Anarchist illustrator turns to radical stories to fight fascism

anarchist illustrator NO bonzo produces decentralized media in a highly bureaucratic cultural landscape. Their illustrations, murals, and literature are emerging in unexpected places, from the streets of Portland, Oregon, to the ends of Reddit and Twitter, addressing work relationships and identity in the workplace and on the streets.

Growth and care are central themes manifested in bodies made of leaves, workers plowing the land and black block protesters breaking police lines. Each work of art sends a clear and bold message with bright images on black backgrounds. Detailed depictions of families and comrades appear energetic but intimate, sometimes juxtaposed with wrecked police cars and shattered Nazi outfits.

NO Bonzo, “Talk to the plants, not the cops” (2015)

Channel the monochrome drawings of political cartoons from the early 20th century and wood engravings, Bonzo draws on radical traditions with elements of graffiti, union symbols, queer erotica, and ordinary people living under police and border surveillance. Printmaking allows the artist to reproduce and distribute his art quickly and across a wide range of media (eg, posters, banners, clothing, and stickers), reflecting a desire to shatter what they call ” the small fiefdoms of privatized technical knowledge ”.

“Art placed in its own sphere as an institution separate from everyday life was and continues to be an attack on the creative mind – the creation’s alienation from life,” Bonzo told Hyperallergic. “A lot of times when you tell people about their attraction to anarchism, they identify subcultures within punk or hip-hop. These spaces are incredibly rich and saturated with expression, much of which won’t necessarily be identified as art or end up in a gallery or museum.

NO Bonzo, “The worker must have bread but she must also have roses” (2019)

With PM Press, Bonzo posted on Zine of May 1st of the fire every day! – which depicts animals dancing around a campfire of riot gear – plus one antifascist coloring book and illustrated reissues by Pierre Kropotkine Mutual aid: a factor of evolution (1902) and The Great French Revolution (1893). Bonzo complements the Russian historian’s words with images of riots and pantries, adapting stories of community organizing to today’s abolitionist movement.

Influenced by DIY art communities, Bonzo asserts that shared values ​​create a common aesthetic. This can be seen, they claim, not only on the walls of punk houses or stick-and-poke tattoos, but in the organization against racism and dispossession. In this way, their work is internationalist, expressing solidarity with all those who oppose capitalism and the far right in the world.

“Having public spaces that feature strong visible art exhibits and projects that explicitly state anti-racism as a value, that totally reject transphobia, that celebrate and value dignity and compassion – these can be the signs and signals for scenes or communities that operate to disrupt the fascist organization, ”they said.

Bonzo postulates that abolition is not the destruction of society but its rebirth. In the spirit of the end author David Graeber, their art portrays the world as “something that we make, and that we might as well do differently”.

NO Bonzo, “All Our Mothers Killed Fascists” (2016)
NO Bonzo, “Trumpet Call” (2020)

A selection of NO Bonzo’s work can be found on their website, Etsy shop, and PM Press.

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