Thursday, July 29, 2010

Propagation and Propaganda

The tech-savvy folks at UT's Pendergrass Library on the Ag. Campus posted a great article to their twitter feed about a series of World War era food posters currently on display at the National Agricultural Library.

You can read about the exhibit here:

and here:

Curator Corey Bernat says of the show,

"Putting these posters in chronological order showed me how the government's methodology changed over the years, and how they borrowed from professional advertising and were influenced by what was going on in the private sector," said Bernat.

"It also really shows the shift to an industrialized food system," she adds. "You look at the WWII posters and think--where are the agriculture ones? Well, there aren't any. It's suddenly about consumers, not farmers."

You can browse through an online gallery of the posters here.

What does our contemporary food propaganda look like? Here are just a couple examples of various food and land organizations and their websites:
Slow Food
Growing Power
Pick Tn. Products
None of the graphics they use come close, in my opinion, to the blunt tone (visually and literally) of the examples on display at the National Ag. Library. Another interesting contemporary parallel comes from my friend and talented colleague, Ericka Walker, who recently completed a beautiful series of posters that borrows heavily from the graphic imagery and strident propaganda of World War One and World War Two posters. Unlike the original work, Walker's images deliberately confuse the viewer with an unsettling blend of agriculture, industry, and military. She is not all out critical of any one of the three and it takes a discerning viewer to recognize that these images are not originals. (The image below comes from Walker's site: Look closely and note that the combine is fully loaded.)

I'd like to see some more contemporary interpretations of the patriotic call to be a steward of the land.

No comments:

Post a Comment