Peace for Paris
It took about a minute and a few brush strokes for artist Jean Jullien to create the symbol that within twenty-four hours of the terrorist attacks in Paris had spread across the globe. In what he describes as a spontaneous response to the news of the attacks, Jullien combined the peace symbol, originating in the anti-nuclear movement of the late 1950s, with a silhouette of the Eiffel Tower, iconic emblem of Paris. Shortly before midnight on that Friday, he posted his sketch on Twitter and Instagram. The ’Peace for Paris’ symbol quickly spread to Facebook and other social media, appeared on T-shirts, flags and banners, and has been part of all the manifestations against the terrorist attacks, regardless of location. Jullien has a collection of these images in his smart phone: the symbol as a formation of candles, as being held by Malela, being raised by crowds gathered in stadiums, as displayed behind newscasters, and on screens in public space. The artist wants it to be used as widely as possible. He has taken out a copyright in order to protect the symbol from commercial use; any money made from the the ’Peace for Paris’ emblem goes to charity.
The origins of this symbol and its appearance across an expanding sphere of manifestations is directly relevant to my study in the Screening Protest project. I am looking at how symbols arise and are used in protests and how these appear across media, and particularly in news. I am especially interested in how some of these symbols evolve and attain new meanings in different places, as they become attached to new issues of protest. ’Peace for Paris’ is an example of this, carrying the power of its earlier uses as a symbol for peace, into its contemporary incarnation, where it has become charged with additional layers of meaning in response to the current tragedy. As is evident in the amount of coverage the symbol and its artist have received, ’Peace for Paris’ itself has become a topic of news.
Screening Protest — "Peace for Paris," in The Screening Protest Project, November 27, 2015