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Shoaib Nabi Ahmad will be greatly missed

Dear friends, dear comrades,

our community has lost a dear friend and one of our first and most important members. Shoaib Ahmad Nabi passed away few days ago. Shoaib established contact with Memefest already in 2003 in an effort to provide his students at the American University in Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates with the opportunity to work on socially critical and engaged design work, to exhibit their work internationally and to collaborate and network with like minded people from around the world.

His initiative soon evolved into more than a decade of close collaboration with Memefest. His roles in Memefest were many- besides working with students, he designed a beautiful visual identity and a series of posters in English, Arabic and Urdu languages for the festival. He has passionately contributed as a jury member and curator and through this influenced the thinking of participants from around the world and importantly helped shape criteria of good visual communication for the past nine years. As an intellectual, educator, dear friend and true comrade Shoaib has also constantly given feedback about Memefest itself.

He was also a mentor at our legendary workshop in Nijmegen (Netherlands), where he was joined by his beautiful wife Sabaa and son Shayan, he was so very proud of them. Shoaib has constantly expanded further our networks. When he was in Manizales, Colombia, where Memefest Colombia is based, he was a guest at the International Festival of the Image, hosted by University Caldas. He led a workshop with a group of students about calligraphy, his conference speech touched the hearts of the audience for their sensitivity and ability to communicate regardless of language barriers. Those who knew him from that first impression consider him a friend.

Shaoib was professor at the design department at The American University in Sarajah, UAE where he was teaching visual communication, design management and multimedia. His teaching was deeply committed to critical reflection and the use of visual communication to address issues of social justice. He worked in the unique and puzzling hyper capitalist context of the United Arab Emirates, with its fake snow slopes at 40 C in Dubai and university facilities in Sharjah made of white marble. Within this context he was able to engage his students, who mostly live lives without the oppresion of material poverty, to look beyond the bubble and think and create works that imagined a better world, works that were shared on Memefest festival each year and crucially contributed to a nuanced and complex dialogue about Socially Responsive Communication. Shaoib was also a very sensitive artist and his works in ceramics express his search for the good and the beautiful.

He died in Colombia where he was in his semester break teaching at the department of Architecture. One of the last things he did was the curatorial feedback he wrote from his Colombian hotel room for Memefest Friendly competition 2013, on Food Democracy.

Shoaib was entering all his relationships with utmost respect and has spiced them up with sweet wittiness. The time with him was enriched with the most precious friendship. He's contribution to Memefest was crucial and without him Memefest would not be what it is today. He will be greatly missed.

Oliver, Vida, Dejan, Rok, Ana, Claudia, Nikola

Harvest- the Memefest/QCA Award

After our Friendly Competition results, here our second harvest this year, again, with fantastic outcomes.

We are excited to announce this years special Memefest/ Queensland College of Art- Griffith University Award for Imaginative Critical Intervention.

The award for Imaginative Critical Intervention is given to support critical thinking, as the ability to see situations as they are and imagine them differently in a way that can emancipate and lead to transformation through intervention. Such interventions can be many things. They create a rupture in the order of things with the goal to redefine our relationships between being, doing and saying and our fields of experience. Such interventions conditioned by critical thinking are tightly connected to the principle of response-ability, which is an active position of engagement and the quality to transformatively act in situations, insisting that what matters are the human implications and not only the market implications of situations.

Curated by Dr George Petelin and Dr Oliver Vodeb, the receivers of the award that will be invited to Brisbane- Australia to take part in our in residence program are:

I. Mohammad Naser (Bangladesh) for his work Seeds of Hope/Destruction in which he deals with the core of Food Democracy and life itself- the seed. He examines the relation between bio-engineered seeds and the people that are affected by them. Focusing on Bangladesh and mostly on the farmers, Mohammad produces a compelling narrative that touches many of the problems related to hybrid seeds: destruction of biodiversity, enslavement of farmers through debt and destruction of the environment. The award is given for his work submitted:


and for his photographic work related to it:


II. Eugenio Tisselli, Odilón Martínez and Families in Tlahuitoltepec (Mexico) for the work Los ojos de la milpa (The eyes of the milpa). "Throughout a crop-growing cycle, families from the Juquila and Santa Ana ranches use smartphones to capture images and record sounds of whatever happens in their milpas, and to post them on a special website. By doing this, they share their knowledge, their concerns, their ways of doing and their ways of thinking. They make themselves present by presenting their stories to us, by showing us how they live and work in a community which resists as it transforms. Through their own words and points of view, they leave a testimony of a crucial moment in which the urgency of finding a balance between nature and technology, between culture and productivity, can be felt."

Los ojos de la milpa is a wonderful project that connects ancient knowledge about nature with a reflection of current times and its pressures through dialogic pedagogy. It's tactical media context not only translates deep localities to the wider world but emancipates knowledge that is under attack even in the very remote regions of Mexico.

The award is given for the importance of the work and the following quality: Respect. In the words of the author, the work is good: "Because it is respectful: it respects the farmers' voices and opinions by not filtering or distorting them. It presents their views, their concerns, their ways. The project also respects their language, as every effort was made to translate and transcribe their words spoken in Mixe. Finally, it is good work because the web interface and the mobile app were designed to be as simple as possible, allowing even non-expert users to access them."


III. Miha Mazzini and Marko Plahuta (Slovenia) for the work Eat for Democracy!
The authors playfully walk on a very fine line between humor, science, politics and cultural analysis. Taking information from knowledge basis: all of the recipes from Food.com and democracy indexes of The Economist and Wikipedia; they linked national cooking recipes with the countries, split recipes into ingredients and added democracy indexes to them.

Now, how democratic is Pizza? How democratic is garlic, salt or milk? Or pesto sauce? Yeah, there is a difference of the food eaten in Democratic, troubled or authoritarian countries and the ingredients of food mirror democracy too. In the words of the authors;" How can one quickly distinguish between "troubled" and "good" country? In the "troubled" country you will be offered a white wine, while in a "good" country you'll get only water (but a lot of it)."

So, either you eat Hot dogs for breakfast of drink beetroot juice not only you might do that in a particular political climate more than in another but you also will support or oppose a political system with your eating choices. The award is given for the original approach, humor and imaginary potential.


--Honorary mention: Mariano Mussi (Argentina) for his work The Hidden Sacrifice. Mariano writes about the invisible relation between food, life, death and the predatory spectacle of the market. What is important appears, what appears is important. Death and our relationship to animal death is designed unimportant- with purpose. This is about disconnecting us from nature. That food and the food system are designed in this way shows our profound mistake as food is our most intimate relation to nature. Death, love, blood, life as an intervention?


Our warmest congratulations to all authors!!

Have a look at what exactly were the festival outlines here: http://www.memefest.org/en/competition/intro/
And have a look at the main Friendly competition results here: http://www.memefest.org/en/gallery/works2013/

The in residence program is structured around a direct collaboration with QCA academics Dr George Petelin and Dr Oliver Vodeb, together with all three recipients of the Award, and other mentors from areas of design (http://designfutures.com.au/) and communication studies as well as with experts and activists engaged in to Food Democracy. The intensive extradisciplinary workshop will take place between November 4th and November 11th.

Besides international receivers of the Memefest/QCA award we will invite also:

I. Queensland College of Art students whose submitted works have been curated in this years Friendly competition;

II. Members of local Brisbane community who have submitted works we liked a lot or are/have been involved in non institutionalised Memefest related activities;

The Workshop will take place at the Queensland College of Art (http://www.qcagriffith.com/) and other places in Brisbane. We will work on further extradisciplinary interrogation of this years festival theme - FOOD DEMOCRACY, with the aim to critically intervene in Brisbane’s public space.

It is great to see how our growing community is contributing to the local Brisbane scene and is together with local actors planting seeds of socially responsive communication design, art and pedagogy for social and environmental change.

More soon.


Food. Our closest relationship with nature. When we started to research this years theme FOOD DEMOCRACY it was almost impossible to imagine how far reaching it is. How very fundamental to our existence, our relationship to nature, to each other and to our selves it is.

The Food System is designed to serve a tiny minority of food producing corporations backed by copyright regimes. It serves distributors of food that usually travels around the globe before it gets on our plate. And it serves the industry of representation that creates a superficially designed world of designed food.

Our eating habits support a toxic food culture and the media together with specific communication practices institutionalize power relations fundamental to the food system.

Food creates social relations. It is the perfect medium for close, intimate and ethical relations. But as we can see it is also the perfect medium for instrumental relations based on manipulation, hyper consumerism, designed simulatioon and profit.

In our Festival outlines we asked: So what can Communication and Art do in order to contribute to FOOD DEMOCRACY? We have to realize that FOOD DEMOCRACY is about a shared fate, shared resources, shared risks and shared solutions. Creating publics, nurturing the commons through involved, inclusive and dialogic communication is at the core of socially responsive strategies and in opposition to the exclusionary delusions of dominant communication practices.

But our semiotic landscape, the ecology of the image, the technologies of communications, the credibility of art are all changing rapidly. How can we respond and gain autonomy through communication and art today? How can we contribute to FOOD DEMOCRACY and what are the specifics of socially responsive communication and art in relation to it?

Your responses are here. Contributions to our process from 25 Countries show a incredible range of approaches. Most of the works are culturally specific approaches, although in many we can see parallels and the proof how global the problems we are facing are. Works range from strategies addressing cultural priorities, to community building projects, to photo documentary essays about food consumption, to an interactive project that parallels the five stages of sleep with an obsession to junk food and zines that help students living in shared houses interact with food in more holistic and positive manner.. From eco-feminist theoretical approaches to essays about flowers as food and food distribution systems... visual concepts of an honest supermarket and explorations on why people find vegetarians more attractive (in Australia) or what is the relation between corn and war.

This is the first global investigation of FOOD DEMOCRACY from the perspective of communication/design and one of the rare ones from the perspective of Art- and here at Memefest we are speaking about something very specific, namely participatory art ideally as an extradisciplinary practice.

The works sent to Memefest show this year again proof of a strong international network engaged into Socially Responsive Communication and Art. This, of course, is fantastic.

We are also very happy to see a revitalized node in our network coming from Colombia- interesting visual approaches and one of the strongest texts we received in the category Critical Writing comes from there and to see the amount of work done in this part of the world for this theme and in relation to Memefest is highly inspiring.

We are also very happy to see strong activity in United Arab Emirates and all over Australia. Besides Queensland College of Art, University of Ballart and University of Technology Sydney, both submitted high quality works, some of them ranking among the very best.

Big congratulations to everyone that submitted their works. But most of all and especially to the authors of the curated and edited ones. Our unique dialogic curatorial and editorial process does not define winners but a range of works that have been recognized as the best. So...here they are... we are excited to announce and present them:

In order to analyze the works read the descriptions and check the presented works together with personal data of the authors. Read our written curatorial and editorial feedback in relation to the background of the curators and editors. Feedback is in English, Spanish and Serbian language. As our process is public, you are warmly invited to give feedback to the works and contribute to an extended dialogue. This input from your side is highly important!

So what comes next? This are our main festival results, but more is to come and what comes is important. On August 10th the receivers of the Memefest/Queensland College of Art Awards will be announced. On August 25th the receiver of the special Zdravko Papič award will be announced. Our new book on the theme DEBT/Communication and Art will be published in October, around that time a special Memefest issue of the peer reviewed Journal Zoontechnica will be published too. And a special event including a public intervention will be held in late November in Brisbane. Keep on checking this space for all that comes next.

This year the festival outcomes are particularly strong. This is thanks to everyone who contributed to the dialogue around FOOD DEMOCRACY/Communication and Art and thanks to the many friends, comrades, collaborators, supporters that keep on putting their time and efforts and energies in to this and helping us make Memefest Festival the best and biggest project of its kind. Thank you Claudia Jurado for your collaboration in Colombia at University Caldas and Andina, Ben Mangan for your collaboration at University Ballarat, Zoe Sadokierski for your collaboration at University of Technology Sydney and Alan Hill from QCA for your collaboration in bringing in to the process a stronger photo journalistic presence. A big thank you goes to the members of our editorial and curatorial board, we are happy to work with the best ones.

Rock'n Roll and with Love Conflict and Imagination-
Oliver and Memefest Kolektiv

FOOD DEMOCRACY: Deadline is closed- works from 25 countries received!

We are very excited to have received works from around the world to this years Friendly competition!!

The theme FOOD DEMOCRACY has triggered lot's of creative energy and work. It was and is a highly interesting journey for us too. The more we investigate, the more we see how alienating and exclusive the current food system is. What we can do is to think of possibilities for redirection, inovation, recoding, education and collaboration and than put things in to practice, the practice of our everyday life.

Now the internal process begins: first we need to make sure all works are submitted properly. After that a short list will be curated. Than this selection will be curated again by the Memefest Friendly competition curators and editors. They will take three weeks time to evaluation and best works will get special written feedback. The results of this public (meta) curatorial approach will be published here online for anyone to reed. Of course there will be feedback opportunity for everyone and especially this is something we will encourage. But we'll talk more about this process later.

So when will we publish results? You need to know that this process of evaluation is highly important to us. Thorough evaluation takes time and effort.
Our curators and editors will have three weeks time and given the preselection process all together will take more than a month of work. Results will be published than and the curated works known. Also we will than announce the three recipients of the Memefest/QCA award for Imaginative Critical Intervention.

For now let's get back to work. We are excited to see and read your submissions.

Thanks to everyone who has submitted works. It is important! In this way you all are contributing to the process of research, theory and practice of Socially Responsive Communication and Art. It is crucial that we work together in developing these communication approaches. We have come a long way already.

More soon.

With Love Conflict and Imagination, Oliver- Memefest Kolektiv

Artists, critical writers and communication design interventionists- 10 more days to go!

Well, well... as we are receiving festival works from around the globe- here a reminder. Ten more days till deadline!

Check more about the Awards for yourself:


And here more about our friendly competition outlines:


Remember, critical writing and visual communication practice relate to the FOOD DEMOCRACY theme

The participatory art for social change category "Beyond:" has separate outlines, but works can also relate to Food Democracy!

Submit your work here:



Three more weeks to go. Our deadline to submit to the Friendly competition is May 20th. (Ps: Deadline is extended to May 31!) As it goes with competitions - the question of awards arises. Memefest is here pretty special. In the past twelve years, since we started we have developed a unique approach to the competition. On that is participatory, public, collaborative, dialogic and research driven. One that is more formative than selective. Through this we change the very logic of the game.

This post on Awards is about your chance to get invited to a very special event, designed as a research seminar/conference- workshop- public intervention in Brisbane Australia. Pretty exciting stuff!!

The award for Imaginative Critical Intervention is given in collaboration with the Queensland College of Arts/ Griffith University and is part of our new artist/designer-communicator/theorist in residence program that was started last year. We will fly one author of a chosen project in each category (Visual communication practice, Beyond..., Critical writing) to Brisbane, Australia.

The Award promotes excellence in design/communication for social and environmental change and connects Memefest's philosophy with the philosophy of the Design Futures program at QCA.

The award for Imaginative Critical Intervention is given to support critical thinking, as the ability to see situations as they are and imagine them differently in a way that can emancipate and lead to transformation through intervention. Such interventions can be many things. They create a rupture in the order of things with the goal to redefine our relationships between being, doing and saying and our fields of experience. Such interventions conditioned by critical thinking are tightly connected to the principle of response-ability, which is an active position of engagement and the quality to transformatively act in situations, insisting that what matters are the human implications and not only the market implications of situations.

The main reason for Memefest’s collaboration with QCA are its progressive forces and the launch of the ambitious Design Futures program (www.designfutures.com.au), which in many ways shares common philosophical frameworks in theory and practice with Memefest. Design Futures is the first program that attempts to implement a radical and therefore productive critique of the design profession within a whole university department. It's pedagogy and research aim to be tightly connected with the strong traditions of critical thought. Usually (if at all) such critical attempts are being made on a much smaller scale. In any case they are extremely rare. Memefest has from its start- ten years ago- collaborated with universities from around the world and has contributed to inner institutional change. To contribute to developments, which have been so far developed mainly outside institutional contexts is really exciting as they are a historic opportunity.

Besides for design/communication, the award is also given for artistic practices. The special category Beyond... encourages participatory art that works towards social change. Here the link: http://www.memefest.org/en/competition/beyond_intro/

And of course, the category Critical writing focuses on essays or theoretical work, that reflects on this years theme FOOD DEMOCRACY. Link here: http://tinyurl.com/dxqhn97

If awarded, you will be able to participate in a special workshop for extradisciplinary investigation at the Queensland College of Art. You will be invited to collaborate with some of the best hearts and minds in communication/design/art: theory/practice on a project that will result in a public intervention in the city of Brisvegas.

Have a look at last years awarded works here: http://tinyurl.com/brv62zw

See what happened at the last Memefest event in Brisbane here: http://tinyurl.com/cs9yo3z

So, good luck. Your submission is important as it is also a contribution to the international discussion and to the research process on socially responsive communication and art. We are very much looking forward to it!


Hola! Este es un llamado, una oportunidad y una invitación a todo el que quiera contribuir e involucrarse en una intervención en el espectáculo corporativo global de los medios del presente.

Cada año, Memefest selecciona un texto y/o una imagen que nos sirve como punto focal para una toma crítica en el ambiente actual de medios y comunicación. En función de realizar acercamientos creativos basados en perspectivas interdisciplinarias, prácticas y teóricas diversas, se invita a participar en categorías diferentes.

La competición amistosa tiene tres divisiones principales: práctica en Comunicación VisualEscritura Crítica y Más Allá... Esta abierta para que participe cualquiera que quiera hacerlo. Cualquier artista, activista, escritor, diseñador, indignado, educador o manipulador de los medios puede entrar. No hay restricción de edad. El único límite es tu creatividad & imaginación.

La fecha límite para entregar tus trabajos es hasta el 20 de Mayo de 2013!





Oliver Vodeb






I am a member of Memefest communication/art/theory Kolektiv, and founder, curator and editor of Memefest Festival of Socially Responsive Communication and Art. Iam also facilitator of Memefest online social network.

I am an Academic at RMIT University, Melbourne. I teach and research mostly in the field of communication design. I approach design/communication from a critical inter/ extradisciplinary perspective and I investigate theoretical, strategic, conceptual and "hands on" practice.

I enjoy working in many different media including visual and text.

Books I have published :





This was my studio in Slovenia (2004-2012): www.poper.si

CV (sort of): http://www.memefest.org/en/about/who_we_are_oliver_vodeb/

You can read some of my texts here:

I have joined the Memfest community becasue i am interested in

I have been here from the very beginning of Memefest. I am interested in communication/design for social and environmental change.
I name such communication socially responsive communication.

Broadly speaking I am interested in visual communication, photography, sociological aspects of communication, design and media.

Iam interested in institutionalised forms of communication like for example communication done by design/communication studios and advertising agencies as well as non institutionalised forms of communication like tactical media or broader aspects of media activism.

In a slightly more academic language:

I am interested in how critical social theory can illuminate the complex processes of production, distribution and reception of public (visual) communication in order to generate public communication as a responsible social, political, economic and cultural practice.

I am particularly interested in relations between concepts of response-ability and communication effectiveness, and the social construction of design and other forms of pubic communication as profession, practice and praxis within academia, the market environments and non-institutionalised communities.


was studiing at Faculty for social sciences University of Ljubljana


PhD in sociology of communication and design

Working place

RMIT University, School of Design, Master of Communication Design

Music I like

Flamming Lips, Pixies, The Black Crowes, Demeter, Porno for Pyros, Ry Cooder, Junior Kimbrough, Townes van Zandt, T-model Ford, The Dirty Three, Bonnie Prince Billy, Primus, Faith no More, Bob Dylan, RHCP, Alice Donut, Faith no more, Mark Lanegan, Reigning Sound, Total Control;

Books I like

The Unbearable Lightness of Being, A Confederacy of Dunces, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, PanikHerz...;

Films I like

The man who wasn't there, No country for old man, Genova, Zidane a 21st century portrait, There will be blood, Il Postino, Festen, Straight Story, Wild at heart, White Ribbon, Dog tooth;

Communication projects I like

I like stuff we did at Poper studio. I like posters from Inkahoots. I like the zine project 23/56 from Kevin. I like many things that were submitted to Memefest, I like stuff from Cactusnetwork, I like the work of Image-shift.

Websites I like

poper.si, memefest.org, magnumphotos.com, mubi.com, ubu.com, http://twotheories.blogspot.com, brianholmes.wordpress.com, www.lensculture.com, www.burnmagazine.org, www.bagnewsnotes.com, www.cactusnetwork.org.uk, http://www.image-shift.net, www.inkahoots.com.au/

People I like

My dear family and my wonderful friends.