Posterboy on Occupy Wall Street
One of the most visually striking things that Occupy will be remembered for are words and images constructed by the people involved – big, bold, political statements expressing powerful feelings, could be seen everywhere in cities across the world – from the crudely constructed banners made from markers on scraps of paper and bits of card, to the labour intensive posters and 3D models.
I was interested to find out more about the banners and art, so I talked to Posterboy about his involvement in Occupy Wall Street. This is what he had to say:
I know you were very involved in the Occupy movement, can you tell me about this?
The OWS movement and Poster Boy have much in common. Poster Boy has always been a decentralized collective as opposed to the usual focus on any one individual. There are no leaders, and membership depends on you. The collaboration was inevitable.
Why did you decide to get involved?
This movement is what Poster Boy has been fighting for since inception. So it only makes sense to align ourselves with a movement that is fighting the same fight.
Do you feel that it was inevitably going to happen because of the worldwide state of the economy?
The economy amongst other things.
Philosopher Slavoj Zizek said it best, “We are not destroying anything…We are only witnessing how the system is destroying itself.”
Did you camp, if so, what was that like?
We did for the first week, and It was both a miserable and liberating experience. For one, it’s impossible to get any decent sleep. Mind you, this is before we got tents, so regardless of the time, there was always a source of noise or light reminding you that this is New York City. But it was all worth it. Waking up together, knowing why we’re there leaves you with a sense pride and unity.
Was there a sense of camaraderie amongst the people?
Yes, very much so. It’s actually what kept the movement alive. We didn’t have the support that we have now.
What kinds of conversations were you hearing?
There was a wide range of topics being discussed. Usually about politics, money, war, education, etc. Really just about how fed up everyone is with the current state of things.
How desperate are New Yorkers?
I don’t think New Yorkers are as desperate as other people. We seem to get by regardless of the circumstance. This doesn’t mean we’re unsympathetic to what goes on outside of NY. There is a reason why the movement is still strong here.
I also know that you were involved in many art projects; can you tell me about these?
In the beginning we stayed in the park and made signs like everyone else. However, after the first week it was clear the movement had gained the momentum it needed. So we decided to lend our help the best way we knew how…with guerrilla tactics.
We’ve done everything from recruitment to sloganeering to collaborating with other groups. We’ve been in touch with groups like the Yes Men, Adbusters, and a bunch of local graf & street artists.
Right now we’re working on the “Tenting Campaign” with OWS. Through different guerrilla tactics, we’re hoping to shed a more positive light on the use of tents in public spaces.
Do you feel street artists should have been a lot more involved in highlighting the cause?
Yes, absolutely. Obviously people are free to do what they like, but I think it’s time street artists walk the walk. All that talk about free speech and public space doesn’t amount to much if you only work for your own interest.
Did you see Banksy’s piece for Occupy St Paul, if so, what did you think?
Yes, and as usual he delivered a clever punch line. I’m hoping some of his fans become inspired and take action.
Do you feel that Occupy made a difference?
Ask me again in a few years.
Is there anything else you would like to say?
I would like to take this opportunity to issue a call to vandals:
As you have probably have heard there’s a movement brewing everywhere. Regardless of your religious, political, economic, or social background this movement is about you, the 99% of the population.
If you work in the streets then you’re political whether you like it or not. Graf or Street Art, it doesn’t matter. With every tag, throwie, sticker, stencil, or wheat paste your work is a big “fuck you” to the law that serves private interests.
All that time spent criticizing and beef’n with other people can be spent towards fighting a system that has beef with all of us. All we ask is that you donate a little time and talent.
There will be no meetings, rules, or regulations. All that we ask is that you show support by putting O.W.S. (Occupy Wall Street) in your work. How you go about it is up to you.
You can send questions and images to: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Like the comrade Fred Hampton said, “I am… a revolutionary. And you’re gonna have to keep saying that.”
YOU are a revolutionary, so get used to saying it.
On Behalf of OWS,
‘As part of the Tenting Campaign, this diorama is a collaboration with the Yes Men, Poster Boy, and Occupy Faith. It’s a nativity scene, but under a tent in the fashion of OWS. The scripture is from Luke 2:7, “there was no room for them in the inn.” Referring to how Mary and Joseph, when looking for a place to give birth, were turned away at the inn. We are trying to make the connection with the incident(s) at Trinity. The church, which is the third biggest land owner in NYC, refuses to give protesters a vacant lot in which to camp. So we presented Trinity with this peace offering in hopes of reminding them who/what they’re here for, and just in time for Christmas too. Although they “accepted” the gift, by the time the press left Trinity evicted the nativity scene…how ironic. We added a functioning solar light on top, because I think baby Jesus would’ve liked that.’
Poster Boy created the scene, Occupy Faith (which includes priests) blessed and installed it, and the Yes Lab facilitated the whole thing.
BY HELEN SOTERIOU