Operation: Exposure was a collaboration between Justseeds and Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) on the streets of Chicago, November 2010. Building on the messaging from the IVAW Operation: Recovery campaign, Justseeds members designed and screenprinted hundreds of posters and brought them to Chicago during our annual planning retreat. We split up into street teams of both Justseeds and IVAW members, and canvassed the city with the images in conjunction with press releases from IVAW.
The action was part of the “Chicago in War” series that was organized by Aaron Hughes of IVAW. Metaphorically, the prints covered up corporate ads and the corporate culture that pollutes the city and perpetuates systems of inequality and oppression — systems that create public apathy to war. Twenty different posters were designed along with three large stencils portraits that honored soldiers who have resisted the US military. Operation: Recovery aimed to stop the redeployment of traumatized troops and focus public attention towards Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), military sexual trauma (MST), and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). From an IVAW press release:
“We recognize that we must stop the deployment of all soldiers in order to end these occupations,” writes IVAW. “We see the deployment of soldiers with traumatic brain injuries, post-traumatic stress disorder, and military sexual trauma as particularly cruel, dangerous, and inhumane. Military commanders across all branches are pushing service members far past human limits for the sake of combat readiness. We cannot allow those commanders to ignore the welfare of their troops. From multiple deployments despite PTSD, TBI, and other injuries, to rampant sexual assault within the military, soldiers are consistently being denied their right to heal. This basic right is being denied and we must organize to get it back.”
In addition to the street actions, exhibitions were hung in various spaces around the city, including Mess Hall, the offices of In These Times magazine, and the Co-Prosperity Sphere.
The designs produced during this action, and the relationship developed between IVAW and Justseeds during this time, eventually led to the collaborative production of the War is Trauma portfolio in 2011 and the Celebrate People’s History: Iraq Veterans Against the War portfolio in 2015.