than on a meat based diet. The land use for raising animals is obscene; as well as the methane emissions from the animals themselves.
This past March, I cofounded an online advocacy organization centered around Latinos and our struggles - Presente.org. One of the most recent campaigns we launched has been around CNN's Lou Dobbs, the most dangerous man for Latinos in the United States.
WHY LOU DOBBS? We are targeting Lou Dobbs because more than ANY person in the media, he spreads misinformation and hateful messages about Latinos and immigrants. Lou Dobbs talks about immigrants as invaders, as criminals, as people bringing disease into this country, and he backs it up with false statistics and incendiary language. Even worse, he uses his platform to give airtime to the most extremist, anti-immigrant voices, like the Minutemen, FAIR, and Sheriff Arpaio.
He claimed that immigrants are creating an epidemic of leprosy, using statistics from a radical right-wing author that were totally false and debunked by Center for Disease Control.
The drama with Shepard Fairey continues…While the position that some of the Justseeds' members take on the work of Fairey is public knowledge (see Mark Vallan's 2007 essay, written with Josh MacPhee, Favianna Rodriguez, and Lincoln Cushing or see Favianna's blog or Liam O'Donoghue's article), recent news stories continue to look bad for any "progressive" street artist-turned capitalist entrepeneur.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Fairey admitted to using Mannie Garcia's photo of President Obama as the source for his famous HOPE poster. While Fairey has greatly benefitted from this poster, Garcia has received little. Today's LAT states:
The Guardian UK recently posted a short but interesting piece on the art, design, and technology used in the recent protests in Iran. The article is called "The art of protest in Iran: From cartoons of potatoes to boycotts of Nokia, Iranian political dissent is finding endlessly creative expression," and you can check it out HERE.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
NYU's Kimmel Center
60 Washington Square South, room 914 at 8 p.m.
Doors will open at 7:30.
This event is free and open to the public, but please bring a valid, state issued ID to show at the door.
There will be screening of a 'sneak peak' of the film The Fire Next Time, followed by a panel discussion moderated by CBS and LOGO's 365 Gay News anchor, Chagmion Antione, with grassroots community organizers from FIERCE, the Audre Lorde Project and the filmmakers. The Fire This Time is a documentary directed by my friend Blair Doroshwalther about the New Jersey 7 (also known as the NJ 4).
In August, 2006 seven young African-American lesbian women from Newark, New Jersey were enjoying a night out in the gay-friendly West Village neighborhood of New York City. As they walked down the street, they were sexually harrassed by a man named Duane Buckle. When they told him they were not interested, and that they were lesbians, Buckle verbally attacked them using homophobic slurs, and physically assaulted them. In a not uncommon travesty of justice, the New Jersey Seven, as they came to be called, were sent to prison for defending themselves. 3 of the women accepted plea bargains and on June 14th, 2007 Venice Brown, Terrain Dandridge, Patreese Johnson, and Renata Hill received sentences ranging from 3 1/2 to 11 years in prison.The Fire This Time tells the story of the seven women’s trial and prison sentences, and the years-long fight by relatives and activists to get the women released. Along the way, the film reveals in devastating detail how the media, homophobia, and racism all work together in American culture to stigmatize and victimize gay people of color.
Please come out and show your support!
For those that haven't seen it, here's a good intro video to what went down on the streets of Pittsburgh during the G20:
So while we've been dealing with G20 fallout here, there's been a bit of stir over in the UK related to the G20 as well. British art crew the Space Hijackers were arrested for impersonating the cops at the G20 protests in London back in April, and now their going to court. Below is part of a letter from the Hijackers, and a story from the Times UK can be found HERE.
Hello, Robin from Space Hijackers here, I'm not sure if you're aware but the hijackers are currently in a bit of bother.
As you may have seen in the news, we've recently been arrested for the spurious charge of impersonating police officers at the G20 demonstrations. It seems the police didn't quite find it as funny as we did to discover us rolling around in our tank, playing Ride of the Valkyries whilst ridiculing the oppressive police tactics on the day of the protests.
I came across this project while reading Kathleen Hanna's (of Bikini Kill, Le Tigre, and Julie Ruin) blog! They are a project by an Argentine artist which received a grant to design shoes built to assist immigrants with making the dangerous trek across the U.S.-Mexico border. From the BBC
The trainers are adorned with unusual items.
"The shoe includes a compass, a flashlight because people cross at night, and inside is included also some Tylenol painkillers because many people get injured during crossing," Werthein says.
The artist was commissioned by a cross-border arts exhibition called inSite to develop a project that "intervened" in some aspect of border life. While researching her project, the Argentine native became fascinated by illegal immigrants' primary mode of transportation - their feet. An Aztec eagle is embroidered on the heel. On the toe is the American eagle found on the US quarter, to represent the American dream the migrants are chasing. A map - printed on the shoe's removable insole - shows the most popular illegal routes from Tijuana into San Diego.
There is also an article at Delete the Border.
Legendary Argentine folk singer Mercedes Sosa of the Nueva Canción (new song) movement died today. Her poetic and political lyrics were a true inspiration to the social movements against the dictatorships and military regimes in Latin America. I was introduced to her music only a few years ago, and wish I had seen her play when she was in NYC. Here is one of my favorite songs Cuando Tenga la Tierra performed live in Managua in 1983:
Hell Yes! Chicago lost its bid to host the Olympics. An estimated 84 percent of the city opposed bringing the Games to Chicago but this did not stop the Daley-machine, Obama, and Oprah from trying to sway the Olympic committee to their favor. The result was a first round elimination! Now that is funny.
The bad news is that Rio de Janeiro will be saddled with the games in 2016 and Vancouver is feeling the ill-effects of the upcoming winter games in 2010.
More info: http://www.no2010.com/
Below: Sports writer Dave Zirin explains why the Olympics are a disaster for the host city.
I got this forward and it has taken me months to put it up but here its is: a new infoshop A-raamatukogu (A-library)www.araamat.org opened in Estonia this past summer.
They are looking for donations for their library. They accept texts in English, Russian, Finnish and German. Below I have pasted their full announcement:
These are pictures I culled from IO9 of the Red Dawn movie remake (creatively titled "Red Dawn 2010") , where Russia and China invade the old USA. This one, like the first one, seems to be really drawing on right wing fear.
I thought I might be able add something witty to this, but the pictures are kind of fascinating... an aesthetically dumbed-down Shep Fairey with thoughtful slogans like, "Be Disturbed at Not Understanding". I am!
(Pictured: Pontiac, Michigan)
On Thursday, September 24th actions against the budget cuts, fee hikes, layoffs and furloughs at University of California campuses took place throughout the UC system. Workers, graduate student employees, staff and faculty held a strike, walked out, and demonstrated in defense of public education and fair labor practices.
Under the cover of the summer months, the UC administration pushed through a program of fee increases, enrollment cuts, layoffs, furloughs, and increased class sizes that harms students and jeopardizes the livelihoods of the most vulnerable university employees. According to one analysis, with the next round of proposed fee increases (32% over the next year) UC would be funded more by student tuition than by the state, effectively making it a private university. Even with furloughs going ahead for many UC employees, management is laying off workers, cutting services, and planning to reduce in-state student enrollment to make room for nonresidents.
The strike continues...
A Factory Like a City
By David Bacon
Last month Toyota announced it would close the New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. (NUMMI) plant in Fremont, California, after General Motors annnounced it was withdrawing from the partnership under which the plant has operated for over two decades. The plant employs 4500 workers directly, and the jobs of another 30,000 throughout northern California are dependent on its continued operation. Taking families into account, the threatened closure will eliminate the income of over 100,000 people.
People have spent their lives in the NUMMI plant in Fremont, probably more time with the compressed-air tools at their workstations than with their families at home. The plant is like a city, thousands of jobs and thousands of people working in a complicated dance where each one's contribution makes possible that of the next person down the line. And like a city, it supports the people who work in it.
The latest incarnation of the "Billionaire" meme, "Billionaires for
Wealthcare" struck again this weekend, as Healthcare Inc. CEOs in tuxedos and gowns "thanked" Tea-baggers for coming out for Glenn Beck's March on Washington from Sept 12th. Tea-baggers eagerly joined in on Billionaire chants of "Bring Back Bush!" and “Fight Socialism! Abolish Medicare Now!”, but the greatest crowd pleaser (and provoker) of the day, was a stirring rendition of their original song "Let's Save the Status Quo" sung to the tune of the "Battle Hymn of the Republic," and memorably captured in this music video:recently featured by Rachel Maddow.
this just in down the wire:
FOUR YEAR LEGAL BATTLE ENDS WITH SUBSTANTIAL DONATIONS TO CIVIL & HUMAN RIGHTS GROUPS
CAE Defense Fund donated to Center for Constitutional Rights & New York Civil Liberties Union
Buffalo, NY—After a widely watched four-year legal battle, the CAE Defense Fund was officially dissolved last week, with its remainder of unexpended funds donated in two substantial gifts to the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and the New York affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU).
The CAE Defense Fund was originally created as a mechanism to raise funds for legal bills incurred by Dr. Steven Kurtz and Dr. Robert Ferrell in what its members argued was a politically motivated attack by the Department of Justice—one which threatened the constitutional and fundamental rights not only of the two defendants, but also of everyone, due to legal precedents that would have been set by an unfavorable outcome.
In response, thousands of people worldwide organized demonstrations and raised money for the two men’s legal defense through fundraisers and a variety of other grassroots efforts.http://caedefensefund.orghttp://caedefensefund.org
Bottled water! Emblem of assholery. None more so than the Fiji Water brand, with its deceptively idiotic campaign to seem ecologically sound and socially responsible. This despite the fact that they exist to sell aquifer water, mined from a dirt-poor South Pacific nation, in super-thick plastic bottles, and under the supervision of a military dictatorship, to the effete snobs of the western celebrity elite and their lickspittle public. There was a great article in Mother Jones recently that tears the enterprise to pieces. In response, Fiji posted a rebuttal on their site that lamely managed to sound wounded and hard done by, only to have Mother Jones editor Clara Jeffrey respond and continue to widen the rift that had been made in their cleft. The comment thread that unspools below that provides further amusement, if only for the eerie automated quality of the respondents "Fiji Media Gal" and "Fiji Green Gal". This uncanny feeling- of being soothed by gentle zombie capitalist hippy P.R. robots- is what the Dead Kennedys were trying to evoke in "California Uber Alles". Zen fascists, 100% natural, indeed.
Friends at the Center for Urban Pedagogy and Lize Mogel tipped me off to this great story about German politicians their own versions of mini-utopias at Hamburg's Miniature Wonderland, the world's largest model-train set up! The story is at Spiegal Online, and you can read it HERE. Make sure to check out the slide show on the left hand side. The image I've posted here is from the Green Party model, where punks and cops get along!
Humor aside, I actually think this is quite brilliant, and a great way to concretize and visualize possible ways political policies could play out, and start conversations about them. It's so simple and direct, and has the potential to speak to really wide sections of the public. Of course it would be much less interesting in the US as there are only 2 major political parties, but maybe if we got them, plus the Green Party, a representative from labor, a couple Maoist and Trotskyist sects, born again christians, the Ayn Rand lunatics, green anarchists, the IWW and anarcho-communists all to make models.....
An open letter to the curators, artists, participants of the 11th
International Istanbul Biennial and to all artists and art-lovers:
“We have to stop pretending that the popularity of politically engaged
art within the museums, magazines and markets over the last few years
has anything to do with really changing the world. We have to stop
pretending that taking risks in the space of art, pushing boundaries of
form, and disobeying the conventions of culture, making art about
politics makes any difference. We have to stop pretending that art is a
free space, autonomous from webs of capital and power.
It’s time for the artist to become invisible. To dissolve back into life.
The world is over.
A goat with its throat slashed may buck against its bonds, but the blood will drain out and it will die. A gentle hand might give it a pill to ease the suffering. Like the goat, we've swallowed the pill, and so it comes to this. Buy an efficient lightbulb. Drive a "hybrid" car. We have eaten the host that was laid on our tongue, the host embossed "HOPE". We've supped from the poisoned chalice to wash it down.
Our sad flapping jaws will keep on hurking out positive affirmations like trained seals clapping for the ringmaster. Our prating of determination and principled struggle and positivity of all sorts sounds now as do the grunts of a dental patient turned loose to the street with a toothless gape and gums full of anaesthetic. For it's Hope that has killed us these many long years, and it will continue to kill us, though it will seem like famine, and it will seem like war. It's hope that strangles the life of the earth, hope that fills the land and water with poison, the hope that something might be better for our children, and the hope that our pestilential children might somehow impossibly behave other than humans have ever done. Hope places around our necks the thin, piano-wire garrotte of sustainability, and chuckles in syncopation with our breathless gasps. Hope throttles us with our efforts to bring "justice" and "peace", to fight "oppression", for we stand in the shadow of one hundred thousand years of world-rending growth and ecological annihilation and proclaim that without darkness, we would never have been able to understand the properties of light.
"To Change the World: This traveling exhibit of works by radical artists has a refreshingly old-fashioned air"
by Margaret Regan
03 September 2009
Fabian Garcia Rios was the last known migrant to die in Arizona in the month of July.
The 24-year-old perished in the furnace known as the Tohono O'odham nation on July 31. His cause of death: environmental heat exposure. The young man was one of nine migrants whose bodies were found over six days during the last week of July, and one of 37 who died and were found in Southern Arizona during the whole month.
Fabian is no. 162 on the annual death list compiled by Kat Rodriguez of Tucson's Coalición de Derechos Humanos. He's the last one named on her count at the moment, but Kat will soon be adding more. During sweltering August, in the weeks since Fabian suffered in the ghastly heat, 21 more bodies have been found.
The August dead put Kat's total for fiscal 2009 at 183. With five weeks still to go until the fiscal year ends on Sept. 30, those 183 corpses already equal the number of migrant dead for all of fiscal 2008. And those are only the bodies that have been found.
Young Fabian could easily have served as the model for a poignant work on view in a show of political art at the UA's Joseph Gross Gallery.
Climate Ground Zero is a campaign against mountaintop removal, they currently have a treesit campaign that is being threatened right now by authorities, some participants have been detained. Check out Climate Ground Zero for updates and read below how to support the campaign.
It’s going to take action, continued and direct, to end mountaintop removal in Appalachia. We need to stop the coal companies from laying mountains low, poisoning air and water and ruining livelihoods. Our volunteers have put their bodies on the line to stop the over 3,000,000 pounds of explosives used every day to level West Virginia for coal.
Climate Ground Zero is not another environmental organization. It is an ongoing campaign of non-violent civil disobedience in southern West Virginia to address mountaintop removal coal mining and its effects on our future.
Here in West Virginia, an overwhelming majority of residents are opposed to this destructive form of mining. But our political leaders are afraid of Big Coal and their powerful lobbyists--a few coal state Senators and Representatives of Congress have vowed to block any reforms. Over a century of repression has created a situation where coal operators are exempt from environmental laws and regulations, and a corrupt court system refuses to enforce those laws.
To stop mountaintop removal, we need to awaken the consciousness of the country to this violent crime. Since the beginning of the year, hundreds of activists have come to the coalfields and stood with the residents of West Virginia to demand an end to the destruction. So far, over 90 people have been arrested in a series of actions that have actually stopped the blasting, garnered national media attention and elicited harsh reactions from the coal industry.
Tired of writing e-mails and attending meetings? Put on your boots, hit the road and come stand in solidarity with the people of Appalachia. We are going to keep confronting King Coal until we win, but we can't do it without you here.
Climate Ground Zero operates a base camp in the heart of the coal mining region of West Virginia.
The Way it Was
By Justyn Dillingham
You might not know it to look at that small, trim-looking white building next to the School of Art, but inside those walls, universes are colliding.
“Confronting the Capitalist Crisis,” on display in the Joseph Gross Gallery through Oct. 7, is a display of prints brought together by the radical artists’ group Justseeds Radical Art Cooperative. It features the work of more than 60 artists from across the country, all illustrating familiar radical themes: the people against capitalism, the people against globalization, the people against “the prison-industrial complex.”
In the next room, the Lionel Rombach Gallery, Chris McGinnis’s “Heritage” is on display until Sept. 9. It’s a startling work: twenty-nine wooden panels spread across the floor (with one on the wall), all painted with eerie, evocative images of industrial America.
In terms of style and intent, these two exhibits are about as far apart as you can get. But their physical closeness is fortuitous. Spend an afternoon walking back and forth between the two rooms, taking in their ferociously detailed images, taking in their messages, and you can begin to imagine the two exhibits having an argument of sorts.
From anger to ambiguity
Slogans scream at you from the walls of the Joseph Gross Gallery: “Solidarity with the Palestinian People,” “How Many Dead Are Too Many,” “Strike While It’s Hot.” Engraved faces, emaciated and stark, glare out at you with despairing eyes — members of the “people’s history” the exhibit celebrates. It’s a striking and haunting compilation of images.
The energy and emotion that went into “Capitalist Crisis” is palpable. If you stand there long enough, you might begin to feel the eerie contrast between the silent noise conjured up by the emotional images and the stillness of the gallery itself.
What “Capitalist Crisis” has not done is find an original way to express its vision. It speaks the familiar language of the Old Left: flags, marches, fists clenched in solidarity. They seem archaic and clichéd because they are. You can almost hear Woody Guthrie strumming his guitar in the background.
Some of the prints are striking — the grim “Hope,” the Soviet-esque “Strike While It’s Hot” — but they’re drowned out by the deafening roar of the rest of the images, all clamoring for your attention. In a way, the visual blare of “Capitalist Crisis” is simply another version of the crass world of mainstream politics; it speaks in absolutes, and if your answers aren’t theirs, there’s no place for you.
Two artists with prints in the Paper Politics show, Patricia Dahlman and Michael Dal Cerro, are organizing an online art show of art works for health care reform. Here's what they sent me:
Due to the right wing loud voices and lies concerning the Health Care Reform Bill, Mike and I are organizing an online exhibition of artists' work titled "Artists for Health Care Reform." We are interested in seeing art work that is pro Public Option, pro Single Payer, art work about people and communities that are shut out of the health care system and art work in response to the lies the right wing is putting out there. I am hoping that you are interested in participating. We are asking artists to email a jpeg of their work for this online exhibition as soon as possible. The deadline is September 7. Congress will be voting on the bill September 8.email an image to them here.
I know this is extremely late, but I had the chance to make it out to Ad Hoc while they were closed to see the show unperturbed. I quite simply love what these two amazing artists have done to this space. I was talking to a friend recently, asking him about how the opening went, and he mentioned how refreshing it was to see such a political show. But despite the strong imagery, I did not feel ideologically repulsed. And while it was tremendously political, it was simultaneously a portrait of struggle, confusion, and daunting oppression. For the most part it made no movement towards clarity or certainty; instead it approached the human capacity of subjugation and horror with the hopeful statement, ” I Know There is Love”
More photos at Get Familiar
18 August 2009: Israel declares the shooting of American activist, Tristan Anderson to be an “act of war.”
Tristan Anderson, an American national, was critically injured on 13 March 2009 when he was shot with a high velocity tear-gas projectile during an unarmed demonstration against the Wall in the West Bank village of Ni’lin (report and video: http://palsolidarity.org/2009/03/5324).
The Israeli Ministry of Defense has notified the Anderson family’s lawyers that Israel perceives the incident on 13 March 2009 as an “act of war.” This classification was made despite the fact that Anderson’s shooting occurred during a civilian demonstration and there were no armed hostilities during the event or surrounding it.
The consequence of such classification is that according to Israeli law, the state of Israel is not liable for any damage its’ forces have caused.
Israeli police have completed their criminal investigation and passed the file to the district attorney of the Central District of the Israeli prosecution offices. The Anderson’s criminal attorney, Michael Sfard, is awaiting their decision.
According to Michael Sfard,
If a process by which unarmed civilian demonstration is classified by Israel as an ‘act of war,’ then clearly Israel admits that it is at war with civilians. International law identifies the incident as a clear case of human rights abuse. As such, Tristan and his family are undoubtedly entitled to justice and compensation. We will pursue this matter and take the government of Israel to court.
In addition to filing a criminal complaint against the State of Israel for the shooting of their son, the Andersons have submitted a notice of intent to file a civil suit.
Leah Tsemel, the civil suit attorney, stated,
This is another occasion where the Israeli government is alluding responsibility. The demonstrations that take place in Ni’lin and Bil’in are not acts of war. We will pursue, in Israeli courts and international courts if necessary, justice for the Anderson family.
Tristan Anderson was critically injured on 13 March 2009 when he was shot with a high-velocity tear gas projectile by Israeli forces. He was taken to Tel Hashomer hospital near Tel Aviv and to date remains in the hospital facilities. Tristan suffered multiple condensed fractures as a result of being hit in the right frontal lobe. He has had several life-saving surgeries and his prospects for recovery are unclear. On 10 August 2009, Tristan underwent another surgery to reattach the top part of his skull, which was removed in order to save his life immediately after his shooting five months ago.
Several eye-witnesses have given testimony that Tristan was shot when he could not have been perceived as any threat to the forces in the area. He was shot from around 60 meters while standing with a few internationals and Palestinians, hours after the demonstration had dispersed from the construction site of the Wall.
read the rest of the release at International Solidarity Movement
Many of us in Pittsburgh are watching the creeping media coverage of the pending G20 Summit in September with a mixture of feelings - most notably trepidation and annoyance. Sure, some people are stoked on some vague concepts about how these sorts of events might bring positive attention and financial assistance and opportunity to our city (you know, like when another sports arena gets built), but my guess is that maybe those people don't read international news too often. In our local mainstream media we're already seeing some troubling headlines. Sure, you've got your usual news about permit denials and "free speech". You've even got some somewhat surprising news about delegates visiting local institutions to hang out and chat and do photo-ops (Obama is going to be visiting the Warhol Museum - but he's gonna miss the Shepard Fairey exhibit?). And then there's the troubling funds being dumped into aesthetic glossing over of our downtown and surrounding areas, mostly by planting some new saplings, buffing graffiti (including possibly re-painting an ancient train bridge), and putting fake fronts on crumbling buildings that delegates might accidentally see from the windows of the Convention Center - all of which will "showcase Pittsburgh's economic, environmental and quality of life transformation" - at least, if you don't look too close. Maybe I'm not the guy to ask about how to fix up a city for fancy guests - I tend to think Pittsburgh is already beautiful, especially those old train bridges and graffiti.
But hey, if you don't care to follow my cynical posturing, perhaps you'll at least get a round of laughs out of the blundering "you heard it here first" stuff coming out of local news station WTAE Channel 4. This stuff is pure theater, especially the dour looks on the faces of the anchorpeople and the refusal to even begin to do legwork to figure out whether their stories hold water. But maybe that's not the point. Check out in particular this report on a months-old trespassing incident that implies that "Europeans" could already be in Pittsburgh organizing for violent events of some sort, and this weekend's downright laughable "exposé" on an old ice rink that WTAE wants so badly to believe is a hive of negative organizing activity surrounding "G20 kids". Note: if there are "protesters" organizing, there's also likely to be boxes of cereal spilled all over the floor.
Can Labor Get Out of This Mess?
By David Bacon
TruthOut Perspective, http://www.truthout.org/081109R
For anyone who loves the labor movement, it's not unreasonable today to ask whether we've lost our way. California's huge healthcare local is in trusteeship, its leading organizing drive in a shambles. SEIU's international is at war with its own members, and now with UNITE HERE, whose merger of garment and hotel workers is unraveling.
In 1995, following the upsurge that elected John Sweeney president of the AFL-CIO, the service and hotel workers seemed two of the unions best able to organize new members. Their high profile campaigns, like Justice for Janitors and Hotel Workers Rising, were held out as models. Today they're in jeopardy.
This conflict has endangered our high hopes for labor law reform, and beyond that for an economic recovery with real jobs programs, fair trade instead of free trade, universal health care, and immigration reform that gives workers rights instead of raids. The ability of unions to grow in size and political power is on the line.
Today only 12% of workers belong to unions, and less in the private sector -- the lowest level of organization since the years before the great longshore strike of 1934. And falling numbers aren't the whole story. Some labor leaders now say that only huge deals at the top, far from the control of rank and file workers, can bring in new members on the scale we need. To make those deals attractive to employers, they argue, unions have to be willing to make deep concessions in wages and rights, and in our political demands on everything from single-payer health care to immigration reform.
Here's a slightly out-of-date flier I designed for Portland-area environmental group BARK and their campaign against the proposed Palomar pipeline, part of a massive network of interconnected energy development schemes slated to overrun the estuaries, forests, and farmlands of the Portland/Astoria/Mt.Hood/Columbia River region. It's all part of a plan to bring Liquefied Natural Gas to California via Oregon. Why via Oregon? Well, the politically savvy and comparatively wealthy Californians for whom the gas is intended have resolutely opposed and defeated all the proposed gas terminals on the California coast. Washington's done the same; the only one on the west coast so far is in Baja California. Less money, less power? That's why they're coming to Oregon! Two large LNG terminals are planned for the Oregon coast, one in the mouth of the Columbia near Astoria, and one in Coos Bay. Both will have massive impacts on local areas, requiring astronomical security provisions and ensuring some large measure of environmental destruction. Part of that destruction will be the pipelines that are slated to be laid through the forests of the region; the lush firs, spruce, hemlock and pine that make up the land's green mantle. Hundred foot wide permanent clearcuts? No problem? Tunneling under upwards of forty creeks and rivers? Okay! Destroyed farmlands, annihilated wildlife, industrial accidents? Yessssss! This is a wonderful example of capitalist strategy: there is, as yet, no large corporation involved in the planning of this. It's being executed by a gaggle of suits in a boardroom somewhere, drawing lines on a map and estimating cost-benefit ratios, growth projections, and flow potential. It is the rarefied atmosphere of infrastructural planning, cynically imposed on the land by economic analysts. Liquefied Natural Gas is popular all over (although not everyone is super enthused) and promises to bring us a warm, green, sustainable future where nothing ever goes wrong.
Lens, the photojournalism blog of the New York Times, has posted a collection of photos by Katie Orlinsky of Central America immigrants in Mexico City waiting to hop trains to the US, as well as a story about her work to capture the images. Katie provided amazing photos of the 2006 Oaxaca teachers strike for my show Signs of Change, and is a great photographer. Check out her images and the story at Lens here.
I recently went to see Propagandhi play in Milwaukee. At this show I first heard about the Tar Sands, a dirtier more toxic way of producing oil than usual. Some basic information about the Tar Sands, links to more info, and a sticker design I made about the Tar Sands are below.
In the Canadian Boreal forest just downstream of the eastern foothills of the Rocky Mountains are the Canadian tar sands. The region contains some 2 trillion barrels of oil, but getting to it will mean destroying an area larger than the state of Florida.
Tar sands consist of heavy crude oil mixed with sand, clay and bitumen. Extraction entails burning natural gas to generate enough heat and steam to melt the oil out of the sand. As many as five barrels of water are needed to produce a single barrel of oil.
Tar sands oil is the worst type of oil for the climate, producing three times the greenhouse gas emissions of conventionally produced oil because of the energy required to extract and process tar sands oil.
The tar sands creates a toxic landscape for first nations people and local people, threatening Indigenous rights, public health, and water quality.
There will be many new pipelines running through the us/especially midwest.
My friends at Jura Books in Sydney need help! They are holding a cool raffle to raise money, with one of the big prizes being this great historic Australian political poster to the right. More info below and on the Jura website.
Jura Books is facing a crisis and an opportunity. Last year the bank that holds the mortgage for our property called in the loan. They asked us to pay $5,000 immediately and the rest - another $15,000 - as soon as possible. With the help of the Jura community, we managed to raise enough money to make that first payment of $5,000. But we still owe $15,000.
Jura is one of the few activist organisations in Sydney that owns its own property. This is an amazing achievement, built through the effort of members, supporters and friends over the last 31 years. The building is a stable resource for the broader progressive community, and in it we can prefigure real alternatives to the present society. We don't want to lose our building.
We need your help to raise the remaining $15,000 - please buy some raffle tickets!
Jura is a not-for-profit community bookshop, library and organising space. We stock thousands of books that you won't find anywhere else - anarchist, enviro, feminist, libertarian socialist, vegan, street art, history, fiction and more. We try to make these available to the community for the lowest possible price in order to build social justice and a better world. We also host community events - everything from gigs, poetry nights, and films to political talks and fundraisers for activist causes. Many different groups use our space, and we also maintain a library and archive of political poster art. We're all volunteers.
Here's an article from the NY Times City Room Blog, by Colin Moynihan, about yesterdays land occupation in NYC, by Picture the Homeless.
Its a good article about the action yet not much information about the reasons why an organization would be taking such measures, such as the lack of city housing for homeless, or the land grab that has resulted from the hyperactive economy and now its collapse. Check the Indymedia article for more, and read on!
At first glance on Thursday morning, it looked as if a fashion photo shoot was in progress on East 115th Street. Men and women with digital cameras and boom microphones assembled on the north side of the street, between Fifth and Madison Avenues. A green awning was set up on the sidewalk over a table holding bagels, cherries and lime seltzer. A few feet away was a portable metal clothing rack with hangers holding slinky dresses. And there was a model wearing black fishnet stockings, a shiny sequined skirt and three-inch heels as she walked back and forth in front of a large empty, grassy lot.
“Action,” one woman shouted to the model. “Flip your jacket across your shoulder. Now cut.”
The purported fashion shoot was actually a ploy, intended to provide cover for a political protest, which by early evening resulted in at least 9 arrests.
As the model walked back and forth, trailed by a camera, two people holding a large green screen were shielding others who sliced through an eight-foot-tall, chain-link fence that separated the lot from the sidewalk. Then, at about 10:30 a.m., about 20 people entered the lot — which they said was owned by JPMorgan Chase & Company — and began transforming it. They constructed simple tents out of bright blue tarps. They assembled a wooden gazebo with a roof and a sign that read “A place to call home!” Soon, they were joined by others.
By 11, about 100 people were inside the lot, some playing musical instruments including bongos and guitars, others strolling through the lot picking up trash and placing it into plastic bags. More than two dozen police officers, in uniforms and in plainclothes, watched from 115th Street, some of them standing behind blue wooden sawhorses. By noontime, they had not made any attempt to eject the protesters
This past weekend Peter and I participated in Artscape. We had a booth on the bridge outside the train station alongside of "the duelling court", "dunk the chump", space alien fortune telling puppets, bunnieties fortune tellers, and other kooks. Our project was the Love Particle Accelerator.
Almost 2,000 people from the ages of 2-70 participated. Everyone seemed to have fun; even if they were initially skeptical. Several people meditated; several middle aged couples smooched; there were several dude parties; tons of young kids worshipped kittens and pizza; and I even had a woman hug me afterwards. Overall, it was our first attempt at making interactive public art and seemed to go over fairly well.
The instructions were to write or draw (with crayon on colored paper) something you love. Then you insert your love into the love box. Then you meditate on your love and hit the gong. Then you feel your love accelerate into the universe. It was so simple and corny and not pretentious or "arty" that I think it made people feel immediately comfortable trying it out. Even many of those who were initially skeptical left with huge smiles on their faces.
Here are some photos:
If you want to see more images check out this weblink:
We even made it to the blog spot at the Baltimore Sun...
If you understand the logic of the economic system in which we currently live, the following story will come as no surprise. Nonetheless our understandings don't prevent us from having our hearts broken over and over. So the story I'm referring to goes something like this...some friends and colleagues of mine worked collaboratively on a bunch of projects meant to be critical of corporate and military engineering and helpful to activists. For years they participated in the development of engaged cultural projects and then went somewhat separate ways. Last week one of them shows up on a Nike website celebrating this great event: having sold one of these collectively developed projects to Nike (without mentioning not having consulted anyone who had worked on the original project.) Video is here. (Looks like Shepard Fairey is also part of this Nike campaign.) What to do when something like this happens? Accept its inevitability? Try to get in on the deal? Sue them? I'm not sure what the best response is but these options seem less than ideal. The good people at the Institute for Applied Autonomy who had worked on the earlier projects put out a press release which articulates the original values of the group - a public response seems like a good move. Here is a link to their press release which I am also pasting below. It's strange that Nike and these artists "care" so much about cancer and think Nike offers some kind of contribution to fighting it...as someone who recently donated my bone marrow to a relative with cancer, this ad campaign doesn't give me hope but rather feels like a cynical approach to selling sportswear. Although I couldn't find a recent article (I did find this 1997 report mentioning the toxins and chemicals that workers are exposed to in sneaker production for Nike), I have a hunch that it is highly unlikely that industrial sneaker production can in any way contribute to a cancer free world....their campaign states "join the fight against cancer," hmmm how about transforming the toxic way we produce this economy...
(btw: the "We're all friends" is a quote from the Nike Chalkbot promotional video)
The Progress Illinois site has a good post on a recent action by the TAMMS Year Ten coallition demanding that the Chicago Tribune retract a fault-ridden editorial about TAMMS. The newspaper had refuesed to meet with the coallition until the protest took place.
Below is section of the story and link to the full article:
"Back in May, the Tribune ran a puzzling editorial criticizing State Rep. Julie Hamos' bill (HB 2633) to reform the Tamms Correctional Center in downstate Illinois. While acknowledging the harsh treatment of inmates there, the paper misread key sections of the bill, falsely asserting that it would limit terms at Tamms to one year "in almost all cases." We criticized the piece the following day, but no retraction was ever issued. Today, the Tamms Year Ten organization asked the paper to do just that.
Holding two "stone tablets," which contained their inscribed list of "Ten Corrections," the group of prison reformers marched outside the paper's Tribune Tower headquarters this afternoon."
Protests against the G8 meeting are underway in Italy and the IMC is covering the events as they unfold.
On the opening day of the G8 summit, Greenpeace activists occupied 4 coal fired-power stations across Italy, to demand stronger leadership on the climate. (As of today, it is being reported that the G8 failed to agree Wednesday on specific cuts in heat-trapping gases by 2050, undercutting an effort to build a global consensus to fight climate change.)
Here is a video of some of the actions:
Additionally, Greenpeace dropped a banner at Mount Rushmore-a tactic that has been done many times before, both by Greenpeace and more specifically by the American Indian Movement. The banner was taken down after a few minutes and ten people were arrested.
It is hard to argue against choosing symbolic locations for actions and Mount Rushmore obviously fits this bill, but my concern is: what if the media does not cover it? Although this story is just breaking, I have not seen a lot of mass media coverage, as of yet. Greenpeace has created their own media campaign about it but many of the major news outlets have yet to pick it up. This might change, but if it doesn’t, does that throw a monkey wrench into the tactic of banner drops? This blog is at its best when we debate these issues and tactics, so please post away.
Are banner drops becoming an outdated tactic?
Do they get the media's attention?
If they don’t, what does?
What does this all say about our reliance on mass media coverage for movements to be successful?
Charges have been dropped against four of the SF8! For actual information about the case click here.
From the UWM SDS blog…
"This 4th of July, SDS celebrated revolution, and independence from empire. Students from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, and Marquette University jumped into two parades, holding multiple banners.
As we stepped into the first parade in Glendale, WI, we held a banner which read "Bailout For Education, Not For Corporations." Many people stood to cheer for the message. Other banners declared "End The Occupations, No War For Empire", and "No Human Is Illegal."
Although much of the parade crowd was delighted to see our message represented, the police acted quick to shut it down. After less than a minute in the parade, one officer on a bicycle demanded that we leave the parade, and threatened us with arrest if we did not comply.
Rising Tide activists dropped a 25 ft high banner off the Environmental Protection Agency in Boston. Image below, and the rest of the story here.
Michael Jackson is dead and the entire world has something to say. MJ broke race barriers without a doubt. "He broke race barriers in the pop world which opened doors in the political world - he crossed over and back. He morphed. When the signs started to become clear, that the boy wasn’t right, that he was too isolated, underdeveloped, imperfect - we laughed, we stared, we assumed. He was our first boyfriend before he became our crazy cousin - always family," writes Adrienne Maria Brown, of the Ruckus Society.
Since yesterday, I have felt like that I am a part of a huge collective grieving process, watching folks gather FlashMob-style in London to dance to Billie Jean, watching people sing Rock With You at the Apollo Theater in unison, checking out folks post their favorite MJ songs and talk about their cheesy MJ childhood moments, even seeing folks in the markets breaking out with some 80s dance moves! It made me feel good to be alive, it made me stop and wish I could go dance Thriller in the streets, made me want to sing out with some MaMaSeMaMaSaMaMaCuSa! I have only felt once like this for a musician, and that was for the Chicana music pioneer, Selena!
As a follow up to the piece we directed you to that Daniel McGowen wrote for the Huffington Post, here's an article from the LA Times about a lawsuit the ACLU is filing regarding the Control Management Units, one of which Daniel is being held in. Here's the beginning of the piece, click on the link at the end to go to the LA Times to read the rest:
ACLU suit to challenge isolation prisons
Civil rights activists question the transfer of inmate Sabri Benkahla to a federal facility that drastically limits outside contact.
By Dean Kuipers
June 18, 2009
Civil rights activists plan to file a lawsuit today contesting the transfer of a Tunisian American prisoner to a federal prison facility that some inmates have dubbed "Little Guantanamo."
The suit by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of Sabri Benkahla could be the first of many challenging the secretive units, which drastically restrict outside contact.
Benkahla was transferred to the Communications Management Unit in Terre Haute, Ind., in 2007, eight months after his conviction on perjury and obstruction of justice charges in a terrorism case. Prosecutors contended that he lied to a grand jury about his contact with an alleged Al Qaeda fundraiser and other terrorism suspects.
The Terre Haute unit opened in 2006. Another began operations last year at the federal prison in Marion, Ill.
read the rest here.
Ever since Obama nominated Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, the right wing has attacked her with racist and sexist remarks, part of a coordinated strategy to tarnish her credibility. Sotomayor is a Puerto Riqueña from the Bronx, and if confirmed, would be the Court's first Latina justice, and its third female justice.
I created a poster to celebrate pride in this historic nomination in collaboration with Presente.org, a national online organizing effort that strengthens the political voice of Latino communities.
The attacks against Sotomayor from the conservatives have been vicious. On his show, Limbaugh said that nominating Sotomayor was like nominating David Duke, former Grand Wizard of the KKK. He also said, “Here you have a racist — you might want to soften that, and you might want to say a reverse racist."
Spread this poster far and wide, download it, and invite your friends and family to do the same. Hearings on Judge Sotomayor’s confirmation are scheduled for July 13. That means we only have a month to get this poster distributed and reproduced everywhere—on web sites, in street windows, and on office walls.
The anarchist newspaper Onward!, which ran from early 2000-2002, is now digitized and up online here. A couple Justseeds artists were involved in the paper at different points, but there's no images archived on the site yet.
Tech savvy anti-authoritarians have set up a cluster of servers for anonymous testimony and coverage of the demonstrations in Iran from inside and outside of the country, Anonymous Iran. This looks similar to the kind of tech people have been working on to allow Chinese labor organizers to communicate with each other outside China's internet control mechanisms.
Here's another short missive from Iran:
Things were extremely difficult and violent yesterday...I went, just to be a witness, and having seen what I did, I am deeply hurt and afraid for all the poor souls who will lose their lives or loved ones...the sense of shared pain on the streets is phenomenal. People care about each other, which gives a sparkle of hope in this dark dark moment.
Here is something two musician friends have put together, although Youtube is filtered here (like so many other sites) and I cannot access it myself.
We got this report in the mail the other day from independent writer, journalist and photographer David Bacon. It's a nice short piece, and a great photo essay. Bacon has a great site of his photos and stories, you can check it out here. He also recently released a new book on Beacon Press, Illegal People: How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants. You can find more about the book here.
NUEVO LAREDO, MEXICO - 05JUNE09 - The people of the settlement of Blanca Navidad, on the outskirts of Nuevo Laredo, just south of the U.S. border. This community was created by workers looking for land to build a place to live, and was founded on December 22, 2004. They called it Blanca Navidad (White Christmas) because they say it snowed in the desert on the day they arrived to begin building their homes. The barrio is part of a network of radical communities on the border, and throughout Mexico, sympathetic with the Zapatista movement. Most of its 1000 residents work in the maquiladoras.
Local authorities tried to force people to move and even brought out bulldozers to tear the homes down. On February 1, 2006 people were forced from their houses, often with just clothes and blankets. In their efforts to recover their community, residents were supported by Nuevo Laredo's progressive daily newspaper, El Mañana, and by the Coalition for Justice in the Maquiladoras. After a visit from a delegation of Zapatista leaders in La Otra Campaña, "people began to realize that, in reality, Blanca Navidad still existed as a community," says community leader Blanca Enriquez. During the May, 2006 government attack on the town of Atenco outside Mexico City, Blanca Navidad residents demonstrated in their support, and briefly shut down the "Free Trade Bridge" connecting Nuevo Laredo to Laredo, Texas.
Although the barrio still has no electricity and sewage service, residents were able to force authorities to provide drinking water. Today Blanca Navidad has a community garden, a tortilleria, a community clinic, and activists who practice alternative medicine.
This is an amazing collection of images from Iran over the past couple of days. It is extremely interesting how important these images have become to people on he ground, and the extent to which the regime has tried to suppress the creation of images and documentation of what is happening in Iran, to the extent of beating foreign journalists. It seems that now is the most important time for us to keep our eyes on Iran, to keep watching, paying attention, and aiding the movements for social transformation in the ways we are able....
According to our friends there: "These are photos that are being photocopied and handed out, held up at the demonstrations... they show the extent of repression and violence, mainly by the Bassiji...who here are finally taking some form of visual representation to the world, although the reality of their presence is beyond description."
1: A supporter of defeated Iranian presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi shouts slogans during riots in Tehran on June 13, 2009. Hardline incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared winner by a landslide in Iran's hotly-disputed presidential vote, triggering riots by opposition supporters and furious complaints of cheating from his defeated rivals. (OLIVIER LABAN-MATTEI/AFP/Getty Images)
3: Protesters set fires in a main street in Tehran, Iran in the early hours of Monday, June 15, 2009. Iran's supreme leader ordered Monday an investigation into allegations of election fraud, marking a stunning turnaround by the country's most powerful figure and offering hope to opposition forces who have waged street clashes to protest the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. (AP Photo)
This just in from our comrades in Mexico City:
Urgent denunciation: aggression against VOCAL member, David Venegas
(Spanish Translation Below)
This Wednesday, June 17, at approximately 1:30 in the afternoon, the encampment set up in the Zocalo of the city of Oaxaca by the Family and Friends of the APPO Political Prisoners was attacked by a group of around 40 hired hoodlums (porros), well-known in the city as a paramilitary force that committed violent actions beginning with the
Oaxaca insurrection of 2006.
The attack occurred only minutes after several APPO members, including some of the teachers and VOCAL member David Venegas Reyes, started to give a press conference at the encampment to make their position clear about the accusations against David made by Hugo Jarquín, leader of the “8 Regions” organization.
Several days beforehand Hugo Jarquín accused David Venegas Reyes of being a “mercenary” and an “infiltrated agent” responsible for organizing “acts of vandalism” last June 14. Jarquín stated that he would form “shock groups” to put an end to the “insecurity generated by ‘El Alebrije’ and his followers.” Jarquín’s organization, “8 Regions,” and the FALP had withdrawn from the encampment on June 15 supposedly
because of their disagreement with our comrades, but they really left because of the agreement they made with the killer Ulises Ruiz’s state government to destabilize the camp and provoke its removal.
Tehran - June 14, midnight.
The streets of Tehran are under siege. After this coup d'etat, people are remaining in the streets, although today there was severe repression and riot police everywhere. The word revolution is in everyone's mouths, and people are refusing to stay indoors, as the regime and police are asking them to. The fascist apparatus is coming on full force. Riot police are accompanied by Bassiji militants, huge men with beards, dressed in emblematic khaki pants and white button up shirts, with one-meter long wooden batons in hand, and colt pistols. These men, usually hidden on a 'normal' day in the streets to monitor behavior and the dress code, are now working at full force with the police, especially at night.
Today we mostly stayed indoors, although there were some gatherings further into the city. Because Ahmadinejad was holding an official victory rally, where thousands had gathered (although as usual, many were probably brought in by bus from the outskirts of the city), people in opposition were encouraged to stay away. This is mostly because meeting face to face with these people would lead to violent clashes, and more deaths. Although there are no official figures, there have been some deaths. We have heard that 11 were killed yesterday, but there is no way to know.
[photo taken from Indybay.org]
THERE IS NO REPRODUCTIVE CHOICE WITHOUT PROVIDERS!!!
Please read this article about George Tiller, if you aren't already familiar with the terrorism that abortion providers face....
(they even used one of my graphics!)
My colleague Ryan Burns has been hard at work on an ambitious project of late. It's to be a massive reliquary of the Congo mineral wars; a huge slab of excavated central African soil, displayed as if it were an archaeological find shipped to a research center in a massive crate. The dig reveals layer upon layer of exploitation and devastation, destroyed forests, rent cultures, annihilated wildlife, and gruesome paramilitary struggle for control of the stream of minerals.... These minerals, hacked by hand from beneath the Congolese subsoil by teams of preteen miners, make their way through unscrupulous chains of corporate commerce into all our modern high-tech devices, our computers, our cellphones, blackberries, i-phones, x-boxes, playstations, anti-lock brakes, and so on, and so on.
We are all complicit in this, and the fact that I'm blogging about it is the ultimate irony. None of this dissemination of information is possible without the grim calculus of total destruction that has been wrought on the lands, life and people of the Democratic Republic of Congo during the past twenty years. Blood is on our hands.
Profane Relics will be on display at the Sea Change gallery in downtown Portland, Oregon, starting in July. More details coming soon.
Ex-Pinochet army conscript charged with folk singer Victor Jara's murder
José Adolfo Paredes Márquez tracked down to Chilean capital almost 36 years later
It was the atrocity which symbolised Chile's descent into dictatorship: soldiers used rifle butts to smash the hands of Victor Jara, a political activist and folk singer, so he could not play guitar. Then they shot him 44 times.
Yesterday, almost 36 years later, justice caught up with one of killers. José Adolfo Paredes Márquez, a former conscript in Augusto Pinochet's army, was charged with murder.
From another article online at IPSnews.net
"It is not our aim to chase down conscripts, I want to make that very clear. The conscripts formed part of the larger scheme of things, but they were the weakest and most vulnerable link, and cannot be held responsible. I am interested in the chiefs that gave the orders to execute Víctor Jara," said Nelson Caucoto, the lawyer for the Jara family.
Because of Victor Jara's influence, as an artist, was considered dangerous enough by the military junta, to be tortured and killed in the first few days of the golpe.
There is an incredible account of the last day Joan Jara saw her husband, the day of the military junta, in Chile:The Other September 11th, published by Ocean Books.
We are 5,000 — here in this little part of the city We are 5,000 — how many more will there be? In the whole city, and in the country 10,000 hands Which could seed the fields, make run the factories.
How much humanity — now with hunger, pain, panic and terror?
There are six of us — lost in space among the stars,
One dead, one beaten like I never believed a human could be so beaten.
The other four wanting to leave all the terror,
One leaping into space, other beating their heads against the wall
All with gazes fixed on death.
What horror the face of fascism causes!
The military carry out their plans with precision;
Blood is medals for them, Slaughter is the badge of heroism.
Oh my God — is this the world you created?
Was it for this, the seven days, of amazement and toil?
From Boing Boing.net.
The excellent work of Guatemala-based photojournalist James Rodriguez has been featured on BB a number of times before. The most recent photo-essay on his blog documents a protest march that took place a few days ago in the capital here, carried out by indigenous people from San Miguel Ixtahuacan, where the Canadian mining giant Goldcorp operates the Marlin Gold Mine. Background here on the mine, and Goldcorp's campaign of harassment and intimidation of indigenous residents.
A few meters down the road from the Canadian Embassy, one of the many Goldcorp billboards that can be found in Guatemala City read: "We invest in the dreams of a developing country."
Some residents of San Miguel Ixtahuacan identified the billboard and felt it was inappropriate due to the damage they have suffered from the mine's presence in their communities. Gradually, protestors began tearing little pieces as an expression of discontent with the mining company that has incited grave social conflicts. Dozens of people suddenly charged the billboard euphorically in a festive mood.
There's a lot of misinformation out there about legal rights and responsibilities in the digital era.
Teaching Copyright will require your students to think about their role in the online world and provide them with the legal framework they need to make informed choices about their online behavior.
This is especially disconcerting when it comes to information being shared with youth. Kids and teens are bombarded with messages from a myriad of sources that using new technology is high-risk behavior. Downloading music is compared to stealing a bicycle — even though many downloads are lawful. Making videos using short clips from other sources is treated as probably illegal — even though many such videos are also lawful.
This misinformation is harmful, because it discourages kids and teens from following their natural inclination to be innovative and inquisitive. The innovators, artists and voters of tomorrow need to know that copyright law restricts many activities but also permits many others. And they need to know the positive steps they can take to protect themselves in the digital sphere. In short, youth don't need more intimidation — what they need is solid, accurate information.
EFF's Teaching Copyright curriculum was created to help teachers present the laws surrounding digital rights in a balanced way.
Teaching Copyright provides lessons and ideas for opening your classroom up to discussion, letting your students express their ideas and concerns, and then guiding your students toward an understanding of the boundaries of copyright law.
In five distinct lessons, students are challenged to:
* Reflect on what they already know about copyright law.
* See the connection between the history of innovation and the history of copyright law.
* Learn about fair use, free speech, and the public domain and how those concepts relate to using materials created by others.
* Experience various stakeholders' interests and master the principles of fair use through a mock trial.
Chicago has a long, sad history of buffing graffiti brown, but now it seems that political murals are getting the same treatment. Last week, Alderman James Balcer (Ward 11) ordered that a mural in Bridgeport that that he disliked be painted over in the early morning without warning.
The mural had been painted by Gabriel Villa who had worked on it for the duration of the Version Festival and was shocked to discover that the Graffiti Blasters had painted it brown this past Thursday morning. The Bridgeport Alderman did not contact the property owner, nor the artist before ordering the Blasters to erase what they even recognized and called public art. More so, the wall that the mural was painted upon was owned by the mother of Ed Marszewski, a festival organizer.
After being grilled by the press today Alderman Balcer came up with several reasons for his decision -- including that the artist did not have a permit to make the mural. Yet, permits are not needed for private buildings.
The real reason for his decision likely resided in the content of the mural which featured police surveillance cameras that are omnipresent in the neighborhood.
Ald. James Balcer was quoted saying, "You know I don't know if there was hidden gang meaning behind it with the cross, with the skull, with the deer, with the police camera's. Was there something anti-police about it? I don't know what's in his mind. That's how I viewed it."
Feel free to contact him and express your disgust with his decision:
3659 S. Halsted St.
Chicago, IL 60609
Check out the news video to hear more quotes from the artists and Alderman Balcer.
Some friends in Barcelona decided they were "fed up with the crisis, were tired of the fear that mass media communicate everyday, and sick of suffering in silence at home, [so they] decided... to go dancing at an unemployment office.":
Their statement (rough translation):
Today, Thursday April 30, we held the party Inem (Unemployment Office).
We had been preparing since the last few weeks. It was truly enjoyable! 40 people appeared at 12:00 on the Inem branch located in the street Sepúlveda de Barcelona. There we waited in the usual atmosphere of these places at this time: a mixture of stationary people (local and foreign), tired of waiting and wasting time, bored, angry and disgusted faces, full of fear created by the crisis. Less than five minutes of messing around and dancing have been required to change their crisis faces into smiling and cheerful faces. Some joined with us in the dance, and others applauded. All, without exception, have appreciated this wave of light and color, this outburst of joy and enjoy places where you least expect it: in an office job in crisis.
Our comrades in Mexico City just sent this along:
FREEDOM AND JUSTICE FOR ATENCO!!
By Heriberto Salas and Salvador Díaz
(Spanish Translation at the bottom)
On May 3, 2006, the sun rose with a dark stain around the Belisario
Dominguez market in Texcoco: the state and local police had posted a guard
around the spot where flower growers had sold their flowers for as long as
we can remember. The Peoples’ Front in Defense of the Land (FPDT), which
had participated in a dialogue with Enrique Peña Nieto’s government had
counseled and defended the flower growers. The day
before, the state government had promised them and the FPDT that they
would withdraw their police forces.
At 6 o’clock in the morning, when we met up with men, women, and
children carrying baby’s breath, chrysanthemums, and spikenards, joined in
their chants, and helped them set up their stands on the curb, we never
imagined that we would go through some of the cruelest, most ferocious and
heartless repression unleashed in the contemporary history of Mexico.
Yet the flower growers, the FPDT, and the people fell into a shameless
trap of the so-called “golden boy,” who in fact is a true Caligula or
“golden tyrant,” Enrique Peña Nieto, supported by then prosti-president
Vicente Fox Quezada, and the complicity of the PRD lapdogs of Texcoco, all
defenders of a barbarous State whose enemies are the most
Inkworks, one of our favorite worker-owned print shops, has just release issue #3 of their Hot Off the Presses newsletter. And this issue's artists of the month are Justseeds own Jesus Barraza and Melanie Cervantes!! You can see the entire issue here, jump straight to Melanie and Jesus here, or check out a small write up on Mayday and Mayday posters here.
A friend told me about this artist Knaan, a Somali-Canadian who recently made this video. I found his work and political views to be really provocative and interesting. He was brought up while discussing piracy and the recent hostage situations off the coast of Somalia.
I was referencing Roger Peet's previous post. Somali Pirates Twist the Knife, about pirate demands for money to be used to clean up coastal pollution. I was then referred to the following article You are Being Lied to About Pirates on Huffington Post, which states:
Everyone agrees they were ordinary Somalian fishermen who at first took speedboats to try to dissuade the dumpers and trawlers, or at least wage a 'tax' on them. They call themselves the Volunteer Coastguard of Somalia - and it's not hard to see why. In a surreal telephone interview, one of the pirate leaders, Sugule Ali, said their motive was "to stop illegal fishing and dumping in our waters... We don't consider ourselves sea bandits. We consider sea bandits [to be] those who illegally fish and dump in our seas and dump waste in our seas and carry weapons in our seas." William Scott would understand those words.
It appears that mass media and governments are using labels like "Pirates" to be dismissive of their demands and context. Labeling people and groups with the methods, or tactics, they use to arrive at their goals is incredibly effective in disassociating them from the conditions that lead them to act. If they are just pirates, then they just want booty. Nothing more, nothing less. The same dynamic is created when people are labeled "terrorist", the demands or impetus that leads one to act isn't important at all. They are isolated and demonized. Institutional terror by militaries or piracy by looting public wealth in crisis is not labeled as such. Its a problem of the general perspective, that leads to lack of empathy and understanding. I think its necessary to acknowledge this difference in the work we do, and to communicate the depth of these circumstances to avoid replicating mass media narratives.
Without further ado you can read the article below or by going to Huffington Post
SDS Milwaukee continues to amaze. Below is a post detailing a recent victory to make UWM clothing apparel sweatshop free and how creative resistance and perseverance aided the campaign.
"The University of Wisconsin Milwaukee recently signed on to the Worker Rights Consortium, pledging to participate in the Designated Suppliers Program, a set of standards which intends to guarantee living wages and the right to organize to the garment workers who make university apparel. The University's letter was the culmination of over two years of student organizing, and it made UWM the 46th university to sign such a pledge.
Getting UWM signed on to the program was one of the initial projects adopted by the Milwaukee SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) when it formed in Fall of 2006. Since then, SDS members have met with reluctant administrators, organized petition drives, held protest rallies, expanded membership, and chalked the sidewalks of the campus on an almost weekly basis – even in freezing weather.
In the week before the victory, SDS sponsored a traveling workers’ tour, a sweat-free fashion show, a student/labor rally, and a sweatshop clothesline display outside the Chancellors office window.
The rally, held outside of the chancellor’s office, was initially expected to be a protest. However, a few hours after the sweatshop clothesline was installed, the administration called group members promising to sign the DSP pledge, turning the protest into a celebration.
Members of labor rights groups, and local unions joined university administrators, and student activists in celebrating the victory, while also focusing on the many battles ahead, which include Milwaukee’s Paid Sick Days initiative, the DREAM Act, and Employee Free Choice Act."
Just read this morning that the Terror Enhancement for the RNC8 has been dropped.
The RNC8 are a group of Minneapolis people that were organizing protests for the Republican National Convention last year. Their arrest and charges are seen as persistence of the criminalization of dissent in the USA.
Learn more about the RNC8 at their support website Friends of the RNC8. Organizing dissent is not conspiracy!
Gaertner Drops Terrorism Enhancements, Continues Criminalization of Dissent April 9, 2009
In the surest sign yet of the power of post-RNC court solidarity, Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner has dropped two of four unfounded charges against the RNC 8. Caving to months and months of public pressure, Gaertner dropped one count of Conspiracy to Commit Riot in Furtherance of Terrorism, and one count of Conspiracy to Commit Criminal Damage to Property in Furtherance of Terrorism.
“We are heartened by the fact that our supporters have won this concession,” said defendant Nathanael Secor. “It’s taken a tremendous show of strength and solidarity over the past seven months.”
Originally facing a single charge–Conspiracy to Riot in Furtherance of Terrorism–Gaertner’s office added three additional charges against the eight defendants in December of last year. Now, two of those charges have been dropped, clearly demonstrating that all the charges are a matter of political maneuvering, not a reasoned look at the evidence.
A friend brought this to my attention in an email using the title of the post as the subject.
It's not just philandering husbands who fear Google Street View's roving cameras; the residents of a wealthy British village have taken to the streets as well. Literally.
Villagers in Buckinghamshire formed a "human chain" to stop one of Google's vans from taking pictures for the Street View feature of Google Maps and Google Earth. One particularly irked villager stopped the van before rousing his neighbors to join him in the street.
His beef? Thieving poors should not be allowed to ogle his valuables! Here's how he put it to the Times of London:
Mr Jacobs said: “This is an affluent area. We’ve already had three burglaries locally in the past six weeks. If our houses are plastered all over Google it’s an invitation for more criminals to strike. I was determined to make a stand, so I called the police.”
The van made a peaceful U-turn and left.
The story illuminates an important truth about privacy in the modern era: It's not so much an illusion as a precious commodity, bought above all with the time and energy the rich have (or hire) in abundance.
Unfortunately, most people can't afford nearly so much privacy as the citizens of Buckinghamshire. (One wonders how the police and driver would have responded if a similar mob had formed in a poor inner city neighborhood.) But don't let that stop you from setting up a neighborhood Google Watch group if you have the time and inclination.
Rich people of the world unite!
There's people out there that want your stuff!
As for the rest of us without much to steal, we hope to intervene in
other ways, check out Street With a View.
A group of approximately 60 people occupied the New School today. The University and NYPD responded with force, arrested and have held many of the participants overnight.
The following story can be found on the NY Times City Room, aaccompanied by videos shot at during the events. At the moment of writing this there is a "support" rally being held outside of New School President Bob Kerrey's house, in Manhattan.
(Photos by Andrew Hinderaker)
Updated, 10:37 p.m. | About 20 police officers wearing helmets and carrying batons, plastic shields and pepper spray entered a New School building at 65 Fifth Avenue around 11 a.m. on Friday, arresting 19 protesters who had occupied it as part of a determined protest aimed at the university’s president, Bob Kerrey.
From the G20 in London (thanks Paolo!)
Chris from 56A Infoshop in London just sent me a hilarious conversation going on over at UK Indymedia regarding a poster which re-purposes my Durruti Column Celebrate People's History poster. Anarchist Militias, indeed.
I read an article a few days ago on the International Solidarity Movement's website about an old aquaintence of mine, Tristan, who was critically injured on Friday March 13th by Israeli troops during protests against against construction of the annexation wall through the West Bank village of Ni’lin. He was hit in the forehead by a new type of high velocity, extended range teargas projectile, and has been transferred to Tel Hashomer hospital, near Tel Aviv with severe head injuries. A resident from Ni’lin was shot in the leg with live ammunition.
There will be a demonstration in NYC
Friday, March 20, 4-6pm
Solidarity with Tristan Anderson and the People of Palestine
Vigil at the Israeli Consulate
800 2nd Ave (btn 42nd&43rd St)
Please join us in our vigil to show our solidarity with Tristan and the people of Palestine.
I was listening to Democracy Now! yesterday and heard mention of this anti-war campaign:
Our Spring Break is a student and youth initiated and led alternative spring break. It is the foundation of last year's Our Spring Break, showing that we still march forth to end the illegal occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, we are working towards ending the use of torture by the US in Guantanamo, and we advocate a shift towards a new foreign policy that is based on human rights and justice for all peoples of the world. We strive for a better world with the motto: "Our Spring Break Will End Your War"
As a result of some violations of building codes the Rhizome Collective will have to vacate the premises of their warehouse in East Austin, TX. The building houses a handful of people and many incredible projects like the Inside Books Project, Austin Food not Bombs, KPWR, and Bikes Across Borders.
I spoke with a friend from the Inside Books Project Tuesday night. He told me about the circumstances leading to their eviction and listed off plenty of work that needs to get done if they are to move out of the space by the date the City says they will seal the building.
The Rhizome warehouse was always a destination in my visits to Austin over the last decade and its a serious loss for the radical community of Austin and our network. If you can help out financially monetary donations to help the Rhizome Collective can be given here. The various projects have sites where you can donate as well. The Inside Books Project has existed due to the work of some incredibly dedicated folks and they could use any help you can offer, specifically:
+ a low-rent or donated space which is central and accessible to all volunteers
+ temporary storage until we find a new space
+ monetary donations (as we will probably not find as inexpensive rent as the Rhizome offered)
+ your overall support.
We will also need help with preparing a mailing of thousands of packages waiting to be sent on Thursday, March 19 and packing/moving through the weekend
Below is the Rhizome's latest press release.
Justseeds friend and AREA Chicago editor Daniel Tucker has just published an interesting post on the Art:21 blog. You can read his post "A better 'we' through art?" here. Here's a couple paragraphs to get you started:
Last Wednesday, while speaking on a panel discussion entitled “Relocating Art and its Public” at the CAA conference here in LA, I was compelled to think through the work that I care about and am involved with as it relates to audiences and participants. I realized I could not clearly talk about any of this without spelling out what kind of relationships I wanted to have in this world, in a broader sense. That is not to say that the work I’ve been involved in has always succeeded in creating those relationships which I desire and want others to have. But the work that I do is so informed by a political concern about people’s potential to self-actualize in a world which stifles that possibility that I have to be up front about it. This is how I intend to address the question posed on this blog.
I concluded my presentation by recounting the provocation put forth to me by my friend Chris Carlsson in San Francisco: that the challenge for those opposed to capitalism and in favor of a different (”anticapitalist”) organizing principal for life and economies is to take the “anti” part of our perspective and make it into something that we can all strive for together. A further elaboration would be that a challenge for anticapitalist cultural work is to articulate and represent a life better than the competitive and commodified social relations that currently dominate how most of us relate to one another. One step in that direction would be to create contexts that allow us to see our relationships in ways that both benefit from our diverse experiences and insights needed to face everyday challenging situations, and that also allow us to be powerful enough together through organization so we can tackle the big stuff we all face. I honestly think that most of us barely know what free feels like or looks like. We need each other to figure out how to know how to get there. In the last eight years, most of the projects that I have been involved with have had some component that was about articulating a different kind of “we” or collective toward the ends described above. Admittedly, they are on a pretty micro scale. To the extent to which any transformed social relations are actually realized, the impact beyond the people directly involved is limited, rendering it primarily symbolic and experimental.
read the rest here. Give him some feedback, too.
The fight over intellectual property rights, and the demand to keep our ideas in the commons, is one of the most important struggles we face. The Pirate Bay, the world's largest torrent tracker site, is on trial in Sweden, fighting for the ability of all of us to freely share, use and reuse information. Their trial, which they've dubbed "Spectrial," has begun, and they are using the trial as a forum (within the "'spectacle") to discuss intellectual property, copyright and piracy issues. Follow what's going on at their website trial.thepiratebay.org. For those who are new to internet filesharing, piracy, torrenting, and the revolution of peers, check out these links:
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Steal this Film
Lawrence Lessig's Free Culture
Anti-Copyright on Wikipedia
Friends in Pittsburgh recently sent along an article from the Pittsburgh City Paper about Shepard Fairey sending a cease and desist letter and threatening to sue a local designer. Once again Fairey gives us a road map of capitalism in motion. His commodification of ideas and knowledge leads directly to an intense need to protect the alleged ownership of that knowledge. From Disney to Hollywood to Fairey, the entertainment industry in this country is built on the seizing of ideas, images and technology for one's own, using this material to accumulate wealth, and then using the weight of the state (the legal system) to bludgen anyone smaller than you that attempts the same process.
March 5, 2009 Steelerbaby Blues BY CHRIS YOUNG
Shepard Fairey is the creator of the iconic Obama "Hope" poster. He's been admired by critics and guerilla artists, and just weeks ago he was the subject of a profile on CBS Sunday Morning. But Pittsburgh graphic designer Larkin Werner has a different perspective. To him, Fairey is the guy who is "picking on a baby."
The baby in question is Steelerbaby, a blue-eyed kewpie doll clad in a knit black-and-gold uniform. Steelerbaby became an online hit -- he boasts more than 2,000 friends on Facebook -- after Werner created a Web site for the doll during the NFL playoffs in 2005. The following year, he started designing and selling Steelerbaby merchandise at the online store cafepress.com to satisfy demand for the doll Werner describes as "slightly creepy."
But early last month, Werner learned that Fairey's company, Obey Giant Art Inc., sent cafepress.com a cease-and-desist letter, informing the online store that Steelerbaby's merchandise marked with the word "Obey" was infringing on the artist's trademark.
The notice came as a surprise to Werner. For one thing, he says, Steelerbaby's line didn't pose much of a threat to Fairey. According to cafepress.com, Werner had made less than $70 in the previous three months for the sale of 16 items, 10 of which had "Obey" written on them.
But Werner says he's less concerned with the legal issue presented by the cease-and-desist letter -- he has no plans to fight Obey Giant Art about the trademark -- than he is with its hypocritical nature. Fairey, he argues, has bolstered his own career by appropriating images and infringing on the trademarks of others.
read the rest of the article here.
This is not something we do here on the blog, but I wanted to post this up for the people who have been organizing their asses off fighting a control unit prison in Illinois. Tamms Year Ten is the culmination of years of organizing to fight the torture happening at the Tamms super maximum security prison in southern Illinois. Beginning as a project where artists and family members wrote letters containing poetry to all the prisoners held at Tamms. A good example of how art can start a process that leads to real change, the simple gesture of writing the letters has turned into a full-blown political campaign, with a bill introduced to stop human rights abuses at Tamms.
Please take a minute, click this simple link, and sign the online petition. It's simple, and the more people that click, the more backbone the Representative that introduced the bill might have to follow through! Click here:
Our friends at PEEL Mag. just sent this over. A street artist and supporter just lost his apartment to fire, and needs any help he can get. I had an apt. in Chicago burn back in 2002, so I know how much this sucks. I hope he can bounce back...here's the info from PEEL:
This past weekend our long time friend and supporter Evoker lost his apartment to a fire. Everyone was OK, but a lot of his stuff was fire/smoke/water damaged, and he now has to find a new place to live. Evoker has been a friend of PEEL for several years and has been a pioneer in the sticker art community with his Urban Wallpaper project. His online gallery of stickers helped to gain exposure and recognition for the artform long before there were books dedicated to the medium of stickers. His efforts have assisted countless street artists to distribute their stickers all over the world through his sticker exchange. Back in the day exchanging our ban comic sans stickers through his Urban Wallpaper site (as well as a few others) inspired us to start PEELzine. He’s also a talented and dedicated artist and a great guy. We are grateful for the pioneering work he’s done to build the sticker art community and we would like to do what we can to support him in this difficult time. Through the month of March all sales from our online shop will be donated to Evoker to help him rebuild. If you would like to donate a piece of work, packs of stickers, etc. to be sold on the site with all proceeds going to Evoker, please send to the address below and include a note that it’s for Evoker. We’ll have a special gift (to be announced) for someone who donates work to support Evoker.
PEEL c/o Combs
3404 B Oliver Ave
Indianapolis IN 46241
Joel Kovel is a professor, and writer, working at Bard College, who was recently
notified that his contract will not be renewed. In the statement below he illustrates his political beliefs that he believes have led to his termination.
In January, 1988, I was appointed to the Alger Hiss Chair of Social
Studies at Bard College. As this was a Presidential appointment outside
the tenure system, I have served under a series of contracts. The last
of these was half-time (one semester on, one off, with half salary and
full benefits year-round), effective from July 1, 2004, to June 30,
2009. On February 7 I received a letter from Michèle Dominy, Dean of the
College, informing me that my contract would not be renewed this July 1
and that I would be moved to emeritus status as of that day. She wrote
that this decision was made by President Botstein, Executive
Vice-President Papadimitriou and herself, in consultation with members
of the Faculty Senate.
This document argues that this termination of service is prejudicial and
motivated neither by intellectual nor pedagogic considerations, but by
political values, principally stemming from differences between myself
and the Bard administration on the issue of Zionism. There is of course
much more to my years at Bard than this, including another controversial
subject, my work on ecosocialism (/The Enemy of Nature/). However, the
evidence shows a pattern of conflict over Zionism only too reminiscent
of innumerable instances in this country in which critics of Israel have
been made to pay, often with their careers, for speaking out. In this
instance the process culminated in a deeply flawed evaluation process
which was used to justify my termination from the faculty.
My friend Eric Triantafillou, a teacher, artist and designer in Chicago, has been following all the dialogue around the Shepard Fairey controversies, and wrote up the below piece in response. Check it out:
Shepard Fairey: Sideshow; Shibboleth
I’ve been following the debates around Shepard Fairey for the past couple years and finally decided to respond with some of my own thoughts. I want to start by briefly mentioning an encounter I had with Fairey in San Francisco back in 2000.
It was during the height of the dot-com induced housing crisis that was forcing thousands of (mostly Latino) residents out of the Mission District. One night some friends and I were out pasting up posters for an anti-gentrification rally at City Hall. On the vertical supports of the Highway 101 overpass were Fairey’s long red banners with the Andre/Obey/star motif in a circle. The circle was the same size as the round black posters we were putting up, so we pasted one on each banner. They looked really tight together. I didn’t realize it at the time, but a lone Shepard Fairey was working just few steps ahead of us. He must have seen our handy work because minutes later he pulled up alongside us in his SUV, honking and yelling “Hey! What the fuck?!” I was thrilled. I had always thought Fairey was a sellout and now was my chance to confront him on common ground. I detested him less because he “steals” other people’s images and more because he seemed to have no regard for the spaces and places he puts his stuff up. Here he was, obliviously working away in the middle of a neighborhood that was socially hemorrhaging. To him it was just another space, an empty canvas on which to point out what advertising had long since proven. So add to the gripes that his work whitewashes history (time) by unhitching social struggle from its representational forms, the fact that it also has no relation, except on a purely formal level, to the space it occupies. Space for Fairey is simply a backdrop. When we pressed him about this he said that all the space around us is there for the taking and that we, as fellow street artists, should know better than to paste over someone else’s work; that we all know how much time and labor goes into making and putting it up. Aside from his idea of street art as a kind of Manifest Destiny, we agreed that it’s hard work but said that it also requires a degree of mental labor, and maybe his work would really take root if it reflected something about it’s environment, like a connection to an existing social movement; a commitment to something greater than himself. He didn’t get it. Instead of haranguing him further, we left to finish our work.
My interest in recounting this moment is not as a window into Shepard Fairey’s self-understanding but my own at the time and how it’s changed since. So much of what has been said by Fairey’s detractors is about questioning his intentions or about holding him personally accountable. It’s been said in various ways, and it sounds like many of us agree, that Shepard Fairey is a symptom of a far deeper malady. I think if we look at Fairey as a symptom rather than a cause, as Josh did in his post, it helps reveal how our discontent with the system, this includes the histories of struggle that Fairey poaches from, is made part of the dominant ideology. I think these discussions would benefit from addressing how the socio-economic system we all live under is able to reproduce the Shepard Faireys of the world AND his dissenters (us: Left artists), generation after generation, without a serious challenge to its hegemony. Here’s how Josh finishes his post:
“His work will only be successful (at more than making money) when he cites his source materials and tries to cut through the amnesiac haze of our society instead of adding to it. When a Fairey wheatpaste on the street becomes not an advertisement for his clothing line but a site for arguing over how we fight and struggle in this world today, I'll be the first one to send people out to look at it and argue about it.”
As far as I can tell, Shepard Fairey’s practices have managed to generate a pretty vibrant conversation on this site and elsewhere. It remains to be seen if these arguments stay mired in issues of fair-use, theft, and Fairey’s self-promotional motivations, or develop into more fundamental questions about “how we fight and struggle in this world today.” I would add that a big part of “fighting” and “struggling” is thinking. I can only hope these conversations expand to include questions about our own political consciousness.
In that spirit…
Dara passed along this LA Times story about organized attacks on advertising in Paris. It's reminiscent of the actions of StopPub from the early 2000's, where they would organize times to go into the Paris subway system and destroy all the adverts...
In Paris, an anti-ad insurgency
Activists opposed to billboards invite police to rallies where they tag the offending signs, seeking a day in court.
By Sebastian Rotella and Audrey Bastide
7:33 PM PST, January 31, 2009
Reporting from Paris -- Over the centuries, the French have cultivated the fine art of rebellion.
The list of targets encompasses tyrants, wars, colonialism and, above all, capitalism in its many manifestations. The latest enemy may seem unlikely: billboards.
The Dismantlers, as a nationwide group of anti-ad crusaders call themselves, aren't violent or loud or clandestine. In fact, they invite the police to protest rallies where they deface signs. With a copywriter's flair, one of their slogans warns: "Attention! Avert your eyes from ads: You risk being very strongly manipulated." The goal of the Dismantlers is to get arrested, argue the righteousness of their cause in court and, you guessed it, gain publicity.
"We challenge the mercantile society that destroys all human relationships, professional relationships, health, the environment," said Alexandre Baret, 35, a founder of the group. "It's a message that proposes to attack advertising as the fuel of this not very healthy society."
Despite the stick-it-to-the-man rhetoric, there wear neckties and briefcases in the crowd at an evening rally here a while back. Part-time insurgents had come from work for the gathering in the Place Malesherbes, an elegant, tree-lined plaza graced by statues of the author Alexandre Dumas and his musketeer hero D'Artagnan, one of literature's most irrepressible swashbucklers.
The 80-odd demonstrators, looking bohemian and stylish, listened to Baret set the ideological stage. The red-bearded schoolteacher and father of four explained that he doesn't want to abolish advertising, just limit signs to no more than 1.2 feet by 1.6 feet. The current wall-size dimensions are obtrusive and oppressive, he said.
Today the Associated Press threatened to sue Fairey. "The Associated Press has determined that the photograph used in the poster is an AP photo and that its use required permission," the AP's director of media relations, Paul Colford, said in a statement. "AP safeguards its assets and looks at these events on a case-by-case basis. We have reached out to Mr. Fairey's attorney and are in discussions. We hope for an amicable solution." You can read story here.
As someone who has criticized both Fairey and the Copyright monster (which does little for artists but tons for corporations), I have mixed feelings about this. Here are some points I want to share:
- Fairey rarely credits his sources, which is problematic. You can read an earlier post by Josh MacPhee, here. In the past, those who have critiqued this did not have the legal nor financial means to sue him. Now he may be getting sued by the big guys. This is something he could have avoided if he were to have credited his sources. He has a team working with him, it's not impossible, its the right thing to do.
- Copyright laws work in the favor of the corporate elite. So what is happening to Fairey is bound to affect us all as artists, in negative ways. My friend Gan Golan said it best, "If Fairey gets sued by AP it could set a precedent that is harmful for all artists who use photographic imagery that appear news media. It is bad for parody artists and satirists. It is bad for all artists who re-appropriate and reinterpret imagery of any kind.
- Fairey loves to rip off the art of people who are part of the counter culture, many times they are people of color, or groups who have fought for social justice, or radicals who have fought against their own countries. In my opinion, this is commodification. The fact that he feels entitled to do this points at his white privilege and white entitlement. When you rip off Cuban artists, Chicano artists, even groups like the Black Panthers - and you fail to give credit - that to me is an excercise of white privilege. Now, the person who took the original photograph is a Latino, and from his commentary, it sounds like he is a working class Latino.
- The original photographer, Mannie Garcia, said this. "This is not about me making money off this, it's about recognition. I made the most iconic image of our time, and I'd like it to make a difference, not make me money. I'm a blue collar photographer - I am out there on the grind every day. I spend more energy looking for work than doing work. I just want Shepard Fairey to say "Alright, you're the guy. Thank you." See full story
- The whole monster that is copyright infrigement works in favor of corporate America. But let's be clear that this is not a case of Corporate America vs. Street Artist. Fairey regularly consults for corporations, and he has done some campaigns in which he outright steals revolutionary imagery to use for capitalist agenda's. So again, this is about an artist who loves to with corporations. See this really sad example.
- Fairey threatened to sue Baxtor Orr for parodying his work - which is baffling to me
- And finally, the folks repping Fairey in his legal case are people I align with. "He's hired Anothony Falzone, a lawyer and executive director of the Fair Use Project at Stanford University. Falzone is also the heir apparent to Lawrence Lessig, the famed Stanford copyright law professor and founder of Creative Commons, the movement that encourages creators to modify copyright terms in order to increase the amount of creativity (cultural, educational, and scientific content) in the commons." I am a MAJOR proponent of Creative Commons, in fact, the new book I worked on with Josh MacPhee, Reproduce & Revolt, is licensed under Creative Commons, and it includes work by Fairey himself.
So these are my thoughts...some contradictory yes, but it's important to see this from the perspective of a woman of color, artist, activist, propagandist, agitator... my opinion is in formation, and I'm open to hearing other's perspective on this.
My friend Jean's brother is in Damascus and I thought people may be interested in hearing an account from someone from the states visiting the region.
His blog is called Abu Wilyam
Jean's intro is in the extended entry.
Last year on Aug. 28, eight Austin activists traveled north in a rented white van to join thousands of protesters in St. Paul, Minn., for the Republican National Convention. In the trailer behind them were shields homemade from traffic barrels – cut in half, painted black, and fitted with Plexiglas windows. The shields mimic police riot gear and are often used in "black blocs," a method of street protesting with origins in Germany that became prominent stateside at the 1999 Seattle World Trade Organization protests, during which a black bloc caused property damage to various businesses. The black bloc is sort of like the punk rock version of protest, and its alluring combination of direct action and danger similarly attracts mostly young, white men.
This story was published in The Olympian on January 14, 2009:
Mixed-martial-arts champion charged in olympia wa. graffiti case
By Jeremy Pawloski
OLYMPIA — Prosecutors have charged Olympia mixed-martial-arts champion and avowed anarchist Jeff Monson with first-degree malicious mischief based on photographs published in a December edition of ESPN The Magazine that
showed him spray-painting an anarchist symbol on the state Capitol, court papers state. A warrant for Monson’s arrest was filed today in Thurston County Superior Court. Monson, 37, is charged with first-degree malicious mischief, a Class B felony carrying a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.
The graffiti cost $19,000 to clean up, court papers state.
Police have sought the people responsible for spray-painting graffiti on columns on the north side of the Capitol on Nov. 26. The graffiti included anarchy symbols, a peace symbol and phrases such as “no war” and “no poverty.”
Our friend Marco delli Santi from Rome's House of Love and Dissent just sent over this design he created, he's planning on printing them out of mirror sticker paper and putting them up around Italy. If you're interested in doing that as well, you can download the file here.
I was recently sent this article about the anarchist presence during the riots in Oakland. It's nicely written and I think articulates some clear points that are useful in talking about productive intersections of a largely white far Left and mobilized, angry, working class communities of color. The uprising in Oakland seems likely to be only the beginning of increased unrest in this country as the economy tanks and repression grows, so it's good to see people beginning to articulate arguments around issues that are bound to come up as we try to build multi-racial coalitions and organizing models around real political change. Check it out:
Oakland on Fire
Anarchists, Solidarity, and New Possibilities in the Oakland Rebellion
originally published on Counterpunch.org
By Kara N. Tina
"I'm sorry my car was burned but the issue is very upsetting."
-Ken Epstein, assistant editor of the Oakland Post, who was finishing an article about Grant's death, watched from the 12th story of his office at 14th and Franklin streets as his 2002 Honda CR-V disintegrated in a roar of flames (Oakland Tribune)
The murder of Oscar Grant by Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) police officer Johannes Mehserle early New Year's morning sent a wave of grief throughout the Bay Area and reminded all that racism and police violence continue to be endemic components of US society. During the following days, that pain transformed into overflowing anger as multiple videos of the execution recorded by witnesses emerged on the internet and in the media. One week later on January 7, over a thousand people from diverse communities across Oakland and the Bay Area gathered to show their anger and be in the presence of others feeling similar grief. This hastily planned rally shut down the Fruitvale BART station where the shooting took place as speaker after speaker addressed the crowd. Without any plan or organization, the vast majority of those who patiently listened to speakers for over two hours took the demonstration into the streets with a spirited march that made its way towards downtown as the sun set.
By Jenka Soderberg
Co-Editor-International Middle East Media Center
US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, in introducing a bill
supporting the Israeli attack on Gaza, that passed unanimously by voice
vote in the US Senate Thursday, "I ask any of my colleagues to imagine
that happening here in the United States. Rockets and mortars coming
from Toronto in Canada, into Buffalo New York. How would we as a
Israel: Boycott, Divest, Sanction
By Naomi Klein
This article is scheduled to appear in the January 26, 2009 edition of The Nation.
It's time. Long past time. The best strategy to end the increasingly bloody occupation is for Israel to become the target of the kind of global movement that put an end to apartheid in South Africa.
In July 2005 a huge coalition of Palestinian groups laid out plans to do just that. They called on "people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era." The campaign Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions--BDS for short--was born.
Every day that Israel pounds Gaza brings more converts to the BDS cause, and talk of cease-fires is doing little to slow the momentum. Support is even emerging among Israeli Jews. In the midst of the assault roughly 500 Israelis, dozens of them well-known artists and scholars, sent a letter to foreign ambassadors stationed in Israel. It calls for "the adoption of immediate restrictive measures and sanctions" and draws a clear parallel with the antiapartheid struggle. "The boycott on South Africa was effective, but Israel is handled with kid gloves.... This international backing must stop."
Yet many still can't go there. The reasons are complex, emotional and understandable. And they simply aren't good enough. Economic sanctions are the most effective tools in the nonviolent arsenal. Surrendering them verges on active complicity. Here are the top four objections to the BDS strategy, followed by counterarguments.
Grafiteros spraypaint the municipal building, during the rally, with messages of solidarity for folks in Gaza, and Oaxaca's APPO.
There's a bit more background on recent events over on ZapaGringo.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the jury has returned from their deliberations and they have delivered the following verdict: we are fucked. Yes, fucked. The Earth is strapped down to a filthy bed in a back alley of some benighted slum and is having the guts ripped out of it by the forsaken human race. Let's examine a brief digest of current news that illustrates this problem, namely the problem of OUR BEING FUCKED.
It was recently the 20th anniversary of the death of Chico Mendes, the Brazilian rubbertapper who was murdered by a cattle rancher and his son for the crime of opposing rainforest clearance in Brazil's Acre region. Mendes' legacy is a network of what are known as "extractive reserves", where people can make a living from the rainforest without chopping it down. That living takes the form of tapping trees for rubber, collecting medicinal plants, and the like. Unfortunately, since the world rubber price has crashed, the tenants of the extractive reserves are now chopping down the forest to grow corn and soybeans and FUCKING SUGARCANE FOR YOUR GODDAMN BIOFUEL CARS. Economics trumps principles, as per usual. Of course it does. If you've got starving children to feed and there's a pristine rainforest right outside your backdoor, guess who loses?
Evo Morales, much vaunted defender of indigenous rights and Bolivian energy independence, opponent of neoliberal development schemes and water privatization, has agreed to permit oil exploration in 400,000 hectares of pristine rainforest in Bolivia's northeast. That oil is going to be used to earn hard currency to raise the standard of living for the vast number of impoverished Bolivians, the majority of whom are indigenous. If you've got starving citizens and a pristine rainforest in your northeast, guess who loses?
It's been 18 days since the Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip began, since that time there have been 883 deaths and sadly more than a third have been women and children (85 women and 284 children). It seems that the Israeli attacks on the Gaza population have been indiscriminate, missiles have fallen on homes and schools where many civilians have been pummeled. The world is witness to the countless atrocities that are happening, there have been protests all over the world, people expressing their outrage over the war crimes that are occurring. It is even more difficult to think that it is very well possible that Israel will face no consequences and all the countries crimes will go unpunished.
Yesterday the U.N. Human Rights Council issued a statement about the situation in Gaza, condemning Israel for "grave violations" of human rights. The statement said that the council "strongly condemns the ongoing Israeli military operations... which have resulted in massive violations of human rights of the Palestinian people and systematic destruction of the Palestinian infrastructure." Another outcome was that Secretary General is going to Gaza to investigate the targeting of UN facilities and schools this Wednesday.
I came across this on the Adbusters blog.
Im always apalled by how brainwashed we are from corporate campaigns which suggest "we" conserve (read Gone Tomorrow by Heather Rogers). That "we" is usually the individual, and in reality so many we's could conserve all "we" want and make such a little difference, its industry and government that consume insane amounts of resources. The onus is not on the individual, unless you are doing something like this, from The Guardian:
The £12m defences of the most heavily guarded power station in Britain have been breached by a single person who, under the eyes of CCTV cameras, climbed two three-metre (10ft) razor-wired, electrified security fences, walked into the station and crashed a giant 500MW turbine before leaving a calling card reading "no new coal". He walked out the same way and hopped back over the fence.
All power from the coal and oil-powered Kingsnorth station in Kent was halted for four hours, in which time it is thought the mystery saboteur's actions reduced UK climate change emissions by 2%. Enough electricity to power a city the size of Bristol was lost.
The "saboteur" also left a banner saying "No New Coal".
Activist Unmasks Himself as Federal Informant in G.O.P. Convention Case
By COLIN MOYNIHAN
New York Times
January 5, 2009
When the scheduled federal trial begins this month for two Texas men who
were arrested during the Republican National Convention on charges of making
and possessing Molotov cocktails, one of the major witnesses against them
will be a community activist who acted as a government informant.
Brandon Darby, an organizer from Austin, Tex., made the news public himself,
announcing in an open letter posted on Dec. 30 on Indymedia.org that he had
worked as an informant, most recently at last year's Republican convention
in St. Paul.
photo by heather mull from rally in response to prop 8 on november 15, 2008
When: Saturday, January 10, 2009
Time: 2 PM – 4 PM
Where: Schenley Quad, Oakland (near the libraries – same place as last time)
What: This is a rally, not a march.
Who: Bring your friends, family, kids, grandmas, neighbors, queer and straight alike. Bring your banners and your signs.
Who is Speaking: Emcee Gab Bonesso, Reverend Janet Edwards, Sandra Telep from Pride at Work, LGBTQ ally John McIntire and more. We are looking for speakers who may want to talk about their experiences of discrimination in these areas. Email lance historycat101(at)aol.com if you would like to speak.
Why: Because there are several upcoming moments to get LGBTQ-positive legislation passed on both the County and State levels. This time, we aren't just protesting a negative situation – we are mobilizing to get a positive outcome for everyone.
This is the follow up event to the very successful November "Anti-Prop 8" rally organized in a complete grassroots way, this rally focuses on the national DOMA law which President-Elect Obama promised to repeat AND the upcoming vote by Allegheny County Council to expand civil rights protections in employment, housing, and public accommodations to residents of Allegheny County who are part of the LGBTQ community (sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression). This rally is really for the whole community – from marriage advocates to working class queers who worry about job security and being able to find a decent place to live without being harassed. This is about L-G-B-T and Q. And the entire heterosexual community who benefit from a more just and fair community.
Today many of us in the Bay Area attended a protest to demand justice for Oscar Grant, the unarmed young man killed by BART police a few days ago. I followed the protest as it went into Downtown Oakland, growing into a critical mass. The police fired gas and rubber bullets into the crowd, and repeated their ruthless campaign of aggression.
My friend and fellow activist, Adrienne Marie Brown of the Ruckus Society, posted a great story on what we can do to demand police accountability and seize the time to make our voices heard.
She writes: "As I write this there are no less than 6 helicopters circling overhead in downtown Oakland. On the first day of the 10th year since Amadou Diallo was brutally gunned down by police in New York City, Oscar Grant was fatally shot in the back by a BART police officer, and the event was caught on video. As I write this, rumors are flying and media is fanning the riot flames - car and trash fires, police in riot gear and tanks, restaurant windows being smashed, tear gas and rubber bullets being used. We won’t know the full picture till the night is over and the smoke clears, but the story of the successful nonviolent protest earlier this evening has been overshadowed by this angry chaos." click here to read more
Melanie Cervantes and Jesus Barraza designed a poster about this incident.
The amount of time and energy put into the development of new methods of destroying all life never fails to impress. The contemporary trend of biomimicry in industrial design produces a lot of unintentionally hilarious/nauseating machines that emulate the structures and methods found in the natural world, while at the same time having only one function, namely the annihilation of the aforementioned world. Check this shit out: the TIMBERJACK!
There's a certain insight available into the tangled economic logic underpinning industrial world-destruction available through images and video of these machines. Notice that the precision of the Timberjack's stepping mechanism is so lovingly described...if it were to sense a rare orchid below its ten-ton tread, lo! It would pull the offending limb away and whisper a prayer of thanks to Gaia for her wisdom. And then the process of ripping the forest down and shredding it would continue. I imagine a little cartoon bluebird perched on the Timberjack, trilling a happy song!
The world and Israeli media have been ignoring the Israeli protests against the war in Gaza. This is a short report by SocialTV, an independent news source in Israel, documenting over 10,000 Israelis in Tel-Aviv protesting against the war in Gaza on Jan 3rd, 2009.
Two of my favorites: the Carrie Furnace & Southside railroad tunnel
Ah, an auspicious beginning to 2009: more brutal crackdowns on graffiti in Pittsburgh. Two young men, both students at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, were arrested this weekend, and face felony charges. You can read more here . The biggest graffiti local news story of 2008 was the arrest and sentencing of Danny Montano, who tags MFONE. This was his third arrest, and many wanted to make an example of him. Interestingly enough, the 22 year-old art student was arrested at the Mattress Factory, a world-renowned contemporary art museum in Pittsburgh, as he was installing his piece for an exhibition. Montano faced a maximum possible sentence of $300,000 in fines and 130 years in prison. In the end, the judge sentenced him to 2.5 - 5 years in prison and over 200,000 in restitution, in what may be one of the harshest sentences for graffiti in the United States.
This is interesting to me, because as a city with an ever-declining population and tax base, Pittsburgh Police's graffiti task force has not been able to keep up with graffiti and street art. That and the plethora of empty buildings, closed down mills and factories, and wonderful nooks and crannies like railroad bridges, stairways, alleys, train tunnels, and hollows, have allowed for street art to flourish here.
The Street Changes Forever Everywhere, Summer 2004
While the Pittsburgh graffiti task force has pushed for ever harsher penalties for "illegal" graffiti, There have been several graffiti/street art gallery and public art shows over the past few years, including The Street Changes Forever Everywhere (above) and Static Free.
I have organized and taught many high school workshops about street art; many of the students I have worked with are already cutting stencils, silkscreening stickers, and wheatpasting on their own time. This draconian punishment is troubling to me in my own practice of empowering young people, and of course like a mama bird I worry about them. I also wonder about the future possibility to teach and discuss these forms, even through the relatively uncensored lens of an art museum's education department. How will the tension between 'legit' street art in museums and galleries, use of public and private space, and property damage play out in Pittsburgh?
I'll leave you with this quote from a recent Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article. Setting a tone of fear for putting things up on the street, or even being out at night:
Detective Rende said task force members had hoped the Montano case would scare off future graffiti squads. Yesterday he pleaded for the public to keep an eye out for graffiti vandals and to notify police.
"If you see a kid out there with a backpack at 11 o'clock at night and a tossel cap and a hooded sweatshirt, he's not going to study with his friends," he said. "There's a good chance he has paint cans in that bag."
Lot behind Pittsburgh Filmmakers, Gold Way. A favorite special spot. Art by former student
Early New Year's Day in the Fruitvale District of Oakland, BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) police murdered unarmed, 22 -year old, Oscar Grant III by pushing him face down to the ground and shooting him in the back. After he was shot he was handcuffed. The shooting was fatal.
Having come of age in Los Angeles during the uprisings that followed the Rodney King verdict- this incidence violence enacted by the State rings eerily familiar.
For me this is a crystal clear example of how racism is alive and well in the United States. People would like to think that because Barack Obama has been elected president that some how we, as a nation, are "post-race". What really irritates me about this line of thinking it the conflation of race and racism. One is a category another is an active force that impacts real people's lives.
The fact that racism probably had a huge role in Oscar Grant's death chills my bones.
The practices of the police continue to demonstrate this: the way they are trained, the way stereotypes and profiling are reinforced institutionally and how little-to-no accountability the police have with communities of color. These communities are instead terrorized by the police.
Jesus Barraza and I (Melanie Cervantes) collaboratively developed this poster and drew a connection between the violence enacted by domestically by transit police in Oakland and Israeli occupying forces and their attacks which have kiiled hundreds of Gazans including many women and children.
JUSTICE FOR OSCAR GRANT!
JUSTICE FOR GAZA!
Tales to Tell-From Gaza is a blog updated by a volunteer with the ISM Gaza group that is documenting the Israeli attacks on Palestinians. This involves visiting hospital patients, bereaved families, and sites of attacks, and making reports on these for the ISM website among others.
I just received an email today from a Palestinian-American poet, via a friend, in it were many links to articles, including:
Guernica In Gaza tells the story of how the writer, Vittorio Arrigoni, arrived in Gaza. Originally published in Italian at Il Manifesto.
Ilan Pappe, Israeli scholar, now head of the History Dept at
Exeter, published Israel's righteous fury and its victims in Gaza on Electronic Intifada. it offers a sense of how Zionism, the ideology and the facts on the ground of it, is at the heart of all political and military action taken by the state of
Marcy Newman is an educator, scholar, an activist and a witness. Her blog Body on the Line is an incredible warehouse of information with an insane number of links to other locations.
Naji Ali's weekly podcast, Crossing the Line:Life in Occupied Palestine, introduced by Mumia Abu Jamal, invites different people to talk about all things related to Palestine.
Sarah Roy's piece If Gaza falls . . . in the London Review of Books was written before
these attacks even began. A commendable job of explaining the state of
emergency Gaza has been under, since the siege on it's ports and
freedom of movement. Most of the people have been hungry, sick,
without water or electricity for months, for years. She also has an article, Israel's 'victories' in Gaza come at a steep price
in the Christian Science Monitor.
Attached are some pics a friend sent me, taken at the former site of Martin Sostre's radical "Afro-Asian" bookstore in the heart of Buffalo.
15 years ago, on new years day the EZLN declared war on the Mexico, taking over the town of San Cristobal de las Casa in Chiapas in an attempt to start a revolution in Mexico. In the face of the North American Free Trade Agreement the Zapatistas took up arms against the Mexican government with the aim of taking President Carlos Salinas de Gortari and the PRI out of power to restore legitimacy and stability to Mexico. The Zapatista offensive lasted 13 days, after which the EZLN agreed to begins negotiations with the Mexican government. The negotiations eventually fell apart when it became apparent that the government had no intent for real change. In January of 2006 the EZLN began La Otra Campana, a campaign to form a united opposition to neoliberal capitalism which plagues Mexico as well as the rest of the world.
Click through to read the EZLN's declaration of war from 1994.
In light of the current events in Israel/Palestine, a friend of mine asked me where I look for news about the agressions. I told him I usually check in with folks I'm familiar with that follow events there more closely than I do.
Anomalous on flickr is a spot I'll stop by to see what news articles, essays, and statements he's found, and sometimes just ask him his opinion. His flog is a good spot to begin with finding sources to dig into.
Haaretz.com an Israeli newspaper is another spot where I find really good coverage of current events of the region.
Al Jazeera.net is a place to find superficial BBC-like accounts that can be helpful.
It is hard to interpret what the reasons for this aggression are and what the outcomes will be. Its troubling everyway I approach it. Having just seen Waltz with Bashir an animated Israeli documentary about a massacre in the 80's during the Lebanese War, I can only imagine future accounts of the current actions. The film explores the soldiers attempts to recreate these events and his memory. It approaches the violence of war in an objective manner. I found its conclusion to be anti-violence after illustrating many of the conditions, social and political, that led to the Sabra and Shatila massacre. You should definitely see it if you have the opportunity.
My question to others is "where do you find your information about resistance and protest to these aggressions?" In Israel, Palestine, and globally. I have found myself disconnected to communities that are organizing demonstrations and opposition to these aggressions, and want to know more about what is happening in response. (Please don't tell me to join Facebook, the "main" source I've heard of protest outreach here in NYC)
by Prof. Richard Falk, United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories
December 31, 2008
The Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip represent severe and massive violations of international humanitarian law as defined in the Geneva Conventions, both in regard to the obligations of an Occupying Power and in the requirements of the laws of war.
Those violations include:
Collective punishment - the entire 1.5 million people who live in the crowded Gaza Strip are being punished for the actions of a few militants.
Targeting civilians - the airstrikes were aimed at civilian areas in one of the most crowded stretches of land in the world, certainly the most densely populated area of the Middle East.
Disproportionate military response - the airstrikes have not only destroyed every police and security office of Gaza's elected government, but have killed and injured hundreds of civilians; at least one strike reportedly hit groups of students attempting to find transportation home from the university.
Certainly the rocket attacks against civilian targets in Israel are unlawful. But that illegality does not give rise to any Israeli right, neither as the Occupying Power nor as a sovereign state, to violate international humanitarian law and commit war crimes or crimes against humanity in its response. I note that Israel's escalating military assaults have not made Israeli civilians safer; to the contrary, the one Israeli killed today after the upsurge of Israeli violence is the first in over a year.
Israel has also ignored recent Hamas' diplomatic initiatives to reestablish the truce or ceasefire since its expiration on 26 December.
The Israeli airstrikes today, and the catastrophic human toll that they caused, challenge those countries that have been and remain complicit, either directly or indirectly, in Israel's violations of international law. That complicity includes those countries knowingly providing the military equipment including warplanes and missiles used in these illegal attacks, as well as those countries who have supported and participated in the siege of Gaza that itself has caused a humanitarian catastrophe.
I remind all member states of the United Nations that the UN continues to be bound to an independent obligation to protect any civilian population facing massive violations of international humanitarian law - regardless of what country may be responsible for those violations. I call on all Member States, as well as officials and every relevant organ of the United Nations system, to move on an emergency basis not only to condemn Israel's serious violations, but to develop new approaches to providing real protection for the Palestinian people.
By BRIAN ENO
January 2, 2009
It's a tragedy that the Israelis - a people who must understand better than almost anybody the horrors of oppression - are now acting as oppressors. As the great Jewish writer Primo Levi once remarked "Everybody has their Jews, and for the Israelis it's the Palestinians". By creating a middle Eastern version of the Warsaw ghetto they are recapitulating their own history as though they've forgotten it. And by trying to paint an equivalence between the Palestinians - with their homemade rockets and stone-throwing teenagers - and themselves - with one of the most sophisticated military machines in the world - they sacrifice all credibility.
The Israelis are a gifted and resourceful people who fully deserve the right to live in peace, but who seem intent on squandering every chance to allow that to happen. It's difficult to avoid the conclusion that this conflict serves the political and economic purposes of Israel so well that they have every interest in maintaining it. While there is fighting they can continue to build illegal settlements. While there is fighting they continue to receive huge quantities of military aid from the United States. And while there is fighting they can avoid looking candidly at themselves and the ruthlessness into which they are descending.
Gaza is now an experiment in provocation. Stuff one and a half million people into a tiny space, stifle their access to water, electricity, food and medical treatment, destroy their livelihoods, and humiliate them regularly...and, surprise, surprise - they turn hostile. Now why would you want to make that experiment?
Because the hostility you provoke is the whole point. Now 'under attack' you can cast yourself as the victim, and call out the helicopter gunships and the F16 attack fighters and the heavy tanks and the guided missiles, and destroy yet more of the pathetic remains of infrastructure that the Palestinian state still has left. And then you can point to it as a hopeless case, unfit to govern itself, a terrorist state, a state with which you couldn't possibly reach an accommodation.
And then you can carry on with business as usual, quietly stealing their homeland.
In Solidarity with the National Day of Solidarity with Palestinian People I started working on this poster, I am linking two files that can be downloaded and printed on both 8.5x11 (download here) and 11x17 (download here) so people can put them up in their offices or windows.
I have been been a strong supporter of the Palestinian struggle for sovereignty and land rights. Native people have been struggling for the same thing as Palestinians across the Americas for hundreds of years, people continue fighting to regain control of their ancestral lands and the right decide their future.
¡Que viva Palestina Libre!
¡Que vivan Los Zapatistas!
¡Que viva Evo Morales!
This piece appeared yesterday in the South Bronx. The wall faces the Bruckner Expressway, a highly used elevated highway passing through the Bronx.
Hannukah descends on Gaza like 6 million locusts by AnomalousNYC. "I will play music and celebrate what the Israeli air force is doing." --Ofer Shmerling, an Israeli civil defense official in Sderot speaking on Al Jazeera as images of Israel's latest massacres were broadcast around the world.
From 19 June until yesterday, there was not a single Israeli fatality from a Hamas attack. In all of 2008, there was a single suicide bombing, which killed one person. Over the course of the entire 4 years that Gazans have been blindly lobbing their pathetic bottle-rockets over their prison walls into the desert, fewer than 20 Israelis have been killed. Israelis stand a greater statistical chance of drowning in their jacuzzis than of being killed by a rocket from Gaza.
Israel's omni-directional military belligerence has never been about security, but about racial malice and real estate, and in this case, election-season machinations. And so, over the course of a few hours Israelis have murdered nearly 300 and hospitalized more than 800 Palestinians. In response, overnight polls indicate that support for Israel's ultra-rightwing parties, such as the fascist party Yisrael Beitenyu, which openly advocates ethnic cleansing, has grown exponentially. As Israeli MK Zahalka pointedly observed: "Barak is trying to win votes in exchange for Palestinian blood."
In November 2008, I was interviewed by Britt Bravo for her show, Big Vision Podcast. She interviewed me about my artistic vision, process, and new book, Reproduce & Revolt, which I did in collaboration with fellow Justseeds artist, Josh MacPhee. The interview is great! I talk about growing up in an immigrant family, about how working with youth inspires me, and about how artists have to rethink models of how we engage with the public.
You can click here to listen!
Britt Bravo specializes in telling, and helping others to tell, stories about creating social change. The East Bay Express, named her the Best Podcaster/Blogger Most Dedicated to Social Change in 2007.
If you care to reflect on the crisis there are a bunch of NY TImes articles gathered in this link of their Business Section.
Its called the "Reckoning", or "the process of calculating or estimating". I look forward to another kind of reckoning, "the avenging or punishing of past mistakes or misdeeds" because it doesn't appear to have happened yet.
In addition, here a statement on Greece written by a number of activists and artists:
What We See, What We Hope:
Declaration of Solidarity with the Uprising in Greece
We want first of all to say a collective yes! to the uprising in Greece. We are artists, writers and teachers who are connected in this moment by common friends and commitments. We are globally dispersed and are mostly watching, and hoping, from afar. But some of us are also there, in Athens, and have been on the streets, have felt the rage and the tear gas, and have glimpsed the dancing specter of the other world that is possible. We claim no special right to speak or be heard. Still, we have a few things to say. For this is also a global moment for speaking and sharing, for hoping and thinking together...
City of Immigrants Fills Jail Cells With Its Own
The Central Falls Panthers practice in the shadow of the Wyatt Detention Facility. Photo: Suzanne DeChillo/The NY Times
There's a surprisingly thorough and holistic article about private prisons, immigration detention and the collapse of a New England industrial town in Saturday's New York Times. Definitely worth reading!
While I have been ranting and writing so confusedly, about the economic crisis, since September, some friends were putting together Radical Perspectives on the Crisis. Check it out, contribute, this mess isn't fixed yet, and a broad localism is far from ever materializing.
"Athens' giant Christmas tree burns in front of the Greek parliament in Athens December 8, 2008. Protesters set fire to a major department store in central Athens and torched the city's giant Christmas tree outside parliament as anti-government protests worsened. (REUTERS/John Kolesidis) "
Here's some news from a friend in Argentina:
A month ago the students of Escuela Bellas Artes Manuel Belgrano in Buenos Aires, responding to plans by the city government to close down the school, took and occupied their building. The faculty decided to join the students and have continued classes though out the occupation.
The students, whose ages range from 16-26, run the occupation by popular assembly and have opened the school to the community–holding workshops on sculpture, painting, screen-printing and theater. In the upper wings of the school they take turns sleeping on makeshift bedrolls and the lithography studio has become a temporary kitchen. The police and school administration have not yet made an attempt to retake the building.
The city's plan includes shutting down a number of historical schools throughout Buenos Aires and replacing them with semi-privatized new schools. This comes as part of a larger movement under the new mayor Mauricio Macri to privatize and reduce the public sector within the capitol itself.
In the last few days the students and faculty at Belgrano received notice from the education administration that they would have to take their final examinations and receive their graded critiques at three other schools. The faculty met and decided that they would not abide by this directive and will hold final examinations in Belgrano, as they normally would be. The students have decided to support this decision and will not have any final examinations outside of Belgrano, even though the administration is threatening not to honor the grades they will receive. In response the students threw a "party" in downtown Buenos Aires that blockaded a major street near the National Congress. They took all four lanes, one by one, moving displays of their art work to block traffic and hanging banners between light posts. A stage was set up and several bands played, there was also a public block printing station.
I'm heading over to the New School now...off the blog and into the streets...
From within the occupied New School in Exile, 65 5th Avenue, New York City: We have been in occupation of the Graduate Faculty building of the New School University since 8pm Wednesday the 17th of December. More than 100 of us have taken over a student building, including our only library, which the administration has marked for demolition without creating any equivalent new space on campus. We have opened the building as a student-run autonomous space, in protest against the administration of President Bob Kerrey who recently received a vote of no confidence from the majority of faculty in this school. Details of our multiple grievances against Kerrey, his vice-President Jim Murtha, and treasurer of the board of trustees Robert Millard are laid out in our first communiqué. This morning we have an update on our situation. At around noon today New School security moved to block our access to the fire exits, preventing us from allowing in our fellow students of the Inter-University Consortium to whom they had refused access to the building in a violation of the Consortium agreement. When they failed to remove us, the NYPD were sent in to violently evict us from the fire exit and one of our fellow students was arrested. The police entered the building at the same time as President Kerrey arrived and offered to speak with us, we responded by refusing to negotiate with him and repeating our demand that he immediately resign. He left and took his police with him. At the moment our security has returned and our numbers have doubled, but we expect future incursions on our space and encourage all who support us to come to the Graduate Building at 65 5th Avenue and 14th street.
The New School in Exile
and this communique
We liberate this space for ourselves, and all those who want to join us, for our general autonomous use. We take the university in explicit solidarity with those occupying the universities and streets in Greece, Italy, France, and Spain.
This occupation begin as a response to specific conditions at the New School, the corporatization of the university and the impoverishment of education in general. However, it is not just this university but also New York City that is in crisis: in the next several month, thousands of us will be losing our jobs, while housing remains unaffordable and unavailable to many and the cost of living skyrockets.
So we stress that the general nature of these intolerable conditions exists across the spectrum of capitalist existence, in our universities and our cities, in all of our social relations. For this reason, what begins tonight at the New School cannot, and should not, be contained here.
Thus: with this occupation, we inaugurate a sequence of revolt in New York City and the United States, a coming wave of occupations, blockades, and strikes in this time of crisis.
Be assured, this is only the beginning,
With solidarity and love from New York to Greece, To Italy, France and Spain,
To the coming insurrection.
-New School Occupation Committee
As of 19:00 (7 pm, Dec. 17, 2008) a diverse collection of students from the New School community began an occupation of the Graduate Faculty building at 65 5th Ave. This is the only central student space on campus, and hosts the remnants of the Fogelman Library, the "fishbowl" study space and the Fifth Avenue Cafe. The students occupying the building have declared the 65 5th Ave. space an open student study space and intent to keep the building open indefinitely. All New School students are encourage to come and join us in our "Study-In."
The original idea of the University in Exile, and the New School in general, was to be a safe-haven for academic freedom and scholarship free of oppressive political regimes, be they in Europe or America, and to be a center for critical engagement with important issues of our times. It was known for its deep thinkers, its innovative academics, and its commitment to social and political justice as a bedrock of all other scholarship. The New School, under its current administration, is no longer able to fulfill that role of critical engagement and dissent. This continued betrayal of our founding principles cannot be tolerated any longer, and the time has come to revive the University in Exile. This is a call for student action! (from New School in Exile)
Letter of Demands
New School: University in Exile
We, the students of the New School, declare ourselves in silent solidarity with the senior faculty's vote of no confidence in President Bob Kerrey, and teir vote of no confidence in Vice President James Murtha. Though we have not been given a voice in the current state of the university, we too desire substantive change in the direction and future of our education. Our grievances include:
Five Provosts in less than eight years is a sign of no institutional transparency, stability, and accountability. We need an institutional politics with a system of checks and balances, not one that works at the whim of one man.
Kerrey's unilateral appointment of himself as "chief academic officer"is unacceptable and emblematic of his inability to foster cooperative education.
The university is being treated as a profit-making venture at whose altar the requirements of scholarship are routinely sacrificed. We have been systematically stripped of the most basic resources necessary for academic excellence, including adequate funding, spaces in which to study and engage with each other, and a working library. We demand more opportunities for student funding, and we are willing to work for them. We need public spaces in which to foster a public sphere and an academic community. The absence of a serious library and its related resources for reserach is absolutely unacceptable and should not even be an issue of contention in an academic institution.
Academic planning and budgeting should be directed by individuals with a deep understanding and commitment to academic excellence and free inquiry.
We do not have adequate resources and we are not told why.
We have no hand and no say in our fates or the collective fate of our institution.
We desire meaningful and inclusive education that sees us as more than cash cows and treats us with respect as serious scholars, artists, musicians, designers, philosophers, writers, and most importantly, future educators. We are tired of being told by an out of touch administration what our needs are, and we are no longer willing to idly sit by while our education and our futures are gambled away. We want a university that is known for the quality of its students and faculty, not for its logo or the crimes of its leadership. It is time for change. We desire a better world, and we are willing to fight to achieve it.
For these and more reasons we support the faculty's votes of no confidence in Bob Kerrey and James Murtha, and further, we call for their immediate resignation.
-The Students of the New School- 12/16/08
Images, banner drops, tactical media, performances and actions loaded with symbolism were in full effect this week. The Yippies and the Situationists would be proud.
Just Do It.
From the NY Times
By STEVEN LEE MYERS and ALISSA J. RUBIN
Published: December 14, 2008
BAGHDAD — President Bush made a valedictory visit on Sunday to Iraq, the country that will largely define his legacy, but the trip will more likely be remembered for the unscripted moment when an Iraqi journalist hurled his shoes at Mr. Bush’s head and denounced him on live television as a “dog” who had delivered death and sorrow here from nearly six years of war.
President Bush, on a surprise trip to Iraq and Afghanistan, got a taste of dissent at a Baghdad press event Sunday when an Iraqi journalist threw shoes at him, forcing him to duck.
The Iraqi journalist, Muntader al-Zaidi, 28, a correspondent for Al Baghdadia, an independent Iraqi television station, stood up about 12 feet from Mr. Bush and shouted in Arabic: “This is a gift from the Iraqis; this is the farewell kiss, you dog!” He then threw a shoe at Mr. Bush, who ducked and narrowly avoided it.
As stunned security agents and guards, officials and journalists watched, Mr. Zaidi then threw his other shoe, shouting in Arabic, “This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq!” That shoe also narrowly missed Mr. Bush as Prime Minister Maliki stuck a hand in front of the president’s face to help shield him.
Mr. Maliki’s security agents jumped on the man, wrestled him to the floor and hustled him out of the room. They kicked him and beat him until “he was crying like a woman,” said Mohammed Taher, a reporter for Afaq, a television station owned by the Dawa Party, which is led by Mr. Maliki. Mr. Zaidi was then detained on unspecified charges.
Other Iraqi journalists in the front row apologized to Mr. Bush, who was uninjured and tried to brush off the incident by making a joke. “All I can report is it is a size 10,” he said, continuing to take questions and noting the apologies. He also called the incident a sign of democracy, saying, “That’s what people do in a free society, draw attention to themselves,” as the man’s screaming could be heard outside.
But the moment clearly unnerved Mr. Maliki’s aides and some of the Americans in Mr. Bush’s entourage, partly because it was televised and may have revealed a security lapse in the so-called Green Zone, the most heavily secured part of Baghdad.
My friend Katie Orlinsky has a photo essay in last Sundays NY Times about transgendered folks in Juchitan, Oaxaca.
In this part of Oaxaca — a narrow strip of land known as the Isthmus — the locals make room for a third category, whom they call “muxes” (pronounced MOO-shays). Muxes are men who consider themselves women and live in a socially sanctioned netherworld between the two genders.
Below is a post from Jacob Flom who is a student in my Art and Ecology class at UWM. Jacob does incredibly inspiring work with IVAW and SDS and it was not surprising to hear that he was in Chicago in solidarity with the workers who occupied the factory in Chicago. The photos are credited to Jacob Flom and the individual in the third photograph is Armando Robles, the Union leader for the factory workers.
"The workers at Republic Windows and Doors that have been occupying their factory in Chicago for six days have just won their demands for severance pay. After a national outpouring of support the workers won the eight weeks of pay that they were owed under the federal WARN Act, as well as two months health care, and compensation pay for unused vacation.
Bank of America, which recently received a $25 billion bailout, will give $1.75 million to Republic Windows and Doors in order for the company to pay it's laid-off employees. Bank of America agreed to the terms after protests sprung up at their bank locations across the country and further pressure was applied by a number of Illinois politicians.
Thursday night, the workers (led by Local President Armando Robles) marched out of the plant, chanting "We did it!" in English and Spanish. The sit-in was organized by UE Local 1110 after the company announced it would close it's doors giving workers only 3 days notice. When the factory shut its doors, the workers refused to leave until they received their pay. The union is now organizing efforts to keep the factory operational. However, it appears that the business may try to open a factory in a new location, in order to end their contract with the union members, many of whom have worked at Republic for over 20 years. Thus support for the workers is still needed!
The importance of the workers action is immeasurable and has global ramifications for the occupation was the first action of its type in the United States in decades.
As a student and member of SDS and IVAW, I joined other Milwaukee student organizers, as we drove to Chicago to witness the historic struggle and offer our support. Inspired by the conversations I had with many of the workers, I created a drawing for them. The image is the company logo, a window, with a fist smashing through it, holding the sign of the union. The piece reads: "Workers of the World Unite! and "Banks got bailed out, Workers got sold out."
-Jacob Flom, Students for a Democratic Society, Milwaukee chapter.
Complete details on the agreement can be found here: http://www.ueunion.org/uenewsupdates.html?news=438
The worker occupation of the Republic Windows and Doors factory in Chicago by members of UE (United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America) Local 1110 has reached its fourth day and the 230 plus workers have vowed to continue the occupation until they are paid back pay and benefits or until the plant is re-opened. Above are some photos that I took tonight.
Chicago Indymedia updates on the strike:
Check out indymedia.org and other alternative news organizations for updates on what is taking place in Greece. For the past three days protests and riots having been taking place in numerous cities in Greece and other countries following the murder of 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos by the hands of the police in Athens on December 6th. Police brutality provided the spark for the demonstrations but underlying economic policies and disenfranchisement is the larger story.
I am very excited that this is happening...
Idled Workers Occupy Factory in Chicago
By RUPA SHENOY AP
December 6, 2008
CHICAGO - Outraged and determined Chicago factory workers who were abruptly laid off this week have occupied their former workplace and say they won't leave until they get the severance and vacation pay they say they're owed.
The employees say they received three days notice their plant was closing. In the second day of a sit-in on the factory floor Saturday, about 250 union workers occupied the building in shifts while union leaders outside criticized a Wall Street bailout they say is leaving laborers behind.
About 50 workers sat on pallets and chairs inside the Republic Windows and Doors plant, supplied with donated food, sleeping bags and blankets. Leah Fried, an organizer with the United Electrical Workers, said the Chicago-based vinyl window manufacturer failed to give its 300 employees the 60 days' notice required by law before shutting.
During the takeover, workers have been shoveling snow and cleaning the building, Fried said.
"We're doing something we haven't done since the 1930s, so we're trying to make it work," Fried said.
She said the company can't pay employees because its creditor, Charlotte, N.C.-based Bank of America, won't let them. Crain's Chicago Business reported that Republic Windows' monthly sales had fallen to $2.9 million from $4 million during the past month. In a memo to the union, obtained by the business journal, Republic CEO Rich Gillman said the company had "no choice but to shut our doors."
Bank of America received $25 billion from the government's financial bailout package. The company said in a statement to news outlets Saturday that it isn't responsible for Republic's financial obligations to its employees.
Representatives of Republic Windows did not immediately respond Saturday to calls and e-mails seeking comment.
"Across cultures, religions, union and nonunion, we all say this bailout was a shame," said Richard Berg, president of Teamsters Local 743. "If this bailout should go to anything, it should go to the workers of this country."
Outside the plant, protesters wore stickers and carried signs that said, "You got bailed out, we got sold out."
Larry Spivack, regional director for American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Council 31, said the peaceful action will add to Chicago's rich history in the labor movement, which includes the deadly 1886 Haymarket affair, when Chicago laborers and anarchists gathering in a square on the city's West Side drew national attention when an unidentified person threw a bomb at police.
"The history of workers is built on issues like this here today," Spivack said.
Police spokeswoman Laura Kubiak said authorities were aware of the situation and officers were patrolling the area.
Workers were angered when company officials didn't show up for a meeting Friday arranged by U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, a Chicago Democrat, Fried said. Union officials said another meeting with the company is scheduled for Monday afternoon.
"We're going to stay here until we win justice," said Blanca Funes, 55, of Chicago, after occupying the building for several hours.
Speaking in Spanish, Funes said she fears losing her home without the wages she feels she's owed. A 13-year employee of Republic, she estimated her family can make do for three months without her paycheck.
Most of the factory's workers are Hispanic.
The IVAW website and the Groundswell Collective blog have a great post and video on a recent IVAW action who continue to amaze and inspire us with their incredible array of dissent, critique of war and power, visual resistance, street performance and tactical media. The action Operation W.A.N.T. (We Are Not Toys) took place on October 11th in the early morning where seven IVAW members of the LA Chapter placed 4,200 toy soldiers on the ground with a sign that read “The Price of Gas: 4171 US SOLDIERS”. The importance of these actions cannot be understated as they keep the unjust war and its terrible consequences in public view and memory and inspire us all to be more active in speaking out.
To view a You Tube clip of the action see:
To learn more and support IVAW see:
To learn more about the Groundswell Collective see:
Some other stuff I came across today
I went over to the Village Voice site to look up a movie listing and came across this Sam Mcpheeters piece. I felt like reposting it because there have been numerous auctions I've heard of. It seems like auction houses are a little late in the capitalist game of squeezing every dollar out of "movements" like punk, street art, and graffiti.
Christie's Nov. 24 "Pop Culture: Punk/Rock" auction is now available for online inspection. The sale features "a collection of memorabilia from the Ramones to The Clash and The Sex Pistols". The venerable auction house is older than the United States, so this is presumably not their first sale to dabble in controversy. But it is almost definitely the first Christie's auction to feature a depiction of elbow-deep fisting, chest-splooging, and no less than five throbbing monster cocks in one lot ("Fuck Your Mother T-Shirt", est. $1,000 - $1,500). Question; if one shells out $1k - $1.5k for a vintage punk porno t-shirt, is it to be worn with an extra helping of pride, or shame?
Long time prisoner and jailhouse lawyer and activist Harold H. Thompson died on November 11, 2008 of heart failure. Harold was an anarchist prisoner serving life plus sentences in Tennessee, USA. He was active in the 60's anti-war movement, associating with Viet Nam Veterans Against the War during the 60's and 70's era of mass civil disobedience and struggle in America. From the late 60's onwards Harold was repeatedly in conflict with the cops and the legal system, raising money for survival and political activities outside the law. Several of these expropriation activities resulted in him doing time in Wisconsin, Ohio, Georgia and Tennessee prisons.
Behind the walls, Harold was well known for his work as a 'jailhouse lawyer' and said he coped with prison by fighting for his fellow prisoners in the courts for some semblance of real justice. His legal work mainly consisted of other prisoners appeals, drafting their legal briefs for submission to the courts, filing civil rights complaints on behalf of prisoners who have been abused and had their rights violated. He helped file proper grievances in the prison system and courts. He also was a prolific writer and poet.
This information is from Harold's support group, more info can be found here
In NYC this weekend!
Escupido de la Panza de la Bestia Parte 2! is a Collaborative Art Showing... A Tri City Exchange....From Valparaiso, Chile, Cordoba, Argentina, Buenos Aires, Argentina with love, to New York, New York, USA, Boston, Massachusetts, Providence, Rhode Island
In March of 2007, many independent U.S. artists showed their work in Chile and Argentina in a politically and culturally charges series of art shows called Spit out from the Belly of the Beast.
This November, 2008, work from various artists and collectives from the South American countries will be shown in continuation of this artistic dialogue. Included are drawings, prints, sculptures, photographs, mixed media, video and more!
New York City, NY:
285 Kent Ave. #2, Brooklyn 11211
Saturday, Nov. 15 12-6pm (PLWN music show at 9:30pm)
Sunday, Nov. 16 12-6pm
Monday, Nov. 17 12-6pm
Hey, remember those Somali pirates who hijacked a ship full of guns and tanks?
Today marks their fiftieth day in control of the MV Faina, just off the central Somali coast near the port of Hobyo. It's been interesting to watch the situation develop, and, of course, to watch it drop from view in light of the recent electoral brouhaha.
The Somali pirates, who number about seventeen, hijacked the freighter from two small motorboats on the 25th of September. Of the 21 crew on board at the time of the hijacking, all remain alive except the captain, who died of hypertension after two or three days. His body remains on ice in the ship's freezer, under a close pirate guard.. The Faina has been surrounded for some time now by a phalanx of US naval vessels, who've been closely observing the goings-on aboard.
One reason for such concentrated US and international interest in the situation is that the Faina is carrying a huge cargo of Ukrainian military hardware, including 30 full-size battle tanks. The hardware's ostensible destination, the Kenyan army, is cast into doubt by an entry on the ship's manifest that mentions GOSS- the Government of Southern Sudan. Early speculation had the cargo destined for Khartoum's proxy war in Darfur.
A fundamentalist group, Al Shabaab, appeared on the coast in the middle of the chaos to request a share of the booty, but were apparently rebuffed. The crew have recently reported that they're out of food and fresh water, after having been cursorily resupplied at laconic intervals during the last fifty days. There's been a slew of other hijackings, and Russian warships are now escorting traffic in the Gulf of Aden.
What interests me most is a statement the pirates issued about two weeks into the standoff. They had demanded an $8 million ransom for the ship, its crew and cargo, a number which has since oscillated between $5 and $12 million. The statement said that any money they recieved from a ransom payment would be used partly to clean up the heavily polluted Somali coast, and blamed European and Asian shipping firms for dumping spectacular loads of toxic and nuclear waste material into the seas surrounding Somalia.
Nobody seems to be talking about that, now, do they?
How does one turn google street view upside down? Easy.... check out this link to A Street with View, a super creative performance / google street view re-enactment that took place in Pittsburgh last Spring that is finally posted on google steet view maps. To view it: follow the link on the Street with a View website or go to google street view and search under the Mattress Factory, Pittsburgh (that will take you to Sampsonia Way.) You might see mad scientists with a love laser, firefighters rescuing a pinata, and a very, very large chicken, among other things. Enjoy!
A description from the Street with a View website reads "On May 3rd 2008, artists Robin Hewlett and Ben Kinsley invited the Google Inc. Street View team and residents of Pittsburgh’s Northside to collaborate on a series of tableaux along Sampsonia Way. Neighbors, and other participants from around the city, staged scenes ranging from a parade and a marathon, to a garage band practice, a seventeenth century sword fight, a heroic rescue and much more...
Street View technicians captured 360-degree photographs of the street with the scenes in action and integrated the images into the Street View mapping platform. This first-ever artistic intervention in Google Street View made its debut on the web in November of 2008.
An incredible cast of real-life characters contributed their time, energy and talents to creating pseudo-street life on Sampsonia Way. "
If you are in the Providence Rhode Island area come check out the SUSTAINABLE art show! Over 30 artists; including 10 Justseeds/Visual Resistance folks and over two dozen local Rhode Island artists! Prices range from $2- $300. AS220 is a non profit community arts space and performance space (it's where I book shows! full time!) and is at 115 Empire Street. (http://www.as220.org)
Chris passed along this link to The Citrus Report which spoke of an article in Artnews.
This following article by Carolina A. Miranda, I have plenty to say, but its Halloween and I'm going out. Check back for comments.
Street art—including stickers, posters, murals, graffiti, and even 3-D sculptures—is making its way into mainstream galleries and museums by Carolina A. Miranda
In 1989 a lanky 19-year-old working at a Rhode Island skate shop created a mug shot–style sticker of a seven-foot-tall, 500-pound French wrestler named Andre the Giant. As far as stickers go, it was pretty crude. A hand-stenciled image of his face was accompanied by the inscrutable phrase “Andre the Giant Has a Posse.” The artist ran off 100 copies of the image and got to work pasting it all over Providence. Once he had the city covered, he moved on to Boston, New York, and the rest of the eastern seaboard. “Andre” materialized everywhere—stop signs, pay phones, airport bathrooms. A startled patron at an Athens, Georgia, diner found the wrestler’s sleepy visage staring back at him from the inside lid of a coffee creamer.
For Shepard Fairey, the work’s creator, the thrill of perplexing the public with a mysterious slogan (is it a band? is it a cult?) was the beginning of a prolific career making street art—the catchall used to describe not-always-legally-installed stickers, posters, stencils, murals, and 3-D sculptures. His works—which bear a signature mix of Constructivism, Art Nouveau, and punk graphics—have papered back alleys and water towers from Melbourne to Barcelona. They have been featured in gallery shows in New York, Los Angeles, and Berlin.
Pittsburgh is in many ways a small town. I went to a University of Pittsburgh Street Law class last night to show-and-tell rad youth printing projects to possibly incorporate into the curriculum they are writing for high school students. I met and talked at length with education professor Noreen Garman. She mentioned that a piece she wrote defending Bill Ayers would be in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette today. I was forwarded the unedited version, which I am including here. It's a smart assessment of the 1960's and talks much of the possibility within all people to change. I was really moved by it.
Possibility is indeed the secret heart of time.
William Ayers and the American Character
Noreen Garman and Anna Klaman
University of Pittsburgh
October 13, 2008
November 5th will bring a merciful respite from the incessant drumbeat of political campaigning and a new administration turning toward the challenges of the future. Unfortunately we are left with some unsavory residue, including a worn cardboard image of Dr. William Ayers, a ‘60’s anti-war activist. Through a major strategy, headlined as the Obama/Ayers Connection, the McCain advisors, with half truths and specious lies, managed to frame Dr. Ayers, as an unrepentant bomber. Over the past weeks Bill Ayers has become a generic synonym for “terrorist,” a political brand name used by the Republican campaign to question Obama’s judgment and character. Obama admitted that he served on community committees in Chicago with Dr. Ayers, a university professor and community organizer, but that he was only eight years old when Ayers engaged in activities with the Weather Underground. The various media continued to report, hourly, the McCain strategy. It was heightened by candidate Palin’s shouts at her rally, that Obama “is palling around with terrorists.” The liberal media lapped up the strategy, reporting McCain ads and speeches where both Palin and McCain worked the crowd as they invoked the rhetoric of fear and nativism. Chris Mathews, Frank Rich and others chastised McCain by claiming his strategy had gone from tough negative campaigning to inciting vigilantism. Sadly, however, the unyielding McCain strategy, accusing Obama of radical associations, and the liberal media’s counter to the accusations, continued through the final debate.. All parts of the national and local media have been relentlessly using the Bill Ayers brand and, as such, instantiating Dr. William Ayers as the “unrepentant domestic terrorist” that represents the worst of the ‘60’s.
What is clear in the popularity of the William Ayers brand is how difficult it has been for the country to come to terms with that time in history. The 1960s were the best and worst of times. They were difficult in that a generation of Americans had to redefine our sense of what it meant to be at war. Our fathers gently laid upon our shoulders the heroic memories of their service in World War II—a legacy characterized by equal parts of honor and pride, grief and horror. They bequeathed to us their strong sense of nobility for having defeated an evil of such proportions that it defied the very essence of what it meant to be human. We grew up viewing our nation through their eyes, where the forces of good triumphed and fascism crumbled when faced with the light of righteousness.
Yet, in the Viet Nam War era, everything was different. Daniel Ellsberg’s Pentagon Papers revealed that we were the aggressor, rather than the peasants of North Viet Nam as we had been told. For many of us, who were studying in universities in the late 1960s, the potential for evil emanating from what Eisenhower called the “military industrial complex” led us to explore Marxism as a kind of utopian antidote to the excesses of consumer society. We believed that those who resisted imperialism in Southeast Asia were fighting for their freedom; and the nation our fathers had taught us to revere seemed to be on the wrong side of a war of liberation.
Zolo Agonia Azania, a political prisoner in Indiana and an amazing painter, illustrator and collagist, has finally been taken off death row!!! On the eve of his third death penalty trial, the State of Indiana finally abandoned their 27 year campaign to execute Zolo. They dismissed all death penalty charges and agreed to have Zolo sentenced on his 1982 murder and robbery conviction. It looks like with good time credit, Zolo will now be released from prison in 7 years. He will be immediately released from death row. Also, under the terms of the agreement he will be allowed to challenge his 1982 convictions in federal habeas proceedings.
We have featured Zolo's art here before, and hopefully now he will be make more great work.
Here is Zolo's statement:
i am glad that the State has finally offered me this opportunity to plan a life on the outside. i can use that freedom to work for justice for others, and, of course, to establish a way of sustaining my life on my own.
i feel that God has given me many gifts; and with these gifts then i would be able to take care of myself and do good for others. i have matured in many ways over these stressful 27 plus years. i see things quite differently now than in that early stage of my life.
i still resolutely maintain my innocence. By this agreement the State gives up the death penalty request. My next course of action will be to go on into the federal court system to expose the many injustices. i will continue to contest my innocence in the murder. i am angry over the numerous ways that i've been mistreated by the judicial sanction system. i was illegally placed in this untenable position by the Indiana Supreme Court when they took back my dismissal of the case for fast and speedy trial violation, and authorized the prosecution to retry me for the death penalty for the third time! Nonetheless, i will continue to contest my innocence in this murder. i am angry over the numerous ways i've been mistreated by the system that some call justice--a term of relativity. Therefore, the protracted struggle continues!
Zolo Agona Azania #4969
Indiana State Prison
P.O. Box 41
Michigan City, Indiana 46361-0041
I'm stuck on the couch, on what must be the most beautiful Fall day in NYC, with a busted up ankle. Instead of catching up on the daily confusion on the daydreams that make Neoliberal Capitalism work, I took a glimpse at my pal AnomalousNYC's flickr page.
As per usual for Anomalous, some of the imagery was about the Israeli occupation of Palestine.More surprising/infuriating is the news he posts below the image.
The London Review of Books
If you live in an American swing state you may have received a copy of ‘Obsession’ in your Sunday paper. ‘Obsession’ isn’t a perfume: it’s a documentary about ‘radical Islam’s war against the West’. In the last two weeks of September, 28 million copies of the film were enclosed as an advertising supplement in 74 newspapers, including the New York Times and the Chronicle of Higher Education. ‘The threat of Radical Islam is the most important issue facing us today,’ the sleeve announces. ‘It’s our responsibility to ensure we can make an informed vote in November.’ The Clarion Fund, the supplement’s sponsor, doesn’t explicitly endorse McCain, so as not to jeopardise its tax-exempt status, but the message is clear enough, and its circulation just happened to coincide with Obama’s leap in the polls.
The Clarion Fund is a front for neoconservative and Israeli pressure groups. It has an office, or at least an address, in Manhattan at Grace Corporate Park Executive Suites, which rents out ‘virtual office identity packages’ for $75 a month. Its website, clarionfund.org, provides neither a list of staff nor a board of directors, and the group still hasn’t disclosed where it gets its money, as required by the IRS. Who paid to make ‘Obsession’ isn’t clear – it cost $400,000. According to Rabbi Raphael Shore, the film’s Canadian-Israeli producer, 80 per cent of the money came from the executive producer ‘Peter Mier’, but that’s just an alias, as is the name of the film’s production manager, ‘Brett Halperin’. Shore claims ‘Mier’ and ‘Halperin’, whoever they are, are simply taking precautions, though it isn’t clear against what. The danger (whatever it is) hasn’t stopped Shore – or the director, Wayne Kopping, a South African neocon – from going on television to promote their work.
More below, and even more news on AnomalousNYC's photo-thread
Check out the entries and resources on Naomi Klein's website The Shock Doctrine to put some of the recent economic issues in perspective. There's a bunch of good pieces & links under Disaster Capitalism in Action.
It gets more interesting everyday.
More personally, I left last Thursday's demonstration without the usual malaise and disenfranchisement of NYC protest. A couple hundred folks gathered with a variety of slogans on hand-made signs, in supposedly one of over 200 demonstrations in a dozen states.
The crowd shouted "You Broke it, You Bought it" and "The Bailout is Bullshit" among other chants expressing the rage against such a backwards policy. Some photos of the protest can be seen on NYC Indymedia, and on LetsgetridofNY, and Alternet, or on video at NY Mag among many other places online.
If you like to harass elected officials or think that they may represent your interests get over to Vote No Bailout! and send your representative a message!
Well, the economic collapse that we've all been talking about for years is finally upon us. Sheaves of massive investment banks are falling before the scythe of insolvency, unfulfilled debt obligations, and obscure financial practices. It's sort of stunning to watch.
At the root of the current crisis is credit. The population of the USA spent a goodly portion of the 1990's taking out loans to buy houses, and then putting those houses up as collateral to take out more loans to spend on gimcracks and geegaws. Americans, as is their wont, overspent themselves and ended up in trouble, unable to meet the loan repayment schedules on any of the mortgages they held on their various properties and toys etcetera. Nothing so dramatic in and of itself.
The problem was that cabals of financiers, in the rarefied atmosphere of pure capitalism, had done strange things with those mortgages and loans. They had bundled them together and sold them to each other, as investment properties, hoping to scoop in the profit from the mass of people who were scheduled to be paying off their loans for the next twenty years, with substantial interest into the bargain. Other occult financial trickery had suddenly taken center stage, and like kids watching a magician on the midway, everyone wanted in on the action.
The upshot is that almost all of the most massive financial institutions in the USA ended up acting like penny-ante shell game pushers, shuffling the coin from cup to cup, guess where it is and win big! BIG!
The magic, however has worn off. In the immortal words: Keg's dust, Party's over, Cops are here.
The people who took out all those loans are unable to pay them back. They're defaulting at record rates, in a great throwing up of hands. That means there's no money coming in. And the artificially inflated value of those loans, buoyed by myriad bets and counter-bets on their expected performance, is collapsing back on itself. That's why they call it a bubble. The economy is over-extended and has sprung a leak.
What's particularly impressive in this situation is the degree to which HUGE financial institutions are being hit. Many of the largest institutions of their kind have all been playing the naughty game with the arcane symbols out behind the gym, and now demons have rent the fabric of reality that enveloped their little game and are pursuing them with every intent of eating their souls. AIG, the largest insurer in the USA. Lehman Brothers, one of the world's largest investment banks. Merrill Lynch. Bear Stearns. Fannie and Freddie. Big names.
Really big names! Names written in the sky in letters of pink neon, with a little cocktail glass next to them!
And the reverberations are going out around the world. Britains largest mortgage lender, HBOS, is going down. Banks are failing in Japan and Russia, and probably in Kyrgyzstan too. The slide looks like it's going to continue for a good while yet, as housing prices drop back to a more realistic level and and the fake money leaks out of the world economic system back into the ether. Snap! It disappears. Money is extraordinary in the way it mutates to respond to human manipulation. It takes strange, incomprehensible forms, an arcane language that only the priest-scientists can read. We wait with bated breath for them to pronounce an augury of good or evil from the entrails they're digging through. For all we know, our souls may be lost too.
AbandonView tipped us off to an action that happened in Brasil on September 6th.
No dia 06-09-08, um grupo de 30 Pixadores invadiu a Galeria Choque Cultural em protesto à comercialização, institucionalização e Domesticação da Cultura de Rua, por parte dos galeristas e do Poder Público.
On 06-09-08, a group of 30 Pixadores invaded the Galeria Choque Cultural (Cultural Shock Gallery) in protest to the marketing, and institutionalization of Culture of Domesticação Street, from the gallery and the Public Power. In addition to the physical dependencies of the gallery, about twenty works exposed there were also victims of the attack and a work of the artist Speto was damaged. The owners of the Shock were doing an exhibition in London.
Only armed with translation sites online, I've enjoyed reading Ataque à Choque Cultural and the various threads on the Choque Flickr page. There seems to be a large discussion about the commodification of Pixacao and graffiti. While translation sites are super limited and I'm not familiar with the "players" involved it seems to have captured people's thoughts more than NYC's splasher actions.
Lots of comments on the Flickr thread discuss the gallery's function in the art market, many of them supportive of this role. Also represented is the fundamental sentiment that it belongs on the street, which is why, I assume, these grafiteros went to town inside the gallery. Other comments raised larger issues with commercialization, eef
pena que o protesto contra a 'comercialização, institucionalização e domesticação da cultura de rua' tenha focado em galeristas e não publicitários, marcas de tênis, roupa de grife, festivais, refrigerantes, e outros que fazem a tal 'cultura de rua' virar modismo, commodities, sinônimo de produto pseudo moderninho.
"unfortunate that the protest against 'marketing, institutionalization and domestication of the culture of street' has focused on galleries and not advertising, brands of shoes, clothes, grife, festivals, soft drinks, and others who make such a 'culture of street' fashion, turn commodities, synonymous with pseudo moderninho(?) product"
From RRAURL "According to the Folha de S. Paulo, the action was organized - by email- by Rafael Guedes Augustaitiz (Rafael Pixobomb), the same artist who in July this year had been expelled from the Faculty of Fine Arts (SP) for having done a similar action on the premises of the course"
With slogans that proclaimed "Open your eyes and see the inevitable mark of history", the action at the Faculty sounds very performance like and attempted to awaken the viewers to the exclusivity and economic realities of the institutions. The recent action called "ATTACK PART 2 : A CAMINHO DA REVOLUÇÃO 2008" in the flyer, seen to the right, appears to have a similar intent.
I'm inspired and totally interested by these actions and would am stoked if anyone has more info or contacts about this.
The update on the rraurl.com site states:
Tuesday 09/set the owners of shock came with a representation in the 14th Police District of Sao Paulo (Pines) against the group of pixadores. Low Ribeiro, one of the owners, made a bulletin of occurrence and in their testimony stated that the loss of the gallery was something between $ 10,000 and $ 15,000. Rafael Guedes Augustaitiz is taken as a major contributor.
Hello, fellow apes. I'm here today to tell you about your relatives. I'm referring to the other three African species of Great Ape, namely the gorilla, the chimpanzee and the bonobo. They're all going extinct. Isn't that interesting? Would you like to know why? It's unpleasant. Actually, I'll go so far as to say that it is catastrophically fucked up in so many ways that a blog entry really does not suffice to catalog the horror. I'll assist the presentation of this information by including some photographs by illustrious Swiss wildlife photographer Karl Ammann. These photographs have been widely seen in other parts of the world, not so much in the USA.
Karl is the protagonist of a book by Dale Peterson entitled Eating Apes, published by the University of California Press. Reading it is one of the most wrenching experiences possible, and has the potential to wreak havoc on the mind of anyone who is thinking critically about the state of the world. Its subject is bushmeat.
Bushmeat can be defined as wild animals hunted by humans for the purposes of eating, as opposed to those hunted for fashion, medicine, public safety, or fun. Eating Apes is principally concerned with the eating of apes. Our three closest animal relatives, residents of the tropical forests of sub-Saharan Africa, will soon be gone because of it.
Peterson describes how Karl, a hotelier by trade in his youth, became a wildlife photographer and how this shift of career brought him into contact with the bushmeat business. Travelling around the region of the Congo river basin, he found hunters and markets and traders doing a brisk business in cuts of ape meat, along with other rainforest meat products too numerous to be mentioned here. Although it's true that the peoples of sub-Saharan Africa have been eating these animals for centuries, certain recent developments have led to a catastrophic upswing in the amount of meat being taken from the forest. It's at this point that we all become complicit.
Logging interests, principally from Europe, open roads into the heart of the forest. Hunters follow the logging operations and penetrate deeply into the newly-accessible patches of jungle to provide meat for the hordes of migrant timber-cutters and machinery operators and their families. That's one way. Another way involves mining.
The high tech industries on which so much of the world now relies for communication and business infrastructure receive certain vital elements from mines in the jungles of the two Congos. Preeminent among these elements is coltan, also known as columbite-tantalite, and its associated minerals like cassiterite, wolframite, etc. These minerals are used to manufacture capacitors for cellular phones, personal computers, and video game systems, among other things. Miners clear the forest and hack at the earth, living terrible lives of squalor and poverty and violence. Their takes are routinely hijacked by groups of armed men from the various militias and armies that infest the region. In fact, one could make a pretty good case that the recent African World War that killed hundreds of thousands of people and involved the militaries of at least ten nations, was driven in part by the desire to control the flow of these minerals and the giant heaps of profit that can be wrung from them. The mineral supply flowing from the region has become so integral to aspects of our global economy that the release of the Playstation 2 in the 90's was delayed because of a crunch in the tantalum supply.
Here's a poster I designed for the RNC Anti-Capitalist bloc. Find out more about their activities here.
Its the last Friday of the month, which means another Critical Mass for many cities. This months ride is the 4 year anniversary of our historic Republican National Convention (RNC) ride, where many thousands of folks took to the streets. (image by Fly)
The NYC Metro seemed to remember this too.
Arrests set course for protests in city
by Amy Zimmer / metro new york
AUG 29, 2008
Friday night’s Critical Mass marks a seminal event in the ride’s history: Four years ago the police arrested more than 250 people during the monthly ride that attracted thousands during the Republic National Convention.
Hundreds of protesters were arrested during the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York. Excluding costs associated with the RNC, the NYPD and courts have spent more than $2.3 million on Critical Mass according to numbers compiled by Times Up!
Minneapolis Police Detain 3 Independent Journalists, confiscating video equipment, computer, phones, notebooks and money among other personal belongings
MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota (August 26, 2008) – Minneapolis Police officers detained three journalists early this morning, confiscating each of the their personal belongings including cell phones, video cameras, still cameras, a computer, hard drive, clothing, personal objects and money. The journalists are all members of New York City based Glass Bead Collective and are in town to document the events around the Republican National Convention. Police officer York photographed the three journalists and questioned them individually about their travel plans and what they intended to report on. The officers refused to file an official report of the incident or a receipt of the items taken, claiming that they were allowed to conduct the search and seizure under the jurisdiction of Homeland Security due to security risks leading up to the Republican National Convention.
The journalists were detained and then released after their belongings were seized. The journalists were clear that they did not consent to being searched at any point during the detainment.
Mention of the arrests is on Democracy Now! and will appear in newspapers in the future!
It appears that dissent will be closely scrutinized and monitored this convention season. While outside the DNC pepperball bullets were fired and 91 folks were arrested.
Its not surprising that there are questions like, "Why are they protesting the Democrats?", being left unanswered. It would be devastating to acknowledge that neither, Republican or Democrat, have "the people's" interest in mind. I am assured of an upsetting election, unless the momentum progressives are building last beyond November 4th.
Good luck to everyone that takes to the streets of Denver and St. Paul.
Unless you've been living under a rock- you know about all the detentions, disappearances, and shootings of people in China who have been outspoken about the ongoing struggle for a free Tibet.
Needless to say, I was shocked to hear the news that a friend of ours from Brooklyn was just arrested with 4 others for holding up a banner near the National Stadium, known as the Bird’s Nest, on Aug. 19 around 11 p.m. spelling out the message Free Tibet in Chinese and English using blue L.E.D. lights. Fortunately this was followed by info that they are safely on their way home.
This banner was co-created with the help of Graffiti Research Lab member James Powderly who was also arrested and is currently being detained due to his plan to use his invention, "The Green Chinese Lantern,” a 400 milliwatt handheld green laser with micro-stencils to beam a Free Tibet message on a Beijing landmark, possibly Tiananmen Square.
Prior to this planned action, Powderly's invitation to participate in Synthetic Times, a new media art exhibition at Beijing’s National Media Art Museum of China, was revoked, after he expressed indignation that the work must be approved by the Chinese government.
According to G.R.L's press release:
James is proud to have been kicked out of the Synthetic Times new media art exhibition in Beijing because he wouldn’t censor his little art project. James wonders why organizations like the MoMA, Parsons, Eyebeam, Ars Electronica and many other arts and cultural institutions around the world who claim to support free speech and expression would participate in a show like this. But they did! It was after being kicked to the curb by the show’s curator that James connected with Students for a Free Tibet and decided he would go to China anyway and do what he though was right in support of Tibet, Taiwan, free speech and the people of China. James lives, if indeed he is alive, in the County of Kings, Brooklyn, and teaches at the Communication Design and Technology program at Parsons the New School for Design.
The NY Times reported that,
Two video bloggers, Brian Comley, 28, and Jeffrey Rae, 28, were with James when he was detained. On Tuesday night, he sent a text message to a friend saying he had been held since 3 a.m. on Monday. His current whereabouts are unknown.
I hope James is safe and released soon. I also hope that attention continues to be drawn to the violence and repression sanctioned by the Chinese government. The price of protest for Chinese citizens is atrocious. Most recently those who applied to the Chinese government's designated Olympic protest zones were rejected, disappeared and detained, and sentenced to "re-education through labor."
That's a mouthful. I was looking at the WFMU blog yesterday and came across a post called "You Too Can Help Silence Bono". I really like the internet when it brings me closer to others that think similarly, kinda the opposite I feel from mass communications most of the time.
The post highlights the "Bono Retire From Public Life and We'll Donate a Ton of Money to FIght AIDS" campaign promises to collect pledges for the Global Fund and hold them in escrow until Bono promises to go away.
I have always been disturbed by the "activism" of characters like Bono, and most stars. There is belief that they lend their star power to raise consciousness about the "issue". That can be helpful, yet there is a dangerous line that is always crossed in our star obsessed media, and the real organizers and those affected are completely obscured by celebrity. And Bono is the most flagrant example. The criticisms in Kurt Gottschalk post "How to Dismantle a Pretentious Band or U2 Still Sucks" on the WFMU blog, provided some evidence and humor which articulated my discomfort with this "activism".
What it comes down to, is its so typical & paternalistic, of a "Westerner" and doesn't empower those who are in need with the resources they need to be autonomous from countries in the Global North. The critique in The American puts it bluntly
He has done more for raising Africa's profile and our awareness about debt relief, unequal trade, malaria and HIV/AIDS than perhaps any human being in history. He represents a game we have all played for nearly fifty years whose only winners have been corrupt governments and the international development industry.
Here's a radical idea: if we really want to help, why not ask Africans, not their governments, how they perceive the challenges before them, the dreams they have for the future, and the resources they think they need to realize them?
There's a bunch of press on Steve Powers-ESPO- new sideshow installation, “Waterboard Thrill Ride”, in Coney Island. It appears that Powers made some robots that simulate waterboarding in a space out on West 12th Street, just off Surf Avenue, in Brooklyn. Before you check it out you can read about it on the NY Times, BBC, ABC News, and probably a ton off other blogs. The piece will move to the Park Avenue Armory in September and be a part of Creative TIme's Democracy in America: The National Campaign events there. Chris Stain will also have a 70' mural included as well!
Every few weeks I am stunned by the abstraction of economics. It is beyond my comprehension how this system perpetuates itself, it has to. And anyone invested in it must follow along despite such precariousness. It scares the shit out of me, reading about the Sub-prime mortgage "scandal", the cost of war and debt to Asian banks, and the rising costs of resources. The "real" costs are not hidden from us anymore, and the institutions that once insulated us and came to "our", the people's service, have been gutted or deemed unimportant by an administration hellbent on corporate welfare.
I always presumed that economists deliberated before sending world economies into tailspins, for their own gain. I guess I'm also guilty of "trusting" the system. Yet each day I read something like the article below I realize, this is a poker game gotten out of everyones hand.
So I'm starting to accept that we are in a depression, minus gravity taking
the lives of those responsible, as it did in 1929. And understand that those who've always been stepped on and screwed over, will have it worse, and we really need to test our mutual support systems.
Does this concern anyone else?
Fannie Mae unveils loss of $2.3bn
Analyst John Raines on the problems at Fannie Mae
Problems in the US housing market have pushed mortgage finance company Fannie Mae into the red.The group sank to a net loss of $2.3bn in the three months to 30 June, against a profit of $1.97bn last year.
It comes days after its sister company Freddie Mac posted worse-than-expected results and its top executive warned house price falls are not over yet.Both government sponsored firms own, or guarantee, nearly half of the nation's mortgage debt. Shares in Fannie Mae sank in the wake of the announcement, falling 9.8% to $8.98.
As mortgage guarantors, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, must pay out when people default on their loans. But as a result of recent woes in the US housing market and subsequent sub-prime crisis the pair have run into severe difficulty. Fannie Mae said that the current housing crisis had added to its woes to the tune of $5.3bn in credit expenses. The latest losses at the firm - which came in at more than three times analysts' estimates - followed a $2.2bn loss for the first three months of the year.
"Our second-quarter results reflect challenging conditions in the housing and mortgage markets that began in 2006 and have deepened through 2007 and 2008," said Daniel H Mudd, president and chief executive officer of Fannie Mae.
He added that the firm had also taken steps to raise an additional $7bn to help it tackle the "most difficult US housing market in more than 70 years". As part of the plan Fannie Mae is slashing its dividend by more than 85% to 0.05 cents, raising its fees and has taken steps to cut its costs by 10%. The group also said it would stop purchasing 'Alt-A' loans - loans made to borrowers with good credit but little proof of their income, or people who either put down a small deposit, or no deposit, for their loan.
But there was little to offer hope in near-term future with Fannie Mae warning that increased volatility in capital markets and deteriorating credit conditions meant that it would face more losses.
Last month, the federal government offered a financial lifeline to the two beleaguered companies offering to extend their line of credit. However, the financial aid may leave the taxpayer facing a bill of $25bn over the next two years. "The taxpayer is stuck if they have to be bailed out," John Raines, deputy director of political risk for Exclusive Analysis told the BBC. He added that reports had suggested the actual cost could end up being anywhere in the region of between $10bn to $100bn. "Right now, Fannie Mae says it has the capital to weather the storm, but its looking more and more stormy by the day."
Daniel Tucker has written a nice piece about Justseeds that is going to be published in the upcoming issue of Alarm Magazine. It is also on their website here. And for those who don't want to click away from us, here it is:
Justseeds: Reminders of Emancipation and Justice
by Daniel Tucker
If in the last ten years you’ve traveled under the auspices of attending a lefty rally, protest, or conference, or you’ve spent time in a community center, a crusty punk group house, a union hall or a progressive bookstore, then you’ve probably seen some of the graphic arts distributed by justseeds.org. One particularly popular set of posters is the Celebrate People’s History series, organized by Justseeds founder Josh MacPhee. These posters, highlighting hidden and obscured histories of social movements, from the abolition of slavery to ACT-UP, show up in the most surprising and diverse contexts. In public school classrooms, they serve as the graphic curriculum equivalent to Howard Zinn’s People’s History of the United States, whereas in the social centers and bookstores of today’s leftist and sub-cultural movements, they serve as a constant reminder of the roots of struggle and of significant battles for emancipation and justice.
Justseeds was started in Chicago in 1997 and was initially conceived as a distribution platform for MacPhee’s artwork (which included an assortment of stenciled and block prints, zines, and the people’s history posters).
Carlos Fernandez of Chicago Jobs with Justice was one of many activists that encountered this work in the streets, on tables at political conferences, and on the walls of social-movement centers. He reflected, “In my encounters with the work spread by Justseeds, I realized that art’s role in political struggle could be bigger. It has offered valuable commentary, but by politicizing its production—the costs, the collaboration—it could also show how to put the ideals we voice into creative practice. I saw this in lots of small but important ways: how it was made, where it appeared, how it got into people’s hands.”
Over the years, Justseeds gained street cred and notoriety amongst a diverse set of young teachers, community organizers, contemporary artists, and graffiti writers. As this happened, MacPhee took steps to build stronger networks in his new milieu of left-leaning artists (specifically the low-budget producers like print makers and graffi ti writers). His organizational aspirations found inspiration in the late ’80s Boston-area punk scene and various anarchist, prison solidarity, and anti-racist networks in the ’90s.
According to MacPhee, “Networks and organization are not simply tools to be more effi cient or successful, but the building blocks of creating a new world. Our current society is structured to make us feel like atomized individuals, alienated from others and ourselves. This makes us more vulnerable to the massive amount of corporate and state propaganda we are bombarded with daily. By building organizations and communities where we try to really connect, understand, and support each other, we can build the collective tools necessary to both live our lives for personal self-fulfillment as well as change the larger society so that all will be free to do the same.”
There has been a lot of hoopla over July about the public art installation New York City Waterfalls by artist Olafur Eliasson. There has been much speculation as to the environmental footprint that these waterfalls have, which has been tempered by reassurance from the Public Art Fund that they are powered by renewable energy and do not use gasoline. The materials used in the project, including scaffolding, pumps, and pipes will be reused in other construction projects. All the water is drawn from the East River, which is then returned. The water goes through a filter in intake pools to protect fish and other aquatic life. At night the waterfalls are illuminated by LED lights, which are energy efficient, and all the power usage is closely monitored. This project which runs through October is speculated to generate $55 million- not a bad haul. According to many this is the most ambitious public art project undertaken since The Gates in Central Park, and both are intended to raise issues about human relationship to nature and the urban environment.
While this may be fascinating for some, I prefer to find refuge in the public green spaces that exist in New York. Recently I walked through the Ravine nature trail in Prospect Park in Brooklyn with a friend, and saw the Fallkill, Ambergill, and Binnen Waterfalls for the first time. I then looked up other waterfalls in NYC and found, unsurprisingly that I am not the only one to do this since the public art project opened, and a list of the city's waterfalls listing was printed in the NY Times. It included everything from other human made waterfalls in parks, to art installations, and just plain leaky pipes.
This list prompted another article in the Times in response to the description of the so called natural looking waterfall in Morningside Park. It describes how the waterfall is in fact not a naturally occuring phenomenon. Colombia University once attempted to build a gym in the park which was protested by community members and students. The project failed and was abandoned, leaving a hole in the rock face. In a renovation in the park in the 80's the waterfall was constructed to cover up the damage. To me this is an interesting example of how a battle over an attempted privatization of public space and subsequent destruction of the environment was remedied. While I am willing to suspend disbelief as I gaze upon a waterfall, wanting a few moments of relief and beauty, I can't disregard the reality. We made this thing.
The building that has housed Self-Help Graphics, the renowned community art center in East LA, was sold earlier this week. The future of Self-Help, which has worked with many of the most prominent and progressive Chicana/o and activist artists in LA, is in question.
Stop Gentrification! Support Self-Help Graphics!
Our friend Marc Moscato sent along this link to an interesting story/conversation unfolding around a attempt to combat perceived racism through street art in Portland, OR. The story centers around a street art action where artists/activists temporarily replaced images of Confederate flags on a mattress store with images of Martin Luther King, Jr. The action was blogged about on the Portland Mercury website, and although the art is interesting, the responses to it are whats really worth checking out. A fascinating, rambling road through varying opinions on street art, vandalism, gentrification, class, yuppies, and property values.
I recently saw the exhibition “Imaginary Coordinates” at the Spertus Museum in Chicago and was disappointed to learn that the exhibit was recently abruptly closed and will not run through the proposed closing date of September 7th. The exhibition was part of a city-wide theme in Chicago museums on mapping. Rather than taking the safe route, the Spertus Museum (which is a Jewish museum) organized a very compelling and courageous exhibition that looked at past and present maps that addressed the ever-changing borders and politics of Israel and Palestine. More so, the exhibition featured videos and installations by contemporary women artists responding to the larger issues at hand. The show was so commendable for it presented a myriad of views from both perspectives -- a decision that was sure to draw heat from pro-Israel supporters who might object to seeing work that was critical of Israel and supportive of Palestine within a Jewish museum.
To ensure that the work was protected and that visitors understood the curator’s decision-making process, visitors to the exhibition could only view the show on a guided tour.
To me, the show represented a chance for dialog and a broader understanding of the complex issues at hand and the closing of the show represents the opposite.
Below is a recent post on the abrupt closing of the show that was written by Marc Fischer (that was first posted on the Temporary Services blog)
John Jordan (mover and shaker in Reclaim the Streets, We Are Everywhere and the Climate Camp UK) is helping put together an amazing looking new event/project called The Great Rebel Raft Regatta. It looks and sounds like a more political and decentralized Miss Rockaway Armada, with an invite for anyone and everyone to build a raft and join:
A strange fusion of futuristic flotilla, activist armada and charity raft race floats down the river Medway. Hundreds of rebel rafts of every shape and size are swarming towards Kingsnorth power station, like a giant shoal of disobedient fish with a single aim, to shut down the climate criminals.
Launched from the Climate Camp on the 9th of August, as part of the mass day of Action to stop the construction of the UK's first coal fired power station in 30 years. The GRRR will be made up of a multitude of rebel rafts constructed out of flotsam and jetsam of this overheating world.... There will be pirate ship rafts, musical rafts, desert Island rafts, migration rafts, polar bears floating on ice-berg rafts, apocalyptic rafts, yellow submarine rafts, car wreck rafts, Robinson Crusoe rafts, battle ship Potemkin rafts, Viking rafts, Kontiki rafts, life rafts and love rafts, dark rafts and hope rafts.
9th August, high tide, RIver Medway, Kingsnorth Power Station, Kent
Get a team together < Build a raft of your dreams < Come to the Climate Camp August 3-11th > GRRR Launch >>> August 9th
Two members of Rebel Diaz, NYC-based political hip hop group, were arrested yesterday for trying to intervene in the police harassing a street vendor. Here's a piece written by Davey D, and below that a video from the Rebel Diaz website:
NYC Police Beat Up Rap Group Members Rebel Diaz By Davey D
Looks like the NYPD are living up to their reputation of being bonafide 'dipshits'. We are just getting word that NYC Police located in what was once known as Fort Apache-the 41st Precint in the Bronx, have shown that police terrorism is alive and well.
The word is in a unprovoked attack they badly assaulted two members of the Rap group Rebel Diaz.
The story we are hearing is that group Rodstarz and G1 were up in Bronx on Southern Blvd in Hunts Point, when they noticed the police were harassing a street vendor who was selling fruit. The two went over to witness the cops in action and when they saw the police being abusive they pulled out a cell phone to video tape the incident and asked for the officers badge numbers. keep in mind that part of the Bronx has a large immigrant community and it is also being gentrified. The police from the 41st
Precinct have made it a point to commit acts of terror including the shooting and killing of an unarmed immigrant man last year. The case brought up images of Amadou Diallo another immigrant was gunned down by out of control Bronx cops in the neighboring precinct.
According to witnesses, when Rodstarz and G1 asked for badge numbers the police became agitated and turned around and started beating them with bully clubs and kicking them in full view of other vendors and people on the crowded street. The two were dragged off bloody, put into a police car and charged with resisting arrest and assault.
The backdrop to this story is that Rebel Diaz are not your ordinary rappers. They are well known activist who not only speak out against police terrorism, but have been key in helping out folks within this immigrant community. Hence it would not be usual for group members to bear witness and to speak out against the injustices. Rebel Diaz has committed themselves to given voice to the voiceless in that Bronx neighborhood.
Many feel that the assault by these cowardly Bronx police officers in plain view of everyone was a way to send a strong message to folks in the community that the police run things and they best stay in line. By beating the Rebel Diaz members in front of everyone was a way to spark fear and remind people that no one is safe from the police. They wanna let folks know that they can brazenly beat up popular rappers in front everyone even with cell phone cameras rolling and do so with impunity. The whole ordeal is akin to the slave masters from way back sparking fear in the hearts of other slaves by beating the strongest among them in front of everyone for all to see.
Liam O'Donoghue an article online that continues the discussion/critique of Shepard Fairey thats been ongoing online over the past 6-9 months. He's posted his piece "Shepard Fairey's Image Problem" on multiple Indymedias (here's the link to the story on NYC Indymedia.) and I'm going to paste the whole thing below:
As if Wal-Mart didn’t have enough controversies to deal with, imagine the consternation in the PR war room when news hit that the retail giant was selling t-shirts bearing a Nazi SS skull. As the story unraveled, it turned out that Wal-Mart’s designer had ripped off the image from pop art superstar Shepard Fairey, whose reference for the Gestapo logo was 1960’s “biker culture.” Oops.
Using the international notoriety of his global “Andre the Giant has a posse” street art campaign as a platform, Shepard Fairey has leveraged his prolific output and iconic, anti-authoritarian style into a mini-empire. Through his ObeyGiant company (Motto: Manufacturing Quality Dissent Since 1989), he churns out screen-printed posters, clothing, and limited-run merchandise including skateboards and laser-engraved watches. His other design company, Studio Number One, specializes in branding, promotional campaigns and “identity systems” for corporate clients including Mountain Dew, Virgin, and Honda. He is also founder and creative director of Subliminal Projects art studio in Los Angeles and uber-hip Swindle magazine. His audience and the value of his work has surged in recent months on the popularity of his now-ubiquitous Obama posters.
Although Fairey “didn’t get bent out of shape” about Wal-Mart ripping him off, he originally launched his ObeyGiant clothing line because he saw that the Urban Outfitters chain was selling “bootlegged” shirts with his Giant logo. “To see it in there, just ripped off, knowing that somebody just made a bunch of money selling the t-shirts to Urban Outfitters, and here I am, just barely being able to pay my rent was definitely upsetting to me,” Fairey told me during an interview for Mother Jones. “The reason I get pissed off about stuff like that is because I didn’t build up the resonance for that image just to hand it off to someone to exploit.”
Joshua David Stein has written an article titled Ghost Riders about the Ghost Bike Project for New York Magazine. Really beautiful photographs by Christopher Griffith accompany the article.
I disagree with Stien's opening statement
As cycling in New York has become more popular, it has become increasingly deadly.I don't believe that the threat of automobiles were ever benign, they are always deadly. The manner in which NYC is utillized and designed for automobiles plays a role in how deadly they are to humans. Pedestrians are also at risk, Transportation Alternatives states that "NY has the highest number of pedestrian and cyclist deaths in the U.S.", and over 170 pedestrians were killed in 2003 in NYC. Should the same statement be said for the popularity of walking? If so then I'd logically assume the issue is with automobiles and the manner in which people drive them. NYC has evolved from a city designed for walking, and small animal drawn carriages, to a complex system of roads intended mainly for the movement of freight, human's second to that. That is the essence of the problem.
Copies with the article can be found at newsstands now.
Readers Digest takes a look at the Ghost Bike Project in their June 2008 issue, and the "your america" section online. The memorials continue to garner attention in the media as a reminder to the fallen cyclists.
If you've got a couple minutes, give this May Day statement by a sector of the Iraqi labor movement a read. It shows that there might be another path for Iraq than US occupation or sectarian bloodbath. I don't know the exact political positions of these unions, and don't know enough to endorse them or anything like that, but it's valuable to hear another voice from Iraq.
May Day 2008 Statement from the Iraqi Labour Movement:
To the Workers and All Peace Loving People of the World
April 29, 2008
On this day of international labour solidarity we call on our fellow trade unionists and all those worldwide who have stood against war and occupation to increase support for our struggle for freedom from occupation - both the military and economic.
We call upon the governments, corporations and institutions behind the ongoing occupation of Iraq to respond to our demands for real democracy, true sovereignty and self-determination free of all foreign interference.
Five years of invasion, war and occupation have brought nothing but death, destruction, misery and suffering to our people. In the name of our 'liberation,' the invaders have destroyed our nation's infrastructure, bombed our neighbourhoods, broken into our homes, traumatized our children, assaulted and arrested many of our family members and neighbours, permitted the looting of our national treasures, and turned nearly
twenty percent of our people into refugees.
Our friends at AK Press, one of the largest and best anarchist book publishers and distributors in the world (which I guess unfortunately isn't saying too much, but still...), just got a really nice write-up in Publishers Weekly, one of the big mainstream industry rags. Maybe some people are starting to notice that there are better ways to sail a ship than the corporate model....
From the article:
"But perhaps the most unusual thing about the press, which has doubled the number of units it sells over the past decade and grossed $1.4 million last year, is that it's organized as an anarchist collective. Although its 10 U.S. staff members specialize in different areas—publishing/editorial, distribution and sales and marketing—each gets an equal vote when it comes to which books, CDs or DVDs to publish."
TODAY, FRIDAY, APRIL 25th at 5:30 pm
All three cops who murdered Sean Bell were found NOT GUILTY this morning by Judge Arthur Cooperman. Join us in protesting this outrageous verdict! Demand justice for Sean Bell and an end to police violence now! People's Justice for Community Control and Police Accountability is calling for a rally and community speak-out in front of the Queens DA's office TODAY.
Rally will include performers & speakers who have been directly affected by police brutality.
In Nov. 2006, Sean Bell was murdered by the NYPD in a hail of 50 bullets. His friends - Trent Benefield and Joseph Guzman - were seriously injured. After a two-month-long trial of his killer, three detectives, the judge has announced his verdict of NOT GUILTY on all charges. The NYPD's murder of Bell and attempted murders of Benefield and Guzman are NOT isolated or random events. They represent the continued targeting of communities of color by the police and the lack of accountability for police misconduct and abuse.
Quiz. A major riot took place in Montreal on Monday night where store windows were smashed and close to a dozen police cars were set on fire. Can you guess why?
A. The city rises up against capitalism.
B. Anger over police brutality turns into a full-scale riot.
C. Axl Rose.
D. Justseeds cannot fulfill all of its orders on time. The public freaks.
E. The Montreal Canadians defeat the Boston Bruins in game seven of the playoffs. Rabid sports fans loot downtown.
For the answer, check out this video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VSQ5uw2UVbY&feature=related
In what can only be described as classic, Shepard Fairey is suing another artist for stealing from him! After decades of pillaging other people's work wholesale, I guess Fairey thinks he's special, and should be protected from people just like him? Here's the full story on Animal New York. Texas-based artist Baxter Orr has put a medical mask over Andre's face, and gotten a cease and desist letter for his troubles.
In Paris, London, Istanbul, and San Francisco, protesters have interrupted the passing of the Olympic torch in solidarity with the people of Tibet and against China's human rights abuses. Here are two mainstream newscasts about it, I haven't found any good independent coverage yet so for now: in Paris
Press/Play is the first of six experimental broadcasts of 24 local, national and international artists exhibiting a five-minute presentation of what is currently happening within their local art community. The presentations will be projected to an audience of artists and art supporters live via Skype. Press/Play will take place May 10th at 6pm EST. The first event will be exhibited at the 555 Gallery in Detroit, and the Press/Play events will broadcast every other month for one year. Each will concentrate on individual themes within the arts. In September the broadcast will focus on "Art in social context and expressing political issues," and the November broadcast will be about D.I.Y.
The project coordinator, Kt Andresky, is still seeking artists to represent these cities: Pittsburgh, Chicago, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Seattle, London, Paris, Berlin, Vienna, Amsterdam, Buenos Aires, Mexico City, Montréal, Rome for this first, and future, broadcasts.
The Press/Play broadcasts will be recorded by professional volunteers, and all of the documentation will be used to create 200 pressed records, 200 screen-printed newspapers, and a website. The website and newspaper will provide further detail of each artist representative and all topics brought to attention within the five minute presentation. Each artist involved must have access to the internet (from 6pm – 8pm est. on May 10th 2008 for the first broadcast), needs to have a Skype account, an internet videoconferencing system, which can be downloaded free from skype.com, and should be prepared to communicate to an audience in Detroit through Skype for five minutes discussing what is happening within the art community of their city.
Not what you think, or maybe exactly. The Tate Museum, a world renowned contemporary art museum, is looking for some new muralists . Graffiti can stake its claim on museums and galleries again. This time institutions have gotten smarter, they are keeping street art outside. Instead of giving the newest generation of street artists canvas' to paint on the Tate museum will be sanctioning a 35 meter (approx 115') mural on its facade, spokesman stress that the building will not be harmed.
Banksy, English stencil artist, hasn't been mentioned in the press as participating in the exhibit. Yet he was able to sneak his own work into the museum a few years back! looking at his site lately it appears that he has been influenced by Kara Walker.
Artists that have been invited to submit proposals include Os Gemeos, Faile, Blu, Never, JR, and Sixart.
It will be a curious thing, street art has been a passing trend in many cities around the world. Its been adapted to market and sell products and has commodified itself. Is this just another marker of its assimilation into consumer society and bourgeois culture? Will it encourage a new generation of artists to challenge the constraints of public space?
There have been a lot of activity around the current events in Tibet. A lot of actions focusing on the Olympics in China. One I came across today on the BBC newswire is about the disruption of the lighting of the torch in Greece.
Recently, in NYC, there were reports of some aggression outside of the Chinese Consulate on 42nd street, leaving injured people and broken glass. People are demanding a stop to the killing in Tibet and a boycott of the upcoming Olympics in China.
This past weekend in NYC, a march passed thru Union Square. Here's some flicks I was able to snatch of the posters and banners. The messaging was really clear in their images and chants, and was a very moving experience as the thousand or so demonstrators moved thru the Union Square Greenmarket.
'People's History' headed to movies
By Borys Kit
Feb 8, 2008
Called The People Speak, the documentary will feature dramatic readings and live musical performances from the likes of Josh Brolin, Viggo Mortensen, David Strathairn, Marisa Tomei Jasmine Guy, John Legend, Q'Orianka Kilcher, Michael Ealy and Kerry Washington.
Four performances in Boston at Emerson's Cutler Majestic Theater have already been shot and a planned spring shoot will have Matt Damon, Sean Penn, Eddie Vedder and Steve Earle, among others.
Damon, along with Dan Fireman, Ara Katz Art Spigel of Artfire Films, as well as Carolyn Mugar are producing. Zinn, Anthony Arnove and Chris Moore are exec producing. Damon has long been a fan of the book, throwing in a mention in his Good Will Hunting, as well as narrating the audiobook.
Cinetic Media is handling domestic sales while Cinema Management Group, headed by veteran international sales and distribution executive, Edward Noeltner, is overseeing worldwide rights, launching the project at Berlin.
The book, first published in 1980, presents American history through a bottoms up approach, focusing on voices seldom heard in history books such as defiant Indians, mutinous soldiers, striking workers, and rebellious women.
South End Press is currently seeking qualified applicants to join our small, majority women and majority people of color collective as Editor/Publisher/Financial Coordinator.
I had some serious questions about Banksy's Santa's Ghetto project in Bethlehem (like the point of Faile's boxer piece, which flattens out the Palestine/Israel conflict to a simple equation of two brute's punching each other, rather than one massive military bully with billions of $$ in arms squeezing the life out of an out-gunned, out-financed and generally brutalized people), but this new project on the wall really makes my head spin. A Dutch group called Send a Message has set up a website where you can pay a Palestinian 30 Euros to graffiti a message of your choice on the Apartheid Wall?!?!?!? The group is a non-profit, and the Palestinian painters are artists and getting paid for the work. Supposedly the money is funneled into Palestinian NGOs working on local infrastructure projects.
Certainly capitalism isn't going to provide a solution to the conflict, but I'm afraid that's what these people think they are doing. They claim to want the wall to come down, yet their first example of why the wall is bad is that it "kills business"!! It's certainly a great to create some cash flow to beleaguered Palestinians, but does the cost have to be the crass commercialization of one of the largest symbols of oppression in the world?
What does it mean to turn the wall into a giant billboard, so that Jenny and Mike from San Francisco can express their undying love for each other on the historic (as the company calls it) wall?? The tag line is "It was meant to keep people apart, now it brings people together."
I don't want to attack people for trying to help solve serious problems, but something about this project feels wrong. It comes out of a workshop design pros held in Ramallah with young Palestinians, and smacks similar to a number of well-intentioned design projects where designers over-value the importance of their skill sets. Convinced by the integral relationship design and advertising has to the turning of the gears of global neo-liberal capitalism, designers believe they can advertise and photoshop a new world into existence. Rather than look at and address the historical relationships that the state of Israel has had to individual and organizations of Palestinians, or the real power differentials at play, there is the creation of a marketing device to raise awareness.
I'm really interested in what others think about this, because my guess is we'll be seeing more and more projects like this in the future. Soon we'll be able to pay Rwandan refugees draw caricature's of our loved ones in order to get enough food to eat. My fear is that we're on a very slippery slope, where soon (if we're not already there) solidarity with the Global South will look a lot like a minstrel show.
Hands down, the Iraq Veterans Against the War(IVAW) are doing the most kick ass political and cultural work in the US today. For a year or so they have been organizing a series of actions under the title Operation First Casualty, the first casualty of war being truth. Fully geared up Iraq War veterans have been descending on cities across the country and performing military actions on the street. This video gives a hint at how intense this is:
In addition IVAW is gearing up to hold their Winter Soldier tribunal March 13-16 in Washington DC. Here's what they have to say about it:
Winter Soldiers, according to founding father Thomas Paine, are those who stand up for the soul of their country, even in its darkest hours. With this spirit in mind, IVAW members are standing up to make their experiences available to all who are concerned about the direction of our country.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time America has needed its Winter Soldiers, in 1971, over one hundred members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War gathered in Detroit to share their stories with America. Atrocities like the My Lai massacre had ignited popular opposition to the war, but political and military leaders insisted that such crimes were isolated exceptions. The members of VVAW knew differently.
Over three days in January, these soldiers testified on the systematic brutality they had seen visited upon the people of Vietnam.
Over thirty years later, we find ourselves faced with a new war. But the lies are the same. Once again, American troops are sinking into an increasingly bloody occupation. Once again, war crimes in places like Haditha, Fallujah, and Abu Ghraib have turned the public against the war. Once again, politicians and generals are blaming "a few bad apples" instead of examining the military policies that have destroyed Iraq and Afghanistan.
Once again, our country needs Winter Soldiers.
Check out the IVAW website for more information, and definitely pass it on to anyone you know who is a veteran or is currently serving in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Last week there was an encuentro in Oaxaca that was attended by many organizations of the APPO (Popular Assembly for the People of Oaxaca) and others struggling for justice in southern Mexico. What follows is a demonstration held, demanding justice for political prisoners, many of whom showed leadership during the social uprising in 2006.
In spanish here.
Many artists have been involved with the recent social movement in Oaxaca, creating posters, graphics, imagery, and as seen in the above video, painting messages in the streets during demonstrations. Their markings leave an ephemeral, yet longer lasting, memory of the demands made during the protests. The slogans and demands painted on the walls remind the tourist heavy city of Oaxaca about the injustice the population faces.
Not only are demands for the freedom of political prisoners David Venegas and Isabel Almarez expressed, rescinding the bus fare increase, the profit of banks and frivolous businesses, and labeling police as assassins were also painted on appropriate targets.
Nancy Davies explains on NarcoNews
The range of protests includes: removing price increases for basic foods such as tortillas, and for gasoline; freeing political prisoners; returning the disappeared alive; canceling changes to the national social security institute (the ISSSTE); protecting streets in the center of the city; rescinding the increase in bus fares; and handing the schools still held by the breakaway teachers union Section 59 (promoted by governor Ulises Ruiz, who the teachers and APPO tried to force out of office in their 2006 uprising) back to Section 22.
The causes of the discontent and poverty in Oaxaca remain and so tourists passing by can expect to be reminded despite the "cosmetic changes" tried in the past.
My friend Stephanie has created an amazingly interesting and weird new project by opening a factory in Second Life! In an attempt to raise serious issues about the intersection of 3d web environments like Second Life and World of Warcraft and our real world economy, she's created the Double Happiness Jean factory, the first virtual sweatshop. It's a little hard to wrap your head around, but they are selling real world jeans (that you can wear) that are digitally printed onto a special fabric, but in order to have the jeans produced a number of people need to be "working" in Second Life. A half dozen people need to literally be simultaneously online and pressing buttons on virtual machines in order to make the virtual conveyor belt run, and for the jeans to be produced (printed out) in the real world.
These workers actually get paid in Lindens, the currency that is used in Second Life. They are paid 200 Lindens an hour, which is about 90 cents. Word is that this is good pay in the virtual world. People talk a lot about how Second Life and other virtual worlds allow for all kinds of experimentation that is difficult or impossible in real life. But can we seriously talk about something being different or alternative when the same exact capitalist social relations that exist in our first life are reproduced in Second Life? What does it mean that people who spend hours and hours in virtual worlds, I would assume in part to escape the problems, pressures or seeming limitations of their real lives, go to work in a virtual factory in order to be able to buy virtual clothes and code scripts to be able to perform virtual sex acts on other avatars?
I feel like I hear more and more about protests, strikes and other activist actions within Second Life, but I'm still unsure as to what they all add up to. There is an excitement and buzz around these things, it seems largely because they are new, but do they challenge any power in a real way? Are the virtual offices of a company a site where they are vulnerable? Is anything actually created there that can be stopped or blocked? Are companies dependent enough on their virtual presences that disrupting them has a real world effect? I guess I don't really know, but I'm very skeptical.
It's taken me a long time to get this together, but I wanted to throw my ideas into the discussion around the artwork/plagiarism of Shepard Fairey that has been spinning around the web. For those that might not know, Shepard Fairey is the creator of the "Andre the Giant has a Posse" sticker campaign, which became a long running series of "Obey Giant" posters. Mark Vallen, a Los Angeles-based artist (who created some of my favorite street posters from the early LA punk scene), recently published a long critique of Fairey on his blog, Art For A Change. What I'm writing here directly relates to Mark's piece, so if you haven't read it, give it a look here.
Mark's write-up came out of a long discussion that has been going on between a number of politically-motivated artists and archivists about Fairey's work. Throughout the whole process of discussion it has seemed clear that we have been coming from parallel but divergent positions, with different parts of the larger issues at hand being more or less important to each of us. Mark is clearly concerned with social and political potentials of ART, and believes Fairey's wholesale "theft" of historical images cheapens the potential for art to make change in the world. Lincoln Cushing, an artist, archivist and author who has been involved in the discussions, is very concerned with how plagiarism hurts efforts to empower our communities with their own revolutionary art history. However, he also supports strategic use of existing copyright law, and recently got Fairey to pay retroactive royalties on a t-shirt with Cuban artwork appropriated without credit. Favianna Rodriguez, also involved, has been particularly frustrated with Fairey's use of and profiting off of the art of people of color, and the images of the struggles of people of color, while he has had to pay none of the costs for having to live as a person of color in this society or world.
As if the war in Iraq wasn't surreal and fucked up enough already (with televised "victory" events before the real war even started, mass public spectacles like the tearing down of Saddam's statue and the freeing of Jessica Lynch which were completed fabricated by the US Military, and regular "We're Winning" announcements when it is painfully clear that the largest, most trained and well equipped military in the world is generally unable to do much of anything in the face of a ragtag Iraqi resistance with little or no comparable weaponry or training), Abu Ghraib, home of the famous "thumbs up, we've got you naked and on a dog leash" torture and photos is now home to a strange US Army PR stunt, an art contest!!!
I shit you not, we are now supposed to think warmly about how well we treat our prisoners in Iraq because we let them paint the outside of their torture chambers! Awesome! This has to be one of the strangest public art projects of all time....Here's the lead paragraph in the Army press release come news story:
"Concrete bunkers, strategically placed within the confines of Abu Ghraib prison for detainee protection, turned into works of art when juvenile detainees were offered the challenge to paint them in the form of a contest."
You can read the rest here. Does anyone else think this is totally bonkers?
Students for a Democratic Society: A Graphic History
Traveling Exhibit! Arriving in New York at CUNY Graduate Center
Opens: December 10th, 6:30 - Recital Hall
To read the article in it's entirety: http://www.friendlyagitate.net/category/art/
This text lifted directly from their website:
The SDS Comic Show, a traveling exhibit drawing upon the book Students for a Democratic Society: a Graphic History, will be open at the CUNY Graduate Center in December. Come see the exhibit and join us for a book signing and panel discussion for Students for a Democratic Society: a Graphic History, scripted by Harvey Pekar and others and edited by Paul Buhle, editor of the 1960s SDS magazine Radical America. Harvey Pekar, real-life star of the award-winning film and the book series American Splendor (and sometime Letterman Show guest), will deliver a talk on comics and politics, followed by a panel including Buhle, former SDS-NY regional officer, Weatherman Jeff Jones, and members of the New SDS.
Justseeds is having its first annual meeting and retreat in Pittsburgh this weekend! And while we're here we ran into some amazing political street art. The Howling Mob Society has installed a series of historical markers correcting the public perception of the Great Railroad Strike of 1877, which was one of the most lively and violent labor uprising in the history of the US. Here's who they are (from their website):
"The Howling Mob Society (HMS) is a collaboration of artists, activists and historians committed to unearthing stories neglected by mainstream history. HMS brings increased visibility to the radical history of Pittsburgh, PA through grassroots artistic practice. Our current focus is The Great Railroad Strike of 1877, a national uprising that saw some of its most dramatic moments in Pittsburgh."
My friend Bettina recently sent me this list of links to stories and images of graffiti in Baghdad. Most of them are old, back from the beginning of the war when the graffiti was being heralded as a sign of "new found freedom." It's interesting to go back and re-read these, and also look at the youtube videos of more more recent graffiti:
National Public Radio
Christian Science Monitor
Icky and I are traveling around Europe and have been meeting with some great people and learning about some amazing art and activist projects. Here's our first missive about a struggle going on in Copenhagen:
While in Copenhagen we learned about a huge struggle going on now around the Ungdomshuset, which was the "youth house," a squatted community center for mostly punk and anarchist kids. As far as we understand, the city sold the building to a religious group who evicted them, which led to days of rioting back in the spring. Since they have torn the whole building down and are now trying to sell the land.
The location of the former squat is a sad blank spot in the landscape now, with both the building and the garden that were in the back completely destroyed and removed. The address of the building was 69 Jagtvej in the Nørrebro neighborhood, and now the entire city (and I mean the ENTIRE city) is covered with graffiti that says "69." The memory of Ungdomshuset is everywhere you look.
The kids came up with a plan to squat another building, and publicly advertised the date, time and place they would do it for months, having huge build up events almost every week, demonstrations of 5000 kids taking over different streets. One of the big things we noticed was that each event was advertised with tons of large scale posters, most full color and amazingly designed.
Finally last week came the announced day and something like 15,000 kids came from all over the country and occupied the building, and just sat down and refused to leave. It took the police hours to drag them out and after they finally did, the chief of police said the police would no longer fight the kids or deal with the kids, and it was a problem for the politicians, and they needed to solve it...so the movement forced a split between the cops and government, which seems pretty interesting...
Here is the Ungdomshushet website in English.
This came in the other day from The Committee for the Rescue and Development of Vieques, who were instrumental in the fight to get the US to stop bombing the small Puerto Rican island of Vieques a few years back:
The Committee for the Rescue and Development of Vieques (CPRDV) is in the process of applying for a Full Power Non Commercial Educational Radio license from the Federal Communications Commission.
This is part of a long-term project to establish an educational community radio station based in Vieques which will broadcast to the Eastern Region of Puerto Rico, under the name of RADIO COMUNITARIA VIEQUES-FM (RCV-FM).
Colin Matthes recently completed a mural for Milwaukee's IN:SITE temporary public art program. The mural is titled "Everyday Transactions: The Familiar Inconceivable". The mural draws upon elements of the everyday, and reflects much of what occurs- business, warfare, and leisure. Water plays an important role in this mural. Water simultaneously connects us and divides the space. With talk of global warming, tropical storms, and the increasing scarcity of water in poor countries we are asked to question our relationship to water, as well as our relationship to each other in the world around us.
IN:SITE has been providing resources and opportunities to create temporary public art in Milwaukee since the fall of 2006. In that time a number of wonderful projects have been created such as:
This most recent round of projects also includes:
•“Phyto Remedy” by Benjamin Martinkus
•“Through 30 Steps Backward” by Mike Genovese
•“Flight” by Darryl Jensen
•“Urban Radio Network” by Bridget Quinn and Jessica Vandevort
•“PARK(ing)” by Rosheen Styczinski
and many more...
For more information on the current round of IN:SITE projects, to view the archive of past projects, or to find out how to get involved in the program please visit the IN:SITE website at http://www.insitemilwaukee.org.
In October members of THINK AGAIN did some large-scale projections in Los Angeles for a project was called "The NAFTA Effect" organized by Outpost for Contemporary Art. THINK AGAIN's mobile projectors roamed the streets of Los Angeles after dark emblazoning giant projections on building facades. This project acknowledges the contribution and participation of immigrant laborers in the life of Los Angeles. On the level of policy, The NAFTA Effect highlights how international treaties like NAFTA, in concert with national anti-immigration efforts, reshape the ways that families live and work on both sides of the border as well as challenging the proposed 700-mile border fence, and the criminalization of undocumented workers.
To see a slide show, and for more information on the project visit: http://www.saltinthewound.org/
Im currently in Daytona Beach, FL and there isn't a whole lot to do late night, so I was sitting with my computer in front of the TV. Now I don't find much interesting on television, so it didn't matter that I was watching Cardon Daly's late show. What caught my attention was when he made a bad joke about a mom that drove her son and a few friends around to throw up some tags on Sunset Blvd, in LA. I did what most curious people with a laptop in front of them might do, I hit google news and searched! What I found was the latest in graffiti crimes and convictions.
Prosecutors have dismissed vandalism charges against a 42-year-old mother accused of shuttling her two sons and their three friends around in a sport utility vehicle so they could spray graffiti.
The charges against Victoria Villicano were dropped "in the interest of justice," but her 20-year-old son was prosecuted for spraying dozens of tags along Sunset Boulevard in late August, said Jane Robison, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County district attorney's office.
David Ramirez pleaded guilty to two counts of felony vandalism of more than $400. He was sentenced Thursday to 46 days in county jail and three years probation. Superior Court Judge Norm Shapiro also ordered Ramirez to serve 200 hours of graffiti removal.
The judge ordered Villicano to serve another 90 days in jail for violating her probation stemming from a drug arrest earlier this year.
Villicano was charged in January with one felony count of possession or purchase of a cocaine base for sale. She pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a year in jail with credit for nearly three months behind bars and was placed on probation.
The status of any charges against the other four suspects, ranging in age from 14 to16, were not immediately available.
Incarceration for over six weeks and 3 years probation will do a lot to a person. Deter other people from writing their name on walls, I'm not so sure.
You can check out a short clip abou the HIVC-High into Vandalism Crew over at CBS.
For decades, teachers in Oaxaca, Mexico, have conducted strikes to demand educational reform from the federal and state government. Some of the teacher's demands include living wages, sanitary schools, text books, and more public school facilities. Historically, these strikes have lasted short periods of time and caused minimal or no disruption to the state's economy. The government, except for minor concessions, has been able to ignore the teacher's strikes and their demands
May 15, 2006: It's National Teachers Day in Oaxaca. And the leadership of Oaxaca's 70,000 teachers representing Section 22 of the National Teachers Union declared that if there was no further movement in their negotiations with the government, then the following week "would see a state-wide strike by Oaxaca's school teachers" and that "This one will be different than all the previous strikes"...
May 22-24, 2006: 70,000 Oaxaqueño school teachers go on strike. And the first indications that this was to be a "different" kind of strike were immediately apparent in and around the city's historic centre. There, for the first time, the teachers, in the thousands, erected a tent and awning city, occupied day and night in the Zocalo and in the streets surrounding the Zocalo. It's a peaceful occupation of the city's center, but it is also immediately apparent that more teachers are coming into the occupied area on a daily basis. And these teachers are not just from the City of Oaxaca. They're swarming in from the outlying villages and towns in the Valley... (Mexico Solidarity Network Weekly News and Analysis, August 21-27, 2006)
The teacher's strike, their encampments, their independent media infrastructure, and their continuous mass mobilizations (marches reaching up to 300,000 people) have been perceived as a serious threat to Mexico's dominant political and economic order. In the early morning of June 14, 2006, the state attempted to crush the teacher's movement by launching an army of several thousand uniformed and plain clothed state and municipal police in an all out attack against the teachers. Police violently destroyed the encampments and scattered the teachers throughout the city.
Within two days, the teachers released the names and photos of 12 teachers and 3 students who were killed and/or disappeared during the attack. The government denies the charges. To date, it is confirmed that five union members have been shot and killed by police.
Since the June 14th attack, teachers and their sympathizers have taken the city center back. They have rebuilt their encampments, their radio stations, their newsletter circulation, and their barricades. The mass mobilizations continue and, following a police attack on independent radio stations, they have been complimented by another effective tactic, the occupation of main stream media centers. From here, the teachers have promoted their most recent and immediate demand, the resignation of Oaxaca Governor Ulises Ruiz Ortiz.
Government repression also persists. Police continue to attack and kill members of the APPO, a recently formed network of organizations sympathetic to the teachers strike and dedicated to removing Governor Ortiz from power. On August 22, 2006, police attacked APPO members who were guarding commercial station La Ley 710, killing Lorenzo San Pablo Cervantes, head of the education sector of the state Department of Public Works and an APPO sympathizer.
For more information check out these websites:
Indymedia, Mexico (Español)
Indymedia Mexico, Desalojo Oaxaca (Español)
Centro de Medios Libres, DF (Español)
Indymedia, Chiapas (Español)
Granito de Arena: Award-winning Seattle filmmaker, Jill Freidberg (This is What Democracy Looks Like, 2000), spent two years in southern Mexico documenting the efforts of over 100,000 teachers, parents, and students fighting to defend the country's public education system from the devastating impacts of economic globalization. Freidberg combines footage of strikes and direct actions with 25 years worth of never-before-seen archival images to deliver a compelling and unsettling story of resistance, repression, commitment, and solidarity.
The pictures in this post were taken by Sasha Hammad. Thank you to her.
The messages, including “No Deportations”, “Legalization for All Immigrants”, “Rights for All Workers” among others, were painted on banners unfurled over prominent public sites throughout four boroughs.
The banners – penned in languages from English, Spanish, Korean, Urdu, Chinese and others - were dropped throughout the city in the early morning hours. Manhattan locations include 155th & Riverside Drive, 120th Street & FDR Drive, and Chinatown. Queens locations include the Queensboro Bridge and Jackson Heights and Brooklyn locations include the Prospect Expressway and the BQE.
With Bush's national televised speech on immigration reform on Monday, this action is designed as the people’s response and follows recent national protests, including one in NYC on May 1 that drew out hundreds of thousands of people.
This also comes within New York City's “National Week of Action” called to coincide with the Senate resuming Immigration Debates the same day of Bush’s immigration speech. Here is the press release for the national day of action.
Immigrants Demand Real Legalization & Reject Inhumane Compromises
As the Senate reconvenes on Monday, May 15th for the last stretch of its immigration reform debate, immigrants in New York City will join thousands across the country in a National Week of Actions from May 14- May 20 to say "No Deal!" to a three tier legalization bill, guest worker programs, increased enforcement, and border walls. Immigrants warn the Senate against compromising our futures with the bill on the table which has drawn mass opposition for its attempt to split up immigrant families and increase criminalization through expedited deportation and indefinite detention. Instead grassroots coalitions of diverse immigrant organizations stand firm in saying that immigrants deserve no less than:
(1) Legalization for all immigrants; No guest-worker programs of work & leave
(2) Improved and faster family reunification opportunities for all;
(3) Enforce the protection of human and civil rights by reducing detention & deportation, ending collaboration between the DHS and public agencies, and ending deaths & abuses of migrants at the borders;
(4) Non-compliance with the REAL ID Act and the guarantee of equal access to driver's licenses for immigrants;
(5) Equal protection of labor rights of undocumented workers.
Also, check out our small, but hopefully growing, archive of immigrant's rights artwork. All pieces are available for download and free dissemination.
The Gothamist recently posted a story about a festive day of street chalking, which was ruined by a pair of self-righteous snitches and some bored police officers. An eyewitness and participant in the day of chalking describes his experience.
We took a grand old stroll near the cube in Astor Place. On the sidewalk around the cube, we saw a ginormous yin yang drawn in chalk on the sidewalk, and two girls drawing stuff around it. We grabbed some chalk and joined in... Others joined in and left whatever messages they pleased. Eventually, one of the girls started to draw on the cube itself. Verily, this was the trickle that started the flood, as everyone else followed afterwards. Including us. People climbed ontop of the cube to defa-- draw on it. It was a grand old time.
Judging from these pictures, the chalking engaged the interest and participation of many a passer-by. Fun for the whole family. Sadly, a pair of cranky graffiti haters were so disturbed by the chalking that they decided to call the police. The authorities arrived and arrested several chalkers, as well as a group of girls who had protested the arrests by chanting "let them go!" These two girls eventually spent 26 hours in police custody, were tried and eventually their charges were dismissed.
Seth, one of the individuals arrested, posted these comments on the Gothamist, reflecting on his experience in detention.
i spent 26 hours in jail for this shit, was rather ridiculous. it wasnt free speech or defacement, it was us having a little bit of fun that didnt hurt anyone. everything was temporary, but the cops treated us like shit. noone was caught with drugs, though they mistook a bag of maple sugar candy my friend had for crack before they tested it. it was outrageous to waste my weekend like this, and thats not mentioning how many different ways the cops broke the law in processing us. they held us for 12 hours in the precint, denied food, water, or bathroom usage. one of the guys in the cell with me was a diabetic (arrested on a different charge) but his request for medical attention or a sugar level check after he realized he couldnt feel his fingers was delayed for 2 hours while the cops told him to wait. meanwhile, it was 6 hours after we had been taken in before the precint bothered to notify our parents. i resent how some people have made us out to be the villan of this piece, but our having fun was not a justification for how the cops had theirs at our expense.
after spending 26 hours in police custody (2 of them were released after 20 hours) we were released by the judge who basically said: "this is a bullshit charge. chalk is not considered grafitti and therefore the charges pressed against you are unjustified and you should not have been arrested to begin with. stay out of trouble for 6 months and it wont be on your records. get out of my face.
The marshmallow kid's statement is true. Chalking on the sidewalk is technically not a crime because there is no mention of it in any of New York City's graffiti laws. However, many police, who either don't know this or pretend to not know this fact, will arrest and detain you anyway.
For more info on local chalk artists, check out this post about the Ellis G's chalk shadows.
Ed Hay may spend most of his time cleaning up graffiti from the railway cars for the CN. But, for the past six years during his "break time" he has taken pictures of what he considers to be some of the best pieces--before he paints over them! By his own count he now his over 300 pictures, and some of his favorites will be on display at the Graffiti Gallery in Manitoba. Though Mr. Hay admits that the CN would probably "frown" on his contributions, he contends, along with the artistic director of the gallery Pat Lazo, that the work "shows the importance of having legal places for graffiti artists to work."
The Graffiti Gallery is no stranger to the controversies that inevitabley follow any efforts to frame graffiti outside of the mainstream context of illegality and property damage. In its own words, the Gallery has been "using art as a tool for community, social, economic and individual growth." Started by Steve Wilson seven years ago, it has been navigating the awkward problems of legitimizing graffiti without alienating the graffiti writing community. And, its come a long way, now operating as a non-profit organization, it offers a diverse set of educational programs and holds various shows and exhibitions. Not to mention, it has helped to invigorate the creation of numerous murals in the surrounding area, which have helped to blur the lines between graffiti "vandalism" and "art".
photos are from the Graffiti Gallery
A while back, I asked my friend Salvador to take some pictures of political graffiti during his trip to Chile. Salvador is back and he has brought 26 pictures of excellent stencils and slogans he spotted on the street. A wide spectrum of radical politics color Chile’s urban landscape. Some pieces are explicitly anarchist, others socialist; others are less ideological but deliver a clear and powerful message of dissent and hope for a better world. Click here to view all of the pictures on Salvador's Flickr account. The image above reads, "Rebel Action Muralists"
This might also be a good time to mention the recent presidential election in Chile. Michelle Bachelet, a 54-year-old pediatrician, is Chile’s first female president and the first democratically elected women president in Latin America. Bachelet is part of a new generation of political leadership for the center-left Concertación coalition – an oftentimes testy alliance of the Christian Democratic Party, the Socialist Party, and the Party for Democracy and the Radical Party.
Bachelet is the daughter of a high-profile Air Force general who strongly supported the government of President Salvador Allende in the 1970s and who later died as a result of torture received in Pinochet’s prisons. She and her mother were later briefly arrested and tortured, before exiling themselves – first to Australia and then East Germany. She returned to Chile from exile in 1987 to practice medicine and continue her involvement with Socialist Party politics.
Bachelet is also a single mother of three and a self-declared agnostic. For many, her political victory represents an important challenge to the sexist machismo and Christian intolerance of Chilean political institutions. Her socialist ideology also represents another obstacle for the United State’s quickly sinking neo-liberal agenda in Latin America. Of course, many remain skeptical that any political party can ever bring freedom or sustainable solutions to the people of Latin America. The first image bellow (from left to right) reads, "The political parties are not part of the solution. They are part of the problem. Annul and Organize!"
The second image reads, "Political prisoners. On hunger strike since 12/4/2004. To the streets!!!" The third image reads, "Because they take everything from us. We reclaim everything. We will take everything. Capitalism is misery."
Submitted without comment:
If Tony Blair wants to know what drives young vandals to cover walls with graffiti, he won’t have far to look. His own grandmother would have been a target of the respect agenda that he launched last week.
Friends of Mary Blair say she helped to daub Communist party slogans on walls in Govan, Glasgow. She did no actual daubing, it was her job to mix the whitewash.
The revelation is particularly embarrassing because young Tony went out of his way to praise the respectful attitudes of 1930s Govan. “They didn’t have as much money as we did,” he recalled, “but people behaved more respectfully to one another.”
But Alex Morrison, 86, once a neighbour of Mary Blair and fellow Communist party activist, poured scorn on that idea. “I’m sure Mary would have been laughing her head off at her grandson’s description of Govan as some kind of idyllic community,” he says. “The reality was that Govan was a terrible place to live.”
Recently in Massachusetts police used the networking website Myspace.com to find 3 graffiti artists that are suspected to have caused $75,000 worth of "damage." Stoughton Police Officers "spent more than two months surfing the popular website Myspace.com for Stoughton youths who were active in the graffiti artist community." According to the Boston Globe.Officers turned to the website after attempts to identify the "perpetrators" in the local high school were unsuccessful.
Myspace, a free website, allows users to form networking groups based on shared interests. All three of the teenagers charged were members of a group called ''Graffiti Artists," which features artists from all over the world.
Police used photographs, of the graffiti, and the list of "interests," tagging, found on the website as probable cause to bring the three teenagers in for questioning.
CBS4 in Boston reports in their news clip:
(one) 18-year-old has been charged with 28 counts of tagging property and 11 counts of malicious damage of more than $250; , (another) 17(years old), has been charged with 17 counts of tagging and 11 counts of malicious damage of more than $250; and (another) 18 year old, has been charged with 14 counts of tagging.
They were charged according to each "tag" on every building and vehicle, which accounts for the numerous counts. The Stoughton Journal reports that they face "felony"criminal charges and the possibility of paying restitution.
As graffiti artists and websites proliferate it is assumed that police and detectives will use them as an aid, much like this example and what happened recently in Dallas.
The Washington Post had a nice article a few days back on Philadelphia's extraordinary public murals:
White-haired Marian Custus peers out her door where a row of elegant townhouses once stood. The owners fled, and crack and arson crept in. All became rubble. Two years ago the artists arrived and enlisted neighborhood kids and painted two radiant murals on the sides of rowhouses, known collectively as "Holding Grandmother's Quilt."
"Do you know how lucky I am?" Custus confides to a visitor. "It's like waking up every morning and having a museum painting in your neighborhood. I feel so lucky to live here."
No city in America has so much mural art, a brick wall poetry that reflects every mood in Philadelphia. There are portraits of Dr. J and Frank Sinatra and a brilliant mural of Jackie Robinson sliding home. But as touching are murals of neighborhood children and a beloved cop who died in Iraq, a "Healing Wall" that stretches 300 feet along the railway tracks and a 50-foot Brobdingnagian garden mural that dominates a now-drug blasted corner in the Mantua neighborhood.
Full article here. Many of Philadelphia's public murals were initiated and funded as an anti-graffiti program. Here's a program that actually defines quality of life positively, cultivating beauty on the city's walls. NYC's politicians could take a lesson in constructive thinking from Philly!
Photo at top from Fivefity_Tom's flickr photostream.
In what was an extensive and coordinated effort yesterday morning, at least 30 Dallas police officers attempted to round up 10 persons with arrest warrants. In the operation, six graffiti artists were arrested for alleged property damage totaling about $100,000. Two face felonies punishable by up to 2 years in prison and $10,000 in fines. The other 4, including a 16 year old, face Class B misdemeanor charges that carry a possible 6 month jail term with $2,000 in fines.
Police Chief David Kunkle has apparently been motivated by a website that he claims features two of the apprehended suspects. Kunkle argues that anyone who would post their work on such a site, (presumably because the site pokes a bit of fun at the police) must have "a lack of respect for the community," and they are in fact making "an arrogant in-your-face kind of statement." Kunkle has taken it personally. He has asked the district attorney not to accept plea bargains in any of the pending cases. Sites that feature graffiti, and you know who you are, beware of the message that you may be promoting--according to Kunkle it cannot be celebatory or positive.
These arrests come on the heels of Borf's, or as he has now become known, John Tsombikos, arrest and consequent trial. He, in fact, did put in a plea of guilty to one count of felony destruction of property, a charge that carries a maximum prison term of 10 years and a fine of as much as $5,000. Though he answered routine questions at his trail he never had to directly mention any of the actions that put him in court. He is expected to do so however at his sentencing hearing on Feb. 9, 2005.
As part of his plea Tsombikos has agreed to clean graffiti for 80 of the 200 community service hours that he has, on top of $12,000 in fines. Jail time, if any, will not be known until the Feb. 9th hearing. According to another part of his plea, Tsombikos is not allowed to carry any art supplies on his person while attending art classes at Corcoran College of Art and Design.
In both of these cases, I cannot help but notice a serious sort of personal satisfaction in bringing these kids to "justice." Dennis Butler, the D.C. public official in charge of cleaning up graffiti stated that he would give Tsombikos the remaining "Borf"graffiti to clean up, claiming that it was "unwanted art," going on to say that, "let him see the headaches we went through to keep the city clean with his miscellaneous antics." Though Butler admitted that Borf "was very good at what he did," he would never consider that it might have been warmly received by the community. I suspect that many more individuals hold the same feelings as these responders who wrote back to an ARTery post about Borf, but such views are not easily heard through the one-sided reporting about graffiti.
"Reforming" graffiti writers has become part of the fight against graffiti. The logic says, get someone who has been through the system to tell kids that its not worth it, and because they have credentials kids will listen and not fall into a "life of crime." I feel very strongly about community-based arts programs, especially ones that go out and transform neigborhood walls into vibrant and colorful expressions that reflect the feelings and hopes of that community. But, it just seems to me that too many people fail to admit that there is something positive about graffiti, without immediately bracketing it with a "but."
Case in point, this article writes about it "as a therapeutic form of expression," but then they can't help but add that it is "often a springboard for youngsters into a life of crime." This particular piece had several compelling comments that at least broadened the discussion on graffiti. Alex Avila, a Cultural Director for the Arts Council for San Benardino, stated that "it can also be a child's plea for help or a way of processing the struggles of life." She went on to suggest that community based programs "build confidence in the kids," and "allow them to take ownership of something and bring awareness to the community." Though some of her comments entangle themselves in the dangerous logic of "redeeming wayward youth," she at least points out that a lot of what is at stake is explicitly about ownership.
The "Myth of 3rd World Debt" mural images come to us via the Woostercollective site and I think they illustrate perfectly the problems that a community-based art collective, or any public muralist, has to contend with when their work is presented on a wall that is privately owned. The mural, no matter how open or unrestricting it may seem, must always pass through a filter, and if the message is not on point then it will be censored. In this case a poem by Nyarai Humba was painted over the day after it was put up. You can read it in full here.
On a final note, the WoosterCollective site has begun to map out where graffiti arrests have occured in NYC area. This is an excellent project and it may make more transparent which communities have been targeted by the Vandal Squads.
(also thanks to Wooster for the first image)
If you are a teenage student, frustrated with authority and looking for a creative outlet, or a teacher looking to challenge the institutions of art education, or a graffiti head looking to be a mentor to young folks, here's something that might interest you:
My mom, a high school art teacher at Columbia High School in Maplewood, NJ recently showed me some of the work her students have produced. She encourages them to add personal elements to each art exercise they do. Clearly graffiti is an important element in these students' identities. One student drew a self-portrait incorporating graffiti style letters. Another drew a still life of wrenches with his name thrown up in the background. Another student drew a still life of his id tags (which each student is required to wear in the hallways) juxtoposed with his name written in bubble letters on a brick wall.
The recogniton of graffiti as an art form can lend itself to be a powerful lesson in the classroom.
Right now in New York City, graf legends Tracy 168, CoCo 144, Rate, Case 2, and JA are working with high school students at the Urban Academy to cover the walls of the school with tags, throw ups, and whatever else they can dream up. The school has been covered in chalkboard paint so that students and graf writers can piece up everywhere.
This is indeed a radical approach to art education, and one that teachers should take notice of. Teaching non-traditional methods of art to students encourages them to think critically about existing institutions of authority in a positive way.
In a recent New York Times article, teachers and administrators commented on the importance of creating a supportive venue for students to express themselves through graffiti:
"You can't act like it doesn't happen," said Roy Reid, an Urban Academy teacher who has created a class that centers on street art. "You have to try to direct it and channel it instead of just saying, 'Don't do it.' "
Even the principal Herb Mack expressed support for the project noting that it stands in opposition to Mayor Bloomberg's criminalization of graffiti:
"I'm not sure how it's going to be seen by Klein or Bloomberg," he added, referring to Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein and the mayor. (A spokeswoman for Chancellor Klein and the Department of Education said the department supported the project, but added, "We would expect the school to make clear both the importance of appreciating art and respecting property.")
Mr. Mack, one of the founders of Urban Academy, said he had watched it develop into an unlikely collaboration. "It's enriching for the kids to be able to see legitimate artists at work and to critique it," he said. "They see some of these guys as the da Vincis and van Goghs of their world. They know who they are, and they're excited that they're here. In fact, they can't believe they're here."
Well, maybe not exactly. But he (borf) should!
Graduate student workers at NYU have been on strike for two weeks now. In 2002, NYU Graduate Assistants (TA's and RA's) were first in the nation to secure their right to unionize at a private university. Since then, Bush appointees to the National Labor Relations Board have reversed their decision to acknowledge grad-student workers' right to unionize. NYU is no longer obligated to recognize their union. Since the grad-student worker contract expired in August, NYU administrators have capitalized on this opportunity by spending thousands upon thousands of dollars to crush the three year old union.
Without a grad-student worker union, NYU's administration will have a blank check to implement unilateral decisions that affect TA and RA working conditions and undergraduate learning conditions whenever they want. Class sizes can increase, wages can decrease and health care can be cut without the university being held accountable to any kind of democratic process. This will solidify an already wide spread corporate model in universities around the country. For more information, check out this indepth analysis offered by proffessor Alan Sokal.
Graduate and undergraduate students are pissed and have taken their frustrations to the street. The poster above was designed by undergraduate photo students. It appropriates and subverts one of NYU's many advertising designs. The poster encourages students to call NYU President Sexton to demand he negotiate with the union now.
Here is another sticker, by a grad-student worker group called Nerds on Strike!
For more pictures visit NYU inc.'s photo archive.
For up to date information about the grad-student worker strike visit www.nyuinc.org
A can of spray paint was a crucial tool for New Orleans rescue teams marking buildings in the search for survivors after Hurricane Katrina. Seven weeks later, the homespun graffiti is spelling out another kind of message.
"FEMA, where y'at?" reads the writing on a toppled column in the median of a deserted street in St. Bernard Parish, where residents remain bitter about the slow federal response to the flooding and winds that flattened homes and flipped cars.
In the storm-devastated neighborhoods of New Orleans, the DayGlo letters have transformed from emergency markings to a means of subversive commentary on the slow-paced recovery....
In the poor, mostly black Lower Ninth Ward, an abandoned fishing boat has drawn a new name in mocking honor of the former head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Michael Brown. "SS Brown," the bow reads in bright orange letters.
Foul-smelling refrigerators, which line the streets of the French Quarter and the Garden District awaiting pickup, have become a public canvas. One on Royal Street has an obscenity directed at Vice President Dick Cheney. Another says: "Please send to George W. Bush."
Full article here. The messages described run the gamut from outrage to wry humor, expressing the emotional range of a city in grief and shock.
Image at top from nolacat's flickr photostream.
Legacy Queens councilman and Giuliani-wannabe Peter Vallone Jr. is once again dragging his favorite scapegoat around the city's newsrooms:
The scourge who has been defacing buildings, vehicles and trees across the borough was busted this week after becoming the No. 1 target in Councilman Peter Vallone and the 114th Precinct's anti-graffiti crusade.
"I want this punk, and I want him bad," Vallone (D-Astoria) proclaimed, following the Tuesday morning arrest of Oliver Siandre, 27, better known by his tag, "Kiko."
"Catching this guy has been a personal vendetta of mine for a few months now," Vallone added.
Vallone Jr. --- who inherited his council seat from his father --- was one of the main hot-air opponents of Marc Ecko's street party and made a big stink about Cope2's Time Magazine billboard. He constantly bleats to whatever reporters will listen about the menace of graffiti-writing hoodlums run amok. Now he's playing the white-collar Dirty Harry at press conferences, claiming Kiko caused $100,000 in damage. The showboating demagogy of Vallone Jr.'s personal role in the pursuit of KIKO and the studied stupidity of the Daily News' tabloid style are both symptoms of a public culture that's beyond rotten. Doesn't anyone get sick of this cheap, cynical grandstanding?
Photo from vidiot's flickr photostream.
September 23rd marked the 137th anniversary of the insurgency of Lares in Puerto Rico, the attempt to gain independence from Spain in 1868. While the pro-independence movement celebrated, FBI assassins surrounded the home of nationalist leader Filiberto Ojeda, and proceeded to brutally attack him and his wife. Ojeda went into hiding 15 years ago after being charged for the 7.2 million dollar robbery of a Wells Fargo truck in Connecticut in 1985. This money was used to finance the independence movement of Puerto Rico, and for charity in poor Latin communities in the U.S. The murder and circumstances surrounding his death were initially concealed by the FBI. At the time of the ambush, Puerto Rican government agencies were forbidden from entering the area and news media and press were denied access. While the events that transpired were not recorded, protesters and mourners are taking to the streets armed with their own visual media.
Designer and all-around good guy John Emerson has an article in the latest issue of Communication Arts about designers who use collective or cooperative structures to collaborate and make a living. He describes the history and practices of co-ops in general, and describes the various ways that graphic designers and artists can benefit from structuring their decision-making, production, and proceeds cooperatively. So, why form a cooperative?
One argument is that organizations owned by the communities they serve are more accountable, and can emphasize service over profit. When employees govern their own workplace, they can design a happier, stable and more equitable work environment.
But there’s also the value of organizing according to one’s ideals. Though we are supposedly living in a democracy, most of us spend our days working for private tyrannies. Living and participating in a democracy should consist of more than just voting once a year. We should be able to participate in the decisions that affect our lives.
The examples for working artists' cooperatives are an inspiration --- and a challenge --- to those of use trying to work collectively. He profiles the Design Action Collective, Eggplant Active Media Workers’ Collective, the Red Sun Press printshop, the Tech Underground, and Brooklyn's own the 62. The groups structures vary, from Limited Liability Corporations, to non-profit union shops, to informal (unincorporated) alliances of friends.
Their clients sing praise of their work and its impact. “If it’s not documented, it didn’t happen,” says Iris Carter Brown from the Louisiana Bucket Brigade. Holding up a report produced by Design Action about the campaign to stop Shell from polluting her neighborhood, she says, “Here’s the proof, this is real. We are not crazy, and we are tired of putting up with this.” The polished, sophisticated graphics project an image of an organized, sophisticated movement --- one that can overcome its opponents.
...and gets into the kind of working relationship cooperative structures can foster in his profile of the 62:
The studio is incorporated as a partnership and uses consensus to operate. “If everybody is not on board, we choose another project,” says Matthew. [...]. “As a collective, we like seeding alternative ideas. We take turns working on projects,” he says. “It’s like a group of musicians. We’ve found a comfortable working space to jam.”
Read the whole article here, and be sure to follow the links to the profiled organizations: they include some of the best political design groups out there.
With the recent destruction of New Orleans, and the lawless aftermath there now exists an exetremely volatile circumstance. While the mayor declares a final evacuation to "forcibly remove" those that remain, the city of New Orleans will finally be a militarized zone. Reporters covering instances of "looting" or shootouts will continue to have their images and equipment confiscated and be physically threatened (Reporters Without Borders). The portrayal of people in most need will be demonized and marginalized as criminals, further encouraging racist stereotypes. The death and destruction are also images that the administration doesn't want the general public to see. Much like the returning corpses and caskets of occupied Iraq, the media was requested, by FEMA, not to run images of dead bodies, because "the recovery of the victims is being treated with dignity and the utmost respect." In my opinion FEMA is more interested in covering up the destruction which they are required to prevent and respond to.
There also will be an amazing opportunity for slimy politicians and businesses to make a buck, as Democracy Now! reports today,
"...former head of FEMA, Joe Allbaugh, may stand to profit from the catastrophe in the Gulf region through his various lobbying efforts."
He headed FEMA until March 2003 just as the U.S. was launching its invasion of Iraq. Then Allbaugh helped form a lobbying firm called New Bridge Strategies in order to help clients "take advantage of business opportunities in the Middle East following the conclusion of the U.S.-led war in Iraq." New Bridge Strategies was also formed by several top executives from the lobbying firm then known as Barbour Griffith & Rogers. The head of that firm was Haley Barbour who is now the Republican governor of Mississippi. Earlier this year Joe Allbaugh signed on as a lobbyist for Halliburton subsidiary KBR in order to "educate the congressional and executive branch on defense, disaster relief and homeland security issues." Just last week the federal government announced that Halliburton would be hired to repair the Gulf Coast military bases damaged by Katrina. And now the Washington Post is reporting that Allbaugh is also helping Louisiana "coordinate the private-sector response to the storm."
It appears very convenient to remove the citizens of a locale, especially "dangerous" people of color, so that Multi-National businesses like Halliburton may have an easier time revitalizing a city that has been totally demolished.
I find the connections and possible financial gain by the same manipulative politicains and businessmen who brought us the Iraq war, apalling and disgusting. And I wish to encourage all journalists and photographers to document every aspect of the military occupation of New Orleans, as well as the carnage and death that is becoming more apparent every day. There are many outlets for this reporting and it is exetremely necessary for civil society to know how this disaster is being handled. For those that don't have access to news media and are documenting these events, some suggestions are posting imagery and reporting on Indymedia, or even publishing photos on Fickr. Media activists in Houston are setting up a microradio station right now! There are so many forms of Independent media and they need to be utilized. If you have other suggestions please post them in the comments.
The big news in the street art world this morning comes from Washington, D.C., where three people, allegedly Borf and two friends, were arrested early yesterday morning. The Washington Post, which had been working on a story about Borf for several months, rushed the story into print after the arrest. The article is fascinating for its portrait of a smart, audacious, impulsive kid who's made a huge splash in D.C., and provides answers to many of the mysteries that Borf himself cultivated so well:
The man primarily responsible for Borf is, it turns out, an 18-year-old art student from Great Falls ... according to D.C. police inspector Diane Groomes. He was arrested along with two other young men in the wee hours of yesterday morning after officers received a tip that graffiti artists were spray-painting at Seventh and V streets NW....
Borf was the nickname for a close friend of her son's who committed suicide about two years ago. The Borf face featured in his graffiti -- which many who've walked through Dupont Circle would recognize, and which looks somewhat like TV actor Jerry O'Connell -- belongs to that young man. Murphy suggests that for her son, the Borf face and moniker came to stand for all that he felt was wrong with the world....
Over and over, the man who wanted to be known simply as Borf said his identity was not important. What was important was his message -- an earnest though sometimes muddled mix of progressive politics filtered through a lens of youthful optimism....
Once upon a time, Borf said, he was "just, like, some liberal, like anybody," but then he started reading, and found out he really wanted to be an anarchist. He decided he doesn't believe in the state, capitalism, private property, globalization. Most of all, he doesn't believe in adulthood, which he considers "boring" and "selling out."
"Growing up is giving up," he said. "I think some band said it."
Read the whole thing here. Like most mysteries belatedly solved, finding out the real story is a little bittersweet. We interviewed Borf a few months back and our interactions were great. He's one of the most prolific, inventive, and funny stencilists working; his impact on D.C. over the past year has been huge.
The three kids who were arrested are being charged with misdemeanors for defacing property. One of the them told the reporter "Borf is Dead." Let's hope not. Long live Borf!
Photo at top from Michael Oliver's flickr photoset: Finding Borf. Post edited for clarity.
As a sidenote to the previous post, folks who missed the Design of Dissent show can still get a glimpse of it, thanks to public broadcasting. Last week's episode of NOW featured a half-hour interview with Milton Glaser, legendary graphic designer and co-editor of the Design of Dissent book. An overview of the show is available here, with links to the interview transcript, a short slideshow, and more. A video of the whole segment should be up soon here.
Just got word that WBAI's Rise Up Radio show will be doing a segment at 11am today (Friday) on graffiti and advertising. Cope2, who recently completed a billboard for Time Magazine, will be in the studio, and Josh MacPhee will be on the phone. k.see from VR will be on as well.
Colin Moynihan has an article in the New York Times today about our ghost bike project and Time's Up's memorial stenciling project. It's good that this issue is getting mentioned in the media --- the more public sympathy, the more leverage to make change. Here's the article:
On Roads Where They Fell, Bicyclists Are Remembered
By COLIN MOYNIHAN
The day after Andrew Ross Morgan was killed when his bicycle and a furniture truck collided at a Manhattan intersection, a bouquet of lilies stood nearby in a metal coffee can; a scrap of paper on a lamppost bore his name and the abbreviation R.I.P. Soon, those memorials were joined by another.
Just after 9 p.m. on Thursday, a group of people assembled at the same intersection, Elizabeth and East Houston Streets. They unfolded a cardboard stencil stained with orange and blue paint and placed it in the street. A man shook a can of silver spray-paint and pointed the nozzle at the cardboard. When he removed the cardboard moments later, an outline of a human body remained on the macadam.
"There needs to be more visibility for cyclists," said Matthew Roth, 28, of Chelsea, gazing at the image that he had just created. "This is an act of solidarity and tribute."
Over the years, roadside memorials in New York City have become a familiar sight. Their goal is to commemorate lives that came to a sudden end in a landscape of asphalt, brick and concrete where yesterday's events can be quickly forgotten. The most common display involves a milk crate or a cardboard box, tall candles in glass sleeves bought at local bodegas and a snapshot of the deceased.
But in the last week, memorials of a more noticeable and lasting nature have appeared in Manhattan and Brooklyn to designate the spots where bicyclists have died. They have been created in response to a recent spate of deaths on major thoroughfares and are intended to recognize the dangers cyclists face. According to police records, Mr. Morgan, 25, a food market manager from Brooklyn, was the 10th bicyclists to die this year in a collision with a car or truck; there were six by this time last year. In 2003, there were 16 fatalities, and in 2004, there were 15, the police said.
"There's a lack of education for drivers about sharing the road," said Mr. Roth, adding that many motorists endanger bicyclists by abruptly swerving their cars or by swinging doors open. And bicyclists sometimes bring danger upon themselves by riding in a risky fashion.
Mr. Roth, who is a member of a bicycling advocacy group called Time's Up!, said his organization had compiled a list of hundreds bicyclists and pedestrians killed in the last 10 years in collisions with motor vehicles. In the last week or so, he said, the group placed seven stenciled images at spots where fatal accidents had occurred. It is unlawful in New York City to place painted messages on public streets. But Mr. Roth said that a desire to call attention to the deaths made him and others decide to create the images.
The stenciled images are not the only new memorials for bicyclists. Last week, a collective of artists called Visual Resistance began using bicycles that have been spray-painted white, called "ghost bikes," to designate spots where bicyclists have died. The first was on Fifth Avenue near Warren Street in Park Slope, where a 28-year-old lawyer, Elizabeth Padilla, died after being struck by a truck on June 9, said Kevin Caplicki, 26, of Fort Greene. Mr. Caplicki is a member of the collective and said he happened by Fifth Avenue moments after Ms. Padilla died. The experience motivated him and others to introduce to New York this type of memorial, which has appeared on the streets of St. Louis and Pittsburgh.
"I feel an affinity with any cyclist who has fallen," Mr. Caplicki said. "I hope that people can make a connection when they see a riderless bicycle and think about a life that's gone."
At 11:30 p.m. Friday, Derek Bobus, 21, an architect's assistant from the Lower East Side, stopped to gaze at a Raleigh 10-speed painted white and chained to a signpost on East Houston Street near Avenue A. He read a small white sign fixed to the post above the bicycle; the sign bore the name Brandie Bailey, a 21-year-old who died nearby after being struck by a garbage truck on May 8.
Mr. Bobus said the memorial moved him to reflect on Ms. Bailey.
"She woke up that morning, and she had no idea she was going to die," he said. "It proves how life is really fragile."
Kareem Fahim and William K. Rashbaum contributed reporting for this article.
Related: Visual Resistance's New York City Ghost Bike Project.
The New York Times has a short article in the Metro section today about Darius Jones' street installations, focusing on his kissing street signs in Carroll Gardens. Good quotes from Darius (aka Leon Reid) and Marc from Wooster Collective:
Most street artists distinguish themselves from graffitists, arguing that they are "involved in a very big public statement," in the words of Marc Schiller.... Street artists, Mr. Schiller added, think that "too much of the public space has been sold to big corporations, and they're reclaiming it illegally." [...].
"It's political in the act, in the very act," he said. "Each and every one of these things is done illegally, without any permission. That's a statement in and of itself. It brings up questions of ownership and what the public is allowed to do with things in public space."
You can check out more pictures of Darius' kissing street signs on our photolog. And, for more work by Darius on Visual Resistance check out: Darius and Downey street sign and Darius installation (RIP).
In Detroit, an artist will go to jail today. His crime? Recreating a Michaelangelo mural that includes a nude figure:
He painted Eve as God created her: nude.
And when he finished including the bare-bosomed Biblical first woman, he inscribed the word "love" on the mural that covers the outside wall of his Roseville art studio.
In Ed (Gonzo) Stross' eyes, his variation on Michelangelo's "Creation of Man" mural is art.
In 39A District Judge Marco Santia's eyes, it's a crime.
Santia ordered jail time, a fine and probation -- a sentence that sounds a little harsh to a state senator, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan and fellow artists.
Santia ordered Stross, 43, to serve 30 days in jail, do two years' probation and pay a $500 fine for violating a city sign ordinance. Roseville officials said letters were prohibited on the mural and Eve's exposed chest is indecent.
Besides jail time and the fee, Stross is to tastefully cover Eve's breasts before reporting to the Macomb County Jail on Monday morning, and to paint over "love" by May 1.
"Removing the work is the ultimate punishment. The jail time is nothing compared to removing what I painted," Stross said Thursday.
New York isn't the only place where The Buff is pushing into overdrive. Five teenagers were arrested last week in Grand Rapids, Michigan for tagging on a commercial building, and city officials are promising a wider crackdown. From Grand Rapids independent media source Media Mouse:
Fresh off the arrests of five "taggers", the Grand Rapids Police Department (GRPD) is promising an aggressive crackdown on graffiti artists that may result in prison time. Of course, the police cannot do this on their own and the corporate media are obligingly doing their perceived duty to "help the community" by acting as official conduits for police misinformation. Central to this effort has been the portrayal of the city as "under siege" by graffiti artists. The GRPD and the city of Grand Rapids are making use of this supposed "rash" of graffiti to suggest draconian measures such as electronic tethers and outlawing the sale of spray paint to minors to create a public climate of fear in which there is no discussion about the ramifications for civil liberties of using tethers and other methods to stop graffiti, methods which will undoubtedly target primarily youth.
Not surprisingly, the corporate media's coverage of the "graffiti crackdown" has been full of sensationalism, effectively portraying graffiti as a type of crime that residents need to fear. The local print and broadcast media has run a number of stories that create a sense of hysteria, with graffiti "tagging" being portrayed as out of control. The articles have been full of completely ridiculous assertions, with Guy Bazzani claiming that graffiti is "robbing the soul of this community," parents supposedly wondering "oh no, where are my kids living?," and even news readers trying their hand at spray paint while talking about how the police are "aggressively searching for the spray paint perpetrators." WOOD TV 8, who claims to have "broken the story," ran a piece last night in which they claim to have urgent information, reporting the supposed "new information" that graffiti artists engage in "competition" and that graffiti involves both art and "protest against capitalism."
It had to happen sooner or later. Technology similiar to that found in projects like Grafedia and YellowArrow will now be used to the buff's advantage. Mirroring the interactive and participatory aspects of those projects the premise of this new system is simple --- take a picture of graffiti and then watch it disappear. The article found at the BBC puts it like this:
Lewisham Council's Head of Environment Nigel Tyrell has been developing a system that allows the public to see problems solved before their very eyes.
From Monday, anyone living in the south-east London borough can take a snap using their camera phone of the many problems that blight London's roads, such as graffiti or fly-tipping and send it to the council.
Then all they have to do is keep an eye on the new Love Lewisham website to see a photo of the cleaned-up area.
Timed to correspond with the Valentine holiday, the Love Lewisham campaign gives local residents an opportunity to save their beloved community from the perils of graffiiti. Interestingly enough, it seems to offer only one "solution" to a problem that is not so easily defined. Rather than open up a dialogue about public space, the initiative capitalizes on the fact that, as Tyrell puts it, "Most people just want to live their lives and only contact the council if something goes wrong."
Not only does the project use some of the same technology that fuels participatory street art-documentation projects, it's also being pitched with some of the same grassroots-democracy rhetoric! The program claims to offer residents a "voice" in their community, and, Tyrell notes that the " success of this new system depends on the response of local people. "
You never know, perhaps the locals of Lewisham will flood the new webpage with pictures of advertisments that they would like to see eliminated. One can only hope --- unless you live in or around Lewisham.
It's the mystery that has baffled many people in Raleigh. A grinning graffiti face has popped up all over the place and they're calling him "Borf."
We don't know who he is, but we know he has become the talk of the town.
The rest of the story is less positive, and mostly gets the story wrong. An article in today's News & Observer is far less incoherent than the TV news story, but still doesn't seem to really understand the concept of stencil graffiti:
With many of the images, the most impressive feature is sheer audacity. In Washington, the artist decorated -- or defaced, depending on your view -- the Key Bridge. He changed stop signs in bustling Logan Circle to read "CAN'T STOP BORF." In New York, he slapped a "Bush Go Home" sticker on a police car.
Raleigh police spokesman Jim Sughrue said police had seen the faces but had not received any complaints. The images will be examined to see whether they are linked to gangs, but "it clearly would not be typical of gang graffiti," he said. (emphasis mine)
BORF is a stencilist who, during this summer's anti-RNC protests, delighted visitors to the Time's Up bike space on Houston St. with a nearby 2-color, 4-foot stencil reading "RNC Fuck Off!" We spotted the same figure on the Anarchist Resistance site right before the Inauguration protests.
You can check out BORF's gallery on stencilrevolution.com to see more work.