A workshop running alongside of the symposium, Declarations of [inter]dependence and the im[media]cy of design held on October 25-28, 2001 at Concordia University, Montreal.

The symposium brought together designers, artists, educators and activists to explore the public sphere as a space of democratic voice and citizenship with an emphasis on graphic agitation, manifestoes, interventions, alternative modes of public address and culture jamming. 

The workshops are committed to the development of a discourse for a socially engaged design practice that seeks to address the complex and contradictory role designers play as cultural producers in capitalist societies.

Other speakers at the conference included: Jan Van Toorn - "The Autonomy of Design in the Information Society". Noami Klein, Patricia Zimmerman, Chris Dixon (Adbusters), Jean-Pierre Boyer and Jean Desjardins (UQAM) and Brian Holmes (Ne Pas Plier).

The conference sought to take up the challenge of design manifestoes, new and old - from Marinetti to the most recent "First Things First." Moreover, to extend the dialogue and debates initiated in conferences such as "Design Beyond Design" held at the Jan van Eyck Akademie in 1997.


Design is not enough!
Atelier Facilitators:
Tony Credland - Cactus Network (UK)
Brian Holmes - Ne Pas Plier (FR)
Sandy K- Bildwechsel (GER)
Coordinator: Lydia Sharman (Faculty)
Audrey Samson (Student)

The two other workshops were:

Who Needs a [Man]ifesto?:
WD+RU Speaks Out

Atelier Facilitators:
Teal Triggs - Kingston University (UK)
Si‰n Cook - Woman's Design Research Unit (UK)

We Interrupt The Programme
Atelier Facilitators:
Russell Bestley & Ian Noble
London College of Printing, (UK)

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Cactus Network, Bildwechsel and Ne Pas Plier are activist groups creating and distributing, socially engaged images, and getting them out on the 'street' to unfold their meanings in public confrontations with the idea that art is political not only in its frame but also in its distribution.

From its inception Cactus Network experimented in the use of image and politics, dissemination and networks, involving around 1,000 people over a period of 12 years.The role of politics in visual communication continues to be the central theme. The network branched into various projects namely: 'Cactus Magazine', 'Feeding Squirrels to the nuts' and 'Debate'.

Ne pas plier (Do Not Bend) brings social workers, visual artists, intellectuals and concerned people into collaborations that address urgent situations, without forgetting about the longer term. Specific capacities of conception, organization and production develop the association into a meeting point, a place where ideas and emotions and visions can condense into visual signs, return to stimulate more ideas, visions and emotions. It is an association for the production and above all the distribution of political images.

From Bildwechel (image shift) and the Metro Gap workspace in Berlin the graphic designer Sandy K. works to sensitise political activists on the importance of visual communications and production in political struggle. Metro Gap brings together designers, architects and urban planners for political actions primarily against the privatisation of public spaces.

The atelier will bring the experience of these groups to participants involved in giving expression to local issues, while connecting them to similar issues in a much wider global context, to integrate the local with the global, the short term with the long term.

The atelier will consider questions such as:
• How to create new forms of expression, exchange, debate and form?
• How to maintain them over time, and how, where and at what scale to take and institute new spheres of popular sovereignty?
• How to link those spheres together in the society?
• How to take concrete steps in this direction, in the present time with all its gaps and contradictions, on a necessarily small scale to offer a different model of visual communication that conveys not just a message, but also processes of cooperative organization and continuing self-education?

Below: Are pictures from the workshop and actions the participants took mainly against the iminent Afganistan war.