If the Sochi Olympics have taught us anything, it’s that Russia is a strange, strange place. On the flipside, putting the spotlight on Russia and its political and social climate has brought about brave reactions from those advocating for freedom of speech, acceptance of diversity and the wellbeing of stray dogs.
One such initiative comes courtesy of CurrenTee, a newly launched website which allows artists to respond to current issues by way of graphic T-shirts. The initiative was inspired by artist Sebastian Errazuriz’s wildly popular Hurricane Sandy T’s, sales of which raised over $50,000 for storm relief. For its first project, Currentee had several artists design shirts that draw inspiration from popular topics of discourse surrounding the Sochi Olympics. A portion of the shirts’ proceeds benefit the Special Olympics.
“I’ve been aware of the Russian political climate for some time, yet the news coverage tends to not cover ongoing internal post-Soviet conflicts,” says the Harlem-based artist Shelter Serra (nephew of Richard Serra). “After visiting Moscow and St. Petersburg in 1993, it is hard not to follow the country’s dynamic changes. Russia was, and still is, a bizarre place.”
Serra’s contribution to the project features dripping Olympic rings – a nod to the Olympics as a symbol of global diversity. “The dripping rings might suggest snow melting and the colors eventually mixing or a spray-painted tag left over from the celebrations,” he says. “I wanted the design to become detritus from this global event. A memento to be brought home, worn and thought about.”
Ray Geary’s design takes a more lighthearted approach. “A while back there were these image of Putin shirtless floating around the Internet,” he says. Though the Hoboken-based artist could have gone with shirtless Putin holding a gun or fishing, he went with shirtless Putin riding a horse. “If riding shirtless on a horse isn’t the definition of happiness, I don’t know what is!”
Visit Currentee’s website to make your Sochi Statement today.