note to self: Eat Greens, Defend Freedom
About two years ago, online, I came across a brilliant reproduction World War II poster sold by a gallery in London. It was silkscreened (pale blue) and I thought I'd made the most fabulous and quirky find. When it arrived friends were immediately impressed and my framer he said he'd never seen something as simple and cool. It said "Keep Calm and Carry On." Not too long after I saw one in a shop downtown, and then in Domino magazine, and... the rest is history.
I still like the poster. It's an oddly comforting voice of reason, it's beautifully spare, and it retains its permanently disquieting provenance: it was created for use in the event that the Germans occupied London. This now-famous poster, produced anonymously within the British Ministry of Information, was never in wide distribution. Some of these others, above, had print runs of up to a million and were plastered all over Britain.
Having experienced (however fleetingly and at arm's length) the apocalyptic frenzy and blind dread of 9/11, I'm barely able to comprehend what London/England went through—for years. Blackouts, nightly bombing raids, destruction of portions of the City, sleeping in subway stations, sending children out of the city, rationing... The stalwart cheeriness of a poster like "And still the railways carry on!" amazes and irritates me. "The city's being reduced to rubble and Panzer tanks will be rolling down the block next week and the government thinks it best to spend money, time and effort on patronizing ephemera!?" is probably what I would have said at the time. Now, though, I'm drawn to the we're-all-in-this-together no-bullshit tone, the chanelling of Churchillian steadfastness.
I sometimes think a series of civic-oriented posters wouldn't be a bad idea today...can we get any anti-high fructose corn syrup campaigns going?