Archive for 2010

SK on the DL this week.

Keepin’ it safe on the DL.  More next week.

Obama stickrz in Ottawa, Dec. 21st, winter solstice

I read recently that “solstice” means roughly “the sun stands still.”  Yeah, living in northern NY, I get that.  Here, in late December, time is suspended like a string across a football field, while I bring wood up to the house in the late hours of the day.  It takes half an hour or more to haul three or four double loads of wood, and as I work, the sun sits on the horizon like a Cheshire cat watching me.  We wink at each other.  “I know you,” sez I.  “No, you know me,” sez the sun.

The lunar eclipse this past Tuesday occurred on the winter solstice.  The last time this happened was in 1638.

I found these Obama stckrz in Ottawa on Dec. 21st, the winter solstice.

Proposal accepted

My proposal to give a paper at the international Arts in Society conference in Berlin in May 2011 was accepted.  Here ’tis. Other accepted proposals are here.

Silvio Meier demonstrations in Berlin

Twenty-seven-year-old Silvio Meier was murdered on November 21, 1992, by neo-Nazis at the U-Bhf Samariterstraße, a train station in Berlin-Friedrichshain, a district in former east Berlin.  From London’s Daily Mail, November 27, 1992, this was one of over 1,800 racist attacks in Germany that year.  From the article, “according to Interior Ministry figures, 1,483 of these were Right-wing inspired.”  Also from the article:

“NOVEMBER 21, Berlin: Silvio Meier, aged 27.

A SQUATTER with Left-wing views, Mr Meier was stabbed in a Tube train in the East Berlin suburb of Friedrichshain.  Friends were badly injured after being stabbed several times. Mr Meier died from his injuries.

Media coverage: The attack was reported in detail on the front pages of all the Berlin newspapers.

Police action: On Tuesday, Sven M, 17, was charged with manslaughter.  He describes himself as a ‘soccer hooligan’, but maintains he is not a member of any Right-wing group.  He claims that before the attack Mr Meier had shot him with an airgun.”

The New York Times, November 24, 1992, describes the event:

Anarchists and leftists fought a bloody brawl with rightist skinheads at a subway station in eastern Berlin Friday night, and a 27-year-old man, Silvio Meier, who was fighting alongside the leftists, was stabbed to death. A police investigator said one of his attackers wore a patch on his jacket reading, ‘I am proud to be German’.”

Over 3,500 people marched in November 2010 in Meier’s memory.  Graphics this year can be found and downloaded from the Web site www.silviomeier.de.vu.  One poster includes three images of young people participating in relatively non-violent protest.  One portrays a young black man with his arm raised in solidarity.  A second shows a group of young people playing and partying on the street, knocking around, goofing, flipping the bird, laughing.  A third shows a much larger group marching the street; in this case one of the protesters waves a torch on fire.  These images stand in contrast from the more militant images from the demonstration in 2009.  You can also click on the link below for a PDF of the poster.

plakat_silvio-meier10

Here again, we find social media at play.  This year, a blog entitled “Fighting Fire with Gasoline” posted an announcement for Siempre Antifascista November 2010 in Berlin, an international antifascist festival featuring concerts, a demonstration, and conference.

According to the RASH site an international Antifa action day is planned for the 11th of November 2010.  The Antifa conference with speakers from different countries I am so looking forward to is planned for the 12th to 14th of November.  The yearly Silvio-Meier demonstration will also take place during the festival weekend 19/20th.  You are all encouraged to use the ‘Siempre Antifascista’ logo for your actions and send the reports to the RASH web site!  Remembering means fighting! Kick fascism out of the subcultures!

The same “Fighting Fire with Gasoline” blog later tells of the Silvio Meier remembrance demonstration in 2010 in which neo-Nazis fire-bombed a shop in Berlin.  The post also states:

[The] right of centre government decided to apply its ‘extremism’ label to governmental funding of so-called civil initiatives, which mostly act against neo-nazis and racism.  I don’t think Antifa groups are going to have to go back to black and white flyers, most did not get too close to state funding anyway.  But some initiatives especially in the East where doing a good job but I think they will have to sign a clause which says that they support the constitution.  That may be the reason why the Silvio-Meier demonstration 2010 will take place under the banner: ‘Fight the Nazis, fight the state!’.”

This person has something to say.

At the university where I work as gallery director, I’ve created what I call a public “talk-back” bulletin board, where Sharpie questions are posed on Kraft paper to passersby for their inventive responses and comments.  Questions have varied from “What’s worse, heat or humidity?” to one from a local high school student during summer session who suggested, “Which important figure in history would you call on a ‘drunk dial’ and why?”

Over time, you start to recognize handwriting in this sort of endeavor, and one day I came across a comment from a custodian in the building who had written, “Safety is an illusion, much like happiness.”  I don’t remember the “talk-back” question, but the comment itself stopped me cold and still does to this day.  Like a bit of a cliché, this custodian usually keeps very quiet and to himself.  If I ever approach him with a direct question or comment, though, his responses are quick and astute.  It kind of goes without saying that custodians like this guy and others in the unions where I work – in dining services and “facops” – do in fact tend to keep quiet and to themselves at a wealthy private liberal arts university in Smalltown, New York, USA.

Despite the magnificent odds, however, this guy had something to say.  Anonymously, to a certain degree, yes.  But he said it, and he said it in public.

Contemporary sticker art – some of it, at least – functions the same way.  People have something to say.

People.

This person.

This person has something to say.

Some of the time, people, this person, this person says, “Fuck you.”

[And hence begins my creative writing project on sticker art to be entitled, “Takin’ it to the Streets and Stickin’ it to the Man.”]

ctrl + alt + T

Firefox came out recently with a handy free add-on called ImTranslator that allows one to select text from any digital source, hit ctrl + alt + T, and receive an immediate translation.  Easy to install and easy to use.  If you like it, you can make an online donation to help cover costs, I assume.

Here is an example from antifastreetart’s About page:

Nachdem dies mit dem deutschen Faschismus vernichtet wurde, entstand im konservativ geprägten Nachkriegsdeutschland mit dem Beginn der 68er Bewegung ein neuer Anlauf, die Menschen vor allem durch politische Plakatkunst zu erreichen. Unter dem Motto „Kreativität gegen Kapitalismus!“ wurden so tausende Plakate unter die Bevölkerung gebracht….

that translates in a blink of an eye to this:

After this was destroyed with the German fascism, a new approach originated in the conservatively stamped post-war German land at the beginning of the 68th movement to reach the people above all by political poster art. Under the motto „ creativity against capitalism! “ thousands of posters were brought thus under the population….


Writing-to-think

I’ve spent several days this past month organizing the some-odd 2,000 stickers I’ve collected in Berlin since 2004 and coming up with an outline of sorts with which to begin writing.  The organizing process itself was extremely illuminating, esp. as I begin to do the same with another few thousand stickers from NYC.  For one thing, I’m finding far fewer similarities than I expected – far fewer.  The next phase is what I call writing-to-think.  Not all that original, yadda yadda, but it’ll do.  I’ve team-taught writing to first-year students on-and-off, and with the work I do as a gallery director, I always encourage artists and writers to come up with that killer first sentence to draw in one’s audience.  Here is one from James Howard Kunstler’s most recent post “The Jobs Picture” from his Clusterfuck Nation that can’t be beat.  This guy can dance through a straw with his writing.

The clarion cries of “recovery” cut painfully through the crisp pre-Christmas air while the now-perpetually unemployed huddle in their tents around the Sacramento delta, and the state AGs slug it out with the foreclosure goons, and not a few mortgage payment drop-outs enjoy luxury living in McMansions with no monthly carrying costs, and the minions of Goldman Sachs (with fellow squids) groom their beaks waiting for the massive chum slick of bonus checks to be dropped by helicopters in this the third holiday season since Wall Street committed suicide by an overdose of Ponzi.

Brilliant.  Or nuts.  Or neither.  Or both.

I love writing.  This will be great fun.

Political parties in Germany

I spent a few hours on Sunday researching political parties in Germany, and here is what I have come up with so far (apologies for any mistakes or misrepresentations):

CDU (Christian Democratic Union) is a centrist party and the largest in Germany.  The CDU’s President is Angela Merkel and also the current Chancellor of Germany.  The CDU opposes Turkey’s entry into the EU.  Opposes the SPD and die Linke.  The color orange is used in in literature and signage.

Wikipedia: The CDU is Christian-based, applying the principles of Christian Democracy and emphasizes the “Christian understanding of humans and their responsibility toward God.”

Wikipedia:  In practice, Christian democracy is often considered conservative on cultural, social and moral issues (social conservatism) and progressive on fiscal and economic issues. In Europe, where their opponents have traditionally been secularist socialists, Christian democratic parties are moderately conservative overall, whereas in the very different cultural and political environment of Latin America they tend to lean to the left.

Die Linke (Young Left) is a socialist political party and the most left-wing party of the five in the Bundestag.

DKP (German Communist Party) far-left Marxist-Leninist party; Che Guevera pictured on Web site.

MLPD (Marxist-Leninist Workers Party)

The MLPD has a youth organization Rebell with Rebellmagazin photos on Flickr (including Aufkleber stickers that can be ordered).

NPD (National Democratic Party of Germany) is a far-right party with an ethnic nationalist position.  It was founded in 1964 as a successor to the German Reich party and is often labeled as a neo-Nazi organization.  Opposes Turkey’s entry into the EU.  The leader Udo Voight has had meetings with U.S. white nationalist David Duke.

PDS – former leftist Party of Democratic Socialism (1989-2007) merged to form die Linke in 2007.

SPD – the center-left Social Democratic Party of Germany, the oldest in Germany; according to the party platform, freedom, justice, and social solidarity, form the basis of social democracy.

***All of this work only to see by chance today that der Spiegel has a quite useful summary of political parties (QUITE!, tho dated September 25, 2009).  I’m not sure why the NPD wasn’t listed among the parties in their article – need to look into.

Of all parties, SPD and die Linke stickers abound, and in some cases the two are joined in various stickers (need to look into that, too); to a lesser extent, I find stickers from the MLPD and a few from DKP.  Far-right NPD stickers are quite rare on the streets of Berlin.  When I do come across one, it’s usually torn or gouged like this one.

Arts in Society conference 2011

The sixth international Arts in Society conference will be held next May in… guess where?  Berlin!  I have submitted a proposal for a paper that will present a comparative study of political stickers from Berlin and New York City.

Here is my proposal:

For the last several years, sticker art in Berlin has dealt with issues that are highly political, such as national and trans-national identity, war and conflict, right-wing extremism, religious freedom, capitalism, gentrification, and surveillance.  In particular, “antifa” stickers from various anti-fascist organizations throughout Germany dot the city, covering most every imaginable surface of the built environment and addressing an elasticized range of topics.  Overarching themes include anti-authority, individual vs. State, solidarity, anarchy, and social and political autonomism.

Political stickers in NYC after the 9/11 terrorist attacks expressed scathing critiques of George W. Bush and his administration, U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the country’s never-ending need for oil.  With Barack Obama in office, political stickers like these have waned to a certain degree – something that is also due to municipal efforts to rid the city of graffiti.  Nowadays, stickers are often seen selling goods and services – from hip-hop music to skate decks, energy drinks, and clothing – undoubtedly reflecting America’s obsession with consumption and perhaps a flipped case of “the Man” stickin’ it back.  Most recently, political stickers in NYC comment upon national and global financial bailouts, Tea Party politics, and environmental issues.

Bad news, good news

The bad news is that Rizzoli has just come out with a spectacular new book, Stickers: From Punk Rock to Contemporary Art, and I didn’t write it.

The surprising good news is that my GWB  “I’m sorry” sticker was included on page 230 in the book’s Sociopolitical chapter.  Here is one of the stickers that I left on the ledge of the Coit Tower in San Francisco in 2008.

On the other hand, I do think I have a different angle in that I hope/plan to do more visual analysis in my writing than what I’ve seen elsewhere in other sticker publications.  Milton Glaser’s Design of Dissent publication is still the closest parallel I have found regarding my sticker project.  Ha.  Stickerkitty.  Milton Glaser.  Dream on, little kitty, dream on.  It’s good to have a fantasy life, tho, isn’t it?


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