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...

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...

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 Palestinian views, and I find Steven Heller's accusations quite alarming. When speaking on terms of art and design one should welcome the excitement of opposing views; and we as an educated populace should not expect every exhibition to whole-heartedly embrace and encompass every view.

What we have learned from our ignorance has been the erosion of the 'politically correct' views that permeated our culture in recent years. The fact of the matter is that those notions of world views do not come close to resembling the grim reality of our culture and the cultures of the Middle East. Designers and artists carry a heavy enough weight of creating communication and visual solutions in these turbulent times, and if these symbols stir up the debate, then I applaud them.

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. She argues that my own bias underscores (and by implication undermines) my criticism of her show. Likewise, her bias against Israeli policy pervades this poster exhibit. I don't want to fan these already intense flames of discord too much longer, but I think it important to address the exhibit for what it is. In the past Ms. Bartelt has organized exhibitions of posters from the contested region that speak to mutual Israeli and Palestinian hopes for peace. Indeed I've supported these actions, even though some of the imagery could be interpreted as inflammatory. This exhibit, however, has a very different tone -- disturbing, yes, but also (and I do speak with a personal agenda) insulting. At such a critical time as this, clear-thinkers must prevail. The fact that the world is quick to jump on the anti-Semitic bandwagon (witness the recent demonstrations throughout the world topped off by the synagogue arson in France) should serve as a red flag to any designer against using the Star of David as a negative symbol of henous acts. The consequence of this, despite the fact that it is the Israeli flag, must be understood. It does not take intelligence to know that the Star of David was the means the Nazis identified its prey. It does require insensitivity to presume that for an American audience this would not have resonance, and cause considerable discomfort. I do not support Israeli occupation, but I cannot countenance inadvertent or other anti-Semitism. Nonetheless, I cannot and will not try to legislate what symbols Ms Bartelt or her designer/contributors should or should not use. But if the goal of a poster show of this kind is to educate and inform -- and petition for peace -- then some common sense should prevail. Also, when Time magazine runs a feature on what makes a suicide bomber tick it is clear from the context that it is a "news graphic." When a poster about the same subject appears juxtaposed to posters that use the Star of David as an object of derision, one can't help but draw dubious conclusions. Steve Heller

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 every right to be mounted". The theme of the conference was, in fact, to encourage designers to find their voice in the pursuit of social good and it was within this context that the exhibition was presented. The intensity of Mr. Heller's reaction to the exhibition demonstrates the effectiveness of visual images of human suffering and injustice. However, I find his visceral response to be based on personal political convictions, his perceptions of who is to blame for the violence in the Middle East, and his own interpretation of the posters arising from his political agenda. The issues presented dealt with the political and military actions of the State of Israel (symbolically represented by the Star of David on its flag-since it is a Jewish State). Nowhere was any criticism levied at Jews. That interpretation was solely Mr. Heller's. Others had equally powerful reactions, including shock at the victimization of an occupied people and the brutality of the Israeli military. All of these reactions were anticipated and necessary for the exhibition to serve its purpose-to promote
peace through honest, if difficult, realization of the facts. The 'suicide bomber' poster in the exhibition by no means JUSTIFIES their actions as Mr. Heller accuses, but perhaps EXPLAINS why they exist–other than the advertised notion of lustful afterlife rewards! Time Magazine (April 15) has similarly presented a four page spread on this subject in order to make us aware of the ramifications and magnitude of Palestinian desperation. Mr. Heller was also concerned with the timing of the exhibition. There is no better time than now, while hundreds are dying, to try to understand the reality of the conflict. We presented only a small portion of the enormity of the Palestinians' suffering. This suffering has been ignored or minimized by mainstream media while they have focussed disproportionate coverage to the Israeli perspective. Exclusively presenting the plight and perspective of an oppressed people is not unique to this exhibition. Civil rights activists present only the suffering of those who have been denied those rights; Holocaust exhibits never present the suffering of the innocent German people who also suffered and died in the Second World War. What is unique to this issue is the demand that any time human rights violations against Palestinians are presented that 'both sides' must always be presented! Israel, by denying UN observers and journalists access to the occupied territories, conducts massive military and political actions against Palestinian civilians in secrecy. The designers participating in this exhibition came from around the world, including China, Russia, Israel, and America, to bear witness for the Palestinians who are not given an equal voice–to become vocal in support of the American ideals of justice for BOTH sides. This is responsible activism. We are asking the public to consider what is presented here, explore beyond the images shown in the media, and then to ACT responsibly to ensure justice which will lead to peace. Whether or not they reflect your political bias, the messages should inflame an intellectual desire to find the truth and not rely on stereotypical rhetoric.
Dana Bartelt, curator of "Don't Say You Didn't Know" New Orleans, LA.

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...

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