My project focuses on the “writings of protest”, as Philippe Artières, research historian at the CNRS, says in his book “La Banderole”. That is to say the means employed by the militants to demonstrate in the street and communicate a message.
The street is a space that is shared collectively. This notion takes all its sense when it is about demonstrations, to claim rights, in the streets, arms stretched out, banners and visible signs at the head of the crowd, messages painted, drawn, written, using simple words and analogies. The letterings move and are one with the women and men who carry them.
The history of demonstrations in France, the history of democracy linked to social struggles, have dug their furrow since the Revolution of 1789. Since then, angry people have taken to the streets and have been intimately linked to politics, to what governments put in place. The demonstrators were only counted by the police at the end of the 19th century, which shows the growing magnitude of these events, and the importance of physically embodying the struggles and ideas.
In this gesture of necessity, of need, the function of letters in social movements is to give voice to lettering. The gesture of writing is spontaneous, fast and necessary.
The letters used are of an amateur nature, without any particular mastery: the tools used are rarely digital, but rather handwritten: felt-tip pen, spray paint, chalk, chocolate, charcoal, … which conditions the drawing of the letter. Although an “impeccable” digital typography is accessible, the field of activism privileges the manuscript, that is to say the gesture of the body. Writing for social struggle allows the articulation of a personal thought with a larger, common movement: the letter gathers and unifies a crowd behind the drape of the banner. It is these writings of protest that allow change: they are writings in motion.