Let's hear your Voice! This discussion board is a place to Voice your feelings about the conference and, more importantly, to discuss how you will take that experience and transform it into action. Let's come together to inspire each other and make a difference.

Nathan Shedroff, San Francisco, CA, 15-Jun-02
What Israelis and Palestinians do or not is not the problem with the "Don't Say You Didn't Know" exhibit and to dwell on it misses the point. There can be no doubt that it was one-sided and emotional because it was meant to be. Ms. Bartelt’s statement that...

Sue Vessella, Woodbury University, Burbank, CA, 31-May-02
Sylvia Harris inspired me to examine examples of poor design in public information contexts. While in Washington, I visited the Arlington National Cemetery and discovered an informational brochure in need of design attention. As a graphic design professor,...

Steven Heller, New York, 17-Apr-02
Dana is right. Human RIGHTS should be protected at all costs. No right-minded human being can look to the mideast wihtout being angered and saddened by the violence -- the murder on both sides. ON BOTH SIDES. This conflict started almost a century ago and...

(Re)Becca Rapp, Jefferson LA 70121, 16-Apr-02
Allowing their personal agendas to interfere with an exceptional and unprecedented exhibition addressing the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, Mr. Heller and his supporter turn their backs on the recurring violations of human rights in Palestine. I was a participant of the conference and the exhibition "Don’t Say You Didn’t Know," and find Mr. Heller’s volatile attempt to corrupt the credibility of the exhibition and its curator Ms. Bartelt extremely offensive. While some of the posters explain the cause of the Middle East crisis with potent symbolism and text, the images presented are mild in comparison to the reality the people are enduring. Not one poster is anti-Semitic.

I question why Mr. Heller is maintaining his superfluous/reductive/one-dimensional focus on the "Star of David" when faced with 31 other posters portraying the oppression of Palestinians and America’s complicity. My posters addressed the US support of Israel–amounting to billions of dollars and thousands of dead Palestinians, a biased media, and many forms of incursions on the Palestinian people. Why not focus on the symbol of the US dollar which empowers Israel to levy a lop-sided attack on the Palestinian people. We should be enraged that our tax dollars pay for such atrocities.

The purpose of the conference was to acknowledge the potential of the graphic designer as a catalyst for change. I participated in the exhibition because I firmly believe in its objective-to provoke thought and inform. As a student, it was particularly gratifying to hear the many positive responses at the conference to not only my posters, but also the exhibition as a whole.

Dana Bartelt, New Orleans LA, 16-Apr-02
My final response to Steven Heller's and Judy Kirpich's accusations concerning the "Don't Say You Didn't Know " exhibition are: This is not a Jewish issue. The exhibition dealt with human rights violations. Israel chose to use a powerful religious icon representing Judaism, to also represent a political, military state. They mounted that symbol on flags, guns, tanks and bulldozers. Consequently, that icon now also represents weapons of war and destruction. To Palestinian victims, the Star of David has become as frightening and evil as the swastika, representing oppression and annihilation. We as 'sensitive' Americans should be sensitive to their suffering too. It is also insulting to the many thousands of Jewish peace activists to suggest that their dissent is anti-Semitism. If Israelis were any other religion or a secular state, their crimes would be just as heinous. Zero tolerance for criticism of the Israeli government and military is dangerous.
A careful review of the exhibited poster images which angered the two respondents leads one to ask the following questions: Are occupation, demolishing Palestinian homes, repeated and blatant disregard for international law right? Is it not true that: the US supports Israel with billions of dollars yearly; that the media gives us a biased report; that the Israelis deny water to Palestinians; that the Palestinians deserve equal rights? Isn't it logical that desperate people resort to desperate acts? THESE are the issues brought up in the exhibition. Acts of oppression are by their very nature inflammatory and so consequently will be their exposure. Ms Kirpich says there is no easy solution, however, the exile and genocide of the Palestinian people is not, under any circumstance, a justifiable solution. The recurrent theme of Holocaust exhibitions is "Never Again!" So, with a clear conscience, I will not stand by through apathy or cowardice. I will continue to use the power of graphic design as a voice against injustice. If we have the courage to face these tough issues, there can be peace in the Middle East; if we don't, then both Palestinians and Israelis will suffer; who knows for how long and how far this conflict will extend? Meanwhile I am busy making posters for the Peace Rally in Washington, DC April 20-see you there?

Steven Heller, New York, 16-Apr-02
Roger Cook's justification for using the Star of David is reasoned, but what this once again proves is the power of charged symbols to ingnite emotion and prompt reaction. I too think it takes courage to present unpopular ideas in a public forum, but I continue...

Scott Gillam, Winnnipeg, MB Canada, 16-Apr-02
I would also like to express support for the posting of this exhibition, although not having attended the exhibit myself, many of the comments here have raised many valid points. Many editorials posted here have noted anti-Semitism and a definite slant towards...

Roger Cook, Washington Crossing, PA 18977, 14-Apr-02

I want to express my support to Dana Bartelt and her courage to post the exhibit "Don't say you didn't know."

I designed the poster of the American flag wrapped around the star of David that was in the exhibit. I used these symbols to express...

Steven Heller, New York City, 12-Apr-02
Ms. Bartelt says this exhibition is responsible activism, and in her lopsided presentation of the Palestinian issue it is indeed responsible to the Palestinian cause. And frankly, I accept this subjective position as being consistent with the history of propaganda...

Dana Bartelt, New Orleans, Louisiana, 11-Apr-02
In response to Steven Heller's reaction to the exhibition "Don't Say You Didn't Know" shown at the Voice AIGA National Conference, I am pleased that he found the exhibition itself of high quality and am also encouraged that he agrees that the exhibition "had...

Judy Kirpich, Grafik, Alexandria, VA, 11-Apr-02
Trying to follow up Steven Heller's eloquent reaction to the display for Palestinian posters is a tough act to follow. I have spent the last few weeks since the conference trying to get a coherent voice for my outrage and hurt, and attempting to understand...

Tom Semmes, Bethesda, MD, 08-Apr-02
It seems to me that the material presented at Voice was so rich and challenging to absorb that it would make sense to have regional conferences where people can meet to discuss how to use this material and find out what designers are doing locally. Has there...

Steven Heller, New York, NY, 02-Apr-02
Responsibility and Propaganda
For the better part of my professional life I've supported the active participation of designers in political affairs. The designer's ability to create mnemonic images in the service of social critique is a right and responsibility. And the free exchange of messages is paramount in this process. Which is why I was happy to see a room at the AIGA National Conference in Washington, D.C., dedicated to exhibitions on various socio-political themes. Yet despite my professed openness, I nonetheless found myself enraged by one of those exhibits. A group of posters in support of the Palestinian cause took me by surprise, not because the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is a taboo subject for designers, but because at this time when the suicide attacks are mounting, and Israeli military response is escalating, and people are dying, I think inflammatory visual messages are ill-conceived and destructive. The exhibition on view during the AIGA conference organized by Dana Bartels and contributed to by various American designers had every right to be mounted but was unfair in its lopsided attack on the Israeli position. Over the years I have seen exhibitions addressing the political tinderbox and human tragedy that is the Middle East, but most have addressed peace as a goal. In fact, both Palestinian and Israeli designers have contributed missives in the pursuit of a fair and equitable settlement. This was NOT that kind of exhibit. The graphic criticism levied on Israeli policies ignored any semblance of Palestinian complicity and provocation. One poster addressing the mind of a suicide bomber was actually an overt justification for such terrorist acts. Another showing the Jewish star wrapped in an American flag suggests the old canard that Jews run America and America is in the grip of Jewish influence. The posters were quite professional and unambiguous, a combination that is good under most circumstances. But in this case the code of sophisticated design is a biased and simplistic attack that pretends to be authoritative. Of course, good propaganda will inflame passions and will anger one side while giving succor to the other. The problem with these posters at this dangerous moment in Israeli/Palestinian history is that succor is given to those who are exacerbating the tensions. Why not posters that decry the suicide bomber, not justify his idiocy? Why not posters that say America is trying to broker peace, rather than restate the racist epithet that the U.S. is in the pockets of the Jews? How about propaganda that is responsible? Steve Heller

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