T-shirts against communism

01-06-2005

A few years ago the well-known Czech artist David Cerny made headlines when he produced a t-shirt showing a spiky finger flipping the Communist Party the bird. Now a design studio - alarmed by growing support for the party - has got a similar idea, commissioning designers around the country to take part in a competition protesting against growing public support for the communists. Titled "De-communisation" the project has attracted a lot of attention so far.

T-shirts against communism, photo: CTKT-shirts against communism, photo: CTK The message is "down with communism" - the medium is the t-shirt, a new campaign launched by "Designers against Communism" in the Czech Republic. In the face of growing support for the Communist Party - polls suggest over 25 percent voter preferences - designers and artists in the public eye decided enough was enough, that they would not stand by quietly as the party gained support. The result is a punchy and effective campaign. One of the organisers, Michal Gregorini, explains:

"What was really scaring us was that in the last election the Communists got the most first-time voters and we thought that maybe it was time that the public should start thinking about history and should start doing something and presenting their attitude. We asked professionals to do anti-communist designs or we asked creative people to come up with ideas and then talk to professionals to make their ideas real."

Organisers of the competition, which has now officially closed, received more than 300 t-shirt designs, featuring catchy slogans and stylish fonts aimed at a younger crowd. Some ideas include, for example, the surgeon general's warning that communism can kill, a red star casting an executioner's shadow, and a parody of city campaigns showing that garbage - in this case communism - belongs in the trash. Michal Gregorini says that later this month, after winning designs are announced, he and fellow organisers hope to have actual shirts produced.

"Our idea is that all of the designers will say 'Yes' we are fine with the rights and we want to have the t-shirt produced and we don't want it to just end as a design, and that anyone who wants to order a shirt will be able to get one."

Clearly t-shirts have come a long way since "I'm with stupid" - organisers here in the Czech Republic are enthusiastic they are providing an answer to the rise in popularity of the Communist Party. While they don't cite David Cerny's original shirt as inspiration, they do say wider activist movements in recent years, like the "Don't talk to Communists" concert series, did play a role.

In the end, if people really want to vote for the Communists 16 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, these designers will do everything they can to try and change their minds.

Looking for more information? Visit www.dekomunizace.cz

01-06-2005