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Occuprint Everything!

October 7, 2011

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.


When he got back the printing was on! People were incredibly appreciative, and immediately asked “how much are these?” when we explained that they were free, you could sense a small little break in normalcy. Really? So – and I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this – pretty rapidly a donations system emerged, allowing people to give us some cash in exchange for the shirts – which we explained would go into buying more shirts (and we did end up making a second run – josh just plopped a wad of cash into the hands of a woman who was willing to help – and she went to get more shirts). So the exchange relation found its way back in… I like to think of this as a transitional necessity: moving from commodity relations to post-scarcity relations is a big shift!
The second day I printed with David – this time we started out by getting some fabric from the “comfort” station to make little patches/flags out of. As we were doing this, people came up asking if we would print on their clothes, which we did, and if they didn’t have anything to print on, we’d send them over to comfort, which had mounds of donated clothing that they could sort through to find something they liked. Eventually, comfort found out that we were doing this, and they were so excited about the printing that they rooted through their donations and found all of the brand new things (a big box of hoodies, some white teeshirts) to send over for us to print – explaining that the new stuff didn’t feel quite right, but once we printed on it, it would fit in better). And so, now we were printing flags, hoodies, tee shirts, as well as personal clothing items… and we got a lot of prints out there.
Initially Josh and I were trying to brainstorm how we would get volunteers to staff the printing when we couldn’t – our initial thoughts were to tap standard avenues for volunteers – maybe see if some art students wanted to get involved, etc. etc. – but printing with David on that second day, we found our solution – and it was a lot more obvious that I realized:
So much of the occupation is a post-scarcity environment – not everything – but a lot of things are in complete abundance: Clothing – just go to the comfort station – money (relative to the costs of occupying – or at least of printing – there is no shortage of money or people who want to donate money in solidarity) – food (served all day in the middle of the park) – and workers…
One of the very palpable undercurrents of the occupation is a prevailing sense that people want to work. to feel productive. to contribute. to make things with others. This is what capitalism has stolen from us – this is what people want returned to them – some semblance of a collective humanity. When you think about it, its actually pretty simple.
There’s this annoyingly amorphous critique floating around about a lack of clarity on what the occupiers want, or stand for. You’ve heard it by now I’m sure, or even feel this way yourself. Speaking for myself, it only takes a day or two of participation to understand exactly what the occupation is about – and the problem is that for those who aren’t present and who rely on media accounts (which tend to focus on violence and confrontation) its easy to lose site of the less visible social reproduction practices that are providing cohesion to the occupation and really, in so many ways – ARE the occupation.
The occupation is not an occupation unless there are people coordinating food, sleeping supplies, clothes, a library, yoga classes, the last time I was there I saw a grey water system and someone walking around with a tray of hygiene products. Another person approached me and three others giving us a pitch to get involved in his working group – sanitation. These are the things that make it an occupation. Without some cohesive and singular demands, this is still an occupation, but without all of this care work – it is nothing.
Liberty Plaza has become a space that is reclaimed FOR something – and that something is a world where we don’t have to demand anything of any state or any corporation, but a world where we can live with one another, and enjoy social relations that are unmediated by socially constructed scarcity. The demands are still there – and they are plural and even contradictory at times – but what unites them all is a social practice of occupying together, a demonstration yelling in one clear, united voice: WE DON’T NEED YOU.
We don’t need capitalism, corporations, profit motives to organize our collective and creative production. That’s the punchline. And people are starting to get it.
If you want to have a feel good moment – troll the comments on the occupy wall st blog – not the political discussions, but the spaces for donations and other smaller matters… Support for this occupation movement runs very, very deep – even if FOX News reports otherwise.
So let’s make some revolution together.


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9 comments on “Occuprint Everything!”

this looks awesome, and great analysis, Jesse.
Shaun and i are using some of these blog posts to talk about how Justseeds utilizes the graphics we create to groups of art school students in Denmark next week. interested to see what an international audience thinks!

This would always happen at conferences, bookfairs, and demos once stencils and a can of paint were taken out of the bag. People would scramble to find anything to print images on!
It actually provided me with the encouragement and confidence to make art, the fact that someone wanted a graphic I made, on their sweatshirt??!!
Thanks for sharing this Jesse! It is exactly what I imagined myself doing if I wasn’t so geographically separated!
Btw, did you, by chance, use a “Justseeds” screen from BPL?

Hey guys! I’m Rochelle Voyles and I printed with Josh Fields at occupy Saturday and Sunday and come when i can To occupy. I’m a printmaking major at Pratt Institute and we pulled over 200 shirts for sure Saturday. When I do come to the lab I make sure care for screens is done and cleanup and pulling procedure is understood by volunteers. Because I’m a full time student and worker I can’t come everyday But i sleep and spend all weekend at occupy and come weeknights after work. I am currently- finally getting on the list serve for The arts and Culture center and often come to cleanup that area and maintenance materials. Contact me and let’s coordinate some more print stuff for this movement- I do silkscreen, relief, and letterpress!
Thank you all, you’re beautiful.
-Ro Ro

We brought a regular spray bottle, with plain water, and just misted the screen every handful of prints to keep it moist. Drying ended up not being a problem. We were also using speedball fabric ink, which is pretty moist..
For cleaning out we just heavily sprayed the screens, then wiped them down with rags, and repeated that process a couple times. That way we didn’t end up with a bunch of toxic water in the park, but a bag of rags we could wash (or throw out if too destroyed to clean).

By the way – for anyone reading this – we are now the OWS Screen Printers Guild. We have a ton of materials and would gladly send some to anyone who wants to get going with an occupation print lab in another city. just let us know! OWSscreenguild at gmail

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