Mar 12

I <3 Libraries

I just made this quick graphic in support of Toronto Public Library Workers, who are going on strike today.

The font I used didn’t have an ampersand or plus sign, but fortunately there was an ampersand sitting right there in the image! That’s Lincoln Cushing’s Visons of Peace & Justice (2007), which is about Inkworks Press in Berkeley.

For Print:

Letter Size

Ledger Size

I worked for the public library when I was high school, it was my first job ever. Even though I was part of the library union then, I didn’t actually know what that meant, and it never made itself known to me. Too bad, because I think it could have made a big difference for me and other younger workers.

After working in different union and non-union jobs, my idea of what a union is has definitely evolved over time. When I was working at a library again, this time while at university, my definition of union was what my closest co-workers and I were willing to do to support each other – and I actually felt quite supported.

I’m sure we benefited in many ways from having a legally-binding collective agreement and other formal supports in place, but as “casual” (meaning we were forced to re-apply for our jobs each new term) part-time workers who sometimes had supervisors who were part of the union, we were closer to the bottom wrung of the ladder, and working in such close proximity, we were the union, responsible for negotiating the nature of our working conditions every shift.

Nov 10

Palestine Poster Project

I am floored. I was just introduced to the Palestine Poster Project curated by Dan Walsh.

Dan has gathered nearly 4000 images from over 900 artists dating from the early 1900s to the present. Most of the earlier works come from Zionist development agencies, while the collection from the 1960s onwards reveals the massive output of posters and graphics produced in support of the Palestinian people and their liberation.

Taken together, they are a tremendous resource for learning about the history of Palestine and Israel in the present context, especially since Dan has put so much effort into finding translations and contextualizing individual images, even beginning to assemble a “new curriculum” that draws on the communicative force of these posters.

He has written a great article about the significance of the Visit Palestine poster:

“With this one poster pulled out of the Zionist attic, three core myths are debunked. The first myth is that Palestine had ever been a land without people. Obviously someone lived in these houses and someone tended these gardens. The second myth is that Palestine was a vast desert awaiting cultivation. The resplendent tree in the foreground suggests that the land surrounding Jerusalem was much more than barren desert. The third myth is that there never was a Palestine. Of course there was a Palestine, and here it is, called by name in a Zionist-published poster.”

This is exactly the type of work that I am interested in doing, and I was actually able to draw on some of the boat images I have shared on this blog in recent No One Is Illegal workshops at schools and universities.

Hopefully I am not being rude, but I just had to share some of my favourite images from the collection. I tried to be somewhat representative, though I also noticed that I gravitated to a number of images that I had encountered already, which had already found me, and taken root in different spaces and places where we have honoured this struggle for Palestinian liberation and its relation to our own and the many others we hold with us.

And should you be so moved, there is a super cool Imaging Apartheid poster contest underway right now.

Sep 10

Land & Bodies Under Occupation

In 1965  artists got their first major call to service when Cesar Chavez’s Farm Workers Association joined the Delano grape strike initiated by Filipino workers and became the United Farm Workers (UFW). An unprecedented number of urban Mexican Americans supported the strike, thus accelerating the transition of a labor movement into what became the Chicano civil rights movement. “It had a startling effect on the Mexican Americans in the cities; they began to rethink their self-definition as second-class citizens and to redefine themselves as Chicanos.”

- Tere Romo “Points of Convergences: The Iconography of the Chicano Poster”  in Just Another Poster? Chicano Graphic Arts in California (2001) edited by Chon A. Noriega

Sun Mad (1982), Ester Hernandez

Within a Chicano context, the issue of belonging and ownership in relation to land is evoked through the idea “Aztlán”. Aztlán names the mythic homeland of the Aztecs before their migration to the high vallery of central Mexico. It was introduced to Chicano thought with “El Plan Espiritual de Aztlán”, drafted in March 1969 for the Chicano Youth Conference held in Denver, Colorado.

As a mythic homeland, Aztlán grants a prior claim to the land Chicanos occupy. This leads to the popular saying, “We didn’t the border. The border crossed us”.

- “Remapping Chicano Expressive Culture” by Rafael Pérez-Torres in Just Another Poster? Chicano Graphic Arts in California (2001) edited by Chon A. Noriega

La Ofrenda (1988), Ester Hernandez

“… the idea of Aztlán allows one to form solidarity with a number of national and international social struggles for justice. Aztlán comes to represent on a symbolic level another type of reclamation, one underscored by the “queering” of iconic figures by de Batuc and Hernández. Morago writes, ‘For immigration and native alike, land is … the factories where we work, the water our children drink, and the housing project where we live. For women, lesbians, and gay men, land is that physical mass called our bodies. Throughout las Americas, all these ‘lands’ remain under occupation by an Anglo-centric, patriarchal, imperialist United States’.

Chicano expressive culture often relies on evoking the many meanings of land in order to grasp the numerous ways sociopolitical power and personal identity intersect. Chicano consciousness has emerged from the recognition that the circulation of power manifests itself in the circulation of the body through social institutions like school, prison, and the workplace.”

- “Remapping Chicano Expressive Culture” by Rafael Pérez-Torres in Just Another Poster?

Vietnam Atzlán (1973), Malaquias Montoya