One of the topics we are investigating as from now at WDCD is Violence against women. The topic is much discussed in Brazil these days, along with conversations on empowerment and self-esteem of women, abortion, sexism and gender issues. Bebel Abreu, director of WDCD in Brazil, very much contributes to the discussion, amongst others through her publishing company that publishes pornographic drawings and is about to publish a book on gender transformation.
Dutch public prosecutor Martin Witteveen, invited to add his expertise to the discussion, shortly put things in an international perspective. Violence against women comes into many forms, he said, varying from under-aged give-away brides, genital mutilation domestic violence and war atrocities. Witteveen put some special attention on slavery, both sexually and in labour. His point was to make the audience aware of everybody’s own responsibility in this, because porn is just one click away on the Internet and many of the products we use in daily life are actually the products of slavery. He welcomed the idea that design could make a difference here.
The Brazilian soul
Co-founder of strategic design consultancy Tátil, Fred Gelli, is convinced that design has the power to change things and that designers can contribute to establish new connections. In working together with other disciplines, designers can be the catalysers of creative power, he said.
Gelli shared with the audience the concept of borogodó, that irresistible appeal that is in the heart of the Brazilian soul. Borogodó results from the huge diversity of the population, Brazil’s tremendous nature, the energy of the Brazilians and the fact that they can do much with so little. He then spoke about the development of the identity for the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro and the huge impact the brand with the three-dimensional logo had on the country. Brazilians of all sorts took pride in the identity that allowed everybody to connect to in his own way.
The sense of inclusiveness generated by the subsequent identity for the Paralympics was even bigger, as this brand was made multi-sensorial. When revealed for the first time, a Brazilian athlete started to cry when she touched the 3D-logo, because it was the first time she could actually interact with a brand that was representing her. The success of both identities was partly due to the fact that they were made in cooperation with athletes and ordinary Brazilians. What brought Gelli to the conclusion: ‘Never design for people, design with them.’
Dutch trans-disciplinary designer Rogier Klomp took that credo pretty literally when he developed Propaganda by the People together with journalist Arnold van Bruggen and graphic designer Janneke de Rooij. The project uses crowdsourcing techniques to collect ideas on the future of Europe from ordinary Europeans. With drawings, animations and comments any of 700 million Europeans can add to the new story that Europe so badly needs these days.
Klomp, who makes animations for a national broadcaster in the Netherlands to clarify complex, abstract matters, next shared some of his ideas about the data revolution we’ve experienced in the last few decades. ‘Big Data is not just a huge amount of information,’ he said, ‘but essentially the term means that you use data for something else than what it was collected for.’
To give his students at the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam a notion of this, he invites them to go to history.google.com and look into their own search history. The students are then given anonymized sets of this data from their classmates to work with. The student who produced a matching app with this data had grasped the concept of Big Data, Klomp explained. In a new project he plans to investigate the meaning of democracy in the age of Internet, which contrary to what was thought when Internet started, doesn’t seem to make our worlds more democratic.
After the break refugees were on the agenda. WDCD-director Richard van der Laken presented an overview of the WDCD Refugee Challenge and the five finalists that were drawn out of 631 entries form 70 countries. The five projects are currently developed into working prototypes with funding and the help of experts from the Challenge-partners: WDCD, UNHCR and IKEA Foundation.
Next a Skype-connection brought us to Athens, where Brazilian journalist André Naddeo is involved in what he calls Voluntary journalism. Earlier this year he lived for 45 days in a refugee camp in Pireaus, helping out as a volunteer and in the meantime offering the refugees and their children the means to express themselves through drawings and stories that they could publish on the Internet through the platform I am immigrant.
Recently Naddeo decided to go back and extend the project, providing refugees with camera’s to photograph and film their world and the situation they are in. ‘They are regular people, with dreams and memories and feelings,’ Naddeo said. ‘I want to give them the skills and the opportunity to tell their own stories. We want them to feel represented as human beings.’ The aim now is to make a documentary with the footage the people in the camp are currently collecting.
In his own way the Dutch artist Jan Rothuizen gave an insight in refugee camp life by leading us through the multimedia online-project Refugee Republic, a project he made together with multimedia journalist Martijn van Tol and photographer Dirk Jan Visser. Based on a so-called soft atlas of Camp Domiz in northern Iraq, drawn by Rothuizen, the website gives a view of the energy and hope that defines camp life much more than the pictures of helpless people we are seeing in media suggest.
The energy in FAAP raised to a boiling point in the final session at the end of the day, with the dynamic performance by rapper Rico Dalasam, an appealing insight into street art and vernacular design of Bogota, Colombia by Popular de Lujo’s Roxana Martínez and an hilarious presentation by Dutch art director Erik Kessels, co-founder of KesselsKramer, of his witty work for clients as Hans Brinker Budget Hotel and the NRW Forum museum in Dusseldorf. Good laughs where there also for his collections of found photos (like penises with things next to it) and the photos of unintended mistakes he brought together in his latest book Failed It!.
All photos by Sergio Caddah/WDCD