In conjunction with the Dodd Center, the Archives & Special Collections has acquired NYC artist Seth Tobocman’s The World Is Being Ripped, a series of 14 narrative posters. This limited edition is the last spray art version which Tobocman released, making its unique street art aesthetic a historical document of design and propaganda. These stenciled graphics were originally created in the early 1980s to critique the militaristic individualism of the American Cold War economy and its impact on society:
The World is Being Ripped was originally a response to the Cold War, but it came to address a larger question: In a society as predatory and self destructive as this one, can there be any basis for morality? Is ethical behavior even possible in such a context? I like to think that in adopting these images as their emblems, people are answering that question in the affirmative.
– Seth Tobocman
The stencil art form was created to be an accessible, reproducible, inexpensive and temporary demonstration of design and often political critique or message. This collection provides a unique glimpse of street art yet intended for the gallery with its rich use of color and linear narrative. To see this collection in the reading room, contact the curator of Alternative Press Collections.