For a movement with the tendency to name its day of action hashtag-style (see: N17, M1), Occupy Wall Street has generated quite an impressive volume of printed ephemera. In the seasons following the destruction of the movement’s encampment in downtown Manhattan, we’ve seen scores of printed OWS-inspired projects appear in the city; they’re stacked in cafes, on subway platforms and friends’ kitchen tables, even held above May Day marchers’ heads in place of cardboard signs. Which should come as no surprise, really, given the combination of pamphleteering’s historic role in dissident movements and New York’s particular (if breathless) community of internet-age print enthusiasts.
With such a vast network of printed materials affiliated with Occupy popping up all over — some projects conceived of as outreach tools, some continuations of tactical conversations happening on the ground, others still connected to the movement only in their parallel interests—we’ve decided to bring you an occupied version of Rags We Love. Following are just a few examples of what’s we’re digging on lately.
Occuprint has a knack for creating work that falls somewhere in the space between outreach, education, and straight-up visual propaganda; Strike/Occupy finds a nice balance between all of it. Folded into the broadsheet’s eight kaleidoscopic pages are several of the group’s signature posters; they range from more traditional visions of the people’s uprising—silhouetted-fist-in-the-air style—to a panel of insurrectionary lolcats. The paper also packs in candy-colored excerpts from eleven books narrating various historic strikes: Paris 1968, The Russian Revolution, the Oaxaca teacher’s strike of 2006, and the American railroad strike of 1877 all make appearances.
Metroccupied — “inspired by the Trojan Horse,” as per its twitter bio — riffs on the Metro in the grand tradition of such culture-jamming legends as the YES Men’s fake New York Times of 2008. In an unmistakable parody of the slim daily’s overblown headlines and infographic-happy design, Metroccupied packs its premier four-page issue with rabble-rousing fake classified and bleak mock ads.
According to one member of the Metroccupied team, “there’s a whole bunch of print media coming out of Occupy…but it all has a certain cerebral feel about it. We wanted to do something not so heavy, something with a digestible, punchy sense of humor.” Certainly conceived as an outwardly-facing piece of media, the project was originally an offshoot of the Outreach Working Group.
Metroccupied’s first run sent 5,000 copies throughout the city on Tax Day, all distributed by volunteers in cheap orange hunting jackets standing shoulder-to-shoulder with employees of the original Metro. The group hopes to print at least 10,000 editions of their next eight-page issue, and is currently fundraising and holding open meetings.
IndigNación found its genesis in OWS’s spanish-language General Assembly as early as October. The paper, which printed its first edition of 25,000 just in time for May Day, was distributed entirely by hand. “We didn’t want to drop off stacks just for people to take them,” an editor told me. “We just want people to talk to each other: talk to your neighbors, talk to your family members, to the people at the corner store.”
At the centerfold, a neon-green squid (perhaps a nod to Matt Taibbi’s oft-appropriated analogy) encircles the globe in a multi-tentacled death grip. Bright chunks of text delineate the ways in which Wall Street’s interests have affected Latin American countries, from Monsanto’s hold on Argentinian farmland to Newmont Mining in Peru. More than just providing information on local Occupy issues to New York’s spanish-speaking community, IndigNación seeks to “broaden the conversation as to what Latin American struggles look like, and make connections between the different waves of immigration in this country,” the same editor told me.
So it isn’t expressly Occupy-affiliated, but I picked up this broadsheet at Occucopy, a lovely and cluttered office space where piles of Occupy’s various buttons and fliers are created by a worker-owned cooperative. The paper is actually the printed extension of 596 Acres, a public education project named after the volume of public lands left unclaimed in Brooklyn. The map is expressly productive; the flip side outlines steps towards leasing said land for general community use. Though 596 Acres seeks to appropriate land through pretty bureaucratic legal means, its graphic content aligns itself pretty overtly with the politics of reclamation central to Occupy’s attempts to, uh, use public space.
The jauntily tri-colored, N+1-affiliated Occupy! Gazette is compiled by a faction of New York’s left-leaning literary magazine editors, and printed on paper so large as to require a serious sit-down if you plan on perusing it. Portable it’s not, but the Gazette strikes a sweet spot between work commissioned through the editors’ own network of literary hip kids and what must be a relentless combing of the Internet for unpublished blog posts and Facebook rants. With an eye towards a national Occupy, the paper contains missives from the short-lived San Fransisco commune and Occupy Philly alongside more scholarly, historically-minded essays on consensus and religion in regards to the movement. Currently in its fourth edition, the publication is designed by Dan O. Williams of N+1 with two distinct typefaces that ramble across each page, stopping just short of bleeding into each other and giving the impression of several conversations going on at once.
Tidal was first introduced to me by a friend as the Direct Action Working Group’s theory magazine. The editors tell me that their “supporting cast’ includes members of other groups like Kitchen and Healthcare, but the cover image for issue number 2 (Spring is Coming), taken on the “re-occupation” attempt of D17, represents the alliance pretty overtly. The first few pages of each issue are dedicated to the “Communiqué,” a collaboratively-penned missive; this one follows a universal “you” through a meditation on the absurdity of the social contract from inside a jail cell.
“We want to break down so many boundaries and binaries, and with Tidal one of the separations we took aim at is the idea that theory should be separate from strategy and theory and strategy should be separate from action,” one anonymous editor told me. With an emphasis on work that speaks from within the movement, articles in Tidal push towards a more nuanced, expansive understanding of the defining themes of Occupy. The latest issue includes an essay by Judith Butler on the politics of “The Demand,” and a send-up of the movement’s preoccupation with media spin.
Tidal is currently working on a national distribution strategy for 100,000 copies of the next issue; it can currently be found at Blustockings, the Yippie Cafe, and at any action or march.