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A Look Back at Armed by Design / El Diseño a las Armas

As our Armed by Design / El Diseño a las Armas exhibition comes to a close, it’s amazing to look back at everything that was involved in this show. Armed By Design/El Diseño a las Armas: Posters and Publications of Cuba’s Organization of Solidarity of the Peoples of Africa, Asia, and Latin America (OSPAAAL) was public exhibition and event series which features the graphic design production of the Organization in Solidarity with the Peoples of Africa, Asia, and Latin America. This exhibition ran from September through November, 2015; you can read the full details of the exhibition here.  If you missed visiting, a 360 degree view was filmed by Ben Coonley and can be seen here.

From start to finish, every exhibition we at Interference Archive do is managed by volunteers. We get to be curators and art handlers all at once.

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More photos of the exhibition opening are available here.

Our friend Butcher Walsh helped us make a terrific video preview of the exhibition, which you can watch below.  Several other visitors also talked or wrote about our work: listen to Cuba in Focus on WBAI; read some reflections on the exhibition in The Guardian; or check out this review at artinfo.com.

Funding from New York Council for the Humanities played an important role in all of the ambitious work we did around this exhibition, including the publication of a catalog featuring several essays, an interview, and reproductions of OSPAAAL art. You can read more about this publication here, and find out how to order your own copy.

We also produced a portfolio of prints, asking ten international contemporary political poster-makers, artists, and designers to produce OSPAAAL-inspired prints in solidarity with today’s movements. OSPAAAL’s conception of solidarity was literally poly- vocal, with each of their posters featuring text in four different langauges: Spanish/English/French/Arabic. We asked each contributor to this project to design in this spirit, and all of the posters contain at least three languages, including Arabic, English, French, German, Japanese, or Spanish. Find out more about this portfolio here.

At Interference Archive, we produce exhibitions as a way to activate our collection and engage in dialogue about the material we collect. In keeping with this, we organize events to start these conversations. For Armed By Design, this included a workshop on the political power of posters; a film screening of the work of Santiago Álvarez; a discussion on OSPAAAL and reproducible graphics; a panel discussion on solidarity, distribution, and poster art today; and a panel conversation of groups that do solidarity work with Cuba. The exhibition also provided inspiration for a workshop with the New York Writer’s Coalition; a fitting venue for the book launch of Diana Block’s Clandestine Occupations; and historic context for Solidarity on the Move, a workshop with Combat Paper NJ and Mobile Print Power.

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