Art Gallery hosts political posters exhibition

POLITICAL agitators unite: a new exhibition has a little something for the activist in all of us.

Bringing together 50 years of political posters will be Got The Message?, a showcase of dissent and protest set to open at Art Gallery of Ballarat tomorrow. 

Curating the exhibition is Geoff Wallis, a retired art history lecturer from the University of Ballarat, who will provide 90 of the 230 or so posters on display.

“I’ve always been interested in posters, any kind. Posters are interesting in themselves because they wear two faces.

“On the one hand they’re artistic works, but they’re always works which have got something to say,” Mr Wallis said.

One of the most striking posters on display is “Q: And babies? A: And babies” by the Art Workers Coalition, which showcases the horrors of the My Lai massacre in Vietnam.

Mr Wallis said the poster had become increasingly rare, despite 50,000 being printed in 1969, and he had to travel to New York to find it.

In addition to the Vietnam War, other posters in the exhibit relate to the Chinese Cultural Revolution, the Solidarity movement in Poland and the Israel/Palestine conflict.

Closer to home, topics of nuclear disarmament, indigenous land rights and asylum seekers are also covered.

The posters are often blunt and to the point.“Most artworks are there and they operate over time, whereas posters are like ‘right, pay attention!’. There’s a directness about posters that you won’t necessarily find in other works,” Mr Wallace said.

The images used in the posters are designed to grab attention. One poster decrying violence against women by sports people is Mary Lou Pavlovic’s “Liar”, which shows a beaten woman wearing football supporter gear.

Mr Wallace said use of language was important in a medium that sought to make an immediate impact.

“Some of them are very much in your face.”

tom.cowie@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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