Friday, July 27, 2012

Poster of the Week

El Pueblo, Unido, Jamas Sera Vencido
The Workers, United, Will Never Be Defeated
Dan Jones
Labour May Day Committee 
Offset, 1980
London, UK

CSPG’s Poster of the Week celebrates worker solidarity, perfect for Labor Day.  The title comes from one of the most internationally renowned songs of the Nueva Cancion Chilena (New Chilean Song) movement, composed and recorded in June 1973.  Just a few months later, on September 11, 1973, a U.S. engineered military coup overthrew the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende.  After the Chilean coup, the song became the anthem of the Chilean resistance against the brutal U.S. supported Pinochet regime. El Pueblo, Unido, Jamas Sera Vencido continues to be used in various protests around the world, most of which have no direct connection to the Chilean coup or Latin America. The lyrics have been adapted or translated into many languages.

The poster shows workers from diverse trades and countries holding signs with a variety of demands and slogans including:
  • El Pueblo, Unido, Jamas Sera Vencido  The Workers, United, Will Never Be Defeated
  • Work Not Dole
  • We Require 8 Hours For Work  8 Hours For Our Instruction  And 8 Hours For Our Repose
  •  8 Hour Day 
  • The People's Flag Is Deepest Red, It Shrouded Oft Our Martyred Dead 
  •  Debut D'Une Lutte Prolongee 
  • Pan Trabajo Y Libertad 
History of Labor Day
Labor Day may be over 100 years old, but its history continues to be politically charged and open to interpretation. The observation of Labor Day on the first Monday in September is usually attributed to the Knights of Labor who held their first parade in New York on September 5, 1882. By 1887, Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Oregon all celebrated Labor Day on the first Monday of September, and in 1894, the first Monday was established as a Federal holiday in the U.S.

But eight years earlier, in 1889, May 1 was selected as a day to celebrate workers by the Second Socialist International. That date was selected to commemorate the Haymarket Massacre, an important but rarely taught event in U.S. history.  [Haymarket Massacre discussed below]
So the question can be raised, Why does the American worker celebrate Labor Day in September when internationally, workers celebrate it on May 1st  in commemoration of American Martyrs to the labor movement? This question is clarified by the fact that May first is observed unilaterally by workers (not by management), while the September holiday is enjoyed by all, perpetuating the myth that Labor and Management are both working together. The proclamation of Labor Day in September in the United States has been interpreted as an effort to isolate U.S. workers from colleagues around the world, and obscure the history of what Management did to Labor in Chicago in 1886. That said, it is important to know the history of both holidays.  It is also important to note that U.S. workers get far fewer holidays than workers in other industrialized nations.  Whether or not Labor Day was established to deflect attention—and awareness—from the history of May Day, it is still a great time to celebrate workers accomplishments and express labor solidarity.

Haymarket Massacre
On May 1, 1886 demonstrations in support of the 8-hour day took place all across the country.  Chicago's was the biggest with an estimated 80,000 marching on Michigan Avenue, much to the alarm of Chicago's business leaders and newspapers who saw it as foreshadowing "revolution," and demanded a police crackdown.  Over the next several days, police attacked demonstrators and broke up mass meetings.  On May 4, a bomb was thrown by a still unidentified person, and both police and demonstrators were killed by the bomb and subsequent police shootings.  In the aftermath of the event, unions were raided all across the country. Eight labor organizers were prosecuted in a show trial. None were linked to the unknown bomb thrower, and some were not even present at the time. They were held to be responsible for the bomb thrower's act, because their public criticism of corporate America, the political structure, and the use of police power against the working people, was alleged to have inspired the bomber. They were found guilty in a trial, which Illinois Governor John Peter Altgeld subsequently held to be grossly unfair. On June 26, 1894, Altgeld pardoned three who were still alive and in prison; but four had been hanged, and one had committed suicide.           


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Poster of the Week

God Bless America
Handgun Control, Inc.
Offset, circa 1997
Washington, D.C.

CSPG’s Poster of the Week was produced 25 years ago, yet it is painfully appropriate to commemorate last week’s massacre in Colorado and last year’s massacre in Norway. 
Although the statistics are more than 20 years old and out-of-date, no poster could, unfortunately, be more relevant. 

Ever since 12 people were murdered and 58 wounded in Aurora, Colorado last Friday, July 20, at the midnight showing of the latest Batman film, the media has been filled with the astounding quantity of weapons and ammunition the alleged shooter was able to obtain through the internet.  Yet the issue of gun control has not been raised by either President Obama or challenger Mitt Romney. 

In an editorial published July 24, David Horsey , Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist and columnist from Seattle, discusses why, “Despite Colorado theater massacre, a discussion of guns is off limits.”  He concludes his column with, “Why do conservatives not want to have that discussion now? I'll tell you why: Because they have let the most extreme elements of the gun-rights community dictate gun policy for the entire country and now they are afraid to cross them. For conservatives, this is not the time for a discussion about guns because, no matter how much blood is spilled, even in preventable circumstances, it is a discussion they never plan to have.”

The Colorado tragedy comes almost a year to the day of the anniversary of the Norwegian tragedy. On July 22, 2011, a 33-year-old far-right fanatic bombed the government district in Oslo, killing eight, followed by shooting rampage that left 69 dead at the left-wing Labor Party's youth camp on Utoya island.  He was opposed to Norway’s inclusive multiculturalism, so attacked the future leaders of the Norwegian left.

Two other massacres that took place in the U.S. since this poster was produced:

April 20, 1999 -The Columbine High School massacre, Columbine, Colorado. Two senior students, embarked on a shooting spree in which a total of 12 students and 1 teacher were murdered and 21 students were injured 21. 

April 16, 2007 - Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University massacre, Blacksburg, Virginia:  A senior student shot and killed 32 people and wounded 17 others.

When will we ever learn.


Monday, July 9, 2012

Poster of the Week

!No Olvidemos! A Julius y Ethel Rosenberg
Angel Bracho
Taller de Gráfica Popular
linocut, Mexico, 1953

In 1999, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Center for the Study of Political Graphics, Board member Susan Martin and Executive Director Carol Wells invited 100 individuals to select their favorite poster from our collection and write a paragraph about why they chose it. The resulting exhibition was titled, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised after the brilliant 1970 Gil Scott Heron song, and exhibited at Track 16 Gallery, Bergamot Station in Santa Monica. The guest curators were artists, activists, curators and writers. They included Ed Asner, Barbara Carrasco, John Baldessari, Maria Elena Durazo, Susan Faludi, Leon Golub, Tom Hayden, Christopher Knight, Barbara Kruger, Victor Navasky, Holly Near, Nancy Spero, Kent Wong, Alfre Woodard and 86 others. More than a decade later, the list remains impressive and the selected posters still relevant, so CSPG’s Poster of the Week will occasionally feature one of these posters and the guest curator’s statement.   

The current Poster of the Week was selected in 1999 by Paul Schimmel, the innovative and internationally respected head curator of MoCA for 22 years, who was recently, suddenly and unceremoniously fired. Tom Patchett, founder of Track 16 Gallery and Smart Art Press, selected the same poster. Track 16 opened in 1994, and premiered many important exhibitions, including several by CSPG.  Track 16 will soon be demolished to make way for a planned Expo Line Metro stop. They both picked a stunning linocut produced in Mexico after the executions of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg in 1953.   

The multi-style carving of the woodblock shows Julius and Ethel on different planes. In this divergent graphic treatment, Ethel is a classic "Madonna" — innocent, loving and kind. Contrasting her larger, softer image, the artist has portrayed Julius quite differently: if there was a crime committed, he’s the one that did it. The irony is that today, where it concerns our preferred trading partner — China — the government ignores the spying.

Paul Schimmel
 Chief Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art

I chose this poster because Paul Schimmel chose this poster.

Tom Patchett, Track 16 Gallery/Smart Art Press

The Rosenbergs were accused of passing information about the atomic bomb to the Soviet Union.  The case against them was created in an atmosphere of anti-Communism and anti-Semitism. Their accusers included FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, Senators Joe McCarthy and Pat McCarran. Although they were never found guilty of any act of espionage, they were convicted and executed for conspiracy to commit espionage during a time of war. Presiding Judge Irving S. Kaufman accused them of having "put the atom bomb into the hands of the Russians," that they had caused the Korean War, and that they had "changed the course of history to the disadvan­tage of our country." This was the first execution of civilians for espionage in United States history.

The decision to execute the Rosenbergs was, and still is, controversial. The New York Times, in an editorial on the 50th anniversary of the execution (June 19, 2003) wrote, "The Rosenberg case still haunts American history, reminding us of the injustice that can be done when a nation gets caught up in hysteria."