Posters and Political Propagandizing

by Madeleine Peck
Walking into the Partisan the Sea poster show, Ann Peebles’s “Straight From the Heart,” (as sampled by the Rza) was spinning on the turntables. It set the tone for the show: hopeful, defiant, and honest.
The posters, which were ostensibly designed to focus on one of the two candidates (though one can suppose if there had been a third-party candidate represented, the organizers would’ve gleefully mounted it), where overwhelmingly in support of Barak Obama.
When Joey Marchy, one of the show’s organizers is asked about it, he admits that although he didn’t expect a lot of posters in support of the Republican camp, he was surprised by the amount of Obama-centric material.
“I thought there would be more posters about issues. But he’s (Obama) a very powerful catalyzing figure; plus, the iconic Shepard Fairey poster probably inspired a lot of people in the show,” said Marchy.
The temperature of the show was somewhere between party and rally. As Friday’s presidential debate began, volunteers frantically tried to get the audio portion of the television/projection/computer to work. Even so, a cadre of about 10 people stood around a 19 inch television attempting to read the candidates’ words as they scrolled along the bottom of the screen in closed captions.
As the debate started, people were still wandering in and out, looking at the work, and buying some posters available for sale (including one that referenced AC/DC’s Back in Black album). When asked, why posters? Marchy said, “Traditionally, posters have been used both by dissidents and the government [because of] mass production, and high visibility…they capture peoples’ attention almost like an ad.”
Levi Ratliff, a designer and creator of local street-art site, was also instrumental in putting the show together. With a network of like-minded (that is poster art) individuals, Ratliff put together a show that seems to showcase an exhausted but still hopeful cadre of artists and designers. Posters like one of George W. Bush’s lipes, with the word believe written across them, and “lie” highlighted created by Mike Barnhart, or those laced with venomous irony: “All we’re saying is, give war a chance” by someguy, to Jefferson Rall’s image of an oil drum with the word “toil.”
When asked about the cant towards the Obama camp, Ratliff said, “We asked all kinds of Republicans-no one did it.”