All the wrong questions

Protest posters — 2011

Platform BK & W139 

All the wrong questions is a series of protest posters made in response to the politics of the Rutte I government in the Netherlands. The posters ask the type of questions one would ask when looking at life through an excel sheet: How efficient is your child? How lucrative is free time? What do we gain from helping? What’s the added value of a homeless person? How much does your grandmother cost? 

Free protest posters

Public Space

Pasting posters with the Sandberg crew

I designed this series of posters in 2011, during the first year of my studies at the Sandberg Institute in Amsterdam. The posters were originally part of separate project called ‘Adopt an election billboard’, where we – first year students of the Design Department – asked people in Amsterdam to adopt and adapt existing election bilboards in Amsterdam. To set an example we adopted a few billboards ourselves and added our own political messages on top of the existing political campaigns. As a whole, our campaign wasn’t that successful, I guess the question of adopting such billboards was a bit too much to ask of the general public. As for myself, putting up these posters was a good way to think about the nature of my work: who am I designing for, what is my medium, what should my work do? 

The second time the posters were used, they came in the form of sandwich signs and home made placards. The occasion was a protest march against Rutte's austerity politics, organised by various opposition parties. It was a typical Dutch protest; everything was over organised and over branded; the march followed a fixed route with toilet blocks and food stands at the end of the march, there was an abundance of balloons and flags and all parties were dressed up in their own colours and logos. All these different identities, logos and colours aren't just an aesthetic problem, they form a communicative problem too. A march with so many different logos and identities sends out a clear message to the government: we are unable to form a united front, so don’t be scared of us! Even in an effort to form a non-partisan front called 1 for all the Socialist Party couldn’t resist to add their own logo (a red tomato), turning their neutral platform into a Socialist Party platform.

Seeing my posters in this context, I understood the value of a neutral form of design, a design that is open enough to draw people in, instead of just saying: hooray for our party, hooray for our sign! Of course branding has its value; parties want to show their presence, and this is done the easiest through showing their name and logo, but don't they have more to say? Can't these political parties use their colours and typefaces in more creative ways than branded jackets and balloons?

Art Space

Gallery Jeanine Hofland

After being a digital file and a protest sign, the posters ended up as an exhibition piece in several art spaces. Gallery Jeanine Hofland exhibited the posters together with a collection of essays about the cuts on arts and culture. ‘Just to be safe’, she decided to put the poster that says ‘What is the added value of an immigrant’ on the inside of the gallery, instead of the window space. 

To my surprise, the posters even turned up on the television sets of the Stedelijk Museum who offered a space to Platform Beeldende Kunst to inform the audience about the current political situation. One part of the exhibition was an installation showing footage of several protests, such as De Mars der Beschaving. It was an interesting side-effect to suddenly see my own protest posters in the context of Holland's most prestigious modern art museum.

Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

One day before the municipal elections the posters found their way into another art space, this time as part of the exhibition Life after Planning at the Virtueel Museum Zuidas in Amsterdam. Knowing they would be exhibited on a surface that strongly resembled the election billboards, I felt they had to obtain a new form and decided to copy the complete series by hand except for the upper left poster that reads: 'What is the use of art'.

 at Virtueel Museum Zuidas

All the wrong questions
by Yuri Veerman

Thank You
Kathy van Slogteren
Jeanine Hofland
Download the poster series here.

Hand drawn posters are 250 euros each. There is exactly one hand drawn copy of each poster, except Wat is het nut van kunst. A few are sold, most are still in my archive. If you are interested to buy one, feel free to send me an email.