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NOW YOU HAVE TOUCHED THE WOMEN YOU HAVE STRUCK A ROCK:YOU HAVE DISLODGED A BOULDER;YOU WILL BE CRUSHED.

Theme: Medu posters: Images from exile


Call Number: 2618
Identifier: AL2446_2618
Title: NOW YOU HAVE TOUCHED THE WOMEN YOU HAVE STRUCK A ROCK:YOU HAVE DISLODGED A BOULDER;YOU WILL BE CRUSHED.
Date: August 1981
Subject: Images of Defiance- IOD;
MEDU ART ENSEMBLE;
women
Description: This poster is silkscreened in marbled black with green and yellow. It features the image of a woman holding up a piece of broken chain. The text reads: "NOW YOU HAVE TOUCHED THE WOMEN YOU HAVE STRUCK A ROCK:YOU HAVE DISLODGED A BOULDER;YOU WILL BE CRUSHED : 9 AUGUST: S.A. WOMEN'S DAY" Digitised by Specialised Archival Solutions in 2009. Reproduced in "Images of Defiance: South African Resistance posters in the 1980s" on page 11 (number 15) of the 1991 SAHA / Ravan Press edition and the 2004 SAHA / STE Publishers edition. It also appears on page 122 of “Red on Black: The Story of the South African Poster Movement”, SAHA / STE Publishers, 2007.Additionally this poster can be found in the SAHA Exhibition Kit, under Women.Duplicate poster: AL2446_3580.
Creator: Judy Seidman (MEDU ART ENSEMBLE)
Type: Poster
Format: Access image – jpeg
Preservation image – tiff
Source: SAHA Collection AL2446
Language: English
Coverage: South Africa
Rights: Copyright of some materials are held by individual postermakers/organisations. Copyright restrictions may apply. See SAHA copyright statement for more information.
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Comments

The conception, wording, and intent of the poster came out of a collective discussion of Medu Art Ensemble in March 1982; the artwork was designed by Judy Seidman as a member of Medu. The words are an English translation of the song sung during the 1955 Woman's March on Pretoria, Wathint abafazi wathint imbokodo.

The Medu discussion about the graphic design was notable for several reasons.

In the first design of this image, the woman was carrying an AK-47, rather than raising a clenched fist. The group decided that it was preferable not to print images of armed resistance in Botswana at that time; and it was changed to a clenched fist and broken chain. (Note: the original sketch, with the super-imposed drawing of the clenched fist that was taped over the original is available; however I cannot work out how to attach the photo into this comment box. I will send it separately to SAHA.)

Secondly, a male colleague proposed a line sketch of a woman with a clenched fist, where the woman was wearing a duk; her face was blank; her clenched fist was very small (perhaps "feminine" rather than "powerful"); and the figure comprised of an hourglass breast-waist-hips; moreover the words were the reduced phrase "you have touched the women, you have struck a rock". There was an intense and fairly antagonistic debate about how women should be represented in the liberation struggle; the colleague in question argued that the version proposed by Seidman was "not feminine" ; that the fist was too big, and that some people would not realise this image was a woman. After some arguement, the majority of the group preferred to go with the version as above.

This image was widely reproduced within the mass democratic movement, acting as a logo for several women's groups in the 1980s. A print of this poster is in collection of the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York.

Judy Seidman

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