Mario Salangsang
Art Director / Designer
Falling Whistles


An up-to-date bio

Mario Salangsang sprung to life in northern California circa nineteen-eighty-something. Half Mexican and half Filipino, young Salangsang grew up with a cultural freedom and flexibility that he found to be totally absent when he arrived in art school. There, he tasked himself with challenging the establishment’s euro-centric design standards and working to manifest an alternative perspective. With a group of like-minded friends, he joined the streetwear label 21st Century Maroon Colony, a line driven by rhythm, exploring diverse Afro-centric identities through digitized textiles.

Post 21MC, Salangsang kept to his own beat, dropped out of school and landed in New York City, where he worked as lead designer for Gaia (now known as Equitable Origins), a company ensuring environmental standards for gas and oil extraction. He then helped rebrand the global underground food phenomenon Dante Fried Chicken, as well as their award-winning LA food truck. It was during a particularly dark period diving into the NYC advertising design game that Salangsang met Sean Carasso through an old friend Marcus Price. Together in Mario’s apartment, they built the pocket sized history of the Congo conflict titled, The Breakdown: A Complex Emergency, as well as the visual identity for the Peace Is The New Frontier tour. A few weeks later, he and Sean met late at a local bar. The next morning he packed his bags and jumped in an RV to hit the road with Falling Whistles, a campaign for peace in Congo.

Since 2010, Mario has worked as Art Director of Falling Whistles. His distinct aesthetic and depth of concept has driven FW forward. In 2011, he built the Baptism of Liberty campaign, calling for a Special Envoy with a mandate to end the war, and Free & Fair elections for the first time in Congo’s modern history. In 2012, he built the 5 boys campaign, rooted in a question one boy asked another. Both being treated as enemies of the state, they had fought for opposing forces. When we asked if that made them enemies, one boy kissed the other and asked simply: We are only boys. How can we be enemies?” He recorded the sound of 5 boys speaking those words, and used the sound waves to create the visual language.

Shortly after the 5 boys campaign launched, a rebel army named M23 invaded Goma, a capital city where many of his friends live and work.
In a moment, kids were in hiding, journalists were silenced, a hospital was overrun, local leaders were assasinated. In 48 hours he and his team build a flash website stopM23.com. Over the next few days, tens of thousands of people would tweet UN Ambassasor Susan Rice, demanding that she, very simply, stop M23. The site highlighted Rwanda’s role in the funding and commanding of M23, calling for financial sanctions. Over the next few weeks, Congress held emergency hearings, and across the world half a billion dollars was frozen in bilateral aid until there were peace talks.

Four months later, M23’s leader Bosco Ntaganda surrendered and was brought to the Hague to face trial. The United States appointed a Special Envoy to end the war, as did the UN, the World Bank, and Germany. The first offensive peacekeeping force in history was appointed, and within months M23 had been completely defeated on the battlefield.

Since the stopM23 campaign, Mario has been able to spend some time with his wife traveling, and has gone all in on the Free World Reader. A quarterly publication, he and his team will explore centuries of whistleblowing information, and ask artists around the world to adapt it to their context. Issue 0 explored the deadliest war of our time, and the interdependent nature of the systems that create it. You can look forward to the Issue 1 in the fall of this year.


A description of what you believe
to be the focus of your work.

I think at it’s core, what I do is about whistleblowing. My way. Telling the truth the way I see it. In the Free World Reader, we talk about the idea that all change begins with a whistleblower. Big and small. Someone willing to say what needs to be said. My goal is to do just that with my art and communication.

Our goal is peace. It’s as simple as that. An end to the deadliest war of our time. My feeling is that while there is a great deal we can all disagree about, we can agree that after two decades of war and more than five million dead, it’s time for peace in Congo. So the focus of my work will be in illuminating commonality. Acting as a kind of visual thesaurus to translate the divergent manner in which we often communicate common ideals. As the world becomes more interdependent, it seems we all have a more vested in interest in long term, sustainable peace. I’d like to elevate that possibility.


A description of what you
will be working on in 2014 including
notes on timing/dates;

This year I’m focused on continuing to artistically direct the Free World Reader. It’s an experimental magazine and my unique challenge is in weaving together ideas and writings from history, film, journalism, philosophy, speeches, literature and pop culture in order to tell a cohesive, truthful story about how the world works. The content is highly visual. This year we will be examining the Anatomy of Power, and releasing issues around that idea in the Spring, Summer, and Fall. You can check out Issue 0 at freeworldreader.com.


The ways that we might mobilize the
globe to further your aims in 2014

I would love for the entire world to sign our global petition at peaceincongo.com. While we are publishing the reader, we will be collecting signatures toward three clarion calls: First, an end to impunity. Second, free & fair elections. And finally, a conflict-free supply chain for all of our electronic products, as well as coffee, palm oil, cars, planes etc. We’ll also be hosting our second annual global moment of unity for peace in Congo on December 10th, Human Rights Day. We will be in cities all over the world, and I think it would be amazing to see everyone come out.


A summary of the biggest
challenge you face moving forward
with your work

Over the last few years there has been a wave of cause-related work that has captured the public fascination. Much of this has been rooted in ideas of charity, and the reappropriating of those ideas in a new era of connected capitalism. The challenge is that it has dramatically overshadowed the long lasting tradition of solidarity movements. Human beings, coming together with other human beings, to solve challenges larger than either of them. That’s where my work has its roots. In listening and learning from other people and places, and working to reflect those ideas to my own.


Social:
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Contact:
Mario.Salangsang@Gmail.com