Saturday, January 29, 2011

Poster of the Week

Stop Anti-Gay/Lesbian Violence
National Gay Task Force
Offset, 1980s
New York, NY

CSPG’s Poster-of-the-Week honors the life of David Kato Kisule, Ugandan LGBTQ activist who was brutally murdered with an axe in his home on January 26, 2011. He was 42 years old. Kato was murdered shortly after winning a lawsuit against a magazine which had published his name and photograph identifying him as gay and calling for him to be executed.

Kato was among the 100 people whose names and photographs were published in October 2009 by the Ugandan tabloid newspaper Rolling Stone (no connection to U.S. magazine with the same name) in an article which called for their execution as homosexuals.

Considered a father of Uganda's gay rights movement, Kato served as advocacy officer for Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG). Kato and two other SMUG members who were also listed in the article, sued the newspaper to force it to stop publishing the names and pictures of people it believed were gay or lesbian. The petition was granted on November 2, 2010, effectively ruling for the end of Rolling Stone. On January 3, 2011, the court ordered the newspaper to pay Kato and the other two plaintiffs 1.5 million Ugandan shillings each. Three weeks later he was murdered.

Family, friends and co-activists attended Kato's open-air funeral, many of whom wore t-shirts bearing his photo in front, the Latin la(sic) luta continua [the struggle continues] in the back, and the rainbow flag colors inscribed onto the sleeves. When the Christian minister at the funeral preached against the gays and lesbians present, exclaiming comparisons to Sodom and Gomorrah, the activists ran to the pulpit and grabbed the microphone from him. An unidentified female activist angrily exclaimed "Who are you to judge others?" When villagers sided with the preacher and refused to bury Kato he was buried by his friends and co-workers, most of whom were gay.

His murder has been condemned by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, President Barack Obama, the European Union and many others. "I am deeply saddened to learn of the murder," Obama said. "David showed tremendous courage in speaking out against hate. He was a powerful advocate for fairness and freedom."

For his newspaper's alleged role in the murder, Rolling Stone editor Giles Muhame stated "When we called for hanging of gay people, we meant ... after they have gone through the legal process ... I did not call for them to be killed in cold blood like he was." However, he stated that "I have no regrets about the story. We were just exposing people who were doing wrong."

The same hypocritical denial of responsibility has been heard from Sarah Palin, Fox News and the Tea Party after the shooting of Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords and others. Inflammatory visuals and rhetoric—whether it is placing cross-hairs over Democratic districts and calling for “Don’t Retreat, Instead Reload!” or running a headline that states, “Hang them” next to photos of 100 men and women identified as gays and lesbians—have consequences we must work to prevent.

Jimmy Somerville, David Kato memorial demonstration, Trafalgar Square, London, January 28, 2011.


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Poster of the Week

Day of Solidarity With the Congo
Alfredo Rostgaard
Organización de Solidaridad de los Pueblos de Africa, Asia y América Latina (OSPAAAL)
Offset, 1972
Havana, Cuba

Patrice Lumumba (1925–1961) was the first legally elected Prime Minister of the Republic of the Congo after he helped win its independence from Belgium in June 1960. Lumumba’s pan-Africanism, and his political and economical vision for the Republic of the Congo, gained him many enemies in Belgium and the United States. The CIA, with the approval of President Eisenhower, ordered his assassination.

On 14 September, 1960, only ten weeks after he was elected Prime Minister, Lumumba's government was deposed in a CIA-sponsored coup led by Colonel Joseph Mobutu. On January 17, 1961—50 years ago this month—Lumumba was assassinated by a firing squad. Tens of thousands died in the subsequent civil war.

In 1965, with the help of the CIA, Mobutu seized power and ruled for over 30 years. In spite of his corruption and economic mismanagement, Mobutu had the political and military support of Western countries, which saw him as an ally against communism in Africa and amenable to corporate exploitation of Congolese resources. Mobuto was overthrown in a civil war (1997-1999) in which four million people died.

Poster of the Week Artist

Alfredo Rostgaard (1943 – 2004) was a Cuban graphic designer and artist, and one of the most prolific of the revolutionary designers that contributed to Cuba's massive output of posters during the mid 1960s to mid 1970s. Referencing Pop Art and psychedelic poster art, Rostgaard's work also includes figurative painting and Warhol-esq commercial graphics. He designed numerous posters for ICAIC (the Cuban film institute) and became art director of the Organization in Solidarity with Africa, Asia, and Latin America (OSPAAAL) from 1960 to 1975. He had numerous international exhibits and won several distinguished awards. He was a talented, witty, and prolific artist with a deep sense of social responsibility. Produced 12 years after Lumumba’s assassination, Rostgaard represented his pan-Africanism by rendering Lumumba’s face in the shape of Africa.

Patrice Lumumba: 50 Years Later, Remembering the U.S.-Backed Assassination of Congo’s First Democratically Elected Leader, Democracy Now! (Jan. 21, 2011)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Poster of the Week

Museum Censorship
Artist Unknown

CSPG’s Poster-of-the-Week protests the recent art censorship in the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., and the Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA), in Los Angeles.

CENSORSHIP IN LOS ANGELES—Deeming it potentially offensive, Jeffrey Deitch, MoCA’s new director, last month whitewashed a mural he commissioned by Blu, an internationally renowned Italian street artist. The mural was to be an important part of MoCA’s upcoming street art exhibition, Art in the Street. Blu’s powerful anti-war mural featured coffins draped in dollar bills. Admitting he had received no complaints, Deitch said he destroyed the mural as he thought it would offend veterans. What really offends the veterans we’ve spoken with is the war and the war-profiteering targeted in the mural.

CENSORSHIP IN WASHINGTON D.C.—The National Portrait Gallery’s critically acclaimed Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture is the first major museum exhibition to focus on gay-themed portraiture in American art—from the 19th century to the present—and to show how art reflects society's evolving and changing attitudes towards sexual difference. New York artist David Wojnarowicz made A Fire in My Belly in 1986-87, after being diagnosed with HIV. In the work, he addresses the suffering of an AIDS victim, mortality and his own Catholic upbringing. Wojnarowicz died of complications from AIDS in 1992 at the age of 37.

Over-reacting to complaints by Republican congressional leaders, Wayne Clough, Secretary of the Smithsonian Museum, removed a four minute excerpt of Wojnarowicz’s video which included an 11-second section showing ants crawling over a crucifix. The Catholic League and some conservative U.S. politicians led by House Speaker Rep. John Boehner (OH) and House Majority Whip Rep. Eric Cantor (VA), called the work hate speech against Christians and threatened to cut the Smithsonian’s funding if they did not remove the video.

We applaud The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, one of the principal sponsors of Hide/Seek for saying they would not fund future Smithsonian projects unless the video is restored to the exhibition. We also applaud all the museums and websites now showing A Fire in My Belly.

Wayne Clough will speak at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles on January 20th at noon as part of Town Hall Los Angeles public issues series.

PLEASE JOIN US for a Funeral Procession for Freedom of Expression!

506 South Grand Avenue (Across from Pershing Square)
Los Angeles, CA 90071


If you can’t be there, please write to your elected representatives to say that censorship of the arts is unacceptable, unpatriotic and un-American.

Art is supposed to be provocative. Art is supposed to educate, agitate and inspire public debate. The debate that results from censoring art focuses more on the act of censorship, than on the art itself. Why was it removed? What was it saying? Whose buttons did it push?

CSPG’s Poster-of-the-Week was based on the Parental Advisory Label invented in 1990 by the Recording Industry Association of America—the label consists of four words: "Parental Advisory/Explicit Content." The label was the result of pressure from The Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC) a committee formed in 1985 with the goal of increasing parental control over the access of children to music deemed to be violent or sexually suggestive. The committee was founded by four women, including Tipper Gore, wife of Senator and later Vice President Al Gore and Susan Baker, wife of Treasury Secretary James Baker. To some, it has become known as the "Tipper sticker" because of Tipper Gore’s visible role in the PMRC.

Some retailers (such as Wal-Mart) refuse to sell albums containing the label, and many others limit the sale of such albums to adults only, although most stores have settled on an age limit of 17 in order to buy an album containing the label.

For more information:

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Smithsonian chief, embroiled in video censorship controversy, to speak in L.A. Jan. 20

LA Artists Protest MoCA Censorship

On Monday, January 3, 2011, there was a creative street artist action protesting the recent destruction of a mural at MoCA by director Jeffrey Deitch. Here are links to articles and videos.

Poster of the Week

The iconic 1942 We Can Do It poster encouraging women to enter the work force during World War II, was inspired by a United Press International (UPI) photo of Geraldine Doyle, a 17 year-old factory worker from Michigan who died last month. She did not know that she was the model for this widely reproduced and frequently appropriated poster until reading about it in a magazine in 1984.

Rosie the Riveter is a fictional figure representing the American women who worked in factories during World War II. She was featured in a widely recorded song written in 1942, and a 1943 Saturday Evening Post cover by Norman Rockwell. But the most famous and enduring image of this cultural icon became identified with the 1942 We Can Do It poster by J. Howard Miller (1918 – 2004), who painted many posters during World War II in support of the war effort. We Can Do It was one of a series of posters he painted for the Westinghouse Company (later, the Westinghouse War Production Co-Ordinating Committee), and he was hired to create a series of posters. The posters were sponsored by the company's War Production Co-Ordinating Committee, one of the hundreds of labor-management committees organized under the supervision of the national War Production Board.

The We Can Do It poster was scheduled to be displayed in Westinghouse facilities for only two weeks in February 1942, followed by the next poster in the series. As time passed, however, it took on a whole new life.
Posters such as We Can Do It encouraged women to enter the workforce, to replace male workers who were in the military. Conditions were sometimes harsh and pay was not always equal—the average man working in a wartime plant was paid $54.65 per week, while women were paid about $31.50. Nonetheless, women quickly responded to Rosie the Riveter, who convinced them that they had a patriotic duty to enter the workforce.
Women’s magazines aided this effort by promoting meals that could be made quickly, after work. After the war, these same magazines printed recipes for more elaborate, multi-course meals, as part of the effort to get women out of the workforce so that the returning servicemen could have the jobs.
During the 1970s women’s movement, the We Can Do It poster became a U.S. feminist icon, and continues to inspire variations and appropriations. The posters included here will all be included in American Icons—Posters of Patriotism & Dissent to premiere at the Maltz Gallery, Otis College of Art & Design, Los Angeles, CA; April 1- 16, 2011.

Si Se Puede!
Syracuse Cultural Workers
Offset, 2001
New York, NY

Sorry Boys...I'm Gay!
Artist Unknown
Offset, 2008

Marcha Lésbica
Alma Lopez
Global Fund for Women
Offset, 2006
Mexico: Mexico City

3rd Mexico City Lesbian March

Cristina Serna, a native Chicana from East Los Angeles and UCSB graduate student, poses as J. Howard Miller’s classic W.W. II rendition of Rosie the Riveter, traditionally titled We Can Do It. Serna flexes her right fist and proudly shows off a tattoo of the Virgen de Guadalupe and Sirena embracing each other as they float on a Viceroy butterfly surrounded by a Sacred Heart.

The background is composed of multiple photographs taken during the previous two Mexico City Lesbian marches and demonstrations in the Zocalo, Mexico’s historic center. Behind hundreds (and possibly thousands) of lesbian activists uniting from various cities in Mexico and the U.S., is the largest and oldest cathedral in the Americas and the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Mexico. A nearby banner reads, “Lesbians, breaking barriers, crossing borders.”

Butterflies fly up into the sky. The idea is that the activists’ intention created in that space and time will scatter to diverse areas of Mexico, the U.S. and beyond ignoring borders, and creating awareness and change.

Drill, Baby, Drill
Artist Unknown
Offset, 2008
United States


Above is source of photo of Geraldine Doyle holding Rosie the Riveter poster, photo by Robert Killips/AP

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Poster of the Week

Out Against the War
Anticapitalist Asspirates/Asspirateurs Anticapitalistes
Digital Print, 2005
Montreal, Canada

“Don't Ask Don't Tell” Repealed

On 22 December 2010, President Barack Obama signed landmark legislation allowing openly gay people to serve in the military. Don't Ask Don't Tell, which barred gay people in the military from revealing their sexual orientation, had been in effect since President Bill Clinton introduced it as a compromise measure in 1993. Prior to DADT, lesbian and gay service members had been court-martialed, imprisoned, dishonorably discharged, and/or committed to military hospitals.

As many uncritically celebrate the repeal of DADT, CSPG’s Poster-of-the-Week focuses on a much less publicized perspective which objects to anyone joining the military to fight unjust imperial wars.

In October 2010, Amy Goodman of hosted an important debate between Lt. Dan Choi, Iraqi War veteran who was discharged after coming out in 2009 on The Rachel Maddow Show, and queer anti-war activist and writer Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore. Celebrating the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell, Sycamore says, only makes progressive movements in the U.S. complicit with American wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The program raised the question: Should the queer rights movement have been focused on repealing the Don't Ask Don't Tell law? Did Opposing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Bolster U.S. Militarism?

To see this debate:

Out Against the War is also featured in CSPG’s newest exhibition, Out of the Closet & Into the Street: Posters on LGBTQ Struggles and Celebrations which can be seen on our website:

Additional reading:

Following the repeal of DADT, Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CodePink: Women for Peace, wrote :“To the LGBT Community: Now That You Can Join the Military, Please Don't!”

May the New Year Bring us Closer to Peace with Justice