Boycott poster exhibit frames the importance of art in protest
The wall of the ramp in David Saul Smith Union has been transformed into a nexus of political slogans as part of an exhibition on the posters of boycott movements over time.
A collaboration between student group Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and a community group, the Maine BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanction) Coalition, the week-long exhibit aims to show the power of political messages told through art.
Sinead Lamel ’15, a member of SJP, said the group has been working on building a relationship with the Maine BDS Coalition to bring awareness to the movement against Israeli institutions and companies that profit from the occupation of Palestine.
Members of both groups said the collaborative exhibit has the power to educate students on boycotts past and present.
Lamel said the purpose of the exhibit is to “introduce the idea of boycotts as an effective form of political non-violent protests.”
The exhibit was shown last week at Bates as a means to highlight the role of art as a powerful tool for social activism.
“By showing art involved in social movements, [it] shows the humanity behind these movements and the emotional or urgent situation of the boycott,” Lamel said.
SJP hopes the exhibit will create awareness of current political situations with connections to the Bowdoin community.
“As students at Bowdoin one of the reasons we think this exhibit is important is because there is a chance that Bowdoin has invested in these companies that profit from the Israeli Occupation,” said Lamel.
Lamel’s favorite poster is titled “Support Economic Sanction in South Africa,” which shows a injured black worker trying to speak with his mouth duct-taped shut.
Barbara West, a member of the Maine BDS Coalition said that her favorite work is of the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
“They are all ordinary people, you won’t see any superstars, it’s all about the power of ordering people to make change, who refuse to accept injustice,” West said.
According to West, the exhibit shows that political posters can be just as significant—if not more compelling—than any other type of visual art.
“Some of these posters are beautiful and very artistic. There is a tremendous amount of work and thought that goes into these posters,” said West.
“The connection of art and politics [is valuable] because it is a very contentious thing in this country,” West said. “I’d be hard pressed to say whether this was an art exhibit or a political exhibit, but in our culture there is still this taboo if it’s ‘political’ it can't possibly be good art.Further collaborative projects between the BDS Coalition and SJP are in the works.
Pop-Up Museum draws eclectic mix of travel objects
Students passing by Morrell Lounge in Smith Union last Wednesday night had the opportunity to strike up conversations with strangers about objects as foreign as a blowgun from the Amazon and astragalus plants from Argentina and as familiar as a Batman mask.
Starting last November, Hawthorne-Longfellow Library, the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum and the Bowdoin College Museum of Art have collaborated to create an annual series of Pop-Up Museums at Bowdoin. Susan Kaplan, director of the Arctic Museum, defines the event as a place “where people bring things that they collect and have wonderful stories about” to display and share with others.
Kaplan called the event “a good icebreaker” for students and the Brunswick community.This year’s theme was “Wish You Were Here!” Students, faculty and community members were encouraged to bring items that they found or bought on their travels around the world, or even right around the corner.Kermit Smyth, a mineral collector and Brunswick local, was on his way to collect minerals one day when he passed by a yard sale. He saw two vases and thought they looked interesting. After extensive research on one vase, he learned that it had an estimated value of $300. Smyth decided to submit the vase to the Pop-Up Museum, saying that it had an “unusual design, [was] difficult to identify, [was] difficult to put an age on and [had] a good story to tell.”
Peter Nardozzi, another Brunswick resident, wanted to tell a story as well as teach people new information with his object. He brought a blowgun used to paralyze and kill monkeys with a drug made from plants found in the Amazon. The drug used in the gun is the same one used in hospitals right before a patient is intubated.
Nardozzi said that last year he brought a Red Sox program from the 1970s and has much more “strange stuff” in his house for next year.
Another submission came from Brunswick local Otto Emersleben. He took a photo of a man in a tearoom in Baba Bukala, Pakistan in 1977. When he came home from his trip he realized that he had the exact same teapot and cup the man in the photo was holding. Emersleben had traveled to Baba Bukala in 1970 and had bought it at that time. He thought the coincidence was a good story.
At the first Pop-Up Museum last year, Emersleben brought a piece of the Berlin Wall from a trip to Berlin in early 1990 along with an old newspaper dated November 10, 1989, featuring stories about the collapse of the wall.
Last year’s Pop-Up Museum was located in the Arctic Museum in Hubbard Hall, but took place in Smith Union this year due to the large number of people expected to attend.Kaplan, Smyth and Emersleben said they were all a bit disappointed by this year’s turnout, which they thought was lower than last year’s.
In 2013, at least 100 people attended the event, while this year there have been far fewer attendees and fewer people who brought items.
Even though the turnout lessened this year, Kaplan is content with the exhibit and the overall experience of the Pop-Up Museum.
“The point is people have come and people are talking to each other,” she said. She called the event an opportunity “for people to get to know each other and share stories.”
Kaplan also described the show as “a giant adult show-and-tell [where people can share] things that they care a lot about.”
Last year’s theme was “Your Favorite Things.” Some of Kaplan’s favorite items were a Cuneiform tablet someone inherited from her great grandmother and Smyth’s collection of animal beer caps.
Kaplan said the long-term goal is to continue to have a Pop-Up Museum every year with a different theme. She hopes to put together a Pop-Up Museum where students can display items they have in their dorm rooms, because according to Kaplan, anyone can contribute to a successful pop-up exhibition.
Portrait of an artist: Nikhil Dasgupta '16
There’s more to Nikhil Dasgupta ’16 than blazers, khaki pants and barber shop tunes. A member of Bowdoin’s oldest a cappella group, the Meddiebempsters, Dasgupta has recently released an extended play (EP) recording.“It might be a little precocious to call it that,” said Dasgupta.Instead, he called the recording “more [of] just a collection of thoughts over the past years, so it’s not like anything specific. It’s more like what’s been going on in my head.”This summer Dasgupta and his roommate Zach Albert ’16 decided to get into the studio together and record an alternative folk EP, which they plan to share with people who are interested in their music. Albert played the drums and Dasgupta played all the other instruments for the recordings.The Circus, Dasgupta’s band at Bowdoin, mostly covers other bands, but also writes and performs some of its own original songs. The band consists of Dasgupta and Albert, as well as juniors Harry Rube, Chris MacDonald, Simon Moushabeck, and Shan Nagar.It all started two years ago with a group of friends who lived in same first-year dorm. “We got together and started playing,” said Dasgupta.The band likes “doing [its] own interpretation of songs…like old rock [and] songs that are upbeat and would work at a party,” said Dasgupta.Dasgupta has lived in many different places and went to high school at the American Embassy School in New Delhi, India, but now calls Dover, Mass. his home.Currently a mathematics major, he plays guitar and has played piano since age eight.He decided to continue his musical journey all the way into college, and auditioned for the Meddiebempsters as a first year. Dasgupta said he likes the different approach the Meddiebempsters take to collegiate a cappella, which tends to be very pop-oriented. The Meddiebempsters instead incorporate old-fashioned barbershop arrangements, and Dasgupta said he enjoys getting to take a break from the music he hears elsewhere every day.His participation in the Meddiebempsters has defined his Bowdoin experience. All of his closest friends are from the Meddies, and Dasgupta finds it “musically very fulfilling as well.”In the future, Dasgupta hopes to continue with music by working as a sound engineer or by working for a record label.“I always wanted to go somewhere with it, [but] that probably doesn’t mean playing in a band on stage,” he said.Dasgupta said he loves the feeling he gets when performing on stage with his band.“It’s easy to feed off the audience getting really excited,” he said.“Some of the most fun I’ve had at Bowdoin has been on stage.” Dasgupta says that performing with the Meddiebempsters is different because of the dynamic of the large group. “We are all sort of supporting each other in a sense,” he said.“It’s like we are just hanging out and making jokes with ourselves and singing.”Although Dasgupta’s schedule can be hectic—with mathematics and computer science courses taking up much of his time—he enjoys keeping busy.“It’s dangerous for me to not have something to do,” he said.