justseeds members Josh MacPhee, Nicolas Lampert and Colin Matthes produced the stencil zine Cut & Paint, USA
Josh MacPhee responds:
How has 'graphic agitation' shifted focus in the post-Bush era?
I'm not sure it has shifted much, I think the Bush-era set the tone, and in general the same pattern is being followed. Basically, Bush was perceived as being uniquely 'evil', and as such, a personal embodiment of what people wanted to reject. Their imagery became dominated by images of him as a person, and our landscape was flooded by pictures of Bush. When Obama came along, he began to be perceived as uniquely 'good', and as such, a personal embodiment of what people wanted to embrace. Just like Bush previously, our landscape became littered with heroic representations of Obama. Either way, our graphic toolbox is dominated by rich guys from above, and there has been little effort to think through graphic representations of empowerment on a much more direct, human, and democratic scale.
How might justseeds bring a different perspective to political activism?
I can't speak for all 26 members of justseeds, but for myself, I believe it is important for cultural producers to work more directly with and in response to social movements on the ground, and that is what we are trying to do. Social justice organizations often doing great political work have little sense of how to best represent their ideas both internally to themselves, and eternally to the rest of the world, and artists with experience in this realm can be very useful. On the flip side, often politically-minded artists think that their cultural production alone will make the changes in the world they wish to see, and lose sight of the fact that generally their work only gains real traction when it operates in concert with on the ground, grassroots political activity by people, lots and lots of people.
What does self-publishing (Like Cut & Paint) bring to your projects?
Self-publishing is mostly about the direct joy of making things yourself. I'm not sure it is 'better' than other forms of publishing, but it allows a little more control and a more direct role in the creation of your projects. Having a hand in the entire process, from idea to final printed zine, allow an author or editor the ability to have a deeper understanding of the materialization of their labor.
Please recommend a zine for us and tell us why.
I like homemade graffiti zines, not the slick 'lifestyle' ones, but down-and-dirty photocopied collections of photos and drawings, offspring of the original International Graffiti Times (ICT/TIGHT).