Protest Posters from OWS: The Message and the Medium

There has been some talk recently (meaning, oh, the last 30 years) about the role of street art and graffiti as a form of protest or political speech and its relevance, irrelevance, plenty or paucity. It’s always amusing to see those who otherwise steer clear of self-examination critiquing the political speech of others, and with such veracity. Just as those meat-eaters who put a vegetarian under extra scrutiny and question their purity of allegiances and practices, street art watchers who have an opinion feel entitled to pass judgement on any artist who critiques the establishment.

Did you buy those art materials from a chain store and thus feed the corporate machine? Then your anti-corporate criticisms are meritless. You should have painted with your own blood.

Are those leather uppers on your shoes?  Then you are hypocritical for critiquing a factory farming method as animal torture.

It’s a clever, if lazy, way of diverting attention from a matter or opinion that calls into question our own behaviors and viewpoints by way of demanding complete purity or none – as if the world were so black and white.


OWS (photo © Jaime Rojo)

These new OWS pieces on the street will probably meet the same fate because they were undoubtedly made with corporate software on corporate computers and printed on a corporate photocopier/printer with non-organic inks.  You should have hand pressed your own paper from recycled garbage and rendered the image with a twig and the juice an old pomegranate.

Some Street Art “critics” will belabor the replication, the multiples, the generic-ness of the presentation as being so unimaginative and smacking of the same methods that evil advertisers use, but without irony, therefore the underlying messages are effectively voided. Again, these should be hand made one of a kind, more D.I.Y, more human.


OWS (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Bottom line is, street artists aren’t asking anyone for permission. In the end, we don’t know exactly what OWS is going for with some of these images or their configuration or materials, but it is refreshing that we’re being asked to think and consider.

Political speech, however imperfect it is (and it always is), is what we have as a voice against a storm of high-powered well funded machines informing and misinforming us today. In fact it sometimes may feel like they are drowning out the singular voices of dissent. We ignore these voices at our own peril.


OWS (photo © Jaime Rojo)


OWS (photo © Jaime Rojo)


OWS (photo © Jaime Rojo)