All you gotta do is pick up a weapon

In an attempt to re-engage design with social and political issues, new exhibition Information is Currency looks set to articulate some true 21st century concerns within the gallery space

In an attempt to re-engage design with social and political issues, new exhibition Information is Currency looks set to articulate some true 21st century concerns within the gallery space…

The exhibition’s title is a contraction of third US President Thomas Jefferson’s phrase – “Information is the currency of democracy” – updated, say the show’s curators, for the internet age. The exhibition opens at The Book Club in east London next week (update: an online gallery for the show has just launched at

A theme that unites the work in the show is the rise of WikiLeaks and its cable releases and exposés of recent years.

One of the works in fact plays on a chilling line of dialogue taken from a now infamous film from July 2007 that saw American Apache helicopters opening fire on a group of people in Baghdad, killing around a dozen, including two Iraqi employees of the Reuters news agency.

As one of the helicopters circles a wounded man, one of the crew is heard saying, “Come on buddy. All you gotta do is pick up a weapon.” The US military had claimed that all the dead were insurgents killed in battle engagement and the film of the incident was surpressed until it was obtained and decrypted by WikiLeaks.

“Whatever one’s personal opinion of WikiLeaks, it has brought to the surface issues of freedom of speech, privacy, transparency and power,” says UP^’s Jamie Balliu who curated the show with Jeff Knowles of Planning Unit.

The show aims to open up debate about the role of the designer in relation to these issues. “Everyday we are handed briefs requesting us to reach a particular market and tap into their desires using our creative noses and skills,” he continues. “This represents a challenge to a much more difficult terrain, one that investigates our relationship to society and requires us to look within to find our own opinions and positions.”

Some of the works in the show are direct visual responses to a particular cable release, whereas others will “explore the scandals and media circus surrounding the figurehead of WikiLeaks”, namely Julian Assange.

The exhibition features work from designers and artists including Barnbrook, We Buy Your Kids, Erkut Terliksiz, David Shillinglaw, Apropos, Marco Ammannati, Suki Dhanda, Nic Zoids, 10-collective, 21-19, OWNI, and UP^.

Information is Currency, directed and produced by UP^ and Liat Chen of Chimera Productions, launches at The Book Club, 100 Leonard Street, London EC2A 4RH on June 29 and runs until July 31. More information on UP^ Creatives at An online gallery for the show has also just launched at, where posters of the art featured here are available to purchase.

Above: a limited edition print, left, and litho-print poster for the show

Above: a lithoprint poster, left, and limited edition print for the show. Below: various print series that will be exhibited at Information is Currency


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