When the global financial crash kicked off in 2008, it ushered in a politically volatile decade. At the same time, the rise of social media changed the way graphic political messages are made and disseminated. As today's traditional media rubs shoulders with hashtags and memes, the influence of graphic design has never been greater.
Now you can consider all this and more in a new exhibition at Design Museum later this month. Hope to Nope: Graphics and Politics 2008-18 examines the pivotal role of graphics in milestone events such as the election of Barack Obama, the worldwide Occupy movement, the Arab Spring, Brexit and Donald Trump’s presidency.
Taking a politically impartial view of such events, the show (which opens 28 March) demonstrates graphic design’s role in influencing opinion, provoking debate and driving activism. It explores the trajectory from ‘Hope’ to ‘Nope’, as represented by the iconic Barack Obama ‘Hope’ poster by Shepard Fairey and the many imitations that followed, including the Donald Trump ‘Nope’ meme.
Comprising three main sections: Power, Protest and Personality, the show looks at how technology and graphic design are weapons wielded by the powerful and the marginalised alike. While a large graphic timeline dissects the gallery, charting the role of new communication technologies such as Facebook and Twitter in global events of the last decade.
From North Korean propaganda, the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign and Dread Scott’s flag in support of the Black Lives Matter movement to Occupy London, Je Suis Charlie and the response to Grenfell Tower, the exhibition also considers the graphic representation of leading political figures, such as grassroots support for Jeremy Corbyn typified by an unofficial Nike t-shirt and an independently published comic book that portrays the Labour Party leader as a super-hero.
Hope to Nope is co-curated by the Design Museum and GraphicDesign&’s Lucienne Roberts and David Shaw, with Rebecca Wright. It will open on 28 March and run until 12 August 2018. Tickets cost £12 and can be booked online via designmuseum.org.