Let’s say the president of your country is corrupt. Let’s just say.
The legislature is corrupt. The court system, police, and military are all corrupt. The city officials? The big businesses? They’re corrupt, too.
They misuse their power. They thrive on favoritism and get rich on kickbacks while the rest the country slowly starves. What do you do?
Replacing one individual with another doesn’t change the broader system or take away any of the incentives for corruption.
So how do you reduce corruption throughout a given system?
Some of the strategies they use are described in their annual Corruption Fighters’ Tool Kit. The manual is just one of the ways the TI chapters share ideas with each other and offer their experience to the world at large. In addition to the hard work of organizing and building coalitions, many of the corruption-reducing strategies incorporate graphic and interactive design. Some of them include:
Since 1991, Ras l’front (“Fed up with the Front”) has campaigned against Jean-Marie Le Pen and his extreme right-wing party, the National Front. Ras l’Front collectives are active in cities throughout France.
See this collection of their posters on racism, fascism, sexism, immigrant rights, and other issues.
From the Committee to Help Unsell the War, 1971.
Download the image above as a 782 x 1024 pixel TIFF (2.3 Mb) from the Library of Congress.
“A strong plurality of visual typographic styles and rhetorical strategies emerged after the war in Beirut. Lebanese are so sensitive now about the ethnic hatred which sparked off the war that they have been reluctant to speak up about it, yet they are tagging the streets of the city with slogans as a means of expression.
In this presentation Yasmine Taan analyses how ‘untrained designers/typographers’ have chosen the appropriate ‘typefaces’ whose diverse styles powerfully reflect the context of their messages, giving voice to the political aspirations of the inhabitants.”
A preface to this can be seen in the images of political posters in the American University of Beirut Jafet Library Poster Collection.
The posters were collected from the 1960s through the 1980s, before and during the war, from their original sources and from the American University of Beirut campus where they were posted. The collection covers two main topics: the Palestinian Question, and Lebanon and the Lebanese Civil War.
A few images are online, organized as follows:
“For 20 years, Rini Templeton made drawings of activists in the United States, Mexico and Central America while she joined them in their meetings, demonstrations, picket lines and other actions for social justice. She called her bold black-and-white images ‘xerox art’ because activists and organizers could copy them easily for use in their banners, signs, leaflets, newsletters, even T-shirts, whenever needed.
Her drawings also included workers, women and children, celebrations, scenes of town and country, many images from daily life. In all her work you can feel a unity with grassroots people across national and racial lines. She almost never signed a drawing, out of typical modesty. As a result, her style is widely recognized but her name is not.
Two years after she died in Mexico in 1986, Rini’s work was published in a bilingual book in the U.S. (Real Comet Press, Seattle) and Mexico (Centro de Documentación Gráfica Rini Templeton). Entitled The Art of Rini Templeton: Where There is Life and Struggle/El Arte de Rini Templeton: Donde hay vida y lucha, the U.S. editorial coordinator was Elizabeth (Betita) Martinez. The Mexican team included 5 editors from the Punto Crítico magazine collective together with a production coordinator. All had worked with Rini extensively.
With the book out of print, it was decided to continue making her work available through this web-site. Rini’s sister, Lynne Brickley, made that possible with generous support.
You will find 600 drawings here, organized by theme, with brief texts in English explaining the story behind each set of drawings. There is also a short biography about Rini. Photos of her sculptures, done before she switched to graphic work, are not included here nor are the many reminiscences of Rini written by friends and co-workers for the book.
In the spirit of Rini Templeton’s life and work, activists serving causes that Rini would have supported are invited to use drawings freely in their leaflets, newsletters, banners and picket signs or for similar non-commercial purposes. Those wishing to use drawings in the production of an item for sale, such as a book, should write to the Rini Templeton Memorial Fund, c/o Elizabeth Martinez, 3545 24th Street, San Francisco, CA 94110. A reasonable fee will be asked, to help maintain this web-site.”
Yuri Matrosovich has a collection of 34 anti-alcohol posters from Russia on his Web site. The posters date from the early 1980’s, mostly from a ‘propaganda pack’ one could get when one joined a special anti-alcohol society. In those years, he writes, one was pushed to be a member.
In 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev launched a massive anti-alcohol campaign in the Soviet Union. The goal was not just to reduce alcohol consumption by the population, but to sharply decrease state production and sale of alcoholic beverages, to suppress the production of illicit alcohol, and ultimately, to raise worker productivity and buttress the economy.
Though the campaign fizzled out by 1988 and is generally derided today, this study charts the impact on both alcohol consumption and overall mortality in the Soviet Union.
Annual per capita alcohol consumption dropped from 14.2 liters in 1984 to 10.5 liters in 1986. Overall mortality declined from 1161.6 deaths per 100,000 population in 1984 to 1054.0 in 1986.
This was also during the social upheaval brought on by Gorbachev’s reforms, aka perestroika. Following this, in the period of the “market reforms” both alcohol consumption and overall mortality increased sharply. By 1997, per capita consumption had returned to the initial level of the early 1980’s.
The authors of the study estimate that 1.22 million people were spared between 1986 and 1991, 11.4% of the number of deaths expected without the anti-alcohol campaign.
Two more of my favorites:
“The Reason — Drunkenness!”
“Alcohol — Enemy of Production”
Apologies for the lack of updates lately. I’m just back in town from travels and have a whole stack of notes to write up.
In the meantime, I’m very happy to announce that New York City has started recycling again. Plastic recycling resumed on July 1. Glass recycling will resume in April 2004. Here’s the Department of Sanitation press release and poster.
Recycling was suspended last year as part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plan to cut costs and fend off a projected $5 billion deficit. A year later, at a recent City Council budget hearing, Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty conceded that the projected savings from cuts to recycling never actually appeared. [source]
The City Council worked out the deal with the Mayor to resume recycling in a recent budget agreement.
The city will pay Hugo Neu Schnitzer East $51 per ton to handle the material, making the cost of processing the city’s recycling less expensive than processing its trash. According to HNSE, the city currently pays an estimated $105 per ton for the transportation and disposal of plastic and glass in the solid waste stream.
“[With the acceptance of the bid,] HNSE will build a multi-million dollar, state-of-the-art recycling facility in the Hunts Point section of the Bronx that will bring more than 40 high-paying, unionized jobs and numerous economic benefits to an impoverished area of New York City. Moreover, since HNSE operates one of the metropolitan area’s largest barge fleets, the development of the new recycling facility would create little additional truck traffic—indeed, the new facility would actually remove truck traffic from city roads and highways.” [source]
Building an recycling infrastructure in NYC is a wonderful thing, but I wonder about the environmental impact of the recycling plant itself. Residents of the South Bronx already endure much of the City’s waste transfer and incineration. Children living in East Harlem are three times more likely to have asthma than children living on the Upper West Side, and 25% of children from the South Bronx have asthma. As plans for the new recycling facility was just announced, the South Bronx Clean Air Coalition is seeking further information in order to evaluate the impact on health and traffic in the area.
In 1962, Cesar Chávez and his cousin Manuel conceived of the U.F.W. logo as a way to ‘get some color into the movement, to give people something they could identify with.’ they chose the Aztec eagle on the Mexican flag as the logo’s main symbol and created a stylized version of it that was easy to reproduce. The U.F.W. logo became a highly recognizable icon in the union’s boycott efforts, legislative, proposition campaigns, and a victorious symbol of its successful contract negotiations.
The symbol and flag were unveiled at the first mass meeting of the newly formed union.
The evolution of Chicano poster art began in 1965 with the production of graphic images to support the organizing and boycotting efforts of the United Farm Workers. The U.F.W. logo — a black stylized eagle with wings shaped like an inverted Aztec pyramid — became a key symbol of the Chicano movement. It appeared prominently on all official U.F.W. graphics, and its inclusion on unrelated posters made by Chicano artists signaled support for the union. Posters also were utilized to promote other Chicano political causes, such as the 1968 Coors beer boycott in protest of the company’s discriminatory hiring practices.
“Great is the empire that we defied, but greater than this empire is our right to freedom.”
Happy May Day and saludos to the people of Puerto Rico and all who struggled to push the U.S. Navy out of Viéques. At midnight last night, the Navy formally turned over its territory on the island to the U.S. Department of the Interior who will turn the bombing range and base into a wildlife refuge.
Tomorrow morning the people of Viéques will place a large cross on the former bombing range to commemorate those who have died as a result of illnesses related to the contamination of the site.
This 2000 UCLA map shows the geographic extent of the Navy’s territory on the island. Much of the west end of the island was transferred to the Viéques Municipality and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2001, though this 2003 Navy map still minimizes their apparent footprint. “Live impact” in a “conservation area”?
Some images of resistance from around the Web:
Mural at the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez. Photo by Javier Gonzalez Rivera.
Over a year ago I attended a lecture on design at the Cooper Union. The speaker projected a series of slides illustrating his minimalist design philosophy. One of the images was of the B-2 bomber. I was shocked and disturbed that a design philosophy would fail to take into account social, political, and economic contexts. Particularly of an object which, when used as intended, delivers massive death and destruction.
It prompted me to dig deeper into design and the public interest. And to start this Web log.
On evening of April 16, I arranged a panel discussion at Cooper titled “Design in the Public Interest / Design Against the War.” I invited three panelists to speak about their work as designers involved in the anti-war movement.
First up was Lee Gough, a printmaker, anti-war activist, and graphic artist based in Brooklyn, NY. She showed a series of prints from a portfolio-in-progress on the Iraq invasion and the war at home, called “The War Went Well.” Some of the images have been used in posters on the Web site Who Dies for Bush Lies“ and for Military Families Speak Out, an organization of people who are opposed to war in Iraq and who have relatives or loved ones in the military.
One image “Fight the War at Home” was inspired by a subway ride home from lower manhattan on September 11. Even as the towers had just been destroyed, there were still, as there had been for many years, homeless persons on the subway appealing to cityfolk to remember them, and to give. The image is a graphic reminder that some have been under domestic attack in our country for a long time, and that funds for the war on poverty pale in comparison to our “defense” budget. Another image, “Visualize Your Family Members Waging War” depicts a despondent soldier with a crutch being embraced by a woman. Lee’s expressive linocut style brings a gravity to the subject matter.
Lee commented on the challenges of choosing one’s message, for instance, noting the different context of “Bring the Troops Home” for troops that have been drafted vs. those who enlisted voluntarily.
One member of the audience raised the question of why U.S. flags and “being American” were the province of the pro-war movement, when large numbers of U.S. citizens were opposed to the war. I noted that I’d seen many anti-war demonstrators holding up flags and patriotism at rallies. On the Web, Who Dies for Bush Lies? effectively tackles effect of the war on U.S. soldiers and U.S. civilians, in addition to Iraqi soldiers and civilians. The danger was raised, though, of the rhetorical trap: the argument over who is “more American” can go back and forth forever, and quickly turning attention away from the crisis at hand.
Nancy Doniger has worked as an illustrator for almost 20 years, producing art work for newspapers, magazines, books, posters and T-shirts for both for-profit clients and not-for-profit groups. She is currently a member of Brooklyn Parents for Peace, for whom she created the “Say No to War Against Iraq” poster.
She also helped organize a community/family oriented workshop that gave kids and parents an opportunity to make anti-war art for protest marches. Adults and kids made signs and worked with a puppeteer to create a large paper mache dove, and lots of little doves held aloft on cardboard tubes.
Nancy showed some earlier examples of her work, including a forceful image against the FTAA, a stark two-color poster for a conference on the conflict in Israel and Palestine, and a bright, celebratory “Welcome Back to Brooklyn” poster.
She also showed a couple of iterations of the “Say No to War” poster. One implied the damage of war with flames, but the final version ultimately centered on the mass mobilization. She noted that, in contrast to other illustrations, her work on this piece progressed from representation to geometric abstraction to make the poster more inclusive, using large blocks of color instead of specific depictions of race and gender. She is currently working on a “Hate Free Zone” poster.
Nancy noted the effect of the “Say No to War” poster on her block. The block appeared to be a very pro-war, where “the flags are quick to come out.” But over time, the “Say No to War” poster began to appear in windows and doorways. I certainly noticed it up and down the block where my step-sister lives.
Nancy is also involved in upcoming anti-war event “WEARNICA.” Sponsored by Brooklyn Parents for Peace, on May 3, 2003 a group of artists will present original anti-war art executed on the backs of white cotton dress shirts. The shirts will be worn in public spaces around New York and the world. The event was conceived by Works on Shirts Project whose inspiration for the event came after Colin Powell insisted upon covering the tapestry of Picasso’s Guernica during his warmongering speech to the General Assembly of the United Nations on February 5, 2003.
L.A. Kauffman is a staff organizer for United for Peace and Justice and designer of materials to promote the February 15 and March 22 marches in New York City. Her sticker and poster designs United for Peace and Justice can been seen on the streets across the New York City.
Leslie arrived at design through her work as editor of a progressive journal. She was inspired by the bold, clear graphics of Gran Fury and ACT-UP, and the use of those graphics on the street and at demonstrations, stage managing the events to push its imagery into the mainstream media. She claims she can not draw, so uses clip art in her graphics. The image of the blue pennant flag and black group have become a ubiquitous the city streets.
The idea behind a worldwide day of anti-war marches came out of the European Social Forum held in Florence this past November. At the Forum, the date February 15 was chosen as a date for anti-war demonstrations “in every capital.” What transpired was unexpected and unprecedented.
United for Peace and Justice had only just formed in the November of 2002, but it wasn’t January the group started working on the February 15 march. “The World Says No” was the headline of the February 15 flyer design, accompanied by a list of cities taking part in the event. As news of the event travelled across the Internet, marches were planned in more and more cities. Leslie held up various versions of her February 15 design with more and more cities added. Ultimately, marches were held in 793 cities around the world on February 15. Of particular note is virtual absence of communication or coordination between the participating cities.
Leslie spoke of the focused purpose of the posters produced for the event: not to educated, but to mobilize. The flyers lack all superfluous text or argument, just the headline, time and place. The posters and stickers were not trying to change people’s minds, instead to reach out to people who were already against the war but had not yet taken action.
In addition to sticker and flyers, palm cards cut from 1/4 page xerox copies on blue paper were popular and successful. They are both cheaper and more effective — easier to stuff in your pocket, less burdensome on the counter tops of sympathetic shopkeepers.
For the February 15 march, 200,000 stickers were distributed in 5 weeks. For the March 22 march, 200,000 stickers were distributed in 3 weeks. Astonishing numbers, posted around town by a continual flow of volunteers through the office. It’s also a useful bench mark: this is how many it takes to spread the message. A month later, I’m still finding remnants of UPfJ stickers on walls and phone booths. Leslie noted the effect of thousands of little acts of civil disobedience for the spirit of protestors, slowly bolstering a spirit of resistance around in the City and specifically, against the police department ban on marching past the U.N. on February 15.
In total, 1.1 Million pieces of literature distributed. Almost all of the printed materials were bilingual: English on one side, Spanish on the other. However, materials were also produced in Korean, Spanish, French, Creole, and Chinese. Quite a few donations for all these production expenses came online via paypal.
The question was raised about the environmental impact of producing all those printed materials. Her response: it’s also better for the environment if the war is prevented.
Other examples of design projects were raised by members of the audience: a “Do Not Bomb Iraq” sticker to replace the “Do Not Lean On Doors” sticker in NYC subway cars; colorful logos, charts and imagery designed by Stefan Sagmeister for “Move Our Money,” a campaign to reallocate 15% of the U.S. military budget for education; and flyers handed out to tourists at ground zero with a graphic representation of the number of teachers aides that will be cut from City’s budget. The image leaves it to the viewer to make to the connection to the military expense of a war in Iraq.
Many spoke of the importance of New Yorkers being seen as against the war. September 11 was an attack on New York, and the war is being waged in our name. Others spoke of the urgency of independent media, and the challenge of reaching out beyond “preaching to the converted.”
Overall, I was struck by how spontaneous the designers’ actions were. In almost every case, the designers simply stepped forward and got involved: signs made for a rally were eagerly snapped up; hundreds of thousands of stickers eagerly taken and distributed; and, “Say No to War” posters popped up on an otherwise apparently pro-war street. It seems that one doesn’t necessarily have to change everyone’s minds. There are more “converted” than you think. They just don’t have the graphic materials to display yet.
About 50 people came to the event, a decent turnout despite the announcement from the Pentagon the previous day that “the major fighting” in Iraq was over... and the fact that I’d scheduled the event on the first night of Passover. (Such a Jew am I.) The arc of the event could have used a better closing at the end, as well as a better transition between panelists. I also noted the lack of diversity in the audience. I think next time, I should hold it at different time and place. I’m also quite pleased with the invite design. Peel off the event description and you’re left with an anti-war sticker. Many thanks to Photobition for helping hammer this out in time.
One purpose of the event was to connect artists, designers, and activists. I’m disappointed more Cooper students didn’t show, but after the event quite a few people milled around having these intense little conversations until I kicked everyone out to close the room and return the lights. And quite a few people asked me what was next. Perhaps the start of a new Committee to Unsell the War?