Currently on display at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, a recently acquired set of Celebrate People’s History Poster Series from the Justseeds artists cooperative. The Archives & Special Collections has added this poster series to its collection because of the strong linkages to the Alternative Press Collection which contains posters, flyers, pamphlets and newspapers about the movements depicted in the series.
This collection was organized and curated by Justseeds founder Josh MacPhee for distribution to all corners of public and social spaces:
“The Celebrate People’s History posters are rooted in this do-it-yourself tradition of mass-produced and distributed political propaganda, but detoured to embody principles of democracy, inclusion, and group participation in the writing and interpretation of history. It’s rare today that a political poster is celebratory, and when it is, it almost always focuses on a small canon of male individuals: MLK, Ghandi, Che, or Mandela. Rather than create another exclusive set of heroes, I’ve generated a diverse set of posters that bring to life successful moments in the history of social justice struggles. To that end, I’ve asked artists and designers to find events, groups, and people who have moved forward the collective struggle of humanity to create a more equitable and just world. The posters tell stories from the subjective position of the artists, and are often the stories of underdogs, those written out of history. The goal of this project is not to tell a definitive history, but to suggest a new relationship to the past.
CPH posters have been pasted up in the streets of over a dozen cities. Each time I receive emails from people wanting to know more. Our streets can be a venue for asking these questions, and the CPH posters can play a role in answering them. Soon after the first poster was printed, educators began asking for posters for their classrooms. It’s been great to see the posters become part of curriculum, and to see lessons built around them. Once when giving a talk about CPH, I was approached by a student in training to become a teacher. She was first introduced to the posters when they hung in one of her grade school classrooms, almost a decade earlier. Now she intends to use them in her future classes. I hope that these posters can continue to act as some small corrective to the dominant narratives told in schools, and that more teachers engage students in alternative ways of understanding the past.”
This exhibition will be up in the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center from February 1st – April 15th, 2016.
The Archives and Special Collections in collaboration with the Dodd Center and Booklyn Artists Alliance, are hosting two days of events on War, Struggle and Visual Politics: Art on the Frontlines. Events will be held in the Dodd Research Center on April 21st and 22nd in conjunction with the Week In Humanities. Artists Seth Tobocman, Stephen Dupont, Marshall Weber, Chantelle Bateman and Aaron Hughes will be holding talks, workshops and presenting artwork around the focus of politics and activism in art and war. Students, community members, veterans and artists are encouraged to attend these events to provide a dynamic facilitation of how we utilize art, activism and memory to cope with war.
Art work will be on display in galleries as follows:Aaron Hughes : Institute for the Humanities : College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Seth Tobocman : Contemporary Art Gallery : School of Fine Art
Stephen Dupont : Coop Bookstore : Downtown Stores
For a full list of events, please follow this link for the Week in Humanities.
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.
One of our recent acquisitions is a poster collection created by Occuprint of the Occupy Wall Street Screen Printing Guild. The collection consists of thirty-one posters which were selected from hundreds on the Occuprint website. The materials were produced under creative commons allowing for free copying and usage as well as open submission by artists illustrating the occupy movement world wide. These logos and images are now finding their way onto t-shirts, buttons, flyers and websites. The prints began as sketches and signage made on pizza boxes in Zuccotti Park, New York during the Occupy Wall Street encampment which evolved into the polished and colorful images printed by the guild. Demonstration art and signage is not an original artifact of the Occupy movement, as our Poras Collection of Vietnam War Memorabilia demonstrates; infact the modern poster is often reliant on the influences of previous counter culture and purposefully self-aware. However, this material is a representation of demonstration sign art which was never part of the demonstration itself, thereby creating a digital archive of art in a political vein originating across the globe to both mimic the Occupy Wall Street movement and symbolize the individual geographies of protest. Its appeal for mass reproducibility, as occured in previous eras of resistance and demonstration, is in itself a form of protest to the commodification of art as an industry for profit, a root cause of “the 99%” slogan.
These posters can be viewed by appointment only, please contact the curator of the Alternative Press Collection for details. A great resource of digitized demonstration posters from the 1960s and 1970s can be found at the Oakland Museum of California.