The poster is inspired by a poem from Nancy R. Smith and the Girls Will Be Boys Will Be Girls Will Be...? coloring book by Julie Novak, Jacinta Bunnell, and Irit Reinheimer, one of three feminist coloring books they publish which challenge gender stereotypes in the home, the neighborhood, and in our fairy tales.
Christopher DeWolf has a nice little editorial on posters and the political struggles around them in a couple of Canadian cities:
“Posters are the city. For community groups, musicians, activists, small businesses, and hell, even people who’ve lost their cat, they’re often the only way to get a message out. They cover lampposts, service doors, construction hoardings and blank walls, livening up grey and depressing winters and turning underused spaces into interactive bulletin boards where the city’s goings-on are announced to anyone who might be interested. Despite their importance to civic and cultural life however, posters are an all-too-easy target for municipal politicians and bureaucrats who want their city streets as bland and orderly as a Lego metropolis. Posters might seem innocuous, but they are in fact a sign of a city’s vitality and diversity — how municipalities deal with postering is a measure of just how willing they are to accommodate that vibrancy.”
DeWolf privileges “freedom of expression” and a “diversity” of voices but I would take it further and say that this is a matter of democracy itself — of ownership of the means of communication and the of the physical space of our communities, of building community and political power.
“SAW (Street Art Workers) is seeking posters for an international street art campaign about land and the effects of globalization. We want you to design and submit posters that will be printed and wheatpasted in cities across Europe and North America. The strongest designs will be published as a mass produced, newsprint poster collection. This will be a 24 page, 2-color newspaper which will include up to 30 posters. SAW will pay for the printing, and volunteers will distribute the posters. The majority of posters will be wheatpasted in public by participating artists and folks who just want to paste up their city.
Based in the U.S., SAW is a network of printmakers, stencil artists, graffiti writers and painters who use the streets for art and activism. We are taking back our cities and towns from the businessmen, cops and politicians who define public space for their own benefit. As a volunteer-run group, we make street art for political campaigns and post each other’s work across North America. Since 2001, our projects have talked about prisons, the mass media and utopian ideas for the future.
We want posters that build connections between international struggles and actual organized projects with high profile publicity. We especially want to see multilingual submissions and work from the perspective of women, Third World communities and indigenous/First Nations. We suggest that artists collaborate with grassroots, social change organizations of their choosing to make posters. We want posters that are both imaginative and relevant to “on the ground” organizing around issues of land, housing and globalization. Working with an organization is not required, but it is encouraged.
It could be argued that Christopher Columbus began our current age of globalization when he washed up on the shores of the New World. The slave trade, imperialism and resource theft that followed in Asia, Africa and America were a brutal beginning for globalization. Today imperial conquest has been refined into cold, impersonal corporate bureaucracies. In the last 30 years these corporations have become economic giants more powerful than many countries. Setting up global assembly lines, today’s corporations move freely around the world forcing countries, rich and poor, to surrender their land, resources and labor. In the process, corporations have made massive profits shifting wealth from the global south to the industrialized north, from the impoverished and working people to the rich and powerful.
SAW wants to look at how this form of globalization has affected our lands and how people are fighting back. How has it affected land in the cities — especially housing? How has globalization impacted land and workers in the countryside with farming, mining, drilling, logging and other resource extraction? What are the connections between land struggles in the global south, indigenous nations and the industrialized north? What are some of the connections between the landless peasants movement of Brazil and the squatter movements of Europe and North America? What links together the struggle against dams in India, hydroelectric projects Canada and water privatization in Latin America and South Africa? How are farmers and campesinos resisting industrial agriculture, like biotechnology and GMOs (genetically modified foods), in the U.S., Mexico and India? What organizing strategies have worked and hich ones have failed? These questions are a starting point. We want to see more questions from you and some hard-hitting answers. We want powerful ideas and inspirational art that we can broadcast directly to the streets in 2005.”
The deadline for submissions is September 1, 2005.
For more info, visit streetartworkers.org
On May 27, a group of concerned citizens hijacked a million dollar Leo Burnett ad campaign designed for the Chicago Housing Authority, turning it into a scathing critique of Chicago’s public housing policy and privatization practices.
They created and changed out over a dozen large format bus shelter ads (5 in downtown Chicago in broad daylight!), put up thousands of ads on the trains, printed a newspaper of information and reproductions of the flipped ads, and created a mock Web site for the Chicago Housing Authority in the style of the official site.
See the old ads, download the new ads, and find out more about the campaign at ChicagoHousingAuthority.net:
“In late 2004, the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) initiated a public relations campaign to put a new face on their Plan for Transformation, a plan that drastically reshapes the state of public housing in Chicago.
This PR campaign, authored by the advertising giant Leo Burnett, fused Chicago Housing Authority's acronym ‘CHA’ with the word ‘change’, resulting in a new brand identity: CHAnge. There are undoubtedly big changes happening with public housing in Chicago, including massive organizational restructuring within CHA and the tearing down of all high-rise public housing buildings.
Unfortunately, the priorities of CHA haven’t changed at all, and public housing residents are still at the bottom of the list. While the CHAnge campaign has attempted to put a ‘resident empowerment’ spin on the Plan for Transformation, in reality the majority of public housing residents have been adversely affected by the massive restructuring. If you are a single working mother displaced by a home demolition, waiting over 6 months for a voucher to relocate as your children are shifted from school to school, CHAnge feels a lot more like CHAos....
The Plan for Transformation is a $1.6 billion blueprint that includes the demolition of 14,000 public housing units and the displacement of over 20,000 people. Not unlike the ‘urban renewal’ master plans of previous decades, the Plan For Transformation has linked motives. It is pushing poor people out of the now-coveted inner city neighborhoods and increasing the exchange value of existing public land through privatization. Developers such as Dan McLean are making millions building on the land adjacent to former CHA high-rises and getting huge city tax credits to subsidize their development. In addition, the city is making money by selling or leasing former CHA public land to private developers. In this way, large amounts of our city’s housing budget are being transferred into private hands. CHA CEO Terry Peterson was personally implicated in this when he was caught giving CHA bids to contractors like the Habitat Group in exchange for political contributions.”
Compare and contrast:
This is a crowd.
This is a movement.
There’s just nothing like a bold design to let them know what you want and when you want it.
Today’s excercise brought to you courtesy of Lincoln Cushing.
In that last blog item I’d written a line disdaining “media that dazzles instead of informs.”
I’ve been thinking about the AIGA MOVE conference, a two day affair on motion graphics design. It was painfully hip — lots of twenty-something, white guys with bad 70’s hair talking about their animated films, music videos, and electric art happenings. The reigning criteria seemed “Funny, Weird, or Cool.” The most useful and informative session was the only one on narrative — an odd number for an event billing itself on “stories in motion.”
But I struck out the line. It read as if I was saying these are mutually exclusive, which, of course, they are not. For a designer, I tend to be awfully suspicious of style — particularly of work that privileges style over clarity. But one musn’t forget the heart in the struggle for hearts and minds.
Favianna reminds me so:
“As a political poster artist, it is important for me to remind myself of ways to develop art that speaks to a mass base of people, so that my the art becomes something functional and not something to be purchased and sold. My posters don’t belong in galleries, they belong in schools, in the streets. Art in this country is commodified and transformed into something for commercial consumption. Our role as artists is to use our art to transform and inform a radical consciousness and to move the people.”
William Thake sends notice of this spectacular image promoting EuroMayDay 2005:
The central image is drawn from a Chinese new year poster from the early 1970’s, celebrating both scientific prowess and folkloric tradition.
It’s interesting that the same image works for both Chinese statism and European anti-statism. Both are exuberant, celebratory, futurist, and utopian. But the European image is more self-consciously ‘kitsch’ than the Chinese. Is the European use ironic? Perhaps a comment on globalization? Kinda ambiguous, but it looks like fun.
A map of May Day events around Europe is posted here.
Josh MacPhee is collecting submissions of graphics, illustrations and art for a book of freely reproducible graphics to be published by Soft Skull Press in late 2006.
“Reproduce and Revolt!: Radical Graphics for the 21st Century is a graphic toolbox to be launched into the hands of political activists. The book will contain over 300 new and exciting high-quality illustrations and graphics about social justice and political activism for activists to use on flyers, posters, t-shirts, brochures, stencils or any other graphic aspects of political campaigns. All the graphics will be bold and easy to reproduce, in addition to being open source/anti-copyright. The book will come with clear instructions on how to best utilize the images so as to improve the graphic qualities of political campaigns. It will also contain a short history of political graphics, an archive of political flyers and posters throughout history, as well as information about and a bibliography of further reading for all of the social justice issues the art will cover....
Reproduce & Revolt! is not intended to be a who’s who of well known and successful political artists, this call is open to all levels of artists.”
Materials are due by October 31st, 2005. Contact ‘reproduce [at] justseeds [dot] org’ for more information.
The daughter of a friend was arrested during the Republican National Convention. Her crime: riding her bicycle.
She was one of 5,000 people who rode with Critical Mass that clear August evening, and one of 250 arrested. She spent 25 hours in jail for riding her bike in support ecology, fewer cars, and a more bicycle friendly city.
“She lost a bit of innocence that summer,” says her mom.
Since the RNC, the New York Police Department have continued their campaign of intimidation and harassment, arresting riders and seizing bikes despite a court order. Now the Department is suing Time’s Up!, a nonprofit environmental group, to prevent them from participating in and promoting the rides and to enforce the ban on assembly of 20 or more people in a park without a permit.
The folks at Visual Resistance are facilitating a street art campaign in support of Critical Mass and are calling for designs. They hope to produce materials before the April 29th ride.
They will make the designs available for download and have a few printed. Some suggested themes include supporting/promoting Critical Mass; defending the right to free assembly; and promoting bicycling as a form of transportation.
For more info on Critical Mass and harassment by NYPD, visit the Time’s Up press room.
Poster designs should be 8.5x11 or 11x17 inches, sticker and stencil designs can be any logical size. Find out more.