23 August 2016

Images of Defiance exhibit now on at Constitution Hill

Images of Defiance exhibit on display in Women's Jail, Constitution Hill, August 2016

“The story of political posters in the 1980s is the story of the people and organisations that produced them. The posters in this book were not produced by an artistic elite, but by the people of South Africa. They reflect a grassroots vision of the struggles of the present and hopes for the future. They were produced in the face of enormous odds, ranging from a basic lack of skills and resources to outright bannings, detentions, and sometimes death ... 

...these posters represent a major form of popular visual expression of the period, if not the major form. They are built upon the perceptions, realities and demands of the communities which produced them. People who had been deprived of visual expression turned their hands and creative impulses to making these posters. Many are exciting and beautiful to look at; others show the effects of being a 'first effort' battle with techniques. But above all, they map the spirit of the period — a people's struggle against repression, but also their struggle to catch and reflect a glimpse of a future democratic society.”

Foreword of Images of Defiance: South African Resistance Posters of the 1980s

Images of Defiance exhibit on display in Women's Jail, Constitution Hill, August 2016


SAHA has curated an exhibit of visual resistance materials now on display in the Women's Jail at Constitution Hill.

Entitled Images of Defiance, the display draws heavily on the 1991 Ravan Press publication of the same name, produced by the Posterbook Collective.

The Posterbook Collective was Emilia Potenza, Marlene Powell, Charlotte Schaer, Judy Seidman and Maurice Smithers, an activist grouping that had the foresight to document the story of visual resistance in the making of democracy in South Africa. 

The display brings together 39 posters originally featured in Images of Defianceand now archived in SAHA's extensive struggle poster collection, along photographs of posters in action, political banners and t-shirts from the struggle against apartheid, and visual resistance materials reflecting contemporary activism taking place in South Afrca today.