14 June 2007

Red on Black: The Story of the South African Poster Movement by Judy Seidman

(STE, Johannesburg, 2007; 237 pp.)

Red on Black tells the story of the graphics and visual art movement that emerged around South Africa's struggle for liberation and human dignity. From 1975 to 2000, the South African poster movement produced thousands of striking images that recorded, interpreted, and engaged with the mass struggle for a new South Africa.

This book begins to place these images of resistance - posters, graphics, paintings on banners and murals on walls - into their crucial position within South Africa's visual heritage. It takes an indepth look at the South African poster movement: at who made this art and how they made it, at the poster-makers' intentions and ideas and hopes; at the harsh repression under which people worked. Despite these pressures, the poster movement gave birth to a flowering of iconographies, styles, messages, and techniques, to visions, ideologies and aesthetics, that ultimately describe and represent the struggle for national liberation.

Moreover, these posters speak powerfully about their times. Many talk of events which today lie ignored or forgotten. Often, posters provide a key surviving record of those experiences that both shattered, and built our communities and our nation.Locating these posters in their historical context forms part of the on-going process of collecting and recording our history

Judy Seidman, the author of Red on Black, is at present curator of the poster collection at the South African History Archive. She was a poster-maker, a member of Medu Art Ensemble in Gaborone in the early 1980s, as well as a member of the collective that produced Images of Defiance in 1990. Red on Black comes out of extensive interviews with poster-makers and artists throughout South Africa, as well as the visual wealth of the posters collected in the South African History Archives.

SAHA launched Red on Black on the 14th of June 2007 at Constitution Hill. The date was selected in order to commemorate the Gabarone Raid of 1985 in which 14 people, among them Thami Mnyele, were killed by the SADF.

This book was made possible with the support of The Atlantic Philanthropies.






Keorapetse Kgositsile, National Poet Laureate at the book launch.