This year’s Memefest deals with a theme very close to my heart, and one that has been on my mind a lot lately; the abject failure of dialogue (or as Memefest founder Oliver Vodeb puts it, “what if dialogue is fucked?”.
Ever since I published my Graduate Certificate thesis back in 2002, through the work I do with Four Minutes to Midnight, and in how I’ve engaged with my studio practice, a dialogic approach has always been central to my work and belief system. It’s something I’ve consistently argued for as a model for social change work and as a visual design approach.
Within this span of time we have seen the reification of social media in our lives, identity/branding practices redefined as conversations and storytelling, connectivity and crowd-sourcing. On the flipside, within our social movements, we’ve witnessed the popularity and prevalence of Occupy-style organising (GAs, working groups, consensus, “non-violence”). Oftentimes, “dialogue” is expressed as an end goal in itself. Meanwhile it can be easily argued that the (western) psyche is more fragmented than ever, isolated and compartmentalised through all this dialogue, and genuine social solidarity seems harder and harder to build across movements. Not to mention the gross failures of dialogue at the geo-political level. Part of me would like to think, it is nothing more than a process of general commodification (because that’s enough to deal with!), but what if it’s something deeper, something intrinsic. Yes, what if dialogue is fucked? Where does that leave us?
The festival/friendly competition is open to all (students and non-students), with several categories for submissions: Visual Communication, Critical Writing, and Participatory Art (Beyond…). I will be curating/judging the Visual Communications category this year, and am really looking forward to seeing all the work submitted.
The deadline for submissions is September 20th! Learn more and submit your work here.
An interactive memorial to the Gazans killed during Israeli Operation Protective Edge, July 2014. Created by Tarek Sherif and myself, with music by Stefan Christoff and Rebecca Foon. The dead have names… (most of them)
6 years ago, I designed a street poster in opposition to Israel’s “Operation Cast lead”, and in support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. In 2010, I helped to launch Imaging Apartheid, the poster project for Palestine, which also included a silkscreen version of the poster, printed by Jesse Purcell of Just Seeds. Over time, the poster design and the project have expanded their reach, and I’m proud that my contributions have brought visibility to the cause of Palestinian liberation.
Toronto (+1 Montreal, +1 NYC via Tennessee) AMC crew returning to the Wayne State parking lot
Last weekend I attended my first ever Allied Media Conference in Detroit, Michigan. I was deeply inspired (and a little overwhelmed) by both the conference and the city itself, and hope to be back for the next edition. The AMC brings together thousands of participants engaged in media activism, a large percentage of whom also present sessions and workshops, and truly is a network of networks. It being my first conference, I don’t feel like I’m well positioned to attempt to describe it, in all its diversity and complexity, but I thought I would share some notes all the same, to document and provide touch points moving forward back in Montreal.
I participated in fewer sessions than I intended to, the pace was far faster than I had imagined, and I often felt I needed a break to absorb and reflect afterwards, rather than rush to the next one. I spent a lot of time hanging out in the Future Design Lab practice space, or wandering the Wayne State grounds, chatting with people and sharing stories. As the weekend progressed, the Future Design lab filled with images and texts, mind maps and posters (and wormholes!), it was a beautiful thing to observe this rich accretion of ideas.
Filed under: music
Re-listening to Thee Silver Mt. Zion’s last album. So good…
This week I’ll be heading to Detroit to participate in the 16th Annual Allied Media Conference. I’m very excited, and slightly nervous, to be presenting a caucas/workshop on Designing Cultures of Resistance.
Extending from the talk I gave at Howl’s Art, Anarchism and Social Movements panel, I want to continue to explore the concrete aspects that surround the practice graphic design, or a specific designed object, and discuss how they can contribute to building a healthy and vibrant culture of resistance (to neoliberal capitalism). My angle comes from a bit of a Neo-Marxist perspective, and the aspects I’ll be looking at are: Materiality and Affect, the contexts of Production and Distribution, (Visual) Language and Identity. Typed out like this, it seems a bit daunting and a bit vague, but the goal is to not be overly theoretical, to ground it in concrete objects and experiences, and most importantly, to engage and listen to what others have to say.
I’m really looking forward to taking in as much as I can of what the conference has to offer, to meet so many great people doing such amazing work, and to get the chance to build something together…
I’m copying + pasting their network principles below, because they’re beautiful and righteous, and they’ll give you a good idea of why I’m so stoked. See you in Detroit!
We are making an honest attempt to solve the most significant problems of our day.
We are building a network of people and organizations that are developing long-term solutions based on the immediate confrontation of our most pressing problems.
Wherever there is a problem, there are already people acting on the problem in some fashion. Understanding those actions is the starting point for developing effective strategies to resolve the problem, so we focus on the solutions, not the problems.
We emphasize our own power and legitimacy.
We presume our power, not our powerlessness.
We spend more time building than attacking.
We focus on strategies rather than issues.
The strongest solutions happen through the process, not in a moment at the end of the process.
The most effective strategies for us are the ones that work in situations of scarce resources and intersecting systems of oppression because those solutions tend to be the most holistic and sustainable.
Place is important. For the AMC, Detroit is important as a source of innovative, collaborative, low-resource solutions. Detroit gives the conference a sense of place, just as each of the conference participants bring their own sense of place with them to the conference.
We encourage people to engage with their whole selves, not just with one part of their identity.
We begin by listening.
Please join us this Thursday, June 12th at librairie Formats for the official Montreal launch of Issue 13 of Four Minutes to Midnight. Though we recently held an intimate launch party amongst friends during the Howl Arts Festival, I’m excited to be partnering up with Formats for this, and to introduce the project to their network of artist-run centres.
In conversation with John last night, it struck me again that we’ve been doing this for ten long years, from London and Montreal, from Brixton and Mile End. Over that time we’ve promoted and published an astonishing collection of artists, writers, musicians. It’s been quite a journey, and there are far too many people to thank, but I think the best way is to just keep doing what we’re doing, and getting it out there the best we can. Or someone can bring us a cake to share…
Excerpted from Issue 13 of Four Minutes to Midnight, this is my first article for Medium. It’s a scattershot rant on the current state of graphic design, with a brief look back at the International Typographic Union, and what it might mean for us as designers to reflect a little bit more before we make. There are a lot of ideas that I touch upon that I hope I will be able to develop further in writing.
And I’d like to offer an unsolicited plug to the designers at Medium, the UI for writing and reading stories is really great and was super easy to use. Good job.