MAI 1968 NOWis a 7x4" letterpress printed postcard book of Situationist International slogans from the May 1968 uprising in Paris, reinterpreted for the 21st century.
The Paris uprising of May 1968 was the moment that philosophy and political theory took to the streets. Situationist International inspired graffiti appeared all over Paris – often directly quoting Guy Debord and Raoul Vaneigem – providing a (frequently wry) critique of society and advanced capitalism.
Although the unrest was soon dispelled the ideas were much more difficult to destroy, and now seem oddly prescient. For example in Society of the Spectacle (1967) Guy Debord wrote that we had become passive consumers of our own lives – through media and advertising – and that “all that was directly lived has moved away into a representation”. Sound familiar?
And these ideas keep resurfacing – fuelling the development of punk in the 1970s, and more recently Adbusters and the Occupy movement. Cynicism and boredom is deadening acceptance. It’s time to “Yell! Create! Look in front of you!”
There are twelve 6x4" postcards to tear out and send (or keep within the book) plus an explanatory page of text. Letterpress printed on GF Smith 350gsm colorplan stock, perforated and bound with two brass postbinding screws.
The postcards are also available individually if you would prefer to keep the postcard book intact! The book is available to buy now via my Etsy shop and the individual cards will also be available to buy at the beginning of July. (You're quite right.... the Situationists would not have approved!)
p.s. Some of these slogans may feel familiar to you even if you haven't come across them before... that is exactly the point. Greil Marcus in Lipstick Traces wrote: "You already know, the situationists had answered: all you lack is the consciousness of what you know. Our project is nothing more than a seductive subversive restatement of the obvious: 'Our ideas are in everyone's mind.' Our ideas about how the world works, about why it must be changed, are in everyone's mind as sensations that almost no one is willing to translate into ideas, so we will do the translating. And that is all we have to do to change the world."
Update 24 June: "That is all we have to do to change the world." Following the result of the EU referendum this quote feels impossibly naive. I can't believe that that such a bitter, populist, misleading campaign has led to Britain voting to leave Europe. So what good is a postcard book of slogans from 48 years ago? But reading through the MAI 1968 NOW cards again I start to feel hopeful again. They question how we live our lives today, and whose rules we choose to live by. They call out the inequality and what is happening to the environment. They open a door to a different way of being, and they leave it up to us to decide what that might be like. And that's what gives me hope. And hope is better than despair.
For an Agreement of the People
A letterpress printed contemporary reimagining of 17th century political pamphlets, calling for a people-led written constitution for the UK.
A pamphlet / concertina mashup, with poem and explanatory text by Angus Reid; designed and printed by me.
The book is printed using various wood types, and with the poem and a quote set in 16pt Centaur, and explanatory text in 10pt Grotesque 215. Cover is 350gsm colorplan, flyleaf is orange Zerkall Ingres and the text pages are 140gsm Fedrigoni Arcoprint Edizione.
It started with an outbreak of jellyfish... It really did in fact!
The Œ ligature was much more widely used several decades ago - mainly in anglicised Greek words such a 'fœtid' and 'diarrhœa' and 'phœnix'. Now these ligatures are only used in French words such as 'œuf' so these ligatures gather dust in the corners of typecases, doing nothing. While sorting some wood type one day I noticed two at an angle and imagined them as sea creatures. Then they seemed to morph into space invaders.... and then there was no stopping them!
The wonderful thing about these ligatures is that they have been so neglected that their edges are crisp and sharp, making them a joy to print.
It started with an outbreak of jellyfish...
Everything is connected
This print came about after a trip to Tate St Ives where I came across the work of Marlow Moss, an incredible British constructivist who worked with Mondrian in Paris before WW1 and later lived and worked in Lamorna Cove. She was unconventional and utterly brilliant I think. It has been said that she introduced the double parallel line to Mondrian, bringing dynamism and movement into his work. Her work strongly reminded me of graphic design grids and I could imagine text... She would probably have strongly disapproved of this.
My tribute to her includes a quote from Charles Eames, which is rather ironic in her case as once she moved to Lamorna she seems to have been working in isolation despite attempts to meet up with Barbara Hepworth and the rest of the St Ives crowd.
The typeface used for the quote came from a printers in High Wycombe who had labelled it 'Granby Reverse'. However it was Caslon type and looked quite different to Granby or Gill. I looked it up at St Bride library and discovered that it was in fact Guildford Sans Cameo Ruled, a typeface released around 1935, possibly in response to the many other Sans faces appearing at the same time.
The print was a technical challenge in that I printed the horizontal lines and the yellow lino square in one pass of the press, and the vertical lines and the type on the second pass. All hand inked. The registration was critical!
Wood type as ornament
This started out as an idea for journal covers. I have a large quantity of 10 line grot condensed wood type. I was thinking of printing patterned covers and seeing the massed wood letters reminded me of metal border type (decorative type used to make patterns and borders). Why not put them together in lines and make an ornamental piece? It seemed like such a simple idea, but bringing each and every piece up to type high took many hours. The printed stock did indeed make lovely journal covers, but in fact I think I prefer them as posters.
Print isn't Dead!
The death of print has been grossly exaggerated! This print was made using 12pt and 10pt monotype border type, set in a modified version of Arcade, by Pizzadude. It was originally printed to celebrate the launch of People of Print's magazine Print isn't Dead.