“haha TAXPAYERS! lol!” Mould Map 4 ends as it opens. Its inside cover within a cover depicts Uncle Sam in the form of a talking bird and a shady GMO cartoon conspiring on the subject of the TTIP; the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership that a blob-like civilian is too bored and confused to understand. It’s a pending agreement between the Eurozone and the US essentially abdicating political autonomy to corporate interests. By the end of this edition’s ‘EuroZone SpeZial’ said civilian is less naïve but by then it’s much too late. Such is the very serious imperative of the new comic and narrative art publication, presenting an at times bleak, often funny insight into the European Union’s present via a broad range of representations of its projected future.
Published by Landfill Editions and co-edited by Hugh Frost and Leon Sadler, the superbly designed text features work from over 30 artists, writers, designers, illustrators and their collaborators from across the Eurozone. There are newly commissioned comics, art and graphics from the likes of Daniel Swan, Hanna K, Gilbert & George and Ed Fornieles, as well as essays tracking a history of European countercultural movements, including the inflatable art of the UK’s Action Space in the 60s and Frigidaire Magazine of Italy’s Radical Left in the 70s. David Rudnick contributes the text’s Popula typeface. Dynamic, performative and often online exhibition space New Scenario provide the oily, dark and synthetic undercover artwork beneath graphic designer Frost’s fluoro and multilingual cover jacket.
Inside, each artist is defined by the ISO code of their respective countries. There’s ‘SE’ for Patrick Crotty and his “people positive and motivational” trophies, awards and ribbons (“Remind me DON’T WORRY :)”), a ‘GB’ for Will Sweeney‘s reconfigured airline safety cards, FR for Jonathan Djob Nkondo’s illustrated utopian underbelly, and so on. “PROTECT EUROPE WITH POISON SPIDERS” announces the cover page featuring the EU’s circle of stars tied together by a web. This web stands in for the virtual one that provides for a paradox of freedom and entanglement. The faceless critic of Pierre Vanni’s ‘Google raconte — How techno-giants approach the architecture issue’ questions the very “hyperlink” organisational structure said techno-giants is peddling in place of a hierarchical one. A box is still a box regardless of its shape. In the case of Sadler’s bright yellow and verbose comic strip tracking the interview process for a talkative and ethically questionable bee, that box is one generated by jargon-laden language and “Bee Keeper Employee Electronic Surveillance (BKEES)” systems in justifying outright exploitation: “It is also gratifying I have had a hand in maintaining and impermeable and immutable hive caste system.”
This language of subjection is something that Amalia Ulman expresses in a satirical newspaper that’s written, edited and visualized by herself as artist-monopoly. Neoliberal market values and economic rhetoric is reflected in editorial pieces, readers opinions and advertorial covering the political influence of Carla Bruni and the UK’s first croissant/muffin hybrid: “add cruffins to the table and you will have an economy dusted with cinnamon sugar”. Meanwhile, the privilege of choice and new market generation is undermined by a two-page spread and scan of three counterfeit Euro coins by Yuri Pattison. It explains said black market is growing in the so-called ‘PIIGS’ nations (Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain), were once produced in Southern Italy, now China, and are available to purchase online at alibaba.com.
Sternberg Press‘ Matilda Tjader interviews editor and writer Ingo Niermann, discussing contemporary alternatives to present-day problems in his Solution Series. There’s Martti Kalliala‘s “Winter Garden City” and the notion of public space in colder climates, the concept of love as its own competitive currency in a post-capitalist projection and the potential of rethinking ‘everything’ when it comes to the United States of Palestine-Israel. Because beyond the highly critical, sometimes cynical, even pessimistic, approach to the State of Things that a publication like Mould Map offers, there’s also a strong awareness of how those things are and how things could be, for the better. As Niermann describes a need for a “new science fiction” to replace an old one that has already invented everything to the point of Singularity, it would appear that ‘EuroZone SpeZial’ might just have done as much, providing for a reason for hope in the meantime: “You don’t need that many people to change the world”. **
Mould Map 4: ‘EuroZone SpeZial’, edited by Hugh Frost and Leon Sadler, was published by Landfill Editions in Autumn, 2015.
Header image: Roope Eronen for Mould Map 4: ‘EuroZone SpeZial’ (2015). Courtesy Landfill Editions, Nottingham.