MIKE MANDEL &
76 pages, premium magazine
print on demand
first printing edition of 200
signed and numbered
publication date: September 2018
distributed by the artist
This reversible book has two sections “Write-in Campaign” and “Billboard Campaign”. Each bookend the activist/artist response by Mike Mandel and Chantal Zakari to a proposal by Walmart to build a superstore in their hometown of Watertown, Massachusetts in 2011.
At a public meeting organized by the community organization, Sustainable Watertown, and only 14 days before a town council election, citizens of Watertown learned of Walmart’s intentions, and also that some town councilors were in support of the project. The next day Mandel and Zakari initiated a furious write-in campaign to promote Mike as an at-large council candidate to channel protest against the Walmart proposal.
This artist performance/project involved running a political campaign with no time to waste. It included Mike knocking on doors, campaigning in the streets, at bus stops and ad hoc campaign events. Chantal’s energies were directed toward designing and updating the campaign website, coordinating volunteers, printing and distributing pamphlets and yard signs. 5,000 postcards were hand delivered to Watertown homes with the help of more than 40 volunteers. The campaign was covered by the local press, The Watertown Tab, The Watertown Patch and the Boston Globe.
At the end of the 14 day campaign, and after a recount requested by the Mandel/Zakari campaign, Mike was short of election by 89 votes. But by then the threat of big box development had become a central issue for Watertown residents. Many in town knew what was at stake: a traffic nightmare, a threat to local businesses, a regressive corporation that exploits employees and offers poor quality merchandise. The write-in campaign energized community wide opposition to a Walmart presence in Watertown.
Turn the book upside down and you begin a new chapter: After the election the artists continued their activism: In the winter of 2011 they created a billboard design and initiated an online fundraising campaign to print and install their imagery on a billboard site exactly adjacent to the proposed Walmart. By March, 2012 they had crowdsourced enough money to fund two billboards. Their design "imagine" was on view May through June.
The following month, July, 2012, Walmart announced they were withdrawing their proposal for a Watertown store.
This artists' publication was made possible by a Faculty Research Leave from Tufts University.
SAMPLE PAGES (soon)
Boston Art Book Fair, Boston Center for the Arts, Cyclorama, Boston, MA
Printer Matter's New York Art Book Fair, MoMA PS1, Long Island City, NY