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Paper Bullets
100 Years of Political Stickers from around the World

March 10 - April 18, 2017

Publicly placed stickers with printed images and/or text have been used for decades as a form of political protest or to advocate political agendas. In the United States as early as the mid-1910s, for example, the Industrial Workers of the World created the first “stickerettes,” or “silent agitators,” to oppose poor working conditions, intimidate bosses, and condemn capitalism. Other early U.S. stickers from the 1920s and ’30s were used to support women’s rights and to promote political campaigns. Later, during World War II, Allied and Axis countries dropped gummed “paper bullets” or “confetti soldiers” from the sky as a form of psychological warfare to demoralize both troops and civilians. During the 1960s and ’70s American civil rights era, paper “night raiders” protested the war in Vietnam and U.S. imperialism, and called for racial and gender equity among blacks, whites, men, and women. And colorful, lightweight German spuckies dating back several decades were used to combat fascism and sexism.

Drawing from the private collection of Catherine Tedford, the exhibition highlights political stickers from Canada, Egypt, England, Germany, Indonesia, Spain, Ukraine, and the United States dating from the early 20th century to present day. Topics include labor, gender and sexuality, racism, surveillance, war and conflict, and police brutality.

Political stickers in the exhibition support the Catalan independence movement in Spain, for example, as well as the Arab Spring uprisings in Egypt and Maidan protests in Ukraine, while others comment upon the Vietnam War, the U.S. Socialist Party, the current economic crisis in Spain, and the history of political leaders in Indonesia. The exhibition also features both anti- and pro-World War II World stickers and stickers denouncing U.S. Presidents Richard M. Nixon and George W. Bush.

Catherine Tedford, gallery director at St. Lawrence University, first discovered street art stickers while visiting Berlin, Germany, in 2003 and has since collected over 10,000 examples from countries around the world. She writes about political stickers on her research blog Stickerkitty and has presented papers at academic conferences in Canada, England, Germany, Scotland, and the United States. In 2014 and 2015, two different Paper Bullets exhibitions were presented at Hatch Kingdom Sticker Museum, Berlin, Germany. A variation of Paper Bullets also appeared at Susquehanna University in 2015. The stickers in the exhibition are made available for education and research. The viewpoints expressed in certain images do not necessarily represent the viewpoints of the collection’s curator, contributors, or any others related to the project.

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