Archive for November, 2019

"Paper Bullets" review in Berliner Zeitung

Kleben und leben lassen

Eine Ausstellung in Mitte widmet sich der einhundertjährigen Geschichte von politischen Stickern. Eine Reise von Montreal über New York an die Spree

Von Paul Linke

Es gibt ein paar Orte in Berlin, die als Hall of Fame der alternativen Stickerszene bezeichnet werden: die Fassade des Kino Intimes und das gesamte RAW-Gelände in Friedrichshain, in Mitte das Haus Schwarzenberg und die S-Bahnbögen am Hackeschen Markt Richtung Alexanderplatz. Wer dort klebt, lebt in einer tendenziell linken Welt, im Dauerwiderstand gegen Kriegstreiber, Spekulanten, Rassisten, Nazis. Im Gegensatz zum Sprühen ist Kleben keine Sachbeschädigung, sondern eine Ordnungswidrigkeit.

Die Wurzeln der politischen Stickerkunst reichen über einhundert Jahre zurück. Um 1910 entwarfen die Industrial Workers of the World die ersten Paper Bullets, auch stille Agitatoren genannt; das waren briefmarkenähnliche Protestaufkleber, die mit Spucke an Wänden, Türen und bestimmt auch mal auf der Stirn platziert werden konnten. Neben den in Gewerkschaften organisierten Stahlarbeitern in den USA waren auch Frauen, die ihr Wahlrecht erstreiten wollten, die kreativen Treiber dieses neuen Protestformats, das sich besonders in Städten zu einem präsenten Medium entwickelt hat. Darüber und über vieles mehr erzählt eine von der Autorin und leidenschaftlichen Stickersammlerin Catherine Tedford kuratierte Ausstellung in der Berliner Neurotitan Gallery, die an diesem Sonnabend eröffnet wird.

Tedford wohnt in New York, doch die meisten Aufkleber fand sie auf ihren Streifzügen durch Deutschland und vor allem in der Welthauptstadt der Sticker: Berlin. Am Anfang ihrer Sammlerkarriere kratzte Tedford die Sticker von Hauswänden, Klotüren, Laternen oder Abflussrohren. Inzwischen verfügt sie über ein weltweites Netzwerk, das sie mit neuem und altem Klebestoff versorgt.

So einfach wie heute war die Stickerherstellung übrigens nie. Man entwirft ein Motiv am Computer, schickt die Dateien an eine Druckfirma, die dann etwa verspricht: „Biologisch abbaubare seidenmatte Folie mit starkem UV-Schutz und auf der Rückseite geschlitzt. Die umweltfreundliche und wetterfeste Variante, perfekt für draußen geeignet.“ In der Berliner Hall of Fame ist noch Platz, ein paar Quadratzentimeter zumindest.

Bildunterschrifte, von links nach rechts, von oben bis unten:

Gegen Intoleranz seit 2007: Das Aktionsbündnis des schwul-lesbischen Fanklubs „Queerpass Sankt Pauli“ und der Fanszene des FC St. Pauli tritt jeder Form von Diskriminierung entgegen. Nicht nur im Fußballstation.

Gegen Massenmöbelkonsum 2013: Sticker des Berliner Street-Art-Künstlers Mein lieber Prost. Seine Werke heißen „Prosties“, sind immer humorvoll und fast immer gesellschafts- oder kapitalismuskritisch.

Für Verstand am Ufer 2010: Demonstrationsaufruf gegen die investorenfreundliche Städtebaupolitik des Berliner Senats entlang der Spree. Die Stadt wurde leider nicht gerettet. Siehe auch Initiative „Media Spree versenken“.

Für indigene Eigentumsrechte 2015: Sticker der Aktivistin Zola, die auf die Ausbeutung der indigenen Völker in Kanada aufmerksam macht. Das Stadtgebiet um Montreal gehörte einst dem Stamm der Mohawk.

Für Frieden in Vietnam 1969: Die New Yorker Friedensorganisation National Peace Action Coalition rief auch mit Stickern zu Demonstrationen auf. Sechs Jahre später verließen die US-Truppen das Land in Südostasien.

Gegen Atomraketen 1982: Protestaufkleber – feuchtfröhlich Spuckie genannt – gegen die Stationierung der Pershing II und BGM-109 Tomahawk in Westeuropa. Der Künstler ist unbekannt. Die Protestausgang schon.

Für ein buntes Leben 2017: Teil einer Stickerserie der Künstlerinnen Aaron Huez and Shepard Fairey für mehr ethnische, kulturelle und religiöse Vielfalt. Eine amerikanisch konnotierte Version von „Wir sind das Volk“.

English translation

Stick and Let Live

An exhibit in Berlin’s Mitte district dedicates itself to the hundred-year history of political stickers: A trip from Montreal through New York to the Spree

By Paul Linke

There are a few places in Berlin considered to constitute the hall of fame of the alternative sticker scene: the façade of the movie theater “Kino Intimes” and the entirety of the “RAW-Gelände” in Friedrichshain, as well the Schwarzenberg House and the tramrail arches at the Hackescher Markt square near Alexanderplatz in Mitte. Everyone who puts up their stickers here lives in a typically left-wing world in constant opposition against warmongers, capitalist businessmen, racists and Nazis. In contrast to spray-paint graffiti, however, stickers aren’t a form of property damage but merely a low-level infringement.

The roots of political sticker art reach over one hundred years back. In 1910, the Industrial Workers of the World designed the first “Paper Bullets,” also known as silent agitators. These were postage stamp-sized protest stickers, that could be stuck with spit on walls, doors and no doubt on foreheads from time to time. Alongside the unionized steelworkers in the USA were the women fighting for voting rights and driving the creativity of this new protest format that has developed into a relevant medium, particularly in cities. Author and passionate sticker collector Catherine Tedford presents this history and much more in her curated exhibit in the Berlin Neurotitan Gallery, opening this Saturday.

Tedford lives in New York, but most of the stickers were found on her travels through Germany, primarily in the capital city of stickers: Berlin. At the beginning of her collecting career, Tedford scraped stickers from house walls, bathroom doors, lampposts or drainpipes. She currently possesses a worldwide network of stickers old and new.

Sticker production was not always a simple task. Nowadays, you can draw up a design on a computer and send it to a print shop that then makes the promise of a “biodegradable matte-finish film with strong UV protection, slotted on the back. The environmentally friendly and weatherproof version, perfect for the outdoors.” There is still some room in the Berlin sticker hall of fame—a couple square centimeters, at the very least.

Image captions, from left to right and top to bottom:

Against intolerance since 2007: The activism coalition composed of the gay-lesbian fan club “Queerpass Sankt Pauli” and the fan scene of the soccer team FC St. Pauli fights every form of discrimination, and not only in the soccer stadium.

Against mass-produced furniture consumption 2013: A sticker from the Berlin street artists “Mein lieber Prost.” His works are called “Prosties,” are always humorous and almost always critical of society or capitalism.

For reason on the shore 2010: A call to demonstration along the river Spree against the investor-friendly city development politics of the Berlin senate. Unfortunately, the city was not saved. See also the initiative called “Media Spree Versenken.”

For indigenous property rights 2015:  A sticker from the activist Zola, who brings attention to the exploitation of the indigenous peoples in Canada. The land around Montreal originally belonged to the Mohawk tribe.

For peace in Vietnam 1969: The New Yorker peace organization National Peace Action Coalition also used stickers to call people to demonstrations. Six years later, the US troops left the country in Southeast Asia.

Against nuclear missiles 1982: Protest stickers – called “boozy spit-stickers” – against the stationing of the Pershing II and BGM-109 Tomahawk in Western Europe. The artist is unknown. The outcome of the demonstration is, however.

For a colorful life 2017: Part of a sticker series from the artists Aaron Huez and Shepard Fairey for more ethnic, cultural and religious diversity. An American connoted version of “Wir sind das Volk.”

Special thanks to Brendan Reilly, St. Lawrence University Class of 2020, for the English translation.

“Paper Bullets – the expanded version” at Neurotitan Gallery in Berlin, Germany

In the summer of 2019, I was given the opportunity to present an expanded version of my Paper Bullets exhibition at the acclaimed Neurotitan Gallery in Berlin, Germany. Oliver Baudach, the director of Hatch Kingdom Sticker Museum, was the driving force that made the project possible. It was an enormous undertaking, in that for the first time I drew from my entire collection of thousands of new, unused, historical and contemporary political stickers from around the world.

Neurotitan is a non-commercial, alternative art gallery that features urban art. Housed in the Haus Schwarzenberg in Mitte, the gallery dates back to 1995. The entrance to the gallery is located away from the street, and the walls leading up to it are covered with painted murals, wheatpastes, stencils, yarn bombs, and stickers. Every public street art tour in Berlin stops here to see the ever-changing outdoor displays and the rotating exhibitions inside. I knew when I first saw the space in the mid-2000s that I wanted to show my stickers there, and my dream came true this year.

Exhibition planning

Even though for the past 15+ years, I’ve scanned over 11,000 stickers (which you can view in Flickr albums), I started scanning any other un-scanned stickers in January 2019 to make sure I had image files for everything that would go into the show. The photo below shows one of three pages of notes related to scanning several hundreds of additional stickers this year.

I’m now in the process of typing this info into my “simple spreadsheet” (now 15 pages long). The lines in red indicate the scanning done this year and the image files that will need cropping and color adjusting. Yipes. It will be useful for when I go to publish a book, though!

In early May 2019, I started making selections for the show. Since classes at St. Lawrence University were over, I was able to use the printmaking studio there to set everything out and see all of the groupings side by side. I asked SLU faculty and students in Modern Languages and Global Studies for their input on my selections to make sure I had organized everything correctly, especially for stickers from countries other than the US and Canada. A contact in Spain (GG) provided valuable input and caught a few mistakes (i.e., right-wing groups often appropriate left-wing images and text, which tripped me up a few times with the Spanish stickers).

Oli also came to St. Lawrence later that month to put together the SHE SLAPS traveling show, and we had enough time during his visit for him to go through my selections. He speaks Spanish and German and helped with stickers from those countries, caught a few dupes, and made some other recommendations.

We ended up with over 2,200 stickers from over a dozen countries grouped on 54 sticker boards by geographic location, date, and subject.

I went to Berlin at the end of July to frame the sticker boards with Oli, and Neurotitan staff installed the show. The gallery itself is huge with about 285 running feet of wall space and lots of big windows for natural light.

Opening night

 

Exhibition announcement

English text panel

Paper Bullets: 100 Years of Political Stickers from Around the World

-the expanded edition-

Publicly placed stickers with printed images and/or text have been used for decades as a form of political protest or to advocate political agendas. In the United States, for example, as early as the mid-1910s, labor unions created the first “stickerettes” or “silent agitators” to oppose poor working conditions, intimidate bosses, and condemn capitalism.

Later, during World War II, western Allied and Axis countries dropped gummed “paper bullets” or “confetti soldiers” from the sky as a form of psychological warfare to demoralize both troops and civilians. During the 1960s and ’70s American civil rights era, paper “night raiders” protested the war in Vietnam and U.S. imperialism, and called for racial and gender equity among blacks, whites, men, and women. Colorful, lightweight German spuckies have also been used for several decades to combat fascism and sexism and to comment on environmental issues.

Drawing from the private collection of Catherine Tedford (US), the exhibition features over 2,270 original, unused political stickers from Canada, Egypt, England, Germany, Indonesia, Spain, Ukraine, United States, and other countries, dating from the early 20th century to present day. The exhibition is organized by subject, including labor and workers’ rights, gender and sexuality, racism, surveillance, war and conflict, the environment, and police brutality. Stickers are also grouped by geographic location and date.

Catherine Tedford, gallery director at St. Lawrence University, first discovered street art stickers while visiting Berlin in 2003 and has since collected over 12,000 examples from countries around the world. She writes about political stickers on her research blog Stickerkitty and has presented papers at academic conferences in Canada, England, Germany, Scotland, and the United States. In 2014 and 2015, two smaller Paper Bullets exhibitions were presented at Hatch Kingdom Sticker Museum, Berlin, Germany. Variations of Paper Bullets have also been featured in the U.S. at Susquehanna University (PA) in 2015 and at Central Washington University (WA) and St. Lawrence University (NY) in 2017.

In 2015, St. Lawrence University received a multi-year grant from the U.S. Council of Independent Colleges through the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to digitize the stickers for a Street Art Graphics digital archive, which is made available for education and research. To view the digital archive, visit https://library.artstor.org/#/collection/87730635.


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