Though he’s now more known for his earnest interpretations of old-school political posters, designer Shepard Fairey first, of course, gained noteriety with his ironic/absurdist interpretations of authoritarian propaganda, with his Obey Giant viral campaign. Ironic and cool, in a particularly American sense that I both find attractive and uncomfortable, kind of the way I feel about ironic t-shirts after travelling in Africa and seeing them everywhere, courtesy bales of donated and resold used American clothing (shirt on a kid begging from me at the bus depot in Vilankulos, Mozambique: “There’s only one thing to make for dinner: Reservations!”). The more I learn, the more I wonder about the effort we put into being connoisseurs of manufactured irony. There’s real stuff out there that’s so much more amazing.


Side 1
Alowo Majaiye
Aiye Laba Ohun Gbogbo
Gba Mi Lowo Ota
Ma Di Oni Kanra
Ile Baba MI

Side 2
Pepeiye Bimo
Maje Nyo Aiye Wa
Baiye Nsata

Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey and his Miliki Sound, cassette from Nigeria, posted to Awesome Tapes from Africa, 4 October 2008

Originally published at culture-making.com.

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