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August 20, 2017


Peace = Radical Nuclear Disarmament


Peace

The peace sign is a universally loved symbol. Maybe it's because it seems today to symbolize a zen-like energy ... not too radical, not too activist, not too political ... especially if it's made with dried rose petals ... or adorned with other design elements that don't rock the boat. Like ... peace and good vibes and all you need is love dude ... and let's keep politics out of it, dude.

Interestingly, the symbol was created in 1958 by British artist, Gerald Holtom, as a form of activism to denounce war and nuclear weapons. Specifically, it was to support and unite the Aldermaston March which took place in the UK, which drew thousands of marchers calling for nuclear disarmament. Quite radical. Quite political.

Holtom cleverly used the Naval Flag Semaphore characters to design the peace sign. At sea, flags (one in each hand) are held by a person in different ways to signal different letters. The Letter N is communicated when a person holds the flags so both arms are straight and positioned in equidistance from the body, with the flags pointing downward.

 

Peace3

The letter D is made when one arm is pointed straight up and the other straight down so that we see the person with flags as a straight vertical line.

Peace2

Holtom combined these two letters: N and D to create the peace sign, to signify Nuclear Disarmament.

I'm always surprised when I occasionally get someone who I barely know to write me and say "I love your art. Please don't put politics in it." To which I say:

  • I don't exist to do things to make your life feel more convenient
  • Whether you can see it or not, everything is political ... even seemingly innocuous decorative art is political ...in terms of who makes it/with what supplies it is made/during what time of day it is made ... and who ends up acquiring it.

I believe the language of art is multi-faceted. Those who allow it to communicate activism (like Holtom) do so with great effort to create original content that can trigger contemplation. Activist art frequently makes people uneasy ... but I believe it always leads to increased contemplation, which is wonderful, and powerful. Because I think what precedes peace is justice and what precedes justice is the presentation of details of a topic (whether it's about bombs, race, gender, class, environment, health, education, etc.) that sometimes takes a lifetime to really discuss and understand.

#artandactivismlog

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