This post is part of an effort to do online studio visits with every member of the Justseeds collective. I've asked people to describe their current studio set-up and also to describe what an ideal set-up for them would look like. But I haven't had a response in awhile, so this is a studio visit, today, with myself!
Curbstone was not just an independent poetry press, but it's core mission was political, to publish and bring awareness to culture as a tool of struggle in Latin America. One of the most beautiful covers published was to an anthology entitled Quechua Peoples Poetry, translations of dozens of poems originally composed in the language of the Indigenous peoples of the Andes. The cover is a wrap around set of images and texts designed by Judy Doyle and James Scully, with strong photo-based illustrations of Andean life offset by the title in bold, powerful red type. The long-format French Folds make for a long, landscape surface, which looks great when completely unfolded.
The folks at Franklin Street Works commissioned artist David Horvitz to create a mail art call for Zanna Gilbert and Brian Droitcour's exhibition "It Narratives: The Movement of Objects as Information" opening next month. Here is the email he sent out this morning. You have until 6:57 am tomorrow to RSVP. Please distribute!
"This is being sent at 6:57am EDT in Brooklyn, New York.
It is the morning.
I have been asked to create a mail-art call for an exhibition taking place September 6 to November 9 at Franklin Street Works in Stamford, Connecticut, USA. In the tradition of mail-art calls the call is open to anyone. All works must be submitted through the postal mail. All works will be hung in the gallery. Every artist’s name will be listed in the exhibition, and on the gallery’s web-site. A digital catalog will be made documenting all the received artworks..."
Canadian magazine the Peak has their September issue out and it's articles are complimented by some artwork of Justseeds' members. You can read the issue below.
More photos of the 4' x 6' prints that Jesse Purcell has been printing in his Toronto studio and that I have been helping to co-organize with the People's Climate Art group to help get the word out about the People's Climate March in New York City on September 21st. Last weeks post focused on Josh MacPhee's and Favianna Rodriguez's images. This post highlights Chip Thomas's image and the collage elements.
Expect to see these images to go up in a week or two in Providence, Richmond, Baltimore, Portland (Maine), Montreal, Halifax, Ottawa, Detroit, Houston, Mexico City, Portland (Oregon), San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, the Navajo Reservation, Milwaukee, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Toronto, Regina, Edmonton, Calgary, Victoria, Iowa City, Boston, the Upper Peninsula in Michigan, and in New York City by four different hosts.
I was in a used bookshop in Denver in 1995 and I was looking in the poetry section for some reason. I have no memory as to why, I had never really read poetry, and had the same general ignorance of it as most of my youthful U.S. peers. In middle school everyone in my class had to memorize and publicly recite a poem, and while some industrious students reached for Robert Frost and Edgar Allan Poe, I accepted my limitations and committed a five line Shel Silverstein ditty to memory (I still remember it!). So, yeah, I have no idea what I was doing in the poetry section, but a shiny silver spine caught my attention. And then the red flags on the cover cinched it. What a cool idea, covering a book with images of May Day posters! If the wrap around photo of a wall of posters wasn't enough, the simple, clean, tall sans serif of Roque Dalton's name sealed it. Plus there was more than one poem inside about leftist guerrilla struggle, something quite exciting to my 20 year old brain.
It turned out that Dalton was familiar to my then roommates, as was the press that translated and published all of his work, Curbstone. Curbstone was a small press which began publishing poetry in 1975. The founders were Alexander Taylor and Judy Doyle, and their first book was Santiago Poems by James Scully (see below)
Inspired by the directorial cue—”Lights, camera, action!”—award-winning poets Cathy Linh Che, Jess X Chen and Paul Tran embark on a cross-country extravaganza to read from their first and upcoming books.
From New York City to Seattle, these fearless poets combine the ferocity of oral history, spoken word, and Asian American poetics to extricate new narratives of trauma, exile, colonialism, and love in the aftermath of war.
Their poems turn from anger to sorrow, mercy to compassion, the erotic to the crowning of one’s own life. Nothing is spared or unexamined. Here is a desire to witness and write it all.
Here's my final entry in the Foreign Languages Press series (not that there aren't plenty more books put out by FLP—thousands, actually). You can see the other posters HERE. I saved my favorite for last: Exploring the Secrets of Treating Deaf-Mutes. The cover is stunning, a stylized portrait of a young Red Guard puncturing himself in the back of the neck with an acupuncture needle. The concept behind the pamphlet is just as stunning: Chao Pu-yu, an acupuncturist with the Chinese People's Liberation Army, has discovered how to cure deafness through his earnest study of the works of Chairman Mao! I think this publication can speak for itself, so I've scanned the entire Publisher's Note for you to be able to read, and included multiple page spreads. Read on, and learn how Chao Pu-yu stuck it to the imperialist doctors and "authorities."
The excellent environmental news site Mongabay.com has a new journalism initiative, and it's producing some fascinating work. A recent post examined the potential linkages between the trafficking of great apes (gorillas, chimpanzees, and bonobos) and the current outbreak of Ebola in West Africa. It's an interesting view into the near-invisible underworld of environmental crime- export permits for bonobos, a species found only in DR Congo are found in Conakry, Guinea's capital, and dead bonobos are found in Chinese and Armenian zoos. The Ebola Zaire virus that's causing this growing epidemic is a pathogen native to DR Congo, and hasn't been previously found in West Africa. Although highly speculative, writer Daniel Stiles uses information gathered by legendary wildlife crime investigator Karl Ammann to make a compelling case for the connection. It's worth a read!
"August 6th 1945 was the day that the US air force dropped the first atomic bomb on Japan, striking Hiroshima and killing up to 160,000 of the city's inhabitants, most of whom were civilians. The mortality rate continued to rise for months from radiation and disease but the primary cause of death was from burns. Daniel Garcia's artwork for this 1971 OSPAAAL poster is sombre and thought provoking, making use of the partially obscured face of a young Japanese citizen and burnt paper to remind the world of the horror of that day. "
This week in “It’s the End of the World as we know and I feel fine, a look into Israel’s racism, riots in Paris in solidarity with Gaza, resistance to oil and gas infrastructure in Turtle Island, including actions in Utah, Vermont, Washington, 6 Nations and Unist’ot’en, the defense of Pizzeria Anarchia in Austria, PETA’s latest asshole move, new music by Rob Hustle, and an interview with Doug Gilbert on his book the “I saw fire”.
1. Ariel Sharon must die!
3. Turtle Island blocks oil and gas
4. PETA – Pretentious Egotistical Totalitarian Assholes
5. No Pizza No Peace!
6. Mi’kmaq Warriors almost free!
7. ***MUSIC BREAK – Call the Cops – Rob Hustle ft. Liv ***
8. The cops are not part of the 99%, interview with Doug Gilbert on his book the “I saw fire”
One of the main things that Foreign Languages Press books have in common is covers that attempt to meld the pastoral (peasants and peasant society) with the industrial (and technological), brought together through a third force, the Chinese Communist Party. The heft given to each of these elements changes with each title, but the formula is basically the same. Taching: Red Banner on China's Industrial Front focuses on industrial progress, but the fields in the foreground of the cover design remind us of the peasant origins of contemporary China, and the glowing red sun rising on the horizon reminds us who is responsible for this great technological feat—the Communist Party. The author of this pamphlet is anonymous, and if that wasn't enough of an indication of its clear roll as propaganda, the initial dozen pages of photographs illustrating happy workers making glorious progress seals the deal.
Feminist organizing around reproductive rights has been one of the most deeply important issues to me throughout the last 15 years. Many of my own artistic endeavors have centered on this work and I've been inspired, educated, and influenced by the work of writers and organizations working on reproductive and gender justice. The first time I heard the term "reproductive justice" was through reading "Undivided Rights: Women of Color Organize for Reproductive Justice" by Jael Silliman, Marlene Gerber Fried, Loretta Ross, and Elena R. Gutiérrez which was released in 2004.
Miriam Zoila Pérez just wrote a letter (posted on the Colorlines website) to the NY Times regarding their recent article about the history of using the language of "reproductive justice" rather than "pro-choice" which I am reposting below.
Here's the letter Miriam Zoila Pérez wrote.
I started compulsively drawing patterns after visiting Palestine last Spring. The visual landscape was full of them, beautiful geometric designs covering walls and floors, inside and out. This poster uses one of these patterns I drew out of inspiration. Here is a link to a high-res downloadable version at 11"x17": DOWNLOAD. Feel free to download and use in support of Palestine.
BDS: What It Means For Artists
with BDS Arts Coalition, Remi Kanazi, Hannah Mermelstein, and Josh MacPhee
Thursday, July 31, 2014 7:00pm
Asian American Writers' Workshop
112 W 27th St 6th Floor, New York City
In 2005, over 170 Palestinian civil society organizations called on people around the world to join a Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against the state of Israel until it complies with international law and ends its occupation of Palestinian land. While prominent musicians and filmmakers have publicly supported BDS, the cultural boycott of Israel has not taken a hold in contemporary visual art or publishing until very recently.
Last month, Living as Form—an acclaimed Creative Time exhibition featuring a rotating set of socially-engaged artists—faced widespread opposition as its "Nomadic Version" (facilitated by Independent Curators International) opened at the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, a university in Haifa with close ties to Israeli arms companies. Six artists and collectives exhibited in “Living as Form” withdrew from the Technion show, and another nine from other versions of the exhibition supported the boycott. Hundreds of prominent cultural workers joined the call, among them Martha Rosler, Molly Crabapple, Walid Raad, Lucy Lippard, Ariella Azoulay, Judith Butler, and Gayatri Spivak.
stencil by Gregory Sholette
Here is another excerpt from A People's Art History of the United States. This excerpt starts with the introduction to the chapter and then segues to the middle section. I chose to highlight this chapter this month because of the past/present connections to the the tactics of the Groundwork action. A broad coalition of artists across the country and beyond, including some of us in Justseeds, are currently working on projects to bring creative activism to New York City in September for the People's Climate March (September 21, 2014) to address the climate crisis. In researching the Groundwork project in 1989 I was inspired by the scale of their vision and how they harnessed street art and tactical media. They set out to cover the five boroughs of New York with 10,000 stencils during the spring and summer of 1989. They recognized that to make a dent in all the visual noise in New York City that you had to think along the scale of the city. Here is the excerpt.
Antinuclear Street Art
On December 14, 1988, a group of artists met at the PAD/D (Political Art Documentation and 16 Distribution) office in NYC and drafted a flyer that announced Groundwork: The Anti-Nuke Port Stencil Project. Its text read, in part:
The U.S. Navy is currently constructing a homeport for the Battleship IOWA and its support ships in the middle of New York harbor. An independent study has shown that that an accident involving the incineration of a single nuclear weapon containing plutonium-239 could release enough radioactivity into the atmosphere to cause up to 30,000 latent cancer deaths within 60 miles of the site. Our best hope for blocking the stationing of the Navy ships is to elect a city government opposed to the homeport. This stencil project is being organized to lay the ground- work for a broad effort to raise the issue in next year’s municipal elections. Conceived as a citywide environmental artwork, the project involves covering the streets/sidewalks of the city with stenciled variable markers. E.g. 7.8 miles downwind of a nuclear Navy Base.
A second flyer called out to artists: “Groundwork needs your stencils protesting the nuclear navy base being built in New York harbor—and you need Groundwork . . . With your images, we will blanket the city with thousands of stencils this spring and summer as municipal elections approach.”
A number of us in Justseeds have been busy making 11"x17" offset posters and downloadable web graphics this summer to help get the word out about the People's Climate March in New York City on September 21st. The March will likely draw tens of thousands of people and aims to be a historic climate mobilization action that will take place the weekend before the UN Conference.
To get the word out we are co-organizing a creative action designed to wheatpaste 30-plus cities around N.America in mid-to-late August with images by Josh MacPhee, Favianna Rodriguez, and Chip Thomas (along with a series of collage element images that give local hosts more leeway to express their own creativity and respond to local environmental issues.) Here are some process photos of some of the 4' x 6' prints for the action (Josh's image and Favi's image). The printer: Jesse Purcell (with studio help by Mary Tremonte)
Founded in 1952, three years after the Communist Revolution, Foreign Languages Press is one of the external propaganda arms of the Chinese Communist Party. They supposedly have published over 30,000 titles in a total of 43 languages (according to Wikipedia). Their books, booklets, and pamphlets must have been produced in huge numbers, as it is no uncommon to find them kicking around used bookshops, flea markets, and thrift stores. I've pulled together a small collection of a dozen titles, and I don't think I've paid more than $4 or $5 for any of them, most them were in $1 bins or a quarter at a yard sale.
This is some of the most common Communist literature kicking around the U.S., and one of the things that's really interesting, is that none of seems to have been designed with a clear U.S. audience in mind. The aesthetic and sentiment of all the covers appears deeply part and parcel of the logic of the Chinese government, in a way that seems so much more foreign than most Soviet or Cuban propaganda. Most of the books feature either happy workers/soldiers or a bizarre combination of the pastoral and industrial functioning together, side-by-side. The Gao Yunlan book to the right is one of the few exceptions, where the cover is more abstract, the narrative of a prison escape illustrated by broken bars and a high brick wall.
Don Martin ft Immortal Technique (US), Eltipo Este (Cuba), Tumi (South Africa), Tonto Noiza (France). Prod Tommy Tee. Video by Ulfdawg.
Visit bdsmovement.net for more information on boycott campaign.
Vocal sample from Arundhati Roys speach "Come September".
On our way up to Cape Cod, Laurel and I stopped in for lunch with Meredith Stern and Peter Glantz. Here's some flicks of Meredith's studio and a print series she's working on.
Over the past year I stumbled upon these two handsome books from the Philippines. Although they were published by different companies almost fifteen years apart, they both share a really strong hand-rendered design. F. Sionil Jose's The God Stealer and others stories (Quezon City, Philippines: R. P. Garcia Publishing Co., 1968) is a real gem. The expressionist line-drawing on the cover strikes a great balance between "naive" imagery and a strong Modernist/Cubist sense. The yellow background is subtle, but adds necessary depth. Although from 1968, the cover evokes contemporary street art imagery from artists like Doze Green, or even fellow-Justseeds artist Favianna Rodriguez.
I just got back from a week in the Marble Mountains wilderness of Northern California with the wildlands education and residency organization Signal Fire. Ten artists and activists, from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds, trekked through ancient forests, apocalyptic burns, and across high alpine ridges to an isolated high-mountain lake. Along the way we shared thoughts and discussion about the work that we do, how we do it, and why wild lands and wild nature are important to it. It was an amazing experience, which you can have a bit of a vicarious experience of through photo essays here and here. I strongly encourage any and all artists and activists to apply to their variety of amazing outdoor programs!
Last autumn, I finished up a design for a new poster in the Celebrate People's History series, and it's just now hot off the presses (you can get it here)! The subject of the poster is the Luddites - not those contemporary freaks without Instagram accounts, but rather the original insurrections in the Midlands of England, roughly 1811-1813, during the violent creep of mechanization of the trades into the cultural fabric of English society. I thought it would be worthwhile to detail my design process here…
Here are all six of the initial set of People's Climate March posters, ready to download all in one place:
A high-res 11x17 version of Crystal Clarity's poster: DOWNLOAD FILE
A high-res 11x17 version of Nicolas Lampert's poster: DOWNLOAD FILE
A high-res 11x17 version of Josh MacPhee's poster: DOWNLOAD FILE
A high-res 11x17 version of Colin Matthes's poster: DOWNLOAD FILE
A high-res 11x17 version of Favianna Rodriguez's poster: DOWNLOAD FILE
A high-res 11x17 version of Chris Stain's poster: DOWNLOAD FILE
And here's the final poster (in this initial set) designed for the People's Climate March, coming up on September 21st. Above is Chris Stain's design. And here is what he has to say about it:
My piece for the project addresses the need for people from all socio economic backgrounds to take a serious look at the current state of our earth. To question how all of our actions from, individual to industry, has an effect on our planet, now and in the future.
Here is a high-res 11x17 version of the poster: please click DOWNLOAD FILE, then print and spread it around!!
I found this great book on a dollar rack here in New York City. It's a 1961 edition (Phoenix Books, a division of the University of Chicago Press) of a Nels Anderson's sociological study of The Hobo, originally published in 1923. The cover, designed by Sarah Delozier, is a nice montage of photography, geometrics, and hand-drawn lines. A hobo "tough" strolls into the frame in front of a freight car. He looks casual, but once you open the book, and absorb the back cover, you can see he's on the look out for a train yard security guard, or "bull." The black and white figures contrast strongly against the colors of the train.
This week I'm sharing high-res downloadable versions of posters designed for the People's Climate March, coming up on September 21st. Nicolas Lampert's design (original collage by Nicolas, additional design by Josiah Werning) is to the right. And here is what he has to say about it:
My image visualizes the name of the march projected on the side of the United Nations building in NYC. It is an ode to the Illuminator project, the 99% projection/bat signal during Occupy, and the Overpass Light Brigades. The pipelines represent business-as-usual and the influence that the fossil fuel industry asserts on political leaders and climate summits. The statement "Make Fossil Fuels History" represents the call for renewable energy sources and recognizes the historical potential of the People's Climate Mobilization.
Here is a high-res 11x17 version of the poster: please click DOWNLOAD FILE, then print and spread it around!!
W.D. Bickerknocker, author of a current zine in the Justseeds Store, was just interviewed in Maximum RocknRoll. Below is the beginning of the interview, click the link at the end for the whole piece.
Create to Destroy! NYC’s C-Squat: Homeo-Empathy 9th & C
Bill Cashman is an all around great guy (like give you his last dollar and make you smile kind of guy) who also painstakingly creates very dense and elaborate zines filled with collage and intensity. This time, the project was obsessively focused on the history of the squat gone homestead co-op where he lives, C-Squat in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The history of the Lower East Side is rife with punk and punk rock attitude from the squatters to the Tompkins Square Park riots to the Diggers to anarchists and just plain anarchy. There is a lot of history but within the punk scene, there are a lot of conflicting memories. So, Bill decided to side step controversy and just stick with the slightly embellished historical facts of the building itself. This zine focuses a lot about the history of the LES, including squatting of course, but the Social Ecology piece entitled The Struggle for Space is an amazing resource for that specific movement: as is former MRR contributor Fly, who is currently working on her history book Unreal Estate. Additionally, the Greenwich Village Society for Historical Preservation recently ran the piece about the zine: Examining a Building’s Past, Punk Rock Style. Here is Bill Cashman (or W.D. Bickerknocker) of Homeo-Empathy 9th & C zine…
What is C-Squat?
It’s a punk house. Formerly a long time squat, currently a homestead, and future: unknown. As one of the graffiti scribblings on one of our walls accurately decrees: “This house is an emotional megaphone”.
This week I'm sharing high-res downloadable versions of posters designed for the People's Climate March, coming up on September 21st. Colin Matthes's design is to the right. And here is what he has to say about it:
A life jacket provides personal safety during chaotic weather and rising sea levels. Beyond a tool for surviving potential disaster, life jackets represent a measured assessment of potential hazards and a choice to protect yourself. Life jacket can symbolize an organized and effective climate change movement.
Here is a high-res 11x17 version of the poster: please click DOWNLOAD FILE, then print and spread it around!!
This week I'm sharing high-res downloadable versions of posters designed for the People's Climate March, coming up on September 21st. Crystal Clarity's design is to the right. And here is what she has to say about it:
These Illustrations came from hurricane sandy. They focus on the horrible disparity that was amplified after the storm. Highlighted, the organized rescue efforts of community based organizers. ( the people's lifeboats). During sandy it became clear to a lot of us that our communities were not really a priority and that those with the means to afford alternative housing or had money and could afford to relocate were able to escape horrific tragedy. Those without this access were left behind in unlivable situations. It shows the struggle of those left without resources who then became resourceful.
Our comrade Andalusia was in Brasil, for many weeks, reporting on the demonstrations around the World Cup. Here are some links to a few videos & radio clips she produced about housing and labor issues related to the World Cup as well as a review of Dave Zirin's great new book Brazil's Dance with the Devil.
Soccers Hidden Cost
Last week I shared a high-res downloadable version of the poster I designed for the People's Climate March, coming up on September 21st, you can see it HERE. This week I'm going to continue to post other artists' designs. First is Favianna Rodriguez's, to the right. And here is what she has to say about it:
I developed this piece to represent an empowered woman of color in a conversation where we are largely invisible. I believe that most visual imagery about climate change does a poor job of speaking to communities of color, communities who are the most affected by environmental destruction and ecological disruption. This piece shows a fierce female standing up for our mother, Pachamama, and defending her family and her home.
This week I present you this "Fair, Candid, and Impartial Treatment of the Subject [of the conflict between Capital and Labor] from a Non-partisan and Christian Standpoint"!! E.T. Russell's 1905 The Conflict between Capital and Labor may be kooky, but sure has a great cover. The visual field is split into four boxes, the top one containing the title, the side panels representing industry and urban life, the central panel containing the author's name and concurrent torch of truth. Published just as the first Russian Revolution was unfolding, Russell tries to articulate why both big business and unions need to be checked, and how we all just need to get along.
This book is in amazing shape considering it's over 100 years old, and the insides are just as ornate and attractive as the cover. Many small accents and visual highlights offset the text, as well as a series of full-page illustrations. The best I scanned for you (click the "Read the rest of entry" link below—an overwrought drawing of a riot scene in Chicago.
SNCC poster, Is He Protecting You?, ca. 1963, Photograph by Danny Lyon (copyright Dany Lyon / Magnum Photos: image from Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives and Radicalism Photograph Collection. Tamiment Library, New York University
This year marks the 50th Anniversary of Freedom Summer - or the Mississippi Summer Project. Here is an excerpt from A People's Art History of the United States that discusses the history and the role of photographers who documented the movement- specifically Danny Lyon and SNCC Photo. The excerpt starts at the mid-point of the chapter.
When you made a move on Mississippi, one of the things you had to do was come to grips with your own mortality…This is not going to be big demonstrations with lots of television cameras with people around watching…when we went on those highways in the middle of the night…you had to think that you would never live to see your home again. —Charles McDew, SNCC
In the summer of 1960, SNCC organizer Bob Moses toured Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana to seek out and cultivate local leaders. In Cleveland, Mississippi, he met Amzie Moore, head of the Cleveland NAACP. Moore persuaded him that the greatest asset that SNCC could provide them was to help organize a voter registration campaign. Moses agreed, and by August 1961, SNCC opened its first voter registration school in McComb, right in the heart of Klan country. By fall 1962, Moses was in charge of six offices and twenty field secretaries. He described his philosophy as such: