URBAN GUERRILLA PROTEST is at once an art book as well as being a documentation for the myriad forms of individual and group subversive protests throughout the world, and as such it is an entertaining and thought provoking examination of how the world citizens manage to make their voices and beliefs known during a time when the media is increasingly censored. Author and designer Ake Rudolf, with the now expected high-class assistance from Mark Batty Publisher, has produced a volume of images and words 'designed in a hand-made layout using mixed media, printouts, photocopy enlargement and Letraset fonts. Originally printed on a 5-colour toner copy machine.' This hands-on presentation is compatible with the content of this amazing book, a collection of protest statements cleverly integrated into the vision of people whose eyes happen to absorb information from television, mass media, billboards, freeway signs, street directions, the internet, and performance art casually encountered on the streets and in stores.
Divided into sections of types of protest publication, Rudolf presents in English and in German explanations of target areas used by common people and by organized groups who are moved to make their disapproval of the status quo public - in hopes of alerting the mind-numbed citizenry that change in certain areas must occur. Illuminated commercial signs offer the change of letters to post 'Buy 2 get free nausea' or 'Nikeplatz' (formerly Karlsplatz)'. Freeway signs shout 'S**t Happens - New Exxon', homemade banners depict the American Uncle Sam Peace poster substituting Bin Laden's face to state 'I want you to invade Iraq', buses with painted sides that portray Bush with magnetic eyes stating 'Yes. Bush can '04. Take the Patriot Pledge' touring the country to attract anti-war debates, setting up rituals in markets where prayer mats are placed before food products encouraging performance artists to mock values, changing the street marking signs that demand STOP to the word SIMPLE, manipulating ATM machines to give out slogans in place of instructions for using withdrawals, to TV manipulations that scan ticker tape messages like 'Arm the Homeless', 'George W. Bush: Professional Fascist', or 'Breaking News: Dow accepts full responsibility'.
One of the more humorous concepts pictured and described is changing the voice box mechanisms between Barbie and Ken dolls: Ken (as GI Joe) then converses with such sentences as 'Math is hard/I love shopping', 'Will we ever have enough clothes?' and 'Let's plan our dream wedding' while Barbie's rough voice declares 'Vengeance is mine' and 'Honor guide me'.
Rudolf quotes Ben Franklin halfway through this book with the 1759 statement 'Those that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety' - a quote that in many ways approves of the right to freedom of speech this book celebrates. At times raw and raucous and at times funny or startling, URBAN GUERILLA PROTEST is an art form that has grown out of the global discontent with the status quo. Highly recommended on every level. Grady Harp, July 08