OSPAAAL, A Cuban Politcal Movement

Hola!

Here are some radical posters by The Organisation of Solidarity with the People of Asia, Africa and Latin America (OSPAAAL), a collection instigated by Michael Tyler.

OSPAAAL’s purpose was to fight globalisation, imperialism, neoliberalism and defend human rights. The posters also encouraged Cuban people to build a new society by promoting sugar harvests, national literacy and celebrating music, arts and dance…

Ernesto Padron, 1971, Together with Vietnam
Alberto Blanco, Libya, 1983.
 Alfrédo Rostgaard, Sekou Toure,1971
René Mederos, Saigon / Week of solidarity with Viet Nam, 1970
Jesús Forjans, Day of solidarity with the people of Mozambique Sept. 25, 1969
Jesús Forjans, International week of solidarity with Viet Nam, 1969
Alfrédo Juan González Rostgaard, Day of Solidarity with the Congo, 1972.
Alfrédo Rostgaard, 4000 planes downed/ Viet Nam, Tomb of Imperialism, 1972
Faustin Pérez, Day of solidarity with Venezuela,1969
Berta Abelénda Fernández, Day of Solidarity with the people of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde, 1968.
Jhones, Eduardo Bosch, International week of solidarity with Viet Nam/Cut off the hands of imperialism in Viet Nam, 1967
more here

Images courtesy of Lincoln Cushing/Docs Populi.

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Weaving in Bhutan

Here’s an interview with Chimmi (Tshering) Choden, Owner/Designer of CHIMMI House of Design on what influences her craft and how her work is interpreted in other countries…

 

What is your background/education? What made you choose your career path?

I am a Bachelor of arts student, my major was Family child welfare. Growing up I had always loved fashion and my mother being from the eastern side of Bhutan where women are popular for their weaving culture, so textiles and weaving came naturally to me. I took up two weeks crash course training on fashion design here facilitated by ministry of economic affairs Bhutan, which was a good introduction to the basics of fashion design process and techniques of sewing. After which I started to research more and study on my own through tutorials on youtube and google.

A few of my design pieces were recognised and featured in the local magazines and media after which I started commissioning orders in a very informal business set up. Making clothes gives me happiness and contentment. So it was clear that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

What is SABAH, what did you do there ?

SABAH is an project funded SAARC Development fund which focusses on helping home based women to earn livelihood through sustainable business. SABAH stands for SAARC Business Association for home based women. Since majority of women in Bhutan weave or work in the fields the project focussed on designing and value adding to hand woven textiles and also focussed on food processing of the agricultural produce. Working with this organisation helped me build my business which has social impact, It also made me realise that my skill can contribute in boosting and uplifting our textile culture in modern times which in return can help income generation for our weavers while we preserve our valued old tradition of weaving.

What are the concepts behind you work? Who realises them for you?

The concept is to make modern silhouettes and designs which makes our textiles accessible in the global market. I work very closely with my full time weavers on textiles which is the main backbone of our pieces and then with my tailors on how we will be further developing the pieces. Every time I come up with a design or an idea it is always discussed with my weavers and tailors in the studio and we work on it together as each piece takes shape.

What is the process of your work?

I do not have a definite process.. sometimes I can get inspired from the patterns, designs or the texture of the textiles and work on the design backward. Sometimes the concept of the design is made first and then the weavers work on the textiles as planned and then it is further developed into the desired design.

 

What is the meaning behind the geometry in your work, or is it just pretty to look at?

Most of the geometric patters are from the traditional motifs and they do signify the elements of nature, animals and Buddhist beliefs. The labor, love and care that the weaver puts while weaving the textiles makes each piece unique and this unique piece of art cannot be replicated as much as you try since it is handwoven. Each piece has unique story throughout the process of its development.  And it is with these unique pieces and story that inspires the designs and my work.

Do you see any differences in how people interpret / receive your work in Bhutan in comparison to when selling to the global market?

Yes, it is very definite how people relate to my work and how they interpret my designs. Bhutan being very young in fashion and many other areas is exposed to ideas which have succeeded and failed in other developed  countries and on the global stage. So by virtue of its limitation it has been a blessing in disguise to appreciate what we have in Bhutan. And what we have in Bhutan is this age old tradition of weaving which is till valued and has a market within the country itself for the weavers to sustain themselves, thanks to our forefathers who envisioned in embracing our unique culture and to keep its identity made it mandatory for the citizens to wear the traditional attire in the country. This has not only encouraged weavers to produce hand woven textiles but also innovate and specialise in the skill so much so that Bhutanese weavers are considered one of the most talented weavers in their fine, intricate designs.

For Bhutanese customers it is exciting to see contemporary designs made with our traditional textiles and they love to wear something that defines their Bhutanese identity with their own unique personality and style. Many of my Bhutanese customers also enjoy wearing or carrying my deigns as they want to wear something Bhutanese when they are out of Bhutan without looking too traditional or boring. Bhutanese also encourages and strongly supports the businesses that are in line with the four pillars of gross national happiness so they appreciate our work.

For the global customers, most of their comments or feedback on why they like to wear our designs is because they like the whole concept of the slow fashion because each piece is handwoven and unique, it is not mass produced or common. the fact that the unique design has a story to tell and has lot of culture and depth despite it looking very fashionable. The fact that also commissioning these designs are encouraging the green fashion and giving power to the good impact it is giving to the whole process of its development. Sometimes I have had customers who have been just drawn to the designs without knowing the background story saying that they can picture it being worn on the high fashion streets of New York and Paris as statement piece.

We have had very good response on international fashion shows such as Malaysia fashion week and other International platforms such as Vogue India. In todays world where everything is fast paced and machine made with precision and in mass amount. People are desiring slow fashion since that trend has become unique and is rapidly gaining appreciation all over the global stage.

What are the main building blocks of Bhutanese history and culture that have lead to contemporary design today?

As mentioned in the earlier question, our fore fathers vision was to preserve our unique identity so in that mission one of the rule was to make it mandatory to wear our traditional attire. We Bhutanese also have our thirteen arts arts and crafts known as ‘Zorig Chusum’ which acts as a service to the community. it entails following :

Paintings, tailoring/ sewing, wood carving, embroidery, pottery, gold and silversmith, masonary, bamboo weaving etc.. some of which is very evident is in our architecture of the buildings and structures of our houses, monasteries, utensils, accessories and our daily life.

All of this tradition and culture has taken shape of the modern Bhutan today. It has a major influence in our designs.

Are you now influenced by ‘Western’ design?

It is not just now that I have been influenced by Western design. Growing up especially my generation we were exposed to Western culture and fashion through television and internet which were introduced in Bhutan during the 80s.. and my parents didn’t have that growing up. We have one foot in the modern world and the other in the traditional world.

This has a major influence in my work because growing up I was surrounded by weavers from my mothers village (my mother is from the east of Bhutan where weaving culture is popular) she had an informal set up of cottage industry at home. She would design and sell Kiras and Ghos to family and friends. Sometimes she would also get odd contracts for examples that she made for the first set of uniforms for the Druk Airlines crew; the only airline back in the days.

Basically I grew up watching my mother and her team weave textiles using traditional methods and also at the same time was exposed to modern fashion and trends, so it was natural for me to combine these two elements to form my own unique fashion house.

How has the internet influenced your designs and shaped your career?

Firstly I am a self taught designer so I did most of my research on google and youtube. I learnt most of the sewing and designing skill from these tutorials. Later on I learned more with the experience and exposure that I got along my journey in this path. My work and business became popular from social media such as Facebook, Instagram and later I developed my website. The social media gave me a wide audience and customers.

Where do you work from?

I work from home and have a small boutique currently in Thimphu at Namgay Heritage hotel.

Chimmi (Tshering) Choden

Colombia!

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For us this month is all about Colombia. Here’s an interview with the talented multimedia artist Tania Granada, Bogota:

 

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What kind of Art do you make?


The visual art that I do is ‘diverse’ I’d say, mainly because I use different ways to create images; drawing, painting, photography, video and sound design sometimes are all part of the creation process of a piece. I make moving images in animation and video, but I also like the idea of making still images where you can feel some kind of motion. 


What influences you?

Impressionists paintings might be an influence to me in the way figures are portrayed and also how light is depicted. Figures, in these paintings, I feel have a certain ‘blurriness’ that allows them to ‘breath’ and become alive; also, the light in this style of painting I think has to do a lot with the notion of time passing. In moving images lately I am strongly influenced by Wim Wenders’ films;  the way he portraits landscapes and people is compelling to me, sometimes it’s like you’re staring at a living photograph. 

 

 

Does politics influence your work, if so, how?

Yes… rather than with a specific political discourse, with a position as a human being and member of the society I live in. That translates into the work with certain longings, fears and conflicts. With the current political situation in my country, where resources exploitation is done irresponsibly, I feel the need to try to preserve nature as it is today, and that has made my work revolve over the theme of natural landscape in the last few months. The Colombian landscape is diverse and complex, its richness and difficult geography are at the centre of our political issues, such as the distribution of the property of land, displacement of villages and not sustainable ways of resource’s exploitation. In that sense, there is a political background to this subject; maybe my work is not ‘political’ per se, but my way of thinking around this subject is by making it something central, something alive and of importance.

The landscape became an interesting subject to me as I started noticing how important was its role in many Colombian movies at different times. In these movies, the landscape is almost a character; so present in the psyche of the ‘actual’ characters and influent in the development of the story. 

What’s the process behind your work?

Experimentation has been very important to the process, if not the process itself. In this project, I make decisions as I go and I think and plan while I make, and that has worked so far. I’m making digital and analogue paintings (watercolour and oil pastel), once finished, I combine them in the computer in Photoshop and start to experiment with motion in Premiere. Later, I make the music/sound for the images, trying to give them more texture or depth.

Please explain the concepts behind your moving image piece (above) in more detail.

In this piece, I want to explore if it’s possible to tell a story through no dialogues or human characters, but only by moving images of landscapes. Animation allows me to see and show things differently, to exalt certain aspects and to give life to things that appear to be asleep; with this technique I believe I can explore how this entity can be seen not just as a setting but as a character, with its own timing and course of actions. Furthermore, it revolves around the question of, what is landscape without a human figure to which we can measure it?

 

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Visual Design in South Korea

This month, we look to Korea for new ideas.

We have interviewed Diana, one of the founders of Inspire Me Korea – a fantastic company who create beautiful little boxes of Korean goodness which can be sent straight to your door.

How would you describe Korean design in general? 
Firstly, I think if you visit South Korea, you will see some very special buildings. In terms of architecture, South Korea really preserve their history and ancient buildings such as the famous palaces of which some are protected and listed under the UNESCO heritage. There are some absolutely stunning palaces, one of the most famous being Gyeongbokgung in Seoul, which I 100% would recommend you visit if you have a chance.  There are a few palaces and each has something very special about them so if you like history and architecture, please visit them all! There are some tours almost every day in different languages, so you can learn more about the design and exactly why certain colours, emblems and materials were used. For example on the corners of the roof, there are some small creatures, and this was believed to help protect the palace. The one I mentioned has a special building which appears to be ‘floating on water’ – it is really wonderful to see!
Aside from the traditional element, there are some very futuristic designed buildings such as one in Dongdaemun (Seoul), designed by Zaha Hadid and is very iconic! Even though it has been there for quite a number of years, it still looks very futuristic and is a cool place for photos. A lot of the Fashion Week catwalks and events are held here!
In terms of the creative industry, there are lots of small markets scattered around Seoul and other cities like Jeonju which I have visited. There are many that are mainly handmade markets, and you get to see some adorable little hand crafts that are more modern like earrings, but also some traditional elements like Korean calligraphy artworks, and carving of stamps and more. There are so many young and creative individuals who are still students but they also have cool ideas and partner up to have a stall on the weekend at these markets. It is always inspiring to see them!
How does old craft/design influence the new? 
As mentioned about the handcrafts, it is really nice to see how traditional elements like Korean calligraphy is so prevalent in Korean designs and handcrafts where lots of young adults are learning this art and putting their spin on it. Many have used their calligraphy skills to write uplifting quotes and add some designs on canvases.
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 Korean Art in London

On 6th February, Lee Ufan’s work ‘Relatum – Stage’ was installed at The Serpentine Galleries, where it will stay until 29th July 2018.

Lee Ufan is a painter, sculptor, and philosopher who became famous in the 1960s as one of the main representatives of the Japanese avant-garde movement Mono-hawhich rejected Western concepts of representation and focused on the relationships between materials and perception.

Visual Communication in Ancient Egypt and in the Digital Age

We think more often in signs and symbols rather than in text but why is it that the emoji is the fastest growing language in the UK when we can express so much more with words?

Beautiful, handcrafted Egyptian Hieroglyphs from the Greek word “sacred carving” were influenced by the Sumerian script (8000 BC). They represent trade goods and livestock on clay tablets.

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Whereas ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs are traced back to 3300 BC and communicate more complex concepts in science, astronomy and medicine. They were used only on monumental inscriptions and religious texts. Everyday documents like accounts, letters, and literary texts were written using pen and hieratic on papyrus.

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Hieroglyphs on a temple wall, Karnak, Egypt

Decoding Hieroglyphs

Jean-François Champollion deciphered hieroglyphs in 1822 when he published a breakthrough document with the decipherment of the Rosetta stone, 196 B.C.,which was found in 1799 by French soldiers.

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Jean-François Champollion’s translations

It can now be found in Room 4 of the British Museum, or you can play with a 3d scan here. Anyway, it’s a stone written in Egyptian and Greek. Three scripts were used at the time it was written in Egypt–hieroglyphic, demotic and Greek. It written by Egyptian priests and it lists the things that the Pharaoh did to benefit Egyptian society. 

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Hieroglyphics can be divided into three categories: phonetic glyphs, logographs, and determinatives.

Phonetic glyphs are used to represent specific speech sounds. They work much like modern alphabets.

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Logographs are used to represent whole words

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The Bird. (Logograph).

Determinatives string a concept together. They bring a new meaning of a word and appear after the Phonograms. For example:

Drink Water

Drink Water

The Destruction of Ancient Egypt was established in 30 BC by the Roman Empire who introduced Latin.

Egyptian Hieroglyphs Vs Emojis.

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“Emoji is the fastest growing form of language ever based on its incredible adoption rate and speed of evolution. As a visual language emoji has already far eclipsed hieroglyphics, its ancient Egyptian precursor, which took centuries to develop….

–Professor Vyv Evans, Professor of Linguistics at Bangor University

According to a survey by TalkTalk, 72% of 18-25 year olds prefer to express their feelings through emojis rather than words.

Designer Joe Hale, has translated the stories of Alice in Wonderland, Pleasureland and Neverland into 2500+ character emoji lattice posters. He describes his work as ‘a venture in experimental writing’.
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Every Friday BBC’s newsbeat post the news in emojis for its audience to decipher what the story is. Are we training our children to think in cartoons rather than in writing?

The New York subway system are now using emojis to inform passengers the status of subway lines.
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Whilst in London

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More references on decoding hieroglyphics can be found here, here, here, here and here

p.s. look what happens when you type in ‘smiling face’ into the Google search bar.

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Finally, here’s how a contemporary Egyptian Designer Ghada Wali created a font based on Hieroglyphics. More of her beautiful work can be found here.

A Gif Can Say Thousands of Words

We hope you’re wrapping up warm.
We’d like to tell you about the power of branded Gifs and the positive impact they can have on your brand.They are easy to consume and considerably smaller in file size than a video which makes them a good option if you want to get a message across on any digital platform and remind your audience of your brand or communicate a message.

Whether you see it as a good thing or bad thing for human evolution, by 2018 84% of communication is predicted to be visual. Therefore, any (good quality) visual in fitting with your brand’s ethos is helpful in terms of ROI.

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Twitter and Facebook looooooove video content and animated gifs are received by them in the same way. A branded Gif not only gets your message across but if all of your business sites are connected, it will drive traffic to your website.

What we love about Gifs is that we can tell any story with them and in a variety of media (paint/graphics/video). Storytelling can be very effective in a brand’s content strategy, as it builds a relationship with the audience in an authentic way and, once again, visual content and Gifs, in particular, can be a vital part of the story.

They can be playful and lighthearted or get a serious message across in just a few seconds. They have a lasting, memorable impression and can always be re-visited, revamped or re-appropriated to fit with a brand’s visual tone of voice and current trends so that your marketing is both engaging, on topic and consistent with your overall visual identity.

 

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Throughout December, we’re offering you the chance to send a personalised and branded Christmas Gif in line with your branding. All we ask for is what kind of message you wish to convey and to supply us with your brand’s colour palettes, typography and logo. We will do this for you in under 24 hours and all for just £100. You will have the chance to sign off on the artwork and make up to three changes on the content.

We are equally pleased to come in and teach your team how to make your own Gifs, for the same one-off fee. All you need to prepare are a few images and know what message you want to communicate.  Oh, and a version of Adobe Photoshop CC.

Email info@alexandralunn.com to book in a Gif session.

Constructing a New Russia with Visual Imagery

Imagine a world without posters, adverts, screens, cameras and iphones. Imagine a place where meaningful relationships and community come first. Publishing your life through a lens is a surreal, abstract and incomprehensible idea. Welcome to Russia at the turn of the 20th century.

Industrialisation had positive and negatives effects on Russia. It created wealth, jobs, and the fast and cheap production of goods. In late 19th century the Tsar introduced policies that led to rapid industrial growth which encouraged peasants to leave their work on the land and go to work in new factories in cities such as St. Petersburg and Moscow. They left in order to try to improve their standards of living or to survive. However, it was a trap from the Tsar who made them work for more hours, with little pay (or sometimes none at all). They lived in filth, squalor, sickening food and diseases. This made them realise that it was no better than working on the land.

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The ‘Russian Wedding Cake’ shows how society was formed before the 1917 revolution with the Tsars at the top.

Building Constructivism

In 1913 at a tumultuous time for the Russian elite Vladimir Tatlin, an architect, painter and sculptor planted the seeds of constructivism–an artistic and architectural philosophy which rejected the elitist idea that art is autonomous. They saw architecture, politics, society, art, technology and culture as unified and interconnected. A movement in favour of art as a practice for social purposes. Vladimir Tatlin wanted to bend art to modern purposes and to suit the goals of Russia’s communist revolution.

“In the squares and in the streets we are placing our work convinced that art must not remain a sanctuary for the idle, a consolation for the weary, and a justification for the lazy. Art should attend us everywhere that life flows and acts.”

–Vladimir Tatlin

The Russian Revolution

Workers of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains!

–Karl Marx

By 1917 the bond between the tsar and the majority of Russian people had been broken. Governmental corruption and inefficiency were rife.

Vladimir Lenin and the Bolsheviks, who were deeply influenced by Marx, lead the October Revolution which dismantled the old system, that before this time had more power than constitutional monarchs. The revolution lead to the rise of the Soviet Union which did away with the old form of social hierarchy.

Unlike today where we have adverts everywhere, the streets of Moscow and St Petersburg were bleak from the industrial factory smoke, which also produced the ink that allowed artists such as El Lissitzky and Malevich to speak to the masses through a new visual language.
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Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge. El Lizzitsky. Lithograph – Municipal Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, The Netherlands

El Lizzitsky created this in support of the Red Army shortly after the Bolsheviks had waged their revolution in 1917. The intrusive red wedge symbolises the Bolsheviks, who are defeating their opponents, the White Movement (which included the republican-minded bourgeois liberals and the Kerenskyite social democrats).  It has also been read that the anti-communist White Army symbolises America and the West.

The Red Army has pierced the defences of the White Army. These dramatic colours, shapes and unusual typographical compositions not only create confusion within the space of the painting but they contrast heavily with the bleak and dark outdoor environment; the avant-garde painting would even stand out even amongst the competition of our poster-clad environment today. This powerful visual message spoke to a mainly illiterate Russia. Here’s a video that we made in response to the poster.

Kasimir Malevich was a painterart theoretician and originator of the Suprematist movement. Here are some of his abstract paintings; although they’re not articulating anything through realistic representations, they do communicate a new visual language and therefore concept.

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Dreams were 3D too. In the same year Vladimir Tatlin created Monument to the Third International. A design for the Communist International headquarters, it was realised as a utopian model but never built. It crystallised his desire to bring about a synthesis of art and technology.

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A few years later in 1929 Dziga Vertov created The Man with the Movie Camera which describes a new world through a lens through a chaotic and exciting montage with lots of cuts. It communicates a new way of seeing the world.

‘My way leads towards the creation of a fresh perception of the world. Thus I explain in a new way, the world unknown to you’

–Dziga Vertov.

Even though other countries developed the camera, its use in Russia helped constructivism to promote a communist ideology.

Women and the Soviet Union

The early Soviet state wanted to remake the family; the religious marriage was replaced by civil marriage, divorce was acceptable and unwed mothers received special protection. All children, whether legitimate or illegitimate, were given equal rights before the law and women were granted sexual equality under matrimonial law, according to the 1968 law “Principles of Legislation on Marriage and the Family of the USSR and the Union Republics”, parents are “to raise their children in the spirit of the Moral Code of the Builder of Communism, to attend to their physical development and their instruction in and preparation for socially useful activity.” 

–Source, Wikipedia.

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Alexander Rodchenko, “Give Way to Women,” 1932

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Alexander Rodchenko. Women Fencers 1936

In the Soviet Union women were urged to vote and fight. Their strong faces seen against the background of the new environment in the following propaganda posters are realistic. Seeing these in stations, cafes, city walls and trains would have kept ideologies fresh in the mind of a society at all times, forming a collective consciousness. Like today’s advertising featuring people and products, it would have made it easy for society to identify with any of the given personas presented to them, reinforcing the message and building a new society.

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Meanwhile in the West…

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