The 'May 68' French protests had an impact on French society for decades afterwards – and this May marks 50 years since it all began. Artistic movement in the form of song, imaginative graffiti, slogans and screen printed posters arose during the movement, which will be showcased in a new exhibition at Lazinc Sackville art gallery in London.
Civil unrest in France during May 1968 led to demonstrations, massive general strikes and the occupation of universities and factories across France. The national government momentarily ceased to function at the peak of the uprising. Unrest began with a student uprising against capitalism, consumerism and American imperialism. Amidst the turmoil, unique screen-printed posters were plastered along the walls of France as visual symbols, depicting solidarity between French students and workers, opposition to at the time French prime minister Charles De Gaulle and parliament, and denouncement of a fascist regime.
Lazinc is fortunate enough to own a collection of these original posters now as part of its permanent collection of counter cultural propaganda works.
Image: Mai 68, Posters from the Revolution, Action Civique Vermine Fasciste, 1968, courtesy Lazinc
In the gallery’s new exhibition, Mai 68: Posters from the Revolution, more than 50 posters which were produced during May and June in 1968, as well as films, imagery and memorabilia from the riots will be showcased.
There will also be a recreated screen-printing room from one of the Atelier Populaire studios – the working space in which the posters were created. The room will be left as if interrupted, posing the question of what the 'Mai 68' riots achieved.
Image: Mai 68, Posters from the Revolution, Le Meme Probleme La Meme Lutte, 1968, courtesy Lazinc
In light of recent protests and political graphic design (explored at the Design Museum), such as iconic work by Shepherd Fairy and JR, this exhibition also begs the questions: where would these posters sit in today’s protests? And how have they affected the art world we know today?
The exhibition runs from May 4 to 9. Admission is free.
Image: Mai 68, Posters from the Revolution, La Lutte Continue, 1968, courtesy Lazinc
Image: Mai 68, Posters from the Revolution, Vive La Lutte Des Travailleurs, 1968, courtesy Lazinc