April 2009

Think of the Children

In my bloggy readings, I keep finding stories of monuments and memorials sold on infantilism, using the lens of “childhood” to conjure an air of authenticity and gravitas.

calatrava-sketch.jpgThe New Yorker on Santiago Calatrava:

“In Liège, Belgium, Calatrava was one of seven contestants in an architectural competition to design a high-speed-train station. His rivals came in teams, armed with examples of their past work; Calatrava showed up alone, with his paintbrush [and watercolors], and won the commission. In January, 2004, while presenting his proposal for a new PATH transit hub for the World Trade Center site, Calatrava drew in chalk a child releasing a bird from her hands, thus conveying the genesis of the design, in which a pair of glass-and-steel canopies would arch over the sidewalks of lower Manhattan, like outstretched wings.”

The Washington Post on Ralph Appelbaum:

“When he took on the task of designing a presidential library for former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo, for example, he proposed focusing the displays on the question, ‘What does it take to make a Nigerian child?’ It’s an unanswerable question, but it provided the necessary aha moment that made it all come together, a positive theme that finesses some of the philosophical problems of a presidential library in a country riven by corruption, violence, and religious, ethnic, linguistic and economic divisions.”

The Independent on Daniel Libeskind and his World Trade Center design:

“But Libeskind, a Polish American who now lives in Berlin, captured the hearts of New Yorkers when he appeared live on CNN during the final stages of the competition and said: ‘Like so many others, I arrived by ship in New York harbour as a teenager and as an immigrant. The Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline made an unforgettable impression, and this scheme is all about that.’ ‘The minute he said that, he had the job,’ says Doris Saatchi, the New York art collector. ‘It’s not showmanship. He just expresses emotion so well.’”

Meanwhile, actual kids are moving adults to make responsible policy. See Democracy Now!: Testimony of 12-Year-Old with Two Moms Moves Some Vermont Legislators to Support Gay Marriage Bill.

>  27 April 2009 | LINK | Filed in , , ,

Tiny Nationalisms

sudan-stamp.pngEleanor Roosevelt famously wrote, “Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home.“ By implication, the same could be said for racism, nationalism and other ideologies.

Official Representations of the Nation: Comparing the Postage Stamps of Sudan and Burkina Faso looks at the ideology of stamps:

“Sudan’s stamps focus on the political center and dominant elite (current regime, Khartoum politicians, and Arab and Islamic identity) while Burkina Faso’s stamps focus on society (artists, multiple ethnic groups, and development). Sudan’s stamps build an image of the nation as being about the northern-dominated regime in Khartoum (whether military or parliamentary); Burkina Faso’s stamps project an image of the nation as multi-ethnic and development-oriented.”

Ethnic identity is, of course, a tool in the Sudan government’s repression of Darfur.

>  24 April 2009 | LINK | Filed in , , ,

Worn on its Sleeve

The chattering classes are aflutter that the President of Iran yesterday called Israel “a cruel and repressive racist regime” at the UN Conference on Racism. 23 diplomats stormed out, others applauded. While Ahmadinejad has said some pretty outrageous things, in this case I wonder if he saw this latest item in the Israeli daily Haaretz about T-shirt designs Israeli soldiers are ordering for their IDF units. The shirts boast slogans and images of dead Palestinian babies, bombed mosques, jokes about rape, sniping children, killing pregnant women in Hijab, etc. The designs are revealing. This is clearly not a military culture solely preoccupied with defending the integrity of the State.

Israeli T-Shirt: One Shot, Two Kills

>  21 April 2009 | LINK | Filed in , , ,
tobaccoatlas.org. SmokerThe World Lung Foundation and the American Cancer Society this week published the Third Edition of the The Tobacco Atlas in print and, for the first time, as an interactive website. The atlas is full of maps, charts, data and narrative describing the global scope of the issue: consumption, health and mortality, economic costs, health education, history and more. Links to campaign materials are woven throughout. The press release summarizes some of the more devastating statistics. Browsing the online map I was surprised to discover the scale of smoking in Russia!
>  19 April 2009 | LINK | Filed in , ,
Serve the People Poster Project. Social Justice Poster Do you know a peace or social justice organization who need a mass produced poster to further their work? “The Serve the People Poster Project is a donation offered by Design Action Collective and Inkworks Press to your organization. All you have to do is present an idea, and if selected, Design Action will donate $1000 of design, and Inkworks will print 1000 full color, tabloid sized posters for you use as you wish. For free.” In particular, they are looking for: “issues that are difficult to find foundation funding for, either because of subject matter or timeliness.” Very cool! Find out more.
>  3 April 2009 | LINK | Filed in ,
Better World Advertising. “I started Better World Advertising because I saw the power that social marketing could have in helping individuals, and society as whole, in solving issues that cause a lot of pain and suffering. I still believe that getting information to people and delivering messages that motivate them to make better decisions has unlimited potential for good.” BWA is an ad agency that focuses on LGBT, HIV and public health campaigns. Some of the work is quite good. Groundswell and Osocio have published an interview with the founder/creative director and art director.
>  1 April 2009 | LINK | Filed in , , ,

On to May.
Back to March.