GREENPEACE: A CASE-STUDY ON THE INTERSECTION OF ART AND ACTIVISM

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Earlier this year a visit to the Greenpeace headquarters in London took place. Delighted about the opportunity to experience the organisation and to hear some of their leaders and creatives speak about plans, strategies, interventions, and activism projects. My interest in Greenpeace started as a teen when a Professors encouraged us to inquire, participate and raise awareness for vital matters at the time, creating various striking art pieces to exhibit and raise awareness.

Throughout history, artistic practice has been a refined tool to magnify various social and political issues and to counteract abuse, violence, and oppression, often in an indirect yet highly effective way (Liberate Tate, 2011)[1]. Socially marginalised groups have suddenly been seen and heard, and traditional hierarchies and power structures discussed and challenged. Through artistic practice, social change has been induced while generating knowledge and raising awareness. Although one single person may give birth to an art piece, only when it enters the society it starts to verbalise to a broader audience bringing together the human need and political function (Widewalls, 2017).

Activism uses vigorous campaigning to bring about political and social innovation. In fact, issues in society are the foundation of activism as it addresses power structures rather than representing or describing them. One could say, activist artworks have responded to historical and current concerns, therefore being politically engaged, and having truth to its core. As the activist artist Tania Bruguera said, “I don’t want art that points to a thing. I want art that is the thing’, by this she means empowering individuals in the public arena with artists operating jointly with the community (Shell 2015)[2]. Activist artists are often involved in direct approaches. Western Europe has several organisations making use of their art to communicate their strategies. Examples of this praxis are:  Sisters Uncut, Oxfam, Liberate Tate, Greenpeace etc.

[1]Liberate Tate (2011), Single FormPerformance, Tate Britain. http://artthreat.net/2011/04/liberate-tate-urges-dialogue-over-publicprivate-arts-funding/ (Accessed: 11 May 2018)

[1]Shell (2015), Shell just announced it’s giving up on drilling for oil in the Alaskan Arctic.Available at: https://www.greenpeace.org.uk/category/about/successes/page/3/ (Accessed: 11 May 2018)

The founders of Greenpeace (Robert Hunter) believed a few individuals could make a difference. In 1971, after the intervention of a small Vancouver activist group that decided to oppose the US government and protest against a planned Nuclear test on a small island in the North Atlantic, Greenpeace began. Their vision was dynamic and straightforward: to create a sustained green world in a peaceful atmosphere. Their weaponry was an ancient fishing boat by the name of Phyllis Cormack and fierce determination. Although they physically never reached the island, substantial public interest erupted, and Greenpeace started (2010). From campaigning relentlessly against whaling (denouncing Russia, Norway, Iceland, and Australia) to opposing nuclear testing in France, Greenpeace created a significant impact all the way through the 70s, 80s and 90s. The Rainbow Warrior-ship (The Guardian, 2018) came on the scene, and the Antarctica World Park obtained protection for fifty years (whale sanctuary). Between 2000 and 2010, Greenpeace succeeded in protecting millions of hectares of the Amazon forest and forced companies to end using Palm oil from the rainforest.

Greenpeace, Ocean defenders 1 and 2, Campaign Switzerland. Agency Network: Lowe. Published/Aired: March 2007. Available at: https://www.adsoftheworld.com/media/print/greenpeace_ocean_defenders_1

The creative process for public facing activist situations entails often a successful translation of visual branding images and company’s logo (Shell, Coke, …). Wittily, the creatives use it in a counterproductive (reversed meaning) action. With intense media attention created, companies are being pressured to give a response, and with that, a change is possible to start.

One of many instances of artists collaborating with Greenpeace is “Ocean Defender” by Lowe AG (2007). A thought triggering campaign presented by two key photographs (photoshopped). The first image, titled ‘The Greatest Wonder of The Sea is That It’s Still Alive”, displays the deep ocean with a massive, thick stream of different kinds of rubbish from glass bottles, plastic packaging, tins, bags, etc. The shape of the junk formation is similar to that of a big fish swarm, which would protect itself by high numbers and closeness to one another and attempt to appear like a predatory specimen. The next image, “Just Continue to Breath Normally, after all – You Are Not a Fish”, satirically shows fish in the ocean aided by breathing air masks. Created exceptionally and very realistic, these images trigger much thought on how we have come to this point with our oceans and how to prevent it from getting worse.                                                                                   Another striking image regarding the ocean is a more recent still of the “Ocean of the Future” campaign (APR 2018) Video that shows stunned looking teenagers standing in a sea-side tunnel surrounded by a vast amount of rubbish instead of ocean animals. Created by Advertising and marketing agency Ogilvy, this image was not photoshopped like the previous ones, but it was explicitly prepared as part of the Video. A vast amount of plastics placed isolated, contained into the sea to illustrate the future of our oceans if we do nothing to stop the insane daily use of plastics. This campaign has touched me deeply and, like with many others, it makes us first want to forget the results of our daily thoughtless actions but then stop, think, and start to decide to change.

You might be surprised to discover that though luxury fashion may be exclusive and bespoke, hazardous chemicals are not. In “The King Is Naked” campaign, Greenpeace revealed numerous compounds (NPEs, phthalates, PFCs…) scientifically traced in eight different luxury fashion brands for children and adults. As Dolce & Gabbana, Giorgio Armani, Versace, Hermes, Dior, Louis Vuitton etc. are involved, and under Greenpeace’s radar, they launched a campaign to make brands to stand for safe, ethical production. The look of the campaign creates a Prêt-à-Porter atmosphere with elegance and authentic style. Strangely, the child is split naked, except holding a board in front of him and a crown on his head. Although the scene is aesthetically pleasing, the emotion of the clothing hurting or burning the models due to poisonous substances seem to be absent from the sitters’ faces. So naturally, this image looks like yet another vogue photoshoot, but not in Vogue magazine, with a nude boy (J. Berger style?). What is the point of the campaign then, if it does not convey the message?

Next, a 2.5-tonne protest “Plasticide” sculpture placed in front of Coca Cola’s head-quarter in central London (CNN, 2017) was another interesting campaign. Featuring seagulls vomiting plastic amongst a young family attempting to have a pleasant day at the sea, poses a strong image to see. The campaign was intended to confront Coca Cola’s delayed response regarding plastic pollution and demanded higher levels of recycling of it. Regardless if the situation was justified or a publicity stunt, the item itself is rather well done. The precision of shape and form of the humans is impeccable and very real. In fact, it indeed portrays a day at the sea. The concrete material gives it a real current atmosphere and, at the same time, a lifeless appearance. The figures appear to be dead and seemingly formed into a cold, ghostly presence that the world is invited to witness and experience. It is uncomfortable to look at as it indicates humans being blind to reality. The underwater sculptor Jason de Caires Taylor who designed this 2.5 tons “Plasticide” sculpture stated: “It is rather heavy, but ten times that weight of plastic is flowing into the oceans every single minute.”

At times, working for Greenpeace can place activists close to breaking the law or even initiate a criminal record. However, as TW. Adorno (Widewalls, 2016) stated ‘all art is an uncommitted crime’ because by its very nature it questions every current situation. So, in a way, artists are always activists. Greenpeace’s approach has frequently been accused of verging on “self-appointed moral environmentalist police” when using vocabulary to make sure situations look double if not triple worse than they are (Shell,1995). Sunday Times writer Harry Mount (2014) stated, though, that Greenpeace believes ‘crime isn’t a crime’ when they execute it, as it is for a “good cause” and to defend the environment. The protests of Greenpeace activists might give an impression of ‘egomania’ when they argue that their moral rights are above any other legal rights which deems arrogant and intolerant. Though much can be said about their communication methodology bordering on extremism, Greenpeace continues to strike a chord in today’s society by making issues public. They have become more eloquent if not even diplomatic as of late and are serious pioneers, always on the zeitgeist, particular in subjects that most people would rather ignore, in exchange for a blissful unaware lifestyle (Dalziell, 2018).

Therefore, artists are crucial in this crusade because they are the ones who bring a touch of higher humanity to these campaigns and catalysing real change. I share with the artists above mentioned the belief that it is time for us, as a species, to wake up and open our eyes to the knowledge of how much damage to nature we cause and continue to generate. If we want to leave to our offspring a beautiful, healthy, and long-lasting planet Earth we must confront our choices.

On a personal basis, I don’t want to protect the environment, instead I want to create a world where the environment doesn’t need protecting from us.

Who are we really, and where do we want to be in ten years’ time.


Bibliography

Adorno, TW (2018) Philosopher, Sociologist. Available at: Theodor_W._Adorno(Accessed: 10 May 2018)

Bello (2014) The King is Naked.Available at: http://www.bellomag.com/greenpeace-the-king-is-naked-campaign-demands-toxic-free-fashion/(Accessed: 11 May 2018).

Brown, T. (2017) Nice Try Coke, Greenpeace blog, 9 Nov. Available at: https://www.greenpeace.org.uk/nice-try-coke-youre-new-european-bottle-strategy-isnt-good-enough/(Accessed: 03 March 2018).

Casson, L. (2017) Putting the case against Coca-Cola, Greenpeace blog, 8 Sep. Available at: https://www.greenpeace.org.uk/coca-colalovestory/(Accessed: 03 March 2018).

Crooks, J. (2015) Climate Change (website). Available at: https://thebeardyguy.wordpress.com/tag/fossil-fuel/(Accessed: 01 March 2018).

CNN (2017) newspaper article. Available at: https://edition.cnn.com/2017/04/10/europe/coca-cola-greenpeace-protest/index.html(Accessed: 11 May 2018)

Dalziell, J. (2018) Ten years on. Accountable now, 01 March. Available at: https://accountablenow.org/ten-years-on-accountability-in-action-greenpeaces-story/(Accessed: 12 May 2018)

Greenpeace (2017) Coca-Cola’s Love Story (blog). Available at: https://www.greenpeace.org.uk/coca-colalovestory/(Accessed: 03 March 2018).

Greenpeace (2017) Ocean defenders.Available at: https://www.greenpeace.org.uk/press-releases/ocean-future-filled-fish-not-plastic-ogilvy-greenpeace-campaign-tells-supermarkets/(Accessed: 11 May 2018)

Greenpeace (2010) Our history. Available at: https://www.greenpeace.org.uk/about/impact/history/(Accessed: 01 March 2018).

Greenpeace (2011) Our vision. Available at: https://www.greenpeace.org.uk/about/our-vision/(Accessed: 01 March 2018).

Liberate Tate (2011), Single Form [Performance] Tate Britain.

http://artthreat.net/2011/04/liberate-tate-urges-dialogue-over-publicprivate-arts-funding/

(Accessed: 11 May 2018)

Lowe AG (2007) Ocean defenders, Available at: https://www.adsoftheworld.com/media/print/greenpeace_ocean_defenders_1

Mount, H. (December 14 2014)Greenpeace, the truncheon happy moral police, are out of control. The SundayTimes Available at: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/greenpeace-the-truncheon-happy-moral-police-are-out-of-control-nhnxnnm32k9 (Accessed: 06 May 2018, 17:00BST)

Now Accountable (2018) Ten years on.Available at: https://accountablenow.org/ten-years-on-accountability-in-action-greenpeaces-story/ (Accessed: 11 May 2018).

Ogilvy agency (APR 2018) Ocean of the Future’ campaign [Video]. Available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xKzqLdkuj6I (Accessed: 10 May 2018)

Taylor, M. (2018) ‘Ocean sanctuary’, The Guardian, 22 Feb. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/feb/22/ocean-sanctuary-your-antarctic-questions-answered-aboard-greenpeace-expedition (Accessed: 03 March 2018).

Widewalls (2016) Protest Art. Available at http://www.widewalls.ch/protest-art/ (Accessed: 10 May 2018)

 

SUSTAINABLE ART and DESIGN

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According to the Oxford dictionary, sustainability is the avoidance of the depletion of natural resources to maintain an ecological balance: the pursuit of global environmental sustainability aka the ecological sustainability of the planet. To reduce consumption of non-renewable resources, minimise waste, and create healthy, productive environments. The meaning is people and planet before profit. One of the current critical people is Nato Thompson (2017, Culture as Weapon) a socially,  politically engaged artistic director of non-profit Creative Time NY, now heading up Philadelphia Contemporary.

The key to sustainability is to lower drastically ecological climate change, the carbon footprint, to reduce consumption of non-recyclable materials (such as oil and coal) and maximise natural resources. Additionally, it is also about diminishing the production of non-organic genetically modified foods sprayed with hazardous pesticides/ insecticides to achieve exponential phenomenal sized growth which compromising food quality and health.

Sustainable design companies (2014) are, for example, YMCA in Ireland and Cape Farewell (2016) from Chelsea College of Arts. These corporations merge science and art, photographing extreme environments such as the Antarctic in the North Pole to create striking and memorable images. ARTSADMIN is another excellent organisation for contemporary artists interested in activism working in theatre, dance, live art, visual arts, and mixed media at its Toynbee Studios in East London.

 

NUS zero energy design school (2016).            Vittori, A. (2016) Water tower design.

Two of the best examples of sustainable art in action is the National University of Singapore (2016) and the Water tower design by architect Arturo Vittori (2016). Vittori investigated alternative water sources for remote communities without access to running water. The Warka Water is looking at the environment and different possibilities to collect and harvest water in a sustainable way.

Regarding climate change, there are mid and long-term effects to consider; and questions arise on how it affects us, the ecology and about how to drive behaviour change steadily and successfully. International debating points, at the moment, are the cleanliness of the soil and water, with the UK and Europe providing the most recent pieces of research. Climate justice is another concept implicit in sustainability. As the noun suggests, justice links to the defence of human rights and a human-centred approach that regulates it. Examples of the impact that climate justice has had on world affairs are the proclamation of political decisions that changed the working conditions of people mistreated due to differences in gender in India and Africa. Also, this term has been used to challenge assumptions regarding the idea of patriarchy still dominating our thinking.

fullsizeoutput_265f           Climate Protestors (2014) Baltimore 

Undoubtedly and despite the seriousness of these questions, the climate can’t wait for us to find a perfect solution to all of them.  We need to speak less and act NOW.


Bibliography:

Arturo, V. (2016) Water Tower. Installation. Available at: https://www.dezeen.com/2016/11/10/video-interview-arturo-vittori-warka-water-tower-ethiopia-sustainable-clean-drinking-water-movie/ (Accessed: 07 May 2018).

Baltimore Zeitgeist (2014). Climate Protestors. Available at: https://baltimorezeitgist.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/sept-2014-climateaus1 (Accessed: 07 May 2018).

Guardian (2016) View on Climate Change Action: Don’t Delay. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/dec/19/the-guardian-view-on-climate-change-action-dont-delay. (Accessed: 07 May 2018).

Frearson, A. (2016) National University of Singapore starts building zero energy design school. The Dezeen Magazine. Available at:  https://www.dezeen.com/2016/11/07/national-university-singapore-building-zero-energy-design-school/ (Accessed: 07 May 2018).

ACTIVIST ART in the 20th Century – JOSEPH BEUYS

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JOSEPH BEUYS  (12 May 1921 – 23 January 1986)

Political, Social and Conceptual Art.

Political and social art in society is the foundation of Activism. It addresses power structures, instead of representing or describing them. As activist artist Tania Bruguera said, ‘I don’t want art that points to a thing. I want art that is the thing’. Empowering individuals in the public arena with artists operating jointly with the community.

As such, the German-born artist Joseph Beuys contributed four Blackboards in due course of the Seven Exhibitions at the Tate in 1972. During the event, Beuys taught on humanity’s natural creative capacity and the power of direct democracy to shape society. He sketched his conceptual theories onto three blackboards (fourth at Whitechapel Gallery) and involved visitors in an open and sometimes tense discussion. Acting as an instructor in the given situation, the chalkboard supported that perception of Beuys in addition to a microphone which was placed around his neck and purposing him being heard audible well. Some audience members pointed out that the mic functioned counter-active in only providing a power of speech to Beuys himself. A direct vote of democracy was immediately applied to the discussion, and it came to pass that the majority voted for the mice, to hear Beuys clear and loud. The lesson profoundly spoke of direct applied democracy and its efficiency in the matter, being practical and efficient to the core, organising relations.

Four Blackboards 1972 by Joseph Beuys 1921-1986

Four Blackboards 1972 Joseph Beuys 1921-1986 Transferred from the Archive 1983 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/T03594

Four Blackboards and Information Action presented fundamental issues of political and social life – who gets to speak, by what authority. Beuys’s statement that ‘everyone is an artist’, enabled to shape society is one of his key ideas. It raises questions such as are you an artist because of inheritance, education, gifting and talent or purely because the world says so? As Beuys based his work in ‘doing’ and pointing at political and social issues, cultural power structures, empowering individuals, and communities it played a crucial part in the Activism working closely with a community to generate art. It encompassed social theory and political action.

During the 70ies, Beuys work politicised step by step including discussions with educational institutions in Germany regarding access of students to academies and what number of scholars he was allowed to permit. In due course he founded a “Free Academy” and later joined the German Green Party, inevitably planting some 7000 oak trees close by a town. I Love America and America Loves Me was another project which took place in 1974 at the New York gallery. Beuys spent three days locked in a room with a living coyote. To state his disapproval to at the time current US politics, he got off the plane and driven to the gallery without ever touching American soil.

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Beuys’s work signals a new era in which art has increasingly become engaged with social commentary and political activism. In 1982, Beuys took part in an exhibition in Berlin, with Lightning with Stag in its Glare. Made towards the end of Beuys’s life, this major installation addresses themes of finality and death, but also ideas of regeneration and the transformative power of nature. His extensive work is grounded in humanism, social philosophy, and anthroposophy. In his extended definition of art and the idea of social sculpture as a “gesamtkunstwerk”, for which he claimed a creative, participatory role in influencing society and politics. Open public debates on a wide range of subjects including political, environmental, social, and cultural trends characterised his career. Regarded as one of the most influential artists of the second half of the 20th century. Inevitably, while studying and researching Joseph Beuys’s work and life, I have come to sincerely respect him due to his courage, ideas, and fearless approach of finding new paths in the art world and advocating it publicly without inhibition.

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Bibliography:

TATE Modern (1974) Joseph Beuys Coyote. Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/beuys-coyote-ar00733 (Accessed: 04 May 2018).

TATE modern (2008) Activist art. Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/a/activist-art (Accessed: 04 May 2018).

TATE modern (1982) Biography: Joseph Beuys. Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/joseph-beuys-747 (Accessed: 04 May 2018).

Tate Modern (2005) Joseph Beuys at Tate and Whitechapel (1972).Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/context-comment/video/joseph-beuys-tate-and-whitechapel-1972 (Accessed: 04 May 2018).

Wolf, R. (2018) Joseph Beuys Artist Overview and Analysis. Edited and published by The Art Story. Available at: http://www.theartstory.org/artist-beuys-joseph.htm (Accessed: 04 May 2018).

WAYS OF SEEING, John Berger’s Theories

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“Men dream of women, women dream of themselves being dreamed of. Men look at women, and women watch themselves being looked at.” (Berger, 1972)

British art critic John Berger died at the age of ninety in Paris, January 2017 (Kennedy, 2017). It coincided with the René Magritte exhibition The Treachery of Images in the centre of the Pompidou. Back in the early 70s, Magritte created the cover of Berger’s book Ways of Seeing (Rose, 2017), a radical approach on how to look at art. The work explored the meanings of paintings and the act of looking.

What is it to see? (BBC, 1972) Berger started with explaining how women survey themselves, watch themselves always to be sure that they are reflecting a right image, an image that would appeal to the others who are scanning them, who are mostly men.

The democratisation of art from the wealthy educated Upper class prior transformed into methods available to all. Nude versus Nakedness. To quote Berger: “Nakedness is oneself whiles Nudity is being looked at, an object for others. Glances that look like mirrors. Behind every glance is a judgment”. (Berger, 1972) Already in the Bible, Adam and Eve being naked and after the fall suddenly conscious of their nakedness and feasibility of being looked at.

 

Lucas Cranach the Elder (1531) Adam and Eve.  Ingres (1780-1867) La Grande Odalisque

Through the centuries, again and again, nudes were chosen and given preference in artwork, were mostly women were shown in nudity. Men’s nudity only appeared in roles such as angels Cubit and Greek gods. Women are being objectified by society, being made passive and waiting on men. To survey herself continually as a site for men, with the men’s hypocrisy to call it vanity that she does look at herself in the mirror.  Women are being objectified by society, being made passive and waiting on men.

Vanity By: Melming (1435-1494).

What is the difference looking at something and reading a word? Looking is more primal but also word and image are in constant wrestle of the exact meaning, and sometimes we can’t find the words. The tension between word and image are continually battling – we choose what we find interesting for our subjective reason.

Looking, speaking, and reading are very different things.

 

GUCCI (2012) Adverts.

Advertising, social media, fashion, film, photography, Instagram are current; who is it by, which person for, what is it made for, is what I see real and what ideology it is furthering. Their nudity is as formal as being dressed, a presentation. Their passiveness and disengagement is a sign of availability, looking with calculated charm to the onlooker. The body displayed to be attractive to the spectator, to feed appetite but not to have one on their own. Internalizing of expectation, for example being with or withour makeup for ourselves when others are around us. 

Women have internalised how men see them and how it can affect their every small decision in their everyday life. Unless they choose otherwise and become the higher person in believing in themselves without vanity.

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Bibliography:

Berger, J. (1972). ‘Ways of seeing.’ Book. [and other]. 4th ed. UK Penguin Books.

BBC (2012) John Berger, Ways of Seeing, Episode 1-4 (1972). Available at: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=0pDE4VX_9Kk (Accessed 5 Feb. 2018).

Kennedy, R. (2017) John Berger, Provocative Art Critic, Dies at 90. The New York Times. [online] Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/projects/notable-deaths/2017/john-berger (Accessed 24 March 2018).

Rose, M. (2017) John Berger’s ways of seeing & reading Magritte. The Art blogs. Available at: https://www.theartblog.org/2017/02/john-bergers-ways-of-seeing-reading-magritte/ (Accessed 24 March 2018).

No Turning Back, Seven Migration Moments that Changed Britain

Exhibit Review                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Migration Museum at The Workshop
26 Lambeth High Street, London, SE1 7AG
Free admission |20 September 2017 – 29 April 2018 | 11am– 5pm https://wellcomecollection.org/exhibitions/WZwh4ioAAJ3usf86

23rd of June 2016 – BREXIT has been decided. A referendum of 51.9% participating UK electorate voted to leave the EU. The discontent of UK citizens has come to pass. I am European, a long-term resident in the UK. What a tremendous controversial vote. Fast forward two years and I review an exhibition about migration and what it means today. The Migration Museum exhibits No Turning Back, Seven Migration Moments that Changed Britain.

Walking towards the industrial looking Migration-museum building, on a back street of Lambeth, I get the impression that this is the opposite to mass oriented places such as British Museum, V&A and Tate Modern. Stepping in, a black and white movie portraying an immigrant’s life presents an excellent introduction – emotional and visual. Via stairs, I reach the first floor with further pre-exhibit images and slogans. Sailing-cotton drapes hanging from the ceiling welcome you in the actual exhibition space, reiterating the theme. The seven Migrations moments chosen are easily differentiated via bright yellow coloured signs yet flow smoothly from one to another.

The boldly printed question: Are refugees welcome at the East India company & Huguenots (French Protestants fled France seeking refuge in England) section, strikes me and is undoubtedly a fundamental question worth asking. While the Rock against Racism and hundreds of paper-boats indicate 70s political upheaval and war refugees, Newspaper Front-pages (The Sun, Daily Express…) along a gigantic wall draw me in. Pointing strongly against EU migrants (Syria issue), regardless of which kind, war refugees seem inevitably not understood. It appears to lack compassion for the poor and needy and sprouts egotistical flavour to protect one’s own. Which prompts the question: Who are “one’s own” after hundreds of years of migration?

 

Inevitably and most undoubtedly regrettable the Jewish population faced the Expulsion in 1290 (a powerful reminder how human behaviour readily dissipates into cruelty) and the Aliens Act in 1905 formed during peaceful times. A political response to an outraged public regarding a significant influx of Jewish refugees (Poland, Russia) and Chinese seaman. A timeless debate worldwide regarding foreigners and the supposed crime and poverty brought.
The Census 2011 section reveals an interesting observation: Mixed-race Britain has risen by 47-48% since the introduction of the terminology in 2001. A beautiful collection of “mixed-race” families portraits show the new status of Britain which indicates not just the current time, but indeed the future to come.

Inevitably, I propose the argument that Migration has made Britain a better place. A place of second chances, a new lease on life. One can be in safety, have freedom of speech and hope for the future. BREXIT was undoubtedly not the first significant migration point in the UK, but as before assuredly despite some unpleasantness and inconvenience, it will work itself out. It is a nation with many flavours, colours, and various types of people. Amicable behaviour towards each other is critical to living peacefully together. Indeed, it can be done again.

Which leaves us with the final question of the exhibit:

What is your Migration moment?


Bibliography:

BBC (2014) ‘Why do people migrate?.‘BBC. Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/geography/migration/migration_trends_rev2.shtml (Accessed: 18 February 2018).

Kershen, A.J. (2005) Jewish immigration (UK). Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO. Available from: https://search-credoreference-com.arts.idm.oclc.org/content/entry/abcmigrate/jewish_immigration_uk/0 (Accessed: 18 February 2018).

MAIER, E. (2018) No Turning Back Exhibit photographs [Photograph].

The Workshop, Migration Museum (2018) Exhibition guide (28 pages).

The Workshop, Migration Museum (2018) No Turning Back: Seven Migration Moments that Changed Britain Exhibition (Website) http://www.migrationmuseum.org/exhibition/noturningback/ (Accessed: 15 February 2018).

MODERNISM – Russian Constructivism vs Abstract Expressionism

Essay

rodchenko

Modernism: What is it and how do Constructivism and Abstract Expressionism compare?

In broad terms, Modernism is a counter movement to past times where art was constraint by specific techniques, schools, names and achievement of well-educated high society and a justification of status in it. With the advent of Modernism taste in art was no longer dominated by one section of society. Modernism can be seen as an uprising of ordinary people who refused to be cast down with mechanical labour that benefited only the upper class. Before Modernism, art appeared to be mostly a way of figuratively record the status, wealth, and power of eminent historical figures, displayed as an ancient memorial trail for the future society to gaze upon. Similarly, with respect to music and literature coming out of Modernism, they also defied the past, conventional patterns of rhyme and metre and pleasant, elegant ways of storytelling. Both moved into a disruptive mode and at times difficult pieces of creations which were not necessarily tranquil as an audience to listen to or read. To this day, authors such as T.S. Eliot, Franz Kafka and James Joyce can be hurdles for students of Philosophy; and music, written by Arnold Schoenberg (Harrison, (1997))or Igor Stravinsky is not called “Easy listening”, quite the contrary. The social and political outbreak, change society and culture in values and our human experience of life – Industrial production. Machinery. The effects of modernisation (which is a product of Industrial revolution and machinery) are all explored in modernism[1]and shape it as an ongoing conversation of values of art.

Looking to Constructivism and Abstract Expressionism, we see that the movements birthed out of either the First World War or the Second World War. They defied the old ways of how things had been done historically, (Harrison, (1997), p. 1997)politically, and sociologically, not just raising questions but implementing change in society on a broad scale. Constructivism (Harrison, (1994))correlating with the new political Russian leaders and regime at the time, looking for new ways of creating art by focusing on the construction according to their natural texture and substance of the raw materials. In contrast, Abstract Expressionism is the complete reverse to totalitarianism or producing towards the need of society – it is entirely about individualism and self-expression.

Constructivism– A Movement that tried to change all aspects of Life.[2]

Constructivism started in the aftermath of World War I and the October Revolution of 1917 in Russia. The movement changed art as a practice for social purposes aka for the good of everyday people and society.The key ideas were to find an entirely new approach to making objects. A constructivist themselves was to be constructor of a new community – a cultural worker as such. Abolish artistic composition, replace it with construction and serving the ends of modern society. This entailed to be mindful of the materials and their structure in itself and use them accordingly in their original capacity. Significant focus was placed on materials such as glass, wood, metal and so forth.

The artists El Lissitzky and Alexander Rodchenkowere well recognised for their graphic design and typography, which made use of courageous lettering, blunt planes of colour, and diagonal elements. Vladimir Tatlin, an architect, painter and sculptor was hailed the true father of Constructivism. During his season in Paris, he encountered Picasso’s series of wooden reliefs created in a brand-new way at the time. One could describe it as “constructed”. Returning to Russia, Tatlin throws himself into researching and experimenting with three-dimensional work and exploring new materials. The most famous item created by this was Tatlin’s Tower, exhibited at the Monument to the Third International (1919-1920). Initially, it was meant to become a government building, to rise higher than the famous Eiffel Tower in Paris, France. Considered modern, functional, and outstanding it triggered and started an animated discussion amongst colleagues in Russia. The First Working Group of Constructivism was established in 1921 and included Alexander Rodchenko, Varvara Stepanova, Liubov Popova and the theorists Aleksei Gan, Boris Arvatovand Osip Brik.

After the mid-1920s,Russian Constructivism was in decline, partly a target of the Bolshevik partie and increasing antagonism to avant-garde art, its voice in society and effect after that. The government imposed taste on the cultural life of the nation, Constructivism, and it ended in 1932 when Stalin banned independent artist groups while Lenin’s regime had tolerated them. It was the last and most influential modern art movement in Russia in the 20th century, influencing significant trends such as the Bauhaus and De Stijl movements.

 

Abstract Expressionism– No fear of making changes, because the painting has a life of its own [3]

RA Abstract Expressionism

The interwar years in Europe, Russia and America created much disillusion and alienation. Industrial production had taken over, and machines started to invade day-to-day life in the form of automobiles, planes, architecture, and pioneering design such as refrigerators and so forth.

Abstract art in relation to the early twentieth-century artist such as Kandinsky who originated from Russia had thought of idealism and spiritualism foretelling an era when hopes and dreams for a better future would become a reality. Significant changes had come upon and had been executed by society as a whole and people were trying to find stability and hold in it. A vast amount of people immigrated from the Continent to America in the hope of a new start and safety from evil times.

While Constructivism in Russia started alongside the upheaval of the new Russian regime in the form of totalitarianism, Abstract Expressionism (SPARKE, (2013))in America went 180 degrees the opposite way.  As a consequence of World War II and its aftermath European art had come to a hold in the 1940s and stifled. Influenced by what was happening in Europe, American artists decided to separate from the ancient continent and move ahead separately. A path of responding to the reality, conditions and consequences of the Great Depression, Second World War after that and horrific situations such as Hiroshima and the Cold war explored the feeling of alienation. Every human being affected by such terrible events, the brutality and greed of war and the darkest side of humanity coming to the surface blistering in pain naturally questions men and any form of spiritualism or religion. Artistically speaking, bright colours were merely not eloquent or appropriate anymore to portray the blackness that turned life into a worldwide tragedy; dark pallet became the unison choice of Abstract Expressionism. Artists like Barnett Newman, Mark Rothko and Clifford Still (Anfam, (2016)) expressed deep contemplation, brooding thought and yet the freedom to express their genuine reactions to the world events. Jackson Pollock, known for his single drip and splatter technique, just like Tatlin during Constructivism, was deeply affected by one of Picasso’s art pieces, in this instant, the Guernicaexhibited at the time in the New York Museum of Modern Art (Harrison, (1997)). It proofed to him that modern art could indeed be exhibited and make a statement. No Abstract Expressionism painting or art piece was indeed finished until the viewer observed and discerned it. As Pollock stated in 1950: Abstract paintings “confront you”. Unlike some of prior ism’s or movements, during Abstract Expressionism each artist had their unique style, and a process of painting, their own “way” of creating art and increasingly more space for the size of the actual paintings were required. It went from using easels to walls to laying paintings on the entire floor and finding techniques to create utter unison patterns from one end of the canvas to the other end. In principle, there was no set formula. Freedom of individual expressionism was it.

 

To conclude. Constructivism and Abstract Expressionism were born out of one of the World Wars. People underwent great depression, suffering, dishearten, loss, and pain. One movement navigated toward proletariat and so-called “Goodness” for all men kind which turned into a totalitarian rule and abuse over time and brought the state to its knees historically speaking. Though one is grateful for the deliverance of the everyday people during Constructivism and the fantastic artwork and constructions, one did not want to go from one imprisonment by Royalty and its Upper class to the next type of Totalitarian rule.

Abstract expressionism, on the other hand, turned the opposite direction into freedom of expression, individualism and empowering of its own through liberal beliefs which developed into one of the most potent Nations on this earth to this very day.And although Abstract expressionism is most exquisite in its right, despite the adverse effect it had on some of its artists at the time (suicide of two artists), yet some would question, therefore for all. And yet, it did exude much freedom and choice to the people at the time inviting us to a new way of living in Postmodernism and to this very day.

Personally, I believe profoundly that Abstract Expressionism gave us hope to be ourselves and not waver by other people’s opinion but to think and move forward into a better future no matter what.


 

Bibliography:

Anfam, D. (2016). RA, ABSTRACT EXPRESSIONISM. London: Royal Academy.

Harrison, C. (1994). Concepts of modern art. 3 ed. London: Thames & Hudson.

Harrison, C. (1997). MODERNISM, MOVEMENT IN MODERN ART. London: Tate Gallery Publishing.

Harrison, C. (1997). MODERNISM, MOVEMENTS IN MODERN ART.London: Tate Gallery Publishing.

KIMMELMAN, M. (1990). A Soviet Movement That Tried To Change All Aspects of Life. [Online]
Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/1990/08/09/arts/review-art-a-soviet-movement-that-tried-to-change-all-aspects-of-life.html
[Accessed 14 October 2017].

SPARKE, P. (2013). An Introduction to Design and Culture 1900 to the Present. 3 ed. Oxon: Routledge.


[1]Distinguish between: Modernisation -> consequences of industrial revolution and machines.

Modernity (1890-1950) -> change in the mode of experience such as speed of life, camera etc.

Modernism -> a value form of art; How artists relate to Modernisation and Modernity. It is a dialogue rather than consequence.

[1]Kimmelman (1990) http://www.nytimes.com/1990/08/09/arts/review-art-a-soviet-movement-that-tried-to-change-all-aspects-of-life.html [accessed October 2017].

Can Graphic Design Save Your Life?  

Wellcome Collection  Can Graphic Design Save Your Life?” |   7 September 2017 – 14 January 2018

https://wellcomecollection.org/exhibitions/WZwh4ioAAJ3usf86

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Graphic design has evolved from the middle ages with simple wood printing to industrial proportions in vast amounts of copies at the current day and age, with ongoing new inventions nearly daily due to high-tech advantages and processes.

Despite all these developments, one of the most vital questions is still, can graphic design actually save your life?

A team of talented designers and educators decided to look exactly into that particular subject, curating a most intriguing exhibition. The graphic designer Lucienne Roberts and design educator Rebecca Wright, founders of publishing house GraphicDesign&, with Shamita Sharmacharja at Wellcome Collection did just that. Walking towards the exhibition hall, the first thing I noticed was a continuously changing flashing green cross. We were informed that the exhibition will take us through a number of different elements, which were divided into:

Persuasion, Education, Hospitalisation, Medication, Contagion and Provocation. Exhibition outlay 

MAIER, E. (2017) Personal Photographs “Can Graphic Design save your life?”

The first part called Persuasion was dedicated to the tobacco industry and various advertising forms in correlation with cigarettes,  aka smoking. The greetings by brands such as Lucky Strike, Silk Cut and Marlboro were all quite familiar. A video created around the 60s implied significantly how society viewed such endeavours and how it can easily lead astray people due to faulty information. The thought arose, how easily humankind is deceived and mouldable in their opinion about one subject, pro and con.

 

The educational section showcased to correlate medical information via comic books, medical apps, leaflets, posters, training movies (CPR) and so forth aka the functionality of the body and how to look after it. An interesting installation was by David Davenport-Firth, health psychology in cognitive neuroscience. A simple new medical app to check them every day simple details such as blood-pressure, heart rate and so forth. Easy to read and understandable as such.

Medication was presented in historical methodology as such that at the very beginning it was only available in powder form. Pill shape was invented much later as a great advancement and practicality. Pharmacy and doctors realised, that one needed some sort of advertisement and that packaging can additionally also give that. Companies such as GEIGY and BAYER (aspirin packaging) and their development over the century had great influence on society and perception of it.

MAIER, E. (2017) Personal Photographs “Can Graphic Design save your life?”

In regard to Hospitalisation designers always crafted on making it a clean and trustworthy space regarding hygiene and sanitary requirements. In fact, Florence Nightingale was an early pioneer (1853-56 Crimean War) who successfully minimised unsanitary environments in military hospitals and therefore rapidly lowered death rates of soldiers originally caused by prior contaminated areas.

One of the most impressionable aspects of the exhibition was the area of Contagion. It not just entailed the history of the plague, cholera, leprosy and how doctors at the relevant time created the first information design how it was contracted and where it came from but also how to avoid it, cure it and even placed travel restriction by sea to hinder infected people to enter the country (Ferrara against Dalmatian islands around 1681).

In modern times, we are having to deal still with highly infectious and deadly illnesses such as HIV/Aids (Don’t die of Ignorance campaign, Condom campaigns), Ebola Virus (UNICEF posters) and the Mosquito Killer campaign in regards to the zika outbreak in Brazil 2016.

Incredibly, again and again, humankind is not defeated by medical challenges, but instead able and surprisingly succeeds again and again by research and scientific methodology over time, to find the way of how to cure, protect and help their fellow humankind in need. If it were not for a group of incredibly talented and innovative designers collaborating openly and honestly with highly intelligent, experienced medical people, I dare to bring forth the argumentation that without excellent graphic design all these essentially needed details would be lost in translation for normal everyday people inaccessible or reachable.

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Bibliography:

Benjamin. W (2008) The Work of Art in the age of Mechanical Reproduction, Penguin Books, Page 3-4

The Wellcome Collection (2017) Can Graphic Design save your life? Exhibition (Website) https://wellcomecollection.org/exhibitions/WZwh4ioAAJ3usf86 [Accessed 02 November 2017]

Can Graphic Design save your life? Exhibition (2017)  Photograph downloads (Website) https://wellcomecollection.org/exhibitions/WZwh4ioAAJ3usf86 [Accessed 02 November 2017] from website

Provocation (2017) Large print guide of Exhibition (156 pages) https://wellcomecollection.org/download?uri=https://prismic-io.s3.amazonaws.com/wellcomecollection%2F7b71ef73-e5f0-4bcb-bbc8-f962fa6328d6_cgdsyl-largeprintguide.pdf

MAIER, E. (2017) Personal Photographs at the “Can Graphic Design save your life?”

 

Beyond Google, Deep Web and Methodology

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An expert induction by Leo Clarey, one of the senior subject librarians, in regard to research beyond Google, was presented. Contrary to popular belief, many things are not professionally searchable via commercial sources (such as Google) and do not give academic background or foundation to solid informed argumentation.

As an experiment, we were placed in seven groups and given each one an individual project to research via the required academic library search engine’s in a space of thirty minutes and follow-up with a presentation in front of the class thereafter.

Our group, which was classed as number six, received the task of producing a 3D protest sign or artefact which was required to be weatherproof and/or best suited to our design idea.

For starters, we signed up with UAL/LCC Library online search (2017, using our own university log in detail) and moved to the home site, where the search engine page appeared. We navigated to Database A-Z list, where we chose suggested Material ConneXion and/or Materia. Both databases are for innovative building material search and entail a vast amount of incredible choices (2017)

We decided on a bold design as proposed by one of our colleagues, who described a plastic hand-held sign in a strong fist and painted in bold dark red.

Various other subjects presented that morning were in regards to sound, picture, protest and activism, social media and so forth.

In case more interest is placed on Google’s origins, please see the direct link to the later in the Bibliography.

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Bibliography

UAL/LCC Library (2017) Library online search. Available at: https://libsearch.arts.ac.uk/cgi-bin/koha/opac-main.pl [Accessed 19.10.2017]

Database A-Z list (2017) Material ConneXion or Materia (website).  Available at: http://arts.ac.libguides.com/az.php?a=m [Accessed 19.10.2017]

Materia.nl (2017) FORMICA-GROUP-YOUNIQUE-PLA1069-4 (website) https://materia.nl/material/younique/formica-group-younique-pla1069-4/ [accessed 19.10.2017]

Page L. and Brin S. (1998) Our story: from the garage to the Googleplex (website). Available at: https://www.google.com/intl/en/about/our-story/ [Accessed: 30.10.2017]

 

An Introduction to Design and Culture: 1900 to the Present.

img_0373-e1508275380763.jpgMAIER, E. (2017) Picture in Street  [Photo] Mayfair/London.

The opening of the second CTS class was in regard to last week’s reading. An Introduction to Design and Culture: 1900 to the Present. (2013, Chapter 1, pages 22 – 29) by Penny Sparke. What kind of information, ideas or details spoke to us or made us think about it more.

One of the stated comments was, that seemingly male and females have very different aspects or reasons in regards to consumerism. Females were (are?) apparently more drawn by aesthetics and beauty placed in shops or department stores mostly based on instinct and more readily satisfy their desire to consume. Men, on the other hand, are drawn by theory and logic in settled “boyhood” environments such as clubs, lodges, dim theatres and so forth. Most certainly food for thought and definitely questionable, particularly in regards to current sociological advancements, status and Zeitgeist.

MAIER, E. (2017) Book Cover Picture [iPhone photo]; Getty images (1928) Women in Paris.

One of the major war interim changes was not just the mass-production and democratisation of designed goods and the ease of availability thereby, but exceptional goods such as cars and refrigerators became available to almost all, aka the new upper working and middle classes. Modernism started changing not just consumerism and how or why we chose, but homes, the outer environment changed drastically. In the 1920s and 30s, people started the discussion regarding environmental pollution but also destroying our landscapes due to advancements in streets and Petrol stations. It just all sounds rather familiar.

Another question prompted: “What is IDA aka Interaction Design Art and what does it mean to us?”. 

Interaction Design Art most certainly entails numerous different medias, from no tech to high-tech in a fundamental pioneering environment where science meets art and design. It can be from various printing forms to photography, installations, filming, screening, speaking, acting and so forth. An artistic challenge? Yes, though a very interesting one at that. When it comes down to it, IDA is simply telling a story with the appropriate media at the time, carving out new ways of doing things.

MAIER, E. (2017) Pioneers of the 60s [iPhone photo] UAL/LCC, London.

Whilst discussing pioneers of the sixties and further different periods (art deco, surrealism, cold war era, eastern and western forces, displacement, digital alternate gaming, automation of labour…….. technological alternative, postmodernism, YBA group aka young British artists…) an unexpected discussion erupted in regard to Hurst and Warhol and the incredible VIP status gathered by them over time. Some of their most famous projects involved numerous amounts of artists, designers and experts who were not ever really mentioned, yet their importance and VIP status rose. This fact is rather questionable in comparison to films and movies. Would it not be more fair and acceptable to not make VIP out of one person, where so many people were involved in the making of one piece of art?

fullsizeoutput_1599-e1509660015644.jpeg            MAIER, E. (2017) Picture Order project [iPhone photo] UAL/LCC, London.

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Bibliography

Sparke, P. (2013) An Introduction to Design and Culture: 1900 to the Present, Chapter 1, pages 22 – 29.

MAIER, E. (2017) Book Picture [iPhone photo] Camberwell, London.

Getty Images (1928) Women in Paris. Available at: http://www.gettyimages.ie [Accessed: 02.22.2017]

MAIER, E. (2017) Picture Order project [iPhone photo] UAL/LCC, London.

Beyond Google, Cite them right. Available at:
http://www.citethemrightonline.com

CTS and Modernism epochs

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CTS aka contextual and theoretical studies. What does it mean and how does a seemingly unrelated subject correlate with interaction design art? Context is a broad and wide meaning word for “in relation to”, may it be an environment, person, place, idea and so forth. According to Oxford dictionary (App Store 2017) it states following:

context
ˈkɒntɛkst/
noun
  1. the circumstances that create the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood.
    “the proposals need to be considered in the context of new European directives”
    synonyms: circumstances, conditions, surroundings, factors, state of affairs; More
    • the parts of something written or spoken that immediately precede and follow a word or passage and clarify its meaning.
      “skilled readers use context to construct meaning from words as they are read”

The theoretical study, on the other hand, is in regards to the historical and cultural background of the latest 20th and 21st-century epochs, their ideas, believes and views. Whilst discussing various epochs of modernism, we went straight into our first minor assignment. Speaking of our favourite artist from the modernist era that inspires our own work the most.

Personally, I decided to re-introduce Ai Wei Wei, a contemporary artist from China, who was surprisingly influenced by another favourite artist of mine, Austrian symbolist Gustave Klimt (2017); A most prominent member of the Vienna Secession movement, who is noted for his multidisciplinary approach. WeiWei is most active in sculpture, installation, architecture, curation, photography, film (Never Sorry, Human Flow, The Sand Storm, et cetera) in a fundamental sociological, political and cultural context.

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Ai Weiwei “The Divine Comedy” (2013) Beijing [Photograph]

Some extracts of the Exhibition at the Royal Academy 2015:

Ai Weiwei Exhibit (2013) Royal Academy [Exhibition]

One of the most profound statements by Ai Weiwei in response to the artistic director Tim Marlow questions was: “This is my home and I see it as my responsibility to have an honest approach of what I think and how I see it. It is not on purpose political or opinionated.”

For further in-depth information, please see Ai Weiwei Studio website or the Royal Academy exhibit site.

Ai Weiwei (2013) Beijing Ai Weiwei Studio [Photograph]

 

Bibliography:

Context (2017) Oxford dictionary app [word]. Available at: Apple App Store Oxford Dictionary

Gustav Klimt (2017) Klimt Gallery website. Available at:                  https://www.klimtgallery.org/biography.html [Accessed: 07.10.2017]

“The Divine Comedy” (2013) Ai Weiwei Studio (website). Available at:  https://www.aiweiwei.com/index.html [Accessed: 07.10.2017]

Ai Weiwei (2015) Royal Academy (Pictures, Videos, Interviews). Available at:  https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibition/ai-weiwei [Accessed: 07.10.2017]