the power of design to make us see

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Mike Dempsey’s blog, Graphic Journey, has been on re:design’s blogroll from the beginning. I don’t know Mike, but I admire his thoughtful discourse and perspective on our industry, our work, and our responsibility as designers and communicators.

This week when I checked in on his blog, I found that he’s been involved in a significant art project, Journey.

Journey depicts the world of human trafficking of women and young girls, showing the seven stages of a woman who was sold into sexual slavery, through exhibits created inside shipping containers. The traveling exhibition is in NYC this week. It was the brainchild of actress Emma Thompson, but has required the dedication of many, many people. A little more from the NY Times.

Mike’s writing partner, Tom Lynham, has been a guest blogger on Graphic Journey all week, chronicling the exhibit and the experience. The images, the writing, the project—are overwhelming. Absolutely uncomfortable, and absolutely powerful.

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Uniform by Sandy Powell

An excerpt:

JOURNEY is all about human trafficking. It tells the story of Elena who was seduced from her home in central Europe with promises of finding fortune in the west. Terminal 3 was the cash point where trafficked women who have been ordered are paid for. The minder (the woman who has groomed the girls) hands them over the trafficker. You can pick up a nice young fresh one for as little as a £ 1,000. Once they have been sold, the minder flies back to nurture the next one and the trafficker takes his prize home. Home is a house somewhere in the suburbs, or a massage parlour in some innocent enough neighbourhood. The woman is stripped of her passport, phone, clothes and identity, and summarily raped by new owners to break her in. Then she is put to work to service as many men a day as she can squeeze in. The traffickers control the women absolutely. They threaten violence against her relatives and the girl is effectively imprisoned. Most have no idea where they are and are kept under tight security by woman employed by the traffickers until they are tamed. There comes a point where the humiliation and loss of self is so overwhelming, staying put and paying their ‘sale price’ back to the trafficker seems the only alternative to going home to shame her family. The women are used until their sell-by date has expired, and then sold down the chain, gradually reduced in price until they are no longer marketable.

Please take a few moments to read Tom and Mike’s blog, here.

The power of design can make us see the truth. The least we can do is pay attention.



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2 Responses to “the power of design to make us see”


  1. 1 kseverny November 12, 2009 at 1:12 am

    it seems to be a pretty dynamic project with a clear message.


  1. 1 toby’s sniffing for a weekend « Kim’s Tour of No Regrets Trackback on November 13, 2009 at 5:12 am

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