Wednesday, December 17, 2014



Torturing Detainees Off of U.S. Soil Since December 2001
Mike Gavayan
Digital Print, 2005
Frostburg, MD

The nation is currently shocked by the grisly revelations contained in a Senate report released this week of the torture carried out by the CIA. Yet CSPG's Poster of the Week was made nearly a decade ago. The awareness that the U.S. has long been torturing people is known to the world. To be outraged now is not due to historical amnesia, but due to purposeful obfuscation by politicians and the corporate media.

The Guardian (London) commented, "While parts of the programme had been known - and much more will never be revealed - the catalogue of abuse is nightmarish and reads like something invented by the Marquis de Sade or Hieronymous Bosch." Although the report is highly redacted, the tortures it lists include waterboarding, rectal feeding, sleep deprivation for up to 180 hours, mock executions and Russian roulette, sexual abuse, threatening detainees' parents and children, and more. The report also describes how the CIA gave inaccurate information to Congress, to journalists, and that White House wanted to ensure that Secretary of State Colin Powell be "kept in the dark."

In spite of escalating calls to punish the perpetrators, the Obama administration continues to wage what journalist Glenn Greenwald called, "aggressive, full-scale whitewashing of the war on terror crimes committed by Bush officials."

When will we demand justice!

CSPG's Poster of the Week was made by Mike Gavayan, at the time a student in Fereshteh Toosi's Introduction to Graphic Design class at Frostburg State University, Maryland. Gavayan places the horrific photo of the hooded man, the most iconic of the photos of U.S. torture victims from Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, in front of red, white, and blue, to refer to torture as an American tradition. The only thing missing are the electric wires dangling from the victims fingers, featured in the original photo.

To read more about how this poster came about, read Fereshteh Toosi's letter below, in which she describes the assignment and the students' reactions.

Sources:   [Glenn Greenwald]

Fereshteh Toosi is an interdisciplinary, Chicago-based artist.  In 2005/6  she taught a Graphic Design class in Maryland.  Her students were asked to create posters for CSPG's Prison Nation exhibition.

Asking my students to create posters for the Center for the Study of Political Graphics' "Prison Nation" exhibit was one of the most valuable teaching moments from my first semester as instructor of ART 207: Introduction to Graphic Design at Frostburg State University. Located in a small rural town in western Maryland, students in the 2 sections of this class were a mix of art and communications majors at different stages in their academic careers. In terms of my pedagogical goals, it was important to provide them with a real-world design problem that was not directed towards a commercial end. The CSPG's call for entries seemed an ideal opportunity to direct the students in the importance of developing process, research methods, and techniques for idea-generation.

My own awareness about the prison industrial complex came about during my time as a student at Oberlin College, but it happened outside of the classroom. In the mid 1990s the Mumia Abu Jamal case was a popular cause on college campuses and I learned about the larger problems of prisons and prisoners' rights through friends who were well-informed and passionate about activism around this issue. I was lucky in this regard. Most young people in this country do not gain knowledge about the severity of prison issues through formal college education or mass media. It continues to be something many Americans choose to ignore. As an educator I was excited by the prospect of asking students to develop their design skills while addressing such a topic. 

When I initially announced the premise for the project, many students were disappointed and annoyed. Several dismissed it quickly, joking about the need to "lock criminals up and throw away the key". "Just kill 'em all!" or "I don't give a damn about these people" were common remarks. I had left the topic open to interpretation, but I was concerned that too many students had already made up their minds that it was not worth further investigation. I knew I needed something that would make an impact. In our small university video library I found only two videos with any mention of prison issues. The Eyes on the Prize documentary series addresses the 1971 rebellion in New York's Attica prison, which I chose to screen along with footage from the Stanford prison psychology experiment of that same year. My lessons included information on the parallels between then and now, as well examples of political posters from the last century. To this end we were very fortunate to have access to the art in the CSPG's on-line collection.

Students became more motivated to investigate the topic further, and this is when the real discoveries began. Comments changed in tone: "This is too depressing" was the new complaint. I'm not sure if anyone radically changed their viewpoint on any particular issue, but I was pleased to see them embrace the challenge to find compelling creative solutions to expose a very complex social cause. Also important was the way in which creating a poster for the CSPG expanded students' notions of the purpose of design. I am grateful for the teaching opportunity that this exhibit provided, and my students are proud to be involved. Thank you for including us.

Fereshteh Toosi
March 2006

2nd Featured Poster of the Week 

The struggle for justice continues to be stymied.  Last week a Missouri grand jury declined to indict the white police officer who killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager.  This week a New York grand jury cleared an NYPD cop in the chokehold death of Eric Garner, also unarmed and black. Garner's death was caught-on-video and the only people arrested were the videographer and his wife.  As 1000s continue to demonstrate across the country against this blatant impunity, we must recognize that these events are not isolated incidents, but a consistent part of U.S. government policy, at home and abroad.  45 years ago today, Fred Hampton, head of the Chicago chapter of the Black Panther Party, was assassinated by the FBI.  His poster and story are below.


Fred Hampton - We, the People
          Artist Unknown
          Offset, 1970
          United States

Fred Hampton (1948 -1969)  Born in Illinois, Hampton was a student leader in high school and an activist with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). In 1968, he joined the Chicago chapter of the Black Panther Party, and quickly became the Illinois State Chair of the organization. Hampton organized weekly rallies, taught political education classes, attended the Breakfast for Children program daily, and helped establish the Free People's Clinic on Chicago's West Side. A powerful and eloquent speaker, he was set to be appointed the Party's Central Committee as Chief of Staff in November 1970. Fearing Hampton's ability to spread the Panther's message, the FBI, through an informant, obtained a floorplan of his apartment. The same informant gave Hampton a drugged hot chocolate before he went to bed on December 3 to ensure he wouldn't wake up. At 4:30 a.m. on December 3, 1969, the FBI raided the apartment, killing Hampton and Panther Mark Clark, and wounding several others.

This poster merges the assassination of Fred Hampton with images of the My Lai Massacre. On March 16th, 1968, U.S. troops arrived in the village of My Lai in the northern province of South Viet Nam. The soldiers opened fire even though they had not come under attack. The violence quickly escalated into an orgy of killing. More than 500 villagers were murdered, most of them women, children and the elderly. The massacre was kept secret from the U.S. public for over a year, until investigative journalist Seymour Hersh broke the story about the massacre and its cover-up on November 12th, 1969. When the massacre was uncovered, it proved to be a turning point for American public opinion about the war. Hersh was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his expose. Fortyfive years later, Hersh is still breaking stories about war. In 2004, he exposed the Abu Ghraib scandal in The New Yorker magazine, also a turning point for U.S. public opinion about the current wars.
When will we ever learn? 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Poster of the Week

The Real Face of Globalisation
Raghu Rai
Bhopal Group for Information and Action
Offset, 1983

Continuing the theme of the Good, the Bad & the Ugly, CSPG's Poster of the Week commemorates the 30th anniversary of the Bhopal tragedy, the worst industrial disaster in history.  More than 20,000 people died from toxic gas that leaked from Union Carbide's pesticide factory on December 2& 3, 1984.   500,000 more were poisoned.  The story becomes even more profoundly Bad & Ugly as Union Carbide and its parent company, Dow Chemical, have refused to pay for cleaning the site or face charges in India's court. 

The only "Good" part of this story was the brilliant prank performed by the Yes Men, a culture jamming activist group. On the 20th anniversary of the disaster, Andy Bichlbaum, one of the leading members of the Yes Men, impersonated a Dow spokesperson and took full responsibility for it-including setting up a multi-billion dollar compensation package.  Dow was profoundly (and deservedly) embarrassed.  Although that doesn't help the victims, posters like this keep the story alive, reminding all of us and teaching new generations that we will not forget.

Poster Text:
The real face of globalisation. This child died in Bhopal, India, in 1984, killed by the greed of Union Carbide (a Fortune 500 corporation now owned by Dow Chemical) and the negligence of the Government of India. Lust for profit that ignores people, safety, health and the environment -- and the blind eyes of politicians -- this is what Globalisation really is. 20,000 people have died in Bhopal since December 1984, tens of thousands are still seriously ill, and the killers are still absconding from justice. Contact the nearest Dow Chemical office and your nearest Indian Embassy or Consulate and ask them what they propose to do about it. Please act now. Bhopal Group For Information And Action,, Bh?pal 1984 Till When?

Additional Reference:

Poster of the Week for Nov. 25

"I Don't See an American Dream, 
I See an American Nightmare"
                                   Malcolm X

Scott Braley
Fireworks Graphics
Prairie Fire Organizing Committee
Offset, 1992
Berkeley, CA

Ferguson, Missouri continues to burn after a grand jury decided not to indict police Officer Darren Wilson who killed Michael Brown, an unarmed African American teenager last August 9. CSPG's Poster of the Week reminds us of another act of police violence 22 years ago, when rioting and burning took place throughout Los Angeles and other cities after an all-white jury acquitted the four police officers on trial for brutally beating Rodney King, an unarmed African American motorist. But at least there was a subsequent federal trial about the police actions regarding Rodney King. In Ferguson, following a highly criticized grand jury process, no charges were filed.

This poster was produced in Berkeley, California and shipped down to Los Angeles, while Los Angeles was under curfew during the 1992 uprising. It was going to be distributed at a demonstration held in front of LAPD headquarters at Parker Center, downtown L.A. As hundreds of protesters arrived, the LAPD rescinded the permit and declared the demonstration to be an illegal assembly.

Rodney King background:
Glen 'Rodney' King, an African American motorist, was beaten repeatedly by Los Angeles Police officers on March 3, 1991. Unbeknownst to the police, a bystander, George Holliday, videotaped the beating and it aired on television throughout the world. The incident raised an outcry, as many people, both within and outside the African American community, believed that the beating was racially motivated, excessive and an example of police brutality. Although 27 officers were witnesses and/or participants, only 4 were brought to trial. The trial was moved from Los Angeles to Simi Valley, because the defense argued that it was not possible to have a fair trial in Los Angeles. The defense team also preferred Simi Valley because its population is more affluent, contains a much smaller proportion of African Americans, and contains a disproportionately large number of law-enforcement officers.

The April 1992 acquittals in a state court of the four officers triggered massive rioting in Los Angeles, which left hundreds of buildings severely damaged or destroyed and dozens dead. Smaller riots occurred in other U.S. cities. King made an appearance before television news cameras to plead for peace, saying, "Can't we get along here? Can't we all just get along?"

On May 1, 1992 as the unrest continued, President G. H. W. Bush announced that he would most likely charge the officers with violating King's civil rights. King testified in this Federal trial on March 9, 1993. Then on August 4, a federal judge sentenced LAPD officers Stacey Koon and Laurence Powell to 30 months in prison on this charge. The other officers were not convicted, and there was no rioting.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Poster of the Week

33% of The Homeless Are Veterans
San Francisco Print Collective
The National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee
Silkscreen, 2006
San Francisco, California

November 11th is Veterans' Day, when too many politicians give lip service to Veterans, while the statistics reveal a reality of obscene neglect. In 2009, the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans estimated that between 130,000 and 200,000 veterans are homeless on any given night.

America's homeless veterans have served in World War II, Korean War, Cold War, Vietnam War, Grenada, Panama, Lebanon, Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan), Operation Iraqi Freedom, or the military's anti-drug cultivation efforts in South America. 47 per cent of homeless veterans served during the Vietnam Era. More than 67 per cent served our country for at least three years and 33 per cent were stationed in a war zone.

As this poster asks: Why do our taxes support war but not the people who fight it?  When will we ever learn?

For More Information:

Friday, November 7, 2014

Poster of the Week

Lex Drewinski
Silkscreen, 1990
Berlin, Germany

The Berlin Wall--which had divided East and West Berlin for nearly 30 years--fell on November 9, 1989, 25 years ago this weekend. The German Democratic Republic (East Germany) began construction of the fortified barrier in 1961 to prevent East German citizens from defecting.   

There are many dramatic photos of West Germans pulling parts of the wall down with hammers and machinery, but the wall's actual demolition by the East German military didn't begin until June 13, 1990 and was not completed until 1992. The fall of the Berlin Wall paved the way for German reunification which was formally concluded on October 3, 1990.

As the world commemorates the destruction of one wall, other walls continue to be erected: The Separation Wall (also known as the Apartheid Wall) being built by Israel in the Occupied West Bank, and the border wall being erected between the U.S. and Mexico. When will we ever learn. 

CSPG's Poster of the Week by Lex Drewinski plays on both the headline N.E.W.S. made when the Wall fell, and the East-West divide.  It shows how after the Fall of the Berlin Wall, there was no longer an "East" as the majority of people living in East Germany wanted the freedom and lifestyles symbolized  by the West.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Poster of the Week

Nightmare on Bush Street
Paid for by:  Clinton·Gore '92
Offset, 1992
Little Rock, Arkansas

On Halloween eve, an even scarier date approaches - election day November 4.

This is one of the most imaginative U.S. campaign poster in the collection--and it really was paid for by the 1992 Clinton-Gore campaign.  All the text is below.  Please note how too many of the 22 year old slogans listed here haven't changed at all.  Others are surprising.

If you thought the original was scary...  Nightmare On Bush Street  Part 2
Four More Years
Leaving theaters November 3
Trickle  Down  Terror!
The Trickle Down Terror Of  Voodoo Economics:
·         See 35,000 Private Sector Jobs Fall  Victim To Bush's Recession!
·         Watch In Horror As Middle-Class  Incomes Plummet $1,600!
·         Duck Under Your Seat As The Debt  Explodes To $4 Trillion!
·         Experience The Worst Growth In  Fifty Years!

Blood-  Curdling!  Bush's Bloodcurdling Broken Promises:
·         Read His Lips As Bush Signs The Second  Largest Tax Increase In History!
·         Gasp As The Environmental President  Guts The Clean Air Act!
·         Shudder As Dr. Bush Pulls The Plug On  Health Care Reform!
·         Tremble As The Education President  Decapitates Head Start, Slashes Federal  Education Funds, And Stalks Student Aid!

From The Producers Of "The Recession That Ate My Job"
Starring George Bush As The Man With  A Thousand Faces
Also  Starring Truth as the First Victim · Nightmare On Bush Street - Part 2 
Executive Producer Ronald Reagan
Produced  By James Baker
Directed  By James Baker
Screenplay  By James Baker
Based On A Story By Herbert Hoover 
Best  Boy Dan Quayl [sic.]
Gaffer Marlin Fitzwater
Filmed In Lack-O-Vision
Edited  By the Far Right
Travel  Arrangements By John Sununu
Stunts  Coordinated By Richard Darman
Original Music By Pat Robertson and The Extremists 
D Rated D for Dismal and Disappointing  May Not Be Suitable For The Weak Pocketbook 

Any similarity to real leadership is purely coincidental. [union bug]®

Same Old Line Cinema 
·         Iran-Contra  Iraq-Gate  State  Gate  Cable  Television Bill  RIP  10/3/92  Resurrected  10/5/92
·         Emergency  Unemployment  Compensation  RIP  10/11/91
·         Family and  Medical Leave  RIP  9/22/92  Graveyard  Vetos [sic.]
·         Motor Voter  Bill  RIP  7/2/92
·         Civil Rights  Bill  RIP  10/22/90
·         Middle Class  Tax Cut  RIP  3/20/92

Paid for by Clinton-Gore '92