Sign|Tent 1, designed by Amy Harwood and Ryan Pierce

After a long and rich planning period of bi-monthly brunches, Spreading Rumours has begun executing in real ways. We have been working on three different projects, each of which at different stages of unfolding. The first is our sign|tent project, for which we invited 5 participants (Right 2 Survive, Amy Harwood and Ryan Pierce, Sharita Towne, Stephanie Syjuco, and Shani Peters) to create designs for a series of sculptural outposts. We invited these people to use the sign to address or pose questions about private property, public space, and development. The sign|tents are being installed at street-level on lawns and lots around the city, in both authorized, hosted locations and unsanctioned zones. Our ideas and expectations for these sign|tents evolved through the process of building the signs, and conversing with our invited participants and site-hosts. They will undoubtedly keep unfolding as the sign|tents occupy space around town and have life online through social media. If you see one, help us spread rumours by tweeting or tumbling images of them.


Sign|Tent 2, designed by Brad Gibson for Right 2 Survive


Sign|Tent 3, designed by Sharita Towne

The second iteration of Spreading Rumours will be a leaflet propaganda and strategic littering project. We are inviting 10 participants—a diverse group of writers, artists, activists, radical historians and more—to an August 30th workshop-event (with production party to take place the following week). At the workshop we will give a mini-lecture about our research into military leaflet propaganda design and dissemination, followed by time for participants to converse about target audience and dispersal strategy, as well as create designs from which we will make masses of hand-stamped leaflets that we (and the participants if they wish) will strategically distribute around Portland and beyond. We are interested in seeing what unfolds from the conversation between this diverse group of participants: in what ways might they mutate the forms and strategies we present in our presentation? And, what messages might they each choose to send when the risk of distribution and the burden of singular authorship are lifted? Keep your eyes out for these and feel free to re-distribute or archive any you might find. We are excited about the subtle forms of participation that might ripple outwards from all of these projects.


Spreading Rumours leaflets and leaflet blanks

The third iteration of Spreading Rumours we’ve been cooking up is a spam poetry project that will exist as mass texts to cell phones in the 503 area code during the time of the November election. We are still researching the legality (the CAN-SPAM Act specifically) and the technical realities of this endeavor, as well as building our invitation list. We will be doing test runs in early September.

Again, as in our other two projects, we will be deciding on a form—character count, sender name, and recipient list, as well as a conceptual prompt—and invite 10-20 people to compose poetic content for the project. We are hoping that at least some of the cell-phone spam can address the political, either reflexively by referencing the form of unsolicited campaign communication, or directly, by making political or polemical word formations.

We are looking forward to fully rolling out these projects; opening ourselves to engage in conversations with others we wouldn’t normally work with around issues of city development and gentrification (with the Sign|Tents), propaganda, strategic media, and the spread of socio-political messages (Leaflet Litter), and the efficacy of political representation and policy (Cell-phone Spam Poetry). Our collaboration has gone through ups and downs and has taken some time to build momentum, but we feel solid about Spreading Rumours as an expanded learning process and a chance to blend our diverse approaches, priorities, and instincts.


About the Precipice Fund

Administered by the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (PICA) as part of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts’ Regional Regranting Program, the Precipice Fund awards grants to unincorporated visual art collectives, alternative spaces, and collaborative projects in Portland, Oregon. Recognizing the barriers to funding faced by independent arts initiatives, Precipice Fund seeks to support both new and existing projects emblematic of Portland’s alternative, on-the-ground art community.