Elevate Difference

SAW Land and Globalization Poster Series / Siere Del Cartel De Tierra Y Globalizacion

Josh MacPhee and many other artists have been placing poster art for various political causes - such as anti-militarism, the Hands Off Assata movement and the prison industrial complex - throughout Chicago. Now Street Art Workers, an international network of artists affiliated with MacPhee, have started a newsprint political poster arts series. This first collection features posters by artists on the theme of corporate globalization, connecting the economic oppression of several countries simultaneously. Each poster is reminiscent of some of the Cuban poster art with its blue, black and white prints.

Some of the pieces are woodcuts and stencils, while other focus on the text as part of the illustration. One notable poster by Andalusia features one half as a piece written from the perspective of a Jewish American describing his right to live in Israel and the other half is a Palestinian’s words about losing his homeland framed by blue keys. Ally Reeves’ poster describes the privatization of land in Burma, Indonesia and Thailand; the text is interspersed with images of people in agrarian scenes. Although these posters are thought-provoking, some of the posters that rely on images are more arresting. Poland-based artists Lena Szczesna and Filip Berendt rendered a mouth in the shape of the African continent that reads: “Feed Africa.” A piece by London’s Jonathon Baker reinterprets Joe Rosenthal’s recognizable 1945 photograph “Raising the Flag at Iwo Jima” by having the soldiers raise a flag with a barcode instead of Old Glory.

Most of the artwork does not feature women, but the issues (homelessness, the NAFTA Superhighway and genetically altered foods) affect everyone. There’s also a significant number of female artists contributing to the publication. Hopefully there will be more women and more work from more Asian, Latin American, African and Native contributors since the issues reflected in the posters concern them too. Claude Moller’s poster to stop the Shasta Dam in California that would displace the Winnemem Wintu tribe from their sacred sites near McCloud River is a poster that features Native American people. What if the subjects of the art created their own art? In any case, this work makes its viewers think, and the pieces might be worth framing or, at least, posting in a window to catch the attention of those passing by.

Written by: Tara Betts, January 4th 2007