Archive for the 'Paper bullets' Category

“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.

876 framed stickers in “Paper Bullets” exhibition

diagram-photo

German Spuckies 1980s: 18

U.S. Industrial Workers of the World Labor Union 1910s-1930s: 12

Misc. U.S. Politicians: 38

U.S. President Richard Nixon: 17

U.S. President George W. Bush: 18

U.S. World War II: 27

Arab Spring / Religion: 18

Ukraine / Maidan Protests: 12

Russia: 7

Falange Spanish Right-Wing Movement Anthem: 13

Mixed Themes: 45

U.S. War in Vietnam: 32

Race: 15

Immigration / Borders: 28

Environment: 42

Spain / Catalonian Separatist Movement: 51

German Political Parties: 67

Surveillance: 24

St. Pauli Football Club: 47

Die Linke German Political Party: 23

U.S. Gender 1980s: 43

Gender / Sexuality: 63

Capitalism / Economy: 47

ACAB: 43

Antifa: 55

Protest / Resistance: 71

IMG_3863

Paper leaflets today

In an article North Korea Warns South Over Leaflets, the NY Times reported last week, “North Korea opened fire on Friday after anti-Pyongyang activists in the South sent large balloons sailing across the border with leaflets criticizing the North’s government…. In a commentary published on Saturday [October 11, 2014], the North’s official Korean Central News Agency said that the leaflets were ‘an intolerable political provocation’ and ‘psychological warfare,’ and that Seoul and Washington were behind them, according to the South Korean news agency Yonhap.”

NKoreaLeaflets_Oct_2014_001

Check out earlier posts about my Paper Bullets sticker exhibition in Berlin and to see an example of a paper bullet from the Gulf War.

For more info and pictures about recent paper leaflets dropped in North Korea, see also South Korean Activists Drop Anti-Pyongyang Leaflets and USBs into North Korea (International Business Times) and Rival Koreas trade fire over propaganda balloons (UK Mail Online).

NKOREA-paper leaflets-sm

Photo by Ahn Young-Joon from the Associated Press (I will remove photo from post if the AP makes a stink.)

Paper Bullets – an example

In conjunction with the Paper Bullets exhibition that’s on display right now at Hatch Kingdom, I included an example of an actual paper bullet to show people what they look like (see lower right). This “confetti soldier” was probably dropped from the sky by U.S. military forces during the Gulf War in 1991.

IMG_3837

My colleague at SLU, Gisele El Khoury, helped again with the Arabic translations.  Here is the front.

paper_bullet_001a

تحذير!

هذه البداية فقط!

فعسى أن

تكون هذه قنبلة حقيقية

نرغب في المحافظة

على الأناس الأبرياء

وصدام يقودهم في

طريق الدمار والموت

المحتوم. نريدعإغلامهم

بالحقيقة!

صدام هو

السبب

نعم، إن القوات المتعددة الجنسيات على

قدرة تامة بشن هجوم صاعق في أي آن أو مكان!

تحذير!

Warning!

This is only the beginning!

Hopefully

this will be

a real bomb

We would like to protect

the innocent people

and Saddam is leading them

to the road of destruction and inevitable death.

We want to inform them

With the truth!

Saddam is

the reason

Yes, the multinational forces are fully able to launch a terrible attack at any time and in any place

Warning!

Here is what’s on the back.

paper_bullet_001b

الحقيقة

لقد عزلكم صدام عن العالم

الجامعة العربية

الجامعة العربية الإسلامية

وجمعية الامم المتحدة

جميعها أدانت أعمال صدام

وحشدت ٢٨ بلداً قوات لها

وذلك نتيجة لأعماله. وتشارك

بلدان أخرى في حشد قواتها

لا تجعل صدام سبباً لجلب الدمار

عليك!!

The truth

Saddam isolated you from the world

The Arabic League

The Islamic Arabic League

And the United Nations

All condemned Saddam’s actions

And 28 countries mobilized its forces

As a result of his work (I think they mean “actions”).

Other countries participate by mobilized its forces

Don’t let Saddam be a reason for bringing destruction on you!

I’ve done a fair amount of research on paper bullets, but one great source to begin with is anything by retired SGM Herbert A. Friedman, and in particular this essay called Falling Leaves. He was also interviewed about paper bullets in Cabinet Magazine in 2003. More to follow.


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