Middle Eastern Dissent

February 3, 2010

Back in 2005 SVA Acting Chairman Milton Glaser and faculty member Mirko Ilic teamed up to document the work of graphic designers involved in resisting the constraints of government and other “powers that be.” They put out a call for submissions and received more than a thousand political posters and other graphics from countries around the globe, including Iran, Mexico, Poland, Serbia and South Africa, along with the U.S. and Canada. A selection was published in The Design of Dissent: Socially and Politically Driven Graphics (Rockport Press, 2005), and New Yorkers got to see some of them up close as part of an exhibition at SVA that generated widespread media attention. “In an age dominated by moving images, these freeze-frame visuals hold their own,” wrote design critic Linda Hales in The Washington Post.

In keeping with the project’s global outlook, this week the exhibition “The Design of Dissent” opens in Doha, Qatar, where it will be on view at the Virginia Commonwealth University. The original impetus for the project seems as timely as ever. As noted on the book’s dust jacket, “Dissent is an essential part of keeping democratic societies healthy, and our ability as citizens to voice our opinions is not only our privilege, it is our responsibility.”

“The Design of Dissent” is on view at the Gallery at VCUQatar through March 7. For more information, visit the gallery’s Facebook page. Click here to watch an interview with Milton Glaser about the project.

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