Typographic Protest Posters
When in May 1968, art students, painters from outside the university and striking workers decided to permanently occupy the art school in order to produce posters that would “give concrete support to the great movement of the workers on strike who are occupying their factories in defiance of the Gaullist government,” the posters of the Atelier Populaire started a revolution. With the fictitiously founded Bureau Populaire—for indirect democracy through online petitions—graphic designer and art director Christian Vukomanovic pays tribute to the student protest in the sixties.
With climate crisis, refugees in need, social inequality, emerging right-wing extremism, proxy wars Vukomanovic asks: “Where is the critical majority that generated countless strong protest movements a good 60 years ago? Despite the urgency of past, present and future problems facing society as a whole, it only takes a small group of people to the streets to draw attention to necessary transformation processes. Too few? Hardly, if one takes a closer look at the newly won possibilities of the countless desk protests: online petitions.”
In his three-week performance Bureau Populaire, Christian Vukomanovic transformed the rooms of the konnektor into a forum for typographic protest posters. Up to 300 A3 posters were designed live in a gallery space, printed on site and displayed in the room to examine the right of all citizens to have a say and what effect online protest can actually have. Up to 40 demands from online petitions were designed, printed, and placarded on a daily basis. The protest-cultural and commercial adaptations of the posters question the plurality of demands as well as the traditional role of visual communication.
Uncommented and without evaluation, but in brilliance of an underscoring aesthetic, all positions were presented continuously, creating a up-to-date social voice poll. This process was intended to give all petitions a visual identity so that they would not have to remain unseen in the course of digital mass communication. Nevertheless, the question of social responsibility of the platforms themselves arises: to what extent does grassroots democracy in the digital age even contribute to a division of society?