Occupy Canada: where are the artists?
Posters, for example, can play a powerful role in unifying political demands and constructing the messages of a movement. They call for visual strategies and ways of thinking that promote modes of social and political identification. Some of the most successful political posters have had the simplest messages: Work for All; Hope; Si, se Puede; Power to the People; Never Work. New technologies have made the production and sharing of design work far easier than before. In the days after Occupy Wall Street sprung up, groups of designers and programmers gathered in New York, San Francisco and Washington DC to brainstorm various platforms to help the Occupy movement. Occupy Design emerged as a grassroots project to connect designers with demonstrators. The project's goal is "to create freely available visual tools around a common graphic language to unite the 99 percent." Programmers have been working on a decentralized decision making platform called Occupy Votes that could ease the consensus-making process in large general assemblies--a significant challenge for most Occupy encampments. Other programmers collaborated on an "I'm Getting Arrested" app to help those rounded up during evictions and raids. One of the most inspiring examples of cross collaboration between writers, designers and artists is the Occupied Wall Street journal, one of the many unofficial newspapers of Occupy Wall Street. What all these experiments point to is the incredible pool of untapped talent that movements so rarely take advantage of. With millions of young people out of work and looking for a way to put their skills to use, the potential for burgeoning movements to draw on the talents of those with suitable rage and creative skills presents limitless opportunities. Crowd sourcing and online fundraising tools hold great promise in giving back to artists and creative types who contribute to the movement. The materials produced by artists in support of the Occupy movement have been crucial in publicizing the movement, but more importantly in giving it a relative coherence and framework despite its Lack of concise political demands. Visually, political movements need to occupy a libidinal economy, a space of desires that is largely occupied by advertising and consumer-generated identities. It comes as no surprise that protestors have drawn on popular culture and media that commonly build these collective economies of desire. The famous Guy Fawkes mask, for example, comes from the graphic novel and film V for Vendetta. Many of the Occupy posters, from the striding women of "Occupy the Streets" to the zombie imagery of "Eat the Rich Before They Eat You," share the aesthetics of popular comic books, films and TV shows. The incredibly successful internet meme that grew out of the UC Davis occupation (a portly cop casually pepper-spraying classical paintings and pop culture icons) is but one example of this potent collision of new media and history.
In past years Harper and the Conservatives have threatened artists' Livelihoods with multi-million-dollar funding cuts. These moves were countered by massive mobilizations of artists and musicians across Canada, but what has changed for artists since then? It remains difficult to secure grant funding and even more difficult to produce art as a full-time job. Artists and designers have suffered greatly due to the concentration of wealth and they stand to lose past gains in the coming age of austerity. As Occupy evolves, it will be crucial for artists to voice their own concerns within the movement and to assist it in building a visual and figurative framework to articulate visions of a better world
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|Title Annotation:||All That's Left; Occupy movement|
|Date:||Nov 1, 2011|
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