Memefest 2014: Radical Intimacies
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.
Issue 13 launch at Formats
Tuesday June 10th 2014, 2:09 pm
Filed under: events
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…
RSVP on Facebook here.
Allied Media Conference Fundraising
I’m very excited to announce that I will be participating in the upcoming 16th edition of the Allied Media Conference in Detroit this summer. It’s an event that I’ve heard a lot of great things about, but haven’t had the opportunity to participate in until now. In their own words:
“The AMC is a collaborative laboratory of media-based organizing strategies for transforming our world. The AMC is a network of networks – social justice organizers, community technologists, transformative artists, educators, entrepreneurs, and many others — all using media in innovative ways.”
On the invitation of Toronto-based designer and community organiser Una Lee, I’ll be hosting a session entitled Designing Cultures of Resistance as part of the Future Design Lab. Though, I’m still working out all the details, what I want to address with participants is the ways in which (graphic) design can contribute to community building, beyond its role as a direct communications tool. In other words, how does design operate in affective and strategic ways to build solidarity within and between communities of resistance?
I’ll be writing more about the AMC, and my participation within it, soon. But for now, I wanted to humbly ask for a little grassroots support in order to get me and our crew of artist/activists from Montreal to Detroit. The Future Design Lab has set up a simple fundraising page, please check it out, and if you can, spare a little change for social change.
Donate to the Future Design Lab.
Howl! Arts Festival
I’m very excited to announce the upcoming Howl! Arts Festival—les voix survolent la ville, a celebration of art and revolution. This first edition, taking place over 6 days at the end of April, brings together a host of local artists and events committed to the deepening of community engagement and grassroots activism, with a focus on the struggles of First Nations, Inuit and Metis.
The festival opens with a benefit concert for Missing Justice featuring Odaya, Sarah Pagé and AurorA, followed the next evening by Regards sur le 7eme feu. This 11 musician ensemble performance presents a conceptual work envisioned and composed by Xarah Dion and Stefan Christoff, exploring issues around the future of the North. Other events include a fundraising concert for those arrested under the unjust Montreal bylaw P6 during (and after) the Quebec student strike of 2012, a screening of Alanis’ Obomsawin’s documentary film Hi-Ho Mistahey!, and a panel discussion on the relationship between art and gentrification.
The festival closes with the launch of the 13th issue of Four Minutes to Midnight, which has been almost two years in the making. Much more on that very soon!
The visuals and poster for the festival were created by LOKi design, and printed by Chris at la Presse du chat perdu. The graphic approach was equally inspired by the explosive force of Vorticism, the imagery of a dense city seen from above, and a personal attempt to work with abstraction in a politically coherent way.
More details for the festival on the Howl! website, and on facebook here.
Contre la Charte des valeurs
Working with the FARD (Féministes anti-racistes détonant.e.s) collective, I designed a series of typographic posters in opposition to the proposed Quebec Charter of Values and its inherent racist agenda. Produced as part of the latest issue of the .dpi journal, the goal of the series is to render public opposition more visible within the city’s cultural venues and in the streets.
Interviewed by Papirmass
Papirmass is an amazing art subscription project run by the talented Kirsten McCrea. I was honoured to have Kirsten invite me to contribute to the upcoming issue, as both writer and designer (with art by former Four Minutes contributor Kevin Ledo on the flip side). In lead-up to the issue, Papirmass has just posted an image-rich interview with yours truly, and I couldn’t be more chuffed to share some thoughts on design, typography and activism!
Read the interview here.
P.S. For those that make it all the way to the end, there’s a little surprise in store on the studio front. More on that very soon…
Issue 13 WIP
Things are coming along slowly, but surely, with the next issue (13) of Four Minutes to Midnight and I wanted to share some work in progress images. Alongside a much tighter conception of what we want to do with the issue, I’m very excited to announce that Howl Arts will be officially supporting the project with production and distribution. With this support, we’ve decided to print an offset run in colour for the first time ever! We also plan to engage the talents of local craft printers, and employ letterpress, silkscreen and risograph printing for covers and inserts.
Brahja Waldman’s Quintet Street Poster
Street poster designed for Brahja Wladman’s Quartet (Quintet for the show) double album launch this Friday at Café Resonance. Howl co-produced the album, and I also designed the CD packaging, images coming soon.
Facebook event here. Photo by the city’s best poster paster-upper, Stefan Christoff.
Some thoughts on “Critical Graphic Design”
Last weekend I was invited to participate in a small symposium/dinner at the N/A space in Toronto on the subject of “Critical Graphic Design”. Organised by Chris Lee and Patricio Davila, the dinner brought together a diverse group of (mostly local) designers, educators, researchers and activists to chat informally about what critical graphic design might be, with the goal of moving towards a series of workshops in the summer.
I was honoured to be invited amongst the numerous guests, which included a couple of old friends, a couple of design heros, and generally all people I’d like to get to know better: JP from Paper Pusher, Anouk from Studio Feed, Sheila from The Public, Abake, Michelle Champagne, members of the Beehive Collective, and many more.
It was a pleasure to meet everyone around a delicious potluck, and I was really excited by the prospect of this re-engagement with design discourse. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to stay very long, and I wish I had had a chance to speak with people more in depth. Nonetheless, quite a few interesting ideas emerged from that night, and I’ll sketch a few of them out here.