This week has been a little on and off with getting the design brief finished, but actually, it has been useful to have a few intense days of research, followed by a couple of days when I've had to get on with other things. Inadvertently, with the recent US election results, there are a lot of discussions that have come back to Ferguson - not only because of Michael Brown, but also the flow-on of injustices that have an effect of people's lives - including their right to vote. But I digress - what has been useful is having time away from the research to think about it, and one aspect of Ferguson - and in particular the idea of Ferguson voices - keeps coming back to me.
The home-made protest signs.
I want to take a little minute to talk about the way we do things at PROOF - we're an organisation that doesn't have a lot of money, so everything that we do, to get our programs out there, is done on a shoe-string budget. We totally respect the hand made, the honest, the resourceful and often communal messages that come out of 'roughing it' a little. So, I thought about the Ferguson voices, and I thought about us a little too - and what we're trying to do with this project. To amplify those voices, especially the people who have continued to be activists within the community.
I began to think about a way to bring all of those voices together, and I kept coming back to the hand made protest signs. It has taken me a couple of hours to find some good images, edit those, vectorise the type and then start to put them together to make the title of the exhibition. It's only one idea, but I wanted to put it up here as well, so that the thoughts behind it and my reasons for doing it are also explained.
I have come back to this idea of researching a difficult knowledge topic, and how ideology frames this knowledge. If I am reflexive about it, there are two things that are interesting to me - the first is that I don't want to visually undermine the strength and dignity of the people of Ferguson, which might happen if you didn't know this was protest sign writing. On the other hand, it's well-known that Ferguson was about protest and trying to effect deep and lasting change to systemic racism. This design can, symbolically at least, carry those protest signs again. Researching the subject before I started designing (or even thinking about the design) made room for design ideas to bubble up, rather than being forced. Tomorrow I'll be reading all of the testimonies in full (I've read some parts of them already, but want to hold off until I had time to do the binary sheets properly), and will make a note of any other directions the design might go in.
For now, though, I'm actually really happy with this idea, and hope to explore it a bit futher. Here's a little look at how it progressed.