Through 50/50, Everpress brings together 50 artists from around the world to discuss one topic through their artwork, expressed through the medium of T-shirts. This year, each artist has responded to the theme of censorship via a single design, created through the lens of their own unique context. These designs are available to purchase (retailing at £25 each) at everpress.com/5050 for four weeks after launch, with 50% of profits going to the artist and 50% to Amnesty International.
“50/50 was a self-initiated project started in 2017”, explains Everpress founder Alex Econs. “It gives us the opportunity to work with 50 incredible artists, and this year we’re excited to partner with Amnesty International to campaign against injustice and inequality around the world.”
This year, we’ve opted to focus on censorship, and the tireless work Amnesty does around this issue. “Censorship is having a revived importance at the moment. It’s still a very big and developing concern, and I guess that’s the point we want people to take from 50/50 this year – censorship isn’t just something from the history books, it’s very much alive today and affects all of us in some shape or form.” explains 50/50 Creative Director, Alex Powis, “it’s a theme that would unite rather than restrict the artists.”
There has never been a more important time to speak up for freedom of expression
Artists who’ve contributed to this year’s 50/50 include fashion designer and East London’s own Liam Hodges, Swedish illustrator and tattoo artist Soto Gang; artist and activist Kate Garner and iconic flash designer Dicky, just to name a few from a talent-packed crew of 50.
Each artist offers a unique take on the topic of censorship; Carri Munden, for example – the force behind iconic fashion label cassette playa – was thinking of online culture when she created her bold 50/50 design. “The Internet should be a free space for creativity, communication, discussion, and activism. It’s a virtual space that should tell multiple stories, but it’s also a space that should be controlled enough to remove hate speech, hate groups, cyber bullying, and to protect our personal data and young people. As a global community, we need to come to an understanding of what is healthy control and what is censorship.”
Artists are rarely given a platform to discuss such important issues, indeed it’s often quite the opposite, as both historical and recent examples from around the globe continue to remind us.
“Censorship is often the thin end of the wedge when it comes to human rights violations,” explains Moscogiuri. “Time and time again, we’ve seen cases of brave human rights defenders in repressive countries being subjected to censorship, then threatened and harassed, and then finally jailed or even killed. From the banning of Peppa Pig in China, to Spain’s prosecution of puppeteers and rappers, freedom of expression is under threat around the world. These ludicrous bans show how relentless governments can be in their pursuit to subdue content that could be considered a threat to the regime, no matter how irreverent or subtle the message might be.”
The Internet should be a free space for creativity, communication, discussion, and activism
Cyber-censorship in particular is now a global phenomenon, points out Moscogiuri. “And it is not limited to websites being blocked. Increasingly, governments are taking their campaigns of censorship online. In 2016, 55 countries arrested people just for what they said online. Governments are using sophisticated new technologies to silence, spy on, harass and track critical voices.”
“Mass surveillance is also a form of censorship, since many activists actively self-censor when they know that the authorities are listening in to their communications. In Belarus, an Amnesty investigation showed how potentially limitless, round-the-clock, unchecked surveillance has a debilitating effect on free speech and dissent. Amnesty has also uncovered well-orchestrated troll campaigns in Mexico to track and harass particular individuals and journalists through platforms like Twitter, and documented cyber attacks on activists in Qatar and Nepal.
“In the past few days alone we have seen activists in Egypt and Palestine detained for Facebook posts; in Zambia a doctor is entering his second year in prison for supposedly insulting the president online. In Russia and China the authorities have banned anonymizers and VPNs, exposing internet users to surveillance and further shrinking the spaces for dissent. Meanwhile in Turkey the purge of journalists continues unabated. Speaking out for human rights has become dangerous work, and the chair of Amnesty Turkey is among those in jail.”
Resisting censorship is more important than ever, urges Moscogiuri. “And that’s why we’re delighted to be working with Everpress and this incredible array of artists to raise awareness of the evils of censorship.”
We have more power to share and protest injustices than any previous generation. Help us to shine a light on censorship by actively supporting freedom of expression for artists and all people around the world.
Shop the collection of 50 tees now. Each purchase raises crucial funds for Amnesty International as they champion freedom of expression for artists and all people around the world.
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