Artifa posts anti-fascist graffiti, stickers and other works of art

Originally published at: Artifa posts anti-fascist graffiti, stickers and other works of art | Boing Boing


The posters and stickers and other items that people put real thought and work into are very creative. They stand in stark contrast to the lazy and trite graffiti (unless one considers a bunch of dicks spray-painted on the pavement as a bold anti-fascist statement).

With the exception of murals created by actual artists and the occasional well-executed stencil, the use of spray paint in an act of protest just tells me that the activist using it is a feckless clown.


House Cat GIF


As an anti-fascist artist that puts though and work into their posters and stickers, this seems a bit gatekeepy to me…


I’m open to hearing how middle-school graffiti art of penises outside a police station (provided as an example in the Twitter thread) serves to advance the anti-fascist cause in any meaningful way.

The same goes for poorly rendered spray-painted slogans opening our benighted eyes to the mind-blowing facts that feminism is for everyone and that (based on my poor German and an illegible word) kebab price inflation is something most people should want to stop.

Progressives and anti-fascists are allowed to have standards when it comes to execution and effectiveness of protest actions and materials. There’s a lot of good work displayed in the thread and it’s not a compliment to their creators to equate it with juvenile dreck.

You’re underestimating the importance of Döner kebab for the well-being of German society


That’s fair. I’m sure AfD is cheering on the decreased consumption of doner kebab due to inflation in its on-going campaign defending German food culture purity against the delicious Turkish interloper.


We are allowed to have an opinion, certainly, but that doesn’t give any of us the right to gatekeep or stand in judgement of the worthiness of other people’s work.

Everyone has to start somewhere, and if one insists that there’s a minimum requirement of a Masters’ degree in Art before fighting fascist rhetoric, then I doubt much will ever get done.


Meme Reaction GIF by Robert E Blackmon


Obviously I’m not arguing that anyone doing protest or anti-fascist art statements has to have an MFA – that would be a classic example of real gatekeeping. I’m also not arguing that the statement has to be particularly well done from an aesthetic point of view – passion counts for a lot in protest art even if the end result of all the work put in might be considered tacky or scholocky.

That said, protest art needs above all else to be effective in service to its cause, whether it’s anti-fascism or rebelling against societal norms of what constitutes art. For that to occur successfully, some combination of originality and workmanship and reference to the issue at hand (in contrast to bragging rights and movement cred) and impact (preferably persisting into longer term) is needed for it to grab the public’s attention.

Here are photos of two protest art pieces: same basic mediums, same basic unauthorised canvases, neither particularly distinguished from an aesthetic point of view, both classified as antifa*. Am I, as someone who’d like to see more people concerned about the resurgence of fascism, really supposed to take the artists equally seriously in their effectiveness as activists? Do you?

[* Honestly, I’m wondering if that first example got into the antifa art Twitter thread by mistake.]

tl;dr – I don’t think it’s gatekeeping to point out when an activist does a rubbish and ineffectual job or (referencing JustStopOil) when a protest organisation consistently lets, if not encourages its people to bungle the job. I also don’t think it’s gatekeeping to suggest that maybe these people should find ways to help the cause more suited to their abilities or lack thereof.

I’d hesitate at classifying the grafittied penii as an antifa statement… but I’m fully aware of the risks that the person/people involved took to make it. They risked beatings, arrest, or worse in order to bring their truth to power, and even if I don’t necessarily respect the “art”, I’m not going to sneer at their courage in getting off their butts and doing something, no matter how inefficient it may be at getting a point across.

I do think there’s some amount of gatekeeping in classifying protests as effective/ineffective or rubbish/serviceable based on one’s own aesthetic preferences. Some may not have any means beside a few spray cans at hand to make their dissent known. And not everyone has the knowledge, experience or skill to express things as eloquently or efficiently as others in the movement do. Do you think it’s fair or equitable to silence antifascist voices because you think they’re “doing it wrong”? Or do we all work together with whatever skills we have to get the job done?


And yet it’s one of the statements listed in the antifa art thread. Whether or not it’s an antifa statement, it’s not effective. For all we know it was the result of a bunch of bored teenage yobbos getting their hands on a case of Carlsberg Special Brew late on a Saturday night.

I agree, but as I noted I’m not talking about aesthetic preferences but about effectiveness.

True. And many in that situation have still managed to make effective antifa statements, if it’s only an original and eye-catching slogan written in marker or chalk that actually opposes fascism.

Then perhaps those individuals should seek out other ways to help the cause. They may not be as sexy or attention-grabbing, but (speaking as someone who’s done that boring work for progressive causes) they’re absolutely needed too.

As noted above, I do not. I do think it’s fair to suggest to the police station dick painters that, if they are indeed antifa, there are other ways to use their skills and express their support for the movement. They’re not being hustled out of the gate, they’re being directed to another ride in the park. If that’s not happening in an equitable manner, one should look at the movement’s leadership to find out why that is (based on what I’ve seen of their protests, this seems to be yet another big problem with JustStopOil).

“Effectiveness” is not necessarily an objectively-measured quality. For all we know, the statement about Döner kebab you snarked at earlier might have a relevance to its intended audience that we, as outsiders to German culture, may not be aware of. So how can we properly judge its effectiveness? Oh yeah, we can’t.

In case you’ve forgotten, Antifa isn’t a centralized, hierarchichal organization; it’s a movement of like-minded people, across the world, working locally to fight fascism in their neighborhoods. As such, you’re perfectly entitled to say whether or not something works for you, but neither you nor I have any right to make demands of who ought to do what where and/or when.

edit to add extra emphasis.


It wasn’t so much the doner kebab part as the inflation part that was trite. Is there anyone besides central bankers who really love inflation? I suppose the graffiti could have been aimed at one of them, but I doubt it would be what anyone would call an effective piece of protest art.

And like-minded people working toward the same cause can disagree on what’s effective. Perhaps the person with the Twitter feed genuinely thinks the dick graffiti is an effective antifa protest. I, and I think you, would disagree. I am not demanding that he take it out of his feed, but I have been suggesting that he does the cause no good service by keeping it in along with art pieces that are effective in furthering the cause.

Also, while Antifa isn’t centralised or hierarchical there are activists within it in every place it exists who take on informal roles of guides and mentors and organisers and strategists based on experience, knowledge, special talents and skills, etc. They have no authority to tell other antifa what to do, obviously, but they can make suggestions on the most effective way to do things. They’re listened to more often than not – it’s one of the keys to the on-going success of Portland antifa, for example.

If you object to my description of your criticism as gatekeeping, I’m willing to revise that to tone policing, instead…


That’s fine, although I’m not criticising the tone of the art but the general effectiveness. What are your thoughts on the dick graffiti as an effective antifa statement?

Just to add my 2 cents, I like the penii, because it’s much easier to interpret “a bunch of dicks” from this graffiti than “a bunch of bastards”. :man_shrugging:

It just happens to be more Matisse than Sargent.


The art of protest serves many purposes. I’m currently cutting stencils that allege that the PNWs answer to Rush Limbaugh eats paint and commits acts of bestiality.

Sometimes the goal of art is to express and excise surplus rage. Would I have done this? No. Do I respect a diversity of tactics and snicker at a dick smothered police station? Yeah, I kinda do.


It is a very iconic dish that marks the lower end of the restaurant/takeout market. It is one of the very few things that even the poorest can afford as an occasional treat and that the working the poor can afford reasonably casually as an everyday luxury. Because prices are low in absolute terms and it is generally sold for cash, prices are reasonably round numbers and price increases tend to outpace at least short term inflation. Every time you raise Döner prices by a euro this simple bit of participation in mainstream society is in danger for many of the most vulnerable in society.


Thank you! :smiley: That added information puts the graffiti into context for outsiders like me, and it makes much more sense to me now. It sounds like a valid, effective way to illustrate the effects of inflation on working- and lower-class folks to me.

xena makes salute thank you