Pictures from Sochi

Pussy Riot Sochi

Photo credit: Morry Gash/AP via The Guardian

Earlier today, members of the band Pussy Riot were attacked while performing in Sochi in front of an Olympic banner. According to The Guardian, none were arrested, one was left bloody, and we, U.S. viewers, were given the image above to process. Women in bright colors, women without faces, one woman with a defiant arm raised, one woman holding a microphone and then a man, in an overstated paramilitary uniform, taking a black horsewhip to them. So far, the New York Times is sticking with their skeptical headline “Protest Group Says Cossacks Attacked Them”—uh, says?—despite the volume at which this photo speaks otherwise. In a video that I don’t recommend you watch, more men in uniform arrive to rip the performer’s balaclava masks off, throw them by the elbows to the pavement, beat them with nightsticks on the ground, and attempt to break their guitars.

The Politics of Tampon Jewelry

Melissa Harris-Perry wearing tampon earrings

Image Credit: Politix

In the wake of the menstrual pad confiscation outside the Texas senate gallery, protesters made some highly creative and intentionally jarring visual statements using, primarily, unwrapped tampons. Sanitary napkin accessories, as far as I know, haven't made a big nationwide appearance yet, but the compactness of tampons, coupled with the built-in string, makes it a relatively easy object to manipulate in craftsy projects. I noticed some bold souls stringing them together to make impromptu necklaces at the state capitol the day of the outrage, but the country tuned in when Melissa Harris-Perry daringly donned some tampon earrings on her MSNBC Sunday show. You can see a brief video capturing her demonstration here.

Occupy Austin: Love-in, Left-Wing Tea Party, or What?

We are the 99%

Image Credit: Marjorie Foley

Last Thursday afternoon, I borrowed a video camera from the Digital Writing and Research Lab and headed down to Occupy Austin, a gathering intended to stand in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street. If you've been following the media coverage of Occupy Wall Street, then you know that people are confused about what exactly it is the protesters in New York want, and in Austin it doesn't seem to be much different.

Branding Occupy Wall Street

Broad image of occupy wall street posters

(Image Credit: Michael Nagle, Getty Images via In Focus)

During the past week Occupy Wall Street has gained increasing media attention. The movement, initially called for by the group Adbusters, began in earnest on September 17th when protesters first began to occupy Zuccotti Park. This initial act seems to have largely been met with bemused ambivalence, and while there was originally a single demand articulated by Adbusters in their July call to action—that “Barack Obama ordain a Presidential Commission tasked with ending the influence money has over our representatives in Washington”  (Adbusters) –things were quite murky by the time the occupation took shape. Much of the media attention that the movement has gained, especially during this surge in participation, has focused on the apparent lack of concrete demands set forth by OWS. This confusion is misplaced. While the list of hopeful outcomes is amorphous a clear sense of oppositional branding has been developed   from the wealth of signs and images created through the movement. OWS demands that we put a hold on our love affair with notions of prosperity that put us in a double bind. 

Visualizing (Post-)Racial Protest and Politics

Refried beans in the shape of a swastika in Arizona

Image Credit:  Screenshot from Towleroad

H/T:  Hampton Finger

It’s been hard to miss the recent media coverage of the new Arizona immigration law SB 1070, which allows police to stop individuals and require them to show legal papers proving their citizenship upon “reasonable suspicion.”  Many have interpreted this as legalizing racial profiling, which has caused protests to spring up against this, most recently the one pictured above where individuals smeared refried beans in the shape of a swastika to point out the potentially fascist implications of the bill.  What makes me curious is how racial tensions have been visually deployed during the theoretically post-racial Obama presidency.

Are some protest images too graphic?

*Today's post is more of a question, and rather than reproduce the images of the discussion, I will write about them.

Is it still a protest?

Another picture of Brian Haw's peace camp in London, Parliament Square

How does the space in which protest art appears affect the ways in which people respond to it? Or, even, if they see it as a protest at all?

In my class the other day, we talked about protest art. Among other things (Shepard Fairey), we looked at anti-war peace protester Brian Haw. Haw has lived in a peace camp in Parliament Square in Britain since June 2, 2001, remaining at the site full time, leaving only for court appearances.

The inconsistency of Easter imagery

Easter is one of those odd holy days turned secular holidays that creates a lot of incongruous images. Why do we have baskets with marshmallow bunnies instead of a nougat filled crucifix? Perhaps it is that kind of visual confusion that lead a group of protestors to create a new kind of visual Easter mix up.

Catholic Schoolgirls Against War

On Sunday , a group calling themselves Catholic Schoolgirls Against the War stood up in Chicago’s Holy Name Cathedral right before Cardinal Francis George’s homily and sprayed stage blood on themselves and other worshipers. The gaps between visual display and reality are as confused here as they are between the Easter story and Peeps.

Ways of looking at a bird: Paper anniversary edition

aqua teen hunger force ignignot: never forgetA year ago today, the city of Boston was brought to a standstill by led advertisements for the Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie. Here’s how I described the incident way-back-when in viz.’s first blog post:

on Jan. 31, 2007, some members of the the Boston police force interpreted some electronic, guerrilla marketing devices for the movie Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters as bombs. The city closed down bridges and shut down the river to boat traffic. In the ensuing fallout, video artists Peter Berdovsky and Sean Stevens were arrested and the president of Adult Swim resigned over the incident.

Today, graffiti artists and other pranksters have commemorated the incident by posting similar LED art all over Beantown:

Bush-themed Aqua Teen memorial in Boston

Making a public argument with the Trevi Fountain

In my rhetoric course, I ask students to find and bring in examples of protests. This week, one of my students brought in a news story about a man (Graziano Cecchini) who poured red dye into the Trevi fountain in Italy. The Trevi Fountain in Rome after Graziano Cecchini poured red dye into it

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