Time Person Of The Year Is The Protestor, Illustrated By Shepard Fairey

Time Person Of The Year Is The Protestor, Illustrated By Shepard Fairey

After two decades of absence, the news magazine says that the people are back and they're making change.

Piers Fawkes, PSFK
  • 16 december 2011

Time magazine has chosen their 2011 Person of the Year as the Protestor. They explain in the magazine that for a couple of decades protests (and their effectiveness) seemed to disappear. Now the magazine says that we’ve seen a year of protests and these uprisings have been preludes to revolutions:

For young people, radical critiques and protests against the system were mostly confined to pop-culture fantasy: “Fight the Power” was a song on a platinum-selling album, Rage Against the Machine was a platinum-selling band, and the beloved brave rebels fighting the all-encompassing global oppressors were just a bunch of characters in The Matrix.

“Massive and effective street protest” was a global oxymoron until — suddenly, shockingly — starting exactly a year ago, it became the defining trope of our times. And the protester once again became a maker of history.

The magazine turned to celebrated street artist (and PSFK conference speaker) Shepard Fairey who is probably most widely known for his iconic Obama ‘Hope’ poster. Time has an interview with the artist where he explains the process he went through to create the artwork:

Though the protests themselves have been anything up light, Fairey didn’t want the image to feel menacing. “A lot of these people are not threatening,” he said. “A lot of them are just regular folks who feel dissatisfied.” Instead he wanted to create something that “meant business, but wasn’t scary.” He used a collage of scenes from the Arab Spring to Moscow to Occupy Wall Street as a backdrop, images he said shows the dramatic accumulation of these global protests rather than displaying them as isolated events.

“It makes me proud of idealism and a willingness to stand up for your beliefs,” said Fairey, who has been a vocal supporter of the Occupy movements this fall, visiting protests and creating art to fuel the movement. “There’s a fine line between people feeling threatened by rabble-rousers and people being inspired by those who stand up for a cause. I hope the cover conveys my idea that these are people around the world that are serious, but that they’re just people like everyone else.”

Over on Huffington Post, Priscilla Frank adds this comment about the work:

The brilliance of Fairey’s image is its simultaneous evocation of the particular and the general, the individual and the archetype. On the one hand the image is a collage, just as there is no one manifesto for OWS making just one visual representation impossible. And yet in the devoted eyes of Fairey’s anonymous protestor the greatest of differences lose their significance. Fairey conveys the move of a crowd putting on Guy Fawkes masks, of millions of people becoming ‘the 99%.’



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