“Au mois de mai, fais ce qu’il te plait” (In the month of May, do whatever you like)
These posters, flyers and hand-outs were made by Marxist group The Atelier Populaire, who occupied the lithography studios at the École des Beaux-Arts during the Paris uprising of May 1968. The art students protesting American-style capitalism and imperialism used graphics and silk-screen printing press to create and print thousands of calls to action. There is something wonderfully French about the protests of 1968s, part of the city’s long tradition of street protest. But ‘Mai Pride’ is not enough. “On ne veut pas ’68; on veut 1789′,” says the slogan daubed on a wall in the city in 2018. We don’t want 1968, we want 1789.
May ‘68 itself was not an artistic moment. It was an event that transpired amid very few images; French television, after all, was on strike. Drawings, political cartoons – by Siné, Willem, Cabu, and others – proliferated; photographs were taken. Only the most ‘immediate’ of artistic techniques, it seems, could keep up with the speed of events. But to say this is already to point out how much politics was exerting a magnetic pull on culture, yanking it out of its specific and specialized realm.
– Kristin Ross, May ‘68 and its Afterlives, Chicago 2002
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