For a movement whose call to action came from the visual culture-jamming magazine/group ‘Adbusters’, until the past week there have been surprisingly few images that have captured the public attention. Yes, there are signs in all the occupy camps, and some clever slogans (“Twenty years ago we had Steve Jobs/Bob Hope/Johnny Cash, now we have No Jobs, No Hope, No Cash”). I was in San Francisco the other week, and the ‘sign making station’ seemed to be a grocery cart filled with pieces of cardboard. Some artists have designed posters and made them available for free to print, but until this weekend it seemed that there were not any images that have captured the general public’s attention. Images can very powerfully solidify ideas or a movement, becoming icons for wider ideas (just think of the use of icons in Christianity, for example).
Randy L. Rasmussen‘s (AP/Guardian) photo (above) has caught public attention. We discussed Goya’s painting “The Third of May 1808” in a first year course I teach last week, and it struck me that these images utilize similar formulae to make their impact. Both are protest images: Goya’s against the slaughter of Spaniards by Napoleon’s men, the recent photo against power imbalance and the strained relationship of capitalism and democracy.
video of this incident here