G20 protests: does the lack of iconography = a lack of vision?

make tea not war Pictures, Images and Photos

Guest blogger Caleb Klaces writes: In Everything that rises: a book of convergences, Lawrence Weschler compares graphic imagery used in Communist-controlled Poland’s Solidarity movement with later social justice movements in the US. He argues that the image of an angry crowd facing directly forwards was instrumental in really bringing people together in both cases. In his view, the image was more powerfully drawn in Poland than the US because the movement itself had more vitality.

The image I remember from the ultimately unsuccessful anti-war in Iraq protests in London is of Tony Blair with a tea cup on his head: “Make tea not war”. The British anti-nuclear movement has long had the circular peace sign, and the Greenpeace dove and rainbow.

The peace sign was still the face-paint of choice at last week’s protests in London around the G20. The symbol has arguably lost some of its import by being employed in support of such a broad spectrum of causes. But I haven’t seen a powerful new image or symbol from the Climate Camp and Put People First protests that the discontented could own and rally around.

Has anyone else located a semiotic centre? If not, what could it be?

Caleb Klaces edits the poetry website likestarlings.com; his review of Far North is on the RSA Arts & Ecology website.

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