Notice anything about these two images? The top one is an image being used by the Occupy Wall Street movement, while the bottom image was used during the Soviet period in Russia. Both use the same format, with a person, in this case a working woman and Lenin, on the Right, looking to the left, and Roman numerals on the left, with grain detailing. The OWS protesters seem to be using old propaganda from the Soviet Union and reusing it now.
Here is another image being used by OWS. Again, they are incorporating more Russian and Soviet motifs, like the sickle and hammer that is the Russian national symbol. Like in my post “What do We Really Want,” it seems like the OWS movement is taking notes from the Bolsheviks and the Soviet system. Both OWS and the Bolshevik Revolution have focused on the working class as their primary point of interest. Just to point out something, all three images that I have posted have a common primary color being used: red. Red was a symbol of Communism and still connotes that today. While it does draw the eye, does it also hint at something a bit more sinister? Food for thought.
Just a disclaimer about this site: I do not support this site, nor do I agree with everything that is mentioned on the blog. I merely used the site because that is where I found the images that I used.
Shepard Fairey, arguably one of the most popular American artists of our time (or at least one of the most visible), announces support for the Occupy Wall Street movement on the his website. Although it seems obvious that his support of the movement would assist the movement in terms of popularity and visibility, one particular artwork actually hindered the movement by presenting the wrong message to its viewers.
Original Print by Shepard Fairey
Fairey’s original image raised concerns within the OWS movement, which considers itself non-partisan. This original print directly addresses the President in addition to mimicking the iconic HOPE poster that Fairey created in support of Obama’s campaign. Upon receiving a letter from an anonymous OWS protester that expressed concern with the image, Fairey indicated that he thinks that President Obama could be an ally to the OWS protesters, while the anonymous protester points out that Obama has gotten much monetary support from Wall Street and that he is not supported by OWS. The anonymous letter continues to offer suggestions for Fairey, including changing the message from “Hope” to “We are Hope”. They also suggest moving away from the Obama imagery all together with the sentiment that “To reduce us to an Obama re-election campaign will not help anyone. Our political system is corrupt and broken. As naive as it may sound, we have to stop looking to leaders and we must be the change.”
Interestingly, Fairey makes very few of these changes. He removes the direct appeal to the president, changing the sentiment from “Mr President, we hope you’re on our side” to “We are the hope”, and adds “Occupy Wall Street” onto the 99% button.
Fairey’s written response to the message gets a little defensive; he states that “I did not make the Occupy HOPE image to become THE image for Occupy. I believe very strongly in the Occupy movement, but I’m looking more at the politics of the entire nation than the politics within Occupy.” Yet, with his level of fame and the influence of the internet, how could Fairey NOT expect this image to be important?
Interestingly, besides this specific post, I was unable to find the poster in Fairey’s archives on obeygiant.com. The original poster was not found on Fairey’s website at all.
As much as Fairey supports the OWS movement through various posters, this particular poster became a big concern for many OWS protesters and may have led to some confusion should viewers make the connection of this poster with the Obama HOPE poster.
In “Toward a Hyperphotography” Fred Richin discusses the Cubist nature of internet images. Internet allows for a unique opportunity to piece information together by linking websites and images. He argues that this cubistic quality of internet imagery complicates viewers’ understanding of images by adding additional information that can subvert or complicate their original purpose.
Richin only touches upon one of the qualities linkage. With the example of an image found while searching “occupy wall street art” in google search, one discovers that this cubism goes further to help a movement and to promote individual success.
by Guy Denning
This image by Guy Denning comes up on the google image search. On this post he is described as “Guy Denning Homeless Artist From Occupy Wall Street” The website from which this image comes offers a link to another. This new website offers the story of Denning, a self-taught artist who participated in the Occupy movement and illustrated some of its imagery. More linking exists and the information about Denning and the Occupy movement proliferates.
A link to Dennings’s youtube account provides videos of his process. He has 91,571 video views (and counting). One can purchase his artworks through another link to his website.
The benefits of such linkage work both ways. Those interested in his approach to art might become interested in OWS, thus helping the movement. Those interested in OWS might become more interested in his art, therefore helping the artist.
This example shows that image linkage promotes the success of individuals and interest in OWS while complicating meaning simultaneously.
see: Ritchin, Fred. “Toward a Hyperphotography,” After&Photography. W.W. Norton & Company, New York: 2009.