In the antique shop, these shabby but compelling vintage posters were labelled simply “WWI.” There was no provenance to prove it, but little reason to doubt it, and I took them home. Online research turned up another copy of the print, which maintained a printer’s mark and a date of 1917, so the posters do indeed date from the early days of U.S. involvement in the war. The words “GIVE!” and “LEND!” were often used in the various campaigns to fund the war effort: a propaganda appeal to a shared commitment.

The simple one-word exhortations on these prints immediately reminded me of 21st-century social media, although the comparison was not flattering. Scanning an Instagram feed of an artist’s labors, it’s common to see tossed-off comments like “LOVE!” or “FIRE!”, “WANT!” or “NEED!” Especially taken in bulk, such effusive praise strikes me as a distressingly superficial kind of engagement. I suppose shallow art criticism is largely harmless. But this frantic model of connection is not unique to the cultural sphere. In the realm of electoral politics, social justice, or international warfare, the media we use to connect seem to offer us so much, but require so little.

My own posters, screen-printed in glittery inks the color of loose change, are scattered in proximity to these hundred-year-old broadsides. In this time, I find myself with more questions than answers, and this project represents a slight departure: less a polemic satire, and more a poetic rumination on discourse, sacrifice, and the binding agents of society.