Revolution is a process This book is published on the occasion of the project (I Can) Feel the Pulse
(I Can) Feel the Pulse consisted of: Exhibition 27 August-10 October 2010
Emory Douglas masterclass 16, 23, 24-26 September
Artists: Emory Douglas (USA), Hiphop Chocolate (USA), Dzine (Carlos Rolon, USA), Patrick Martinez (USA), Jefferson Pinder (USA), Haruka Sakatani (JP), Huang Yulong (CN) Guest Curator: Charlie Dronkers The exhibition (I Can) Feel the Pulse established a connection between the origins of hip-hop and contemporary visual culture. In this context the work of Emory Douglas for the Black Panther Party formed a visual point of reference in the Showroom and in the public space. Besides Emory Douglas’s revolutionary work the exhibition presented work by Jefferson Pinder, Dzine (Carlos Rolon), Patrick Martinez, Hiphop Chocolate, Haruka Sakatani and Huang Yulong.
Antonio Guzman, Ashley Nijland, David Elshout, Guido Iwan Johanns, Katayoun Arian, Koert Jobse, Kevin Amstelveen, Kiki Peeters, Michael van Kekem, Ose Cornelisse, Patrick McCurdy and Thijs Lansbergen Led by: Emory Douglas, Niki van Strien, Sandim Mendes, Margriet Brouwer Mesh Print Club: Sander van Loon, Merijn van Essen and Rens van den Berge Locations: Mesh Print Club, Your Space, De Kapsalon, Rotterdam Emory Douglas supported the participants in this masterclass in the formulation of design concepts for a series of posters that were distributed throughout the city of Rotterdam. From 20 November to 18 December, the results were shown in a presentation in the De Kapsalon Art Platform. In partnership with MAMA, De Kapsalon organised a ‘black’ film evening that related directly to the (I Can) Feel the Pulse masterclass.
Lecture and debate Friday 24 September, 7:30 p.m. Emory Douglas, Jefferson Pinder, Katayoun Arian and Koert Jobse Moderator: Hasna El Maroudi Location: Witte de With, Center for Contemporary Art After a keynote lecture by Emory Douglas dealing with his graphic work for the Black Panther Party, Hasna El Maroudi moderated a debate between Jefferson Pinder and a number of participants in the masterclass. The subjects discussed included (black) identity in relation to their own work, protest and revolution, visual culture, music and media.
Brothers in Arms Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 September 2010 Lloyd Marengo, choreographer of the Rotterdam-based HipHopHuis and Abner Preis, visual artist and one of the leaders of The Dogs of Shame, bundled their forces in a performance during the ‘World of Witte de With’ festival, with the cooperation of the B-boys and B-girls of the Hiphophuis.
The publication itself is the result of a unique collaboration between MAMA and OONA/ Mesh Print Club and the participants in the masterclass. All items of the (I Can) Feel the Pulse project come together in this publication. The design and its execution are based on the techniques utilised by Emory Douglas in his Black Panther Party materials. 9
Beyond t-shirt thinking Patrick McCurdy - Our lives are mediated by us, for us and to us to the point where media – in its broadest sense – is environmental. However, our contemporary media environment is not necessarily determined for us. Instead, we can work as architects or even anarchitects selectively drawing from and contributing to a relentless torrent of information to (re)build and maintain our mediated environments. Yet, such customisability is not limitless. Much of what is produced and available is made so within the boundaries of consumer-capitalism which inevitably shapes the possibilities and impossibilities. Still, the rise and availability of digital technology has transformed our relationship with media. It has recon-figured the possible by allowing individuals to not only consume content with the masses, but to produce content for and with the masses. It has enabled audience members to become producers, remixers and jammers by offering the potential for participation and renewed engagement. The consumption and production of media is identity driven; a means to create, maintain and express one’s identity. Such choices are now often put on prominent display on social networking sites. Before such networking sites, affinities were displayed by sewing patches and badges on backpacks or buying band buttons. The new markers of identity are obtained through Facebook’s ‘like’ button which digitally fasten them-selves to your social network profile. The band button is now the like button.
The danger, sceptics maintain, is that the ‘like’ button becomes an end point for political engagement. I ‘like’ revolution. The danger lies in ‘slacktivism’.
To ‘like’ something is not enough. It is not an endpoint (although it may also be a starting point). Passion and commitment beyond the click of a mouse are required. Moreover, vision is required. What was clear from the Emory Douglas workshop was that we could feel the pulse of pressing social problems from the rise of far right politics with its accompanying xenophobia and marketing of fear, the apartheid of the Palestinian people to the corporate colonisation of the imaginary. The challenge was in finding a voice; a voice capable of rising above the daily barrage of images and messages that assail us. Finding and using this voice requires competency in the syntax and grammar of visual language. Such skills cannot simply be downloaded but must be learned, honed and refined. While it has become relatively easy to write a witty slogan or design an ironic poster - ‘The revolution will not be tweeted’ – and just as identity and self reflection must extend beyond ‘status update’ thinking, resistance must move beyond t-shirt thinking. Contemporary struggles are struggles over representation. Juxtaposition, irony and subversion are weapons of visual jujitsu in a battle of, and over, images and imaginations. While centres of power attempt to consolidate themselves through mergers, acquisitions and strategic alliances, all holders of power, as the Retort Collective have argued, remain vulnerable at the level of the image. It is the duty of art and visual culture to
capitalize on and exploit this symbolic Achilles.
Patrick McCurdy is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Media and Communication at the Erasmus University Rotterdam. He was awarded his PhD from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) in May 2009 for an ethnographic study of protests at the 2005 Gleneagles G8 Summit.
Patrick’s area of research and interest stems from his activism within the global justice movement and covers media protest and spectacle, the media practices of social movement actors, media events as well as media and international development. 22
We shall survive without a doubt
Ose Cornelisse & Kiki Peeters
Imagery is just a tool for bringing a message
Q6: Do you still believe in revolution?
A6: When you think of revolution, how it’s been defined, demonized, or projected as an utopia: revolution is a process. Revolution means revolving, going from A, to B, to C. And then, at some time you can have an abrupt change. Giving up belief in revolution means that you don’t do anything. That means you don’t study, don’t educate people, and don’t communicate. It’s the process of an on-going shared knowledge. Revolution means change. Things always evolve and change. So, in that context I believe in revolution and herewith change.
Q7: How does a revolution start?
A7: It’s always a small few who begin to make the sparks and start a change. When the Black Panther Party came on the scene, people weren’t following the Black Panther Party at all, they thought we were crazy. You have to believe in what you’re standing for. The community was our gallery. We had chapters and branches all over the country, and people who would plaster our posters and images all over the community. That’s how the community began to be defined as a gallery. People wouldn’t go to them because they couldn’t afford it. So, those people would read by seeing images as opposed to reading an article.
Q8: In the late 1960s and 70s, media was owned by major corporations and powerful white individuals. How did the Black Panthers manage mainstream media, considering this context?
A8: It didn’t make any difference, we did what we were going to do anyway. So it didn’t define us, or frame us in any way. The whole purpose of the paper was to tell our story from our own perspective. And that paper became a powerful tool.