Many thanks to all the folks who came out for the opening of Hidden Forces: The Kansas People’s History Project on Friday. It was a great night. Special thanks to guest Josh MacPhee who spoke to an overflowing gallery of visitors about the origin of the Celebrate People’s History Project (the inspiration for our Kansas project).
MacPhee talked about a common cultural affliction – a gnawing belief among many that change just isn’t possible. We take for granted, he said, that the conditions we live with today have always been and always will be. But if we can recall that things aren’t the same as they ever were, that many struggles for human and environmental rights were won throughout history by everyday people working together, then maybe we can imagine ourselves into fighting for change today. This realization, MacPhee said, was the genesis of the Celebrate People’s History project, beginning with one poster in Chicago.
MacPhee said that when he began wheatpasting the Malcom X poster on the southwest side of the city, passersby and neighbors approached him asking if they could have posters for their homes and businesses. He realized then that their was great potential in this simple straightforward kind of communication, a poster project that subverted the oppressive environment of advertising, in favor of one that shared knowledge, connection and a sense of possibility.