The Design of Dissent, Design's Power to Catalyze Change
The Silence = Death logo that became synonymous with ACT UP was actually created by six gay activists before the organization was founded. But they later joined!
Painting: Keith Haring. ACT UP
Haring's painting depicts three figures in positions that suggest a modern day embodiment of the three wise monkeys who "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil". There are various meanings ascribed to the monkeys and the proverb. In the western world the phrase is often used to refer to those who deal with impropriety by looking the other way, refusing to acknowledge it, or feigning ignorance.
In the preface of this compilation of propagandist poster art and design, Tony Kushner mentions that graphic dissent has at least three characteristics:
 Clever-even funny in a grim sort of way
 Its meaning is instantly intelligible
Also, one other characteristic: It seems to be samizsdat, dangerous, forbidden. Resistance is sending up a signal flare in the darkness.
---->>> Here are some particular quotes I found in the book that embodies the excitement of dissent in graphic design, and also somewhat describes what I think Shepard Fairey does well:
"Some galling truth that has yet to be organized, formulated, that can't yet be spoken out loud, that can be only grumbled and whispered, tsome truth that lies imprisoned beneath the surface of public discourse is suddenly, finally liberated, shouted at great volume, a cry of rebellion carrying everywhere at once, a cry all the more powerful for being entirely silent, expressed by a cartoon, entirely visual, needing no words, as if to say, by saying nothing at all: "We all know this truth, all of us have always known what's represented here, that's why it's so recognizable. And it's time to declare the secret openly in public places; it's time to act,"
"As Freud warns us, when the repressed returns, it does so with immense force."
"... a miracle that the act of forcing the impossible is, in the history of political revolution, often catalyzed by something as flimsy as a poster plastered on a wall - the perfect poster on the perfect wall at the perfect moment."
"Art can't change anything except people - but art changes people, and people can make everything change."
---->> LOOK UP....
The miracle of John Heartfield, Kathe Kollwitz, Alexsander Rodchenko, Casimir Malevich, Vladimir Tatlin, the designers of ACT UP's SILENCE=DEATH. Awesome example of a time when "a silent truth become(s) a public truth, a collective truth"
The photos I attached above are imagery depicting the frustration and anger that filled the streets of New York City in the 1980's as the AIDS epidemic, unchecked and unacknowledged by the government, ravaged the country. In response to the administration's inaction and neglect, author and activist Larry Kramer formed the first and most influential AIDS awareness organization, ACT UP, in 1987 to address the dire problems of the crisis. By educating the public, facilitating a dialogue between pharmaceutical companies and citizens, intelligently employing civil disobedience, and resiliently fighting against sexual discrimination, ACT UP has been and remains an invaluable presence in the fight for equal rights and against HIV/AIDS.
The designers kept up the fight while the government turned its back.
The best of the posters in The Design of Dissent "speak with a direct force, past all our qualifying, temporizing, even our scrupling and wisdom, to our passion, our appetite, our starved hunger for communal understanding, for collective agency, for belonging, for justice, and for change."
---->>Amen Tony Kushner!