On August 26, Israel and Hamas agreed to a cease-fire after seven weeks of fighting. Thankfully, Operation Protective Edge has ended, or at least is in remission. Last month, my post, “The Gaza War—Through the Eyes of Israeli Illustrators and Art Directors” took a look at the conflict from the point of view of four Israeli artists who have been participating in Guy Morag’s International Plain Notebook Project and made notebooks in July and August. Their work is reminiscent of the “War Is Not Healthy for Children and Other Living Things” poster created in 1966 by Another Mother for Peace in response to the Vietnam War.
On the Palestinian side, the view was and is significantly different. Instead of visual odes to peace, war protests, and images of life inconvenienced and interrupted by air-aid sirens and trips to shelters, there is stark anger and enmity—in the colors of the Palestinian flag.
I’ve spent the last few weeks searching out the artists. None are participating the Notebook Project, according to Morag. I googled images and combed through social media sites. Ultimately, I discovered the Palestine Poster Project Archives. This well-organized, searchable database of poster images from 1894 to the present was created by Dan Walsh for his masters’ thesis project at Georgetown University. From there, I was able to browse posters created in 2014 and select images to post here. Many of them were created in Arab countries and in the U.S.A., often by members of artists’ collaboratives, such as Justseeds and Dignidad Rebelde, which develop projects dedicated to causes such as justice, peace, and the environment.
When I asked Dan Walsh if he could supply bios and links to the Palestinian artists’ own sites, he wrote, “It’s not likely to happen. The artists are crazy hard to pin down,” which is the same response I got when I contacted graphic designers and design professors in Israel who are working toward peace. “They’re in hiding,” I was told.
The following two works were done by Palestinian artists I found on Behance. I contacted them by email to get permission to post. Then I asked questions like, “Where do you live, where do you go to school, are these posters for sale?” No answer. It could be a language issue, or it could be a desire to remain somewhat anonymous.
Some of the posters are parodies of older, famous works. “GAZA Love” by Kyle Goen of New York, at the top of this post, is obviously based on Robert Indiana’s “LOVE” silkscreen prints and postage stamp. “Visit Israel – Land of Holy Terrorism, ” below, is a “remix” of a 1950 Israeli tourism poster by Jean David, three IDF soldiers with guns and a tank replacing the three Biblical figures in the original. And the “Silence=Death” iconography was taken from the AIDS project.
It was announced in August that a major collection of posters from the project’s archives, “The Liberation Graphics Collection of Palestine Posters,” has been accepted for formal review by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization’s Memory of the World program. If included, the poster collection will join a register with such historically significant documents as the Book of Kells and the Gutenberg Bible. The Liberation Graphics Collection comprises 1,700 posters created by Palestinian and international artists in solidarity with the Palestinian quest for liberation and sovereignty.
For further information, visit http://www.palestineposterproject.org, an open educational resource.