Dash N’ Dem (Dash Macdonald and Demitrios Kargotis) are a design action group whose wide-ranging participatory projects center on political education and engagement. Ideas inhabit varied media and platforms as a vehicle for agitation, using co-creation as a form of activism that provokes diverse audiences to speak out and think critically and creatively.
Collaborative productions have the ambition of making politics more assessable and engaging. Transposing research into historic and emerging forms of political education, organisation and communication into live actions that result in new material that is relevant and challenging for people today.
For instance, providing a group of teenagers at the South London Gallery with a David Cameron lookalike to take over and create their own party political broadcast in the run up to the 2015 UK general election. Or, revisiting an 80’s post-punk compilation cassette Dump it on Parliament produced in opposition to a proposed nuclear waste dump in Bedfordshire, inviting emerging bands today to develop cover versions and write new songs of protest.
For Bedford Voices, commissioned by Bedford Creative Arts, DND initiated an open, collaborative process between political cartoonist Patrick Blower, advertising agency McGarryBowen and eight diverse community groups in Bedfordshire. Resulting in an alternative political campaign, billboard posters that went up around Bedford town center for one month prior to the 2015 UK General election. These people’s political posters spoke back to those of the mainstream political parties, proclaiming the ideals of the community groups in the form of hard-hitting political cartoons.
To create the odd soundtrack, an alternative guide to The Leaway commissioned by Create London, they worked with Slix and Prince Rapid from the Ruff Sqwad, to use grime as a young people’s political language and way to engage teenagers from Tower Hamlets with issues like workers’ rights and corporate greed that connect the Lea Rivers past and present.
Dash Macdonald is a lecturer in the Department of Design at Goldsmiths. Demitrios Kargotis is a lecturer at The School of Art, Birmingham City University.