No clichés here. As far as leftist flyers go, they’re don’t exactly inspire you to speak truth to power.  Dispensing with images of marchers standing up to the man, and police beating up protestors, they relied more on sarcasm, and a pronounced sense of contempt, to make their point. Feeling flushed down the toilet? Sick of the bread, and the circuses, and promises of pussy? We relate.

There’s a bit of an art school vibe to it, and there’s something punk about the fuck you vibe. We’re all degraded. Disgust, after all, is as much the province of the educated, and the counterculture, as it is of the elites responsible for the crisis that  inspires agitprop like this. Devoid of conventional leftist visual conventions, the absence of feel good, rally the troops sort of rhetoric is refreshing. The situation is noir, after all. Why not give voice to it this way? It’s entirely appropriate, and expresses how intolerable the situation is.

It’s also uniquely Italian. Few political crises provide as many recipes for cynicism, as the one besetting the  southern European state. Still emerging from two decades of practically one party, one person rule, by a Mafioso equivalent with distinctly fascist tendencies, who viewed the government as a tool for his own business interests, Silvio Berlusconi had the dubious honor of presiding over the destruction of Italian civil society, and all of the country’s political formations, except his own, and those of his right-wing and underworld allies.

Nothing was left untouched. From construction companies, to soccer teams and broadcasting, Il Cavaliere had a stake in absolutely everything in Italian business and culture. Today, as the country struggles to rebuild itself, the deposed leader still rules from the sidelines, with the consent of the ruling center-left government, in exchange for its survival. It’s a tragic situation, as evinced by the ongoing economic turmoil, with its banks tottering on the edge of failure, and pressure from Berlin and Brussels to dismantle the country’s remaining labor protections.

Hence the cynicism expressed by flyers like these. It’s the best way to express feeling powerless, and still retain a sense of agency. And it does, however indirectly, communicate the imbrication of shit and politics, as the lead photo, of a dog relieving himself in front of right-wing elections posters in Milan conveys. You have to laugh.  Cynicism, as Giulia Pace’s translations below show, is its own call to action. If only everyone felt this way.

Demo flyers, Porta Palazzo. Turin, October 2011.

Demo flyers, Porta Palazzo. Turin, October 2011.

 

Flyer I (Left)

ARE YOU HARASSED BY PROBLEMS?

YOU DON’T KNOW WHERE TO HIDE ANYMORE?

A lot is being done every day; much more is still to be done, this time:

COME TO ROME ON THE 15 OF OCTOBER!

Gathering at 2 pm, everywhere

When credit institutions seize even your soul.

When police and carabinieri isolate entire city areas in order to search for people without Italian documents.

When universities, being controlled by banks, teach you only how to work and learn more and more about how to exploit you.

When the news about thousands of people assaulting a high-speed train construction site gives you a certain relief.

While newspapers try to use you as a puppet and television to distract you.

Military forces control the streets and you realize that the enemy is you.

You can only choose (to) let them oppress you, or start to get ready.

With you(r) friends and the necessary means.

 

 Flyer II (Right)

ARE YOU SICK OF THE SAME ASSHOLES

WHO USE IMAGES OF NAKED BODIES ONLY TO CATCH YOUR ATTENTION?

A lot is being done everyday, much more is still to be done, this time:

COME TO ROME ON THE 15 OF OCTOBER!

Gathering at 2 pm, everywhere

When the economic crisis puts everything under discussion, your realize a lot.

Democracy, as you imagined it, has never worked, and (the person) who invented it knew this very well.

You are starting to pay for the consequence of the wealth of some other people. You realize that the poor have always paid the consequences of yours.

You’re only an exploited (person/worker) who is fast losing their privileges and is falling towards the lowest steps of the social ladder.

Poverty is growing, and the responsible are always more clear and recognizable. As lights in the night thy tell you: “We’re here!”

Cliffs are protecting them: police, private security, military forces…

Everything is under discussion, and you have to choose which side to take.

With them, as a slave, hoping to reconquer the lost wealth. Or against them, as a man, so that no one will be a slave.

 

Translated from the Italian by Giulia Pace. Photographs courtesy of Joel Schalit.