textile art

'Snuggies for the Revolution’ Are the Coziest Way to Fight the Power

Johannah Herr is using the sleeved blanket to make anti-capitalism marketable.

by Imran Hafiz
Mar 22 2017, 6:44pm

Consumer culture and riot police meet in this series of Snuggies printed with crowd control weaponry by artist Johannah Herr. Look closely at Snuggies for the Revolution and you'll find kaleidoscopic rubber bullets, tasers, tear gas, police batons, and grenade launchers emblazoned on what might be the absolute embodiment of American consumerism. In her artist statement, Herr proclaims fascination with the "inherent cannibalism of the consumer eye" and the distinction between "direct and indirect manifestations of state-sanctioned violence."

The emerging artist has had solo shows at chashama, Envoy Enterprises, Red Ger Gallery in Mongolia, and Galeri Metropol in Estonia, and contributed to group art shows in the New York Metropolitan area and London, Berlin, Reykyavik, Tel Aviv, and Mexico City. She's also the co-founder of Daughters Rising, a Thailand-based women's empowerment and anti-human trafficking initiative.

Creators reached out to Herr to learn more about how Snuggies for the Revolution can help us re-think our protest fashion.

Creators: What are we looking at in these images?

Johannah Herr: I've digitally printed textiles with patterns comprised of weapons of crowd control such as rubber bullets, zip-tie handcuffs and pepper spray and made them into a series of Snuggies (the made-for-TV phenomenon of a blanket with sleeves). 

The design of crowd-control weapons like zip-tie handcuffs initially intrigued me. When I first saw them in a bundle at the hip of riot police in NYC, I was blown away. It's such a totally ingenious design—lightweight, flexible, and cheap! It's a completely brilliant and terrifying mass-producible solution to arresting large numbers of people. I see all of the physical weapons of crowd control as place-holder objects for how all of our power structures in corporately-run American government are forms of brilliantly terrifying design solutions. 

Are these Snuggies made for protesting in the streets or for writing snarky comments on Facebook while barefoot?

Neither. I see them as a dark reminder that, while we might have the best of intentions both protesting in the streets or writing snarky Facebook comments (and arguably either of these tactics have successes and failures), if we remain entrenched in global capitalism, there is no way to escape participating in widespread inequality and violence. The Snuggies for the Revolution are meant as a proposition for examining our own relationship with capitalist power structures that necessitate exploitation. The title, I hoped, would say it all—Snuggies for the Revolution is an absurd and impossibly dark proposal.

What is your experience with crowd-control weapons?

I've definitely been bear-maced at a protest, but I would not dare say that I personally have experienced anything on the level of violence that I see coming out of resistance movements such as at Standing Rock.

Why print these on Snuggies? Why not three-piece suits? 

By three-piece suits I assume you mean the BIG exploiters—huge corporations, huge banks, governments etc.? While the blame is definitely largely with those parties, I think it is dangerously easy to point fingers away from yourself. Being self-righteous is seductive. It's easy to throw your hands up and say, "I'm not a corporate tycoon, so my hands are clean." Some hands are definitely bloodier than others, but no one's hands are clean. In appropriating an object like a Snuggie I wanted to talk very specifically about a kind of everyday, consumerist, sedentary, complacency.

Are you suggesting that American consumerism is a form of crowd control?

ABSOLUTELY.

Can I get a Snuggie for the Revolution?

Definitely! (See that's how capitalism works, you can create an object that critiques our entrenchment in violence capitalist structures, and then sell it!) You get them through Elijah Wheat Showroom where they are on exhibit now, or directly from my studio.

Snuggies for the Revolution are on exhibit at the Elijah Wheat Showroom in Bushwick through April 30.

Related:

Homemade Gas Masks Show the Ingenuity of Protest

Guns and Gore Merge in Bloody Ceramic Sculptures

From Guns To Drums: Pedro Reyes Turns Weapons Of Hate Into Musical Instruments

Tagged:
Creators
wearables
protest art
textiles
Wearable art
Snuggies