Beauty Is in the Street: A Visual Record of the May 68 Uprising


Beauty Is in the Street: A Visual Record of the May 68 Uprising is 2011 book of posters produced by the Atelier Populaire (Popular Workshop) in support of the May 1968 events in France. It was edited by Johan Kugelberg with Philippe Vermés and published in the United Kingdom by Four Corners Books in 2011. The Atelier Populaire, who designed and printed the posters, were a group of Marxist artists and art students who occupied the École des Beaux-Arts during with the wave of wildcat strikes in May 1968. Using a silk-screen printing press they produced thousands of posters at a time. They typically were printed on newssheet using a single colour, and use a simple iconography in which the factory represents the role of workers in society and the fist stands for solidarity and resistance (see right). They comment on topics including the freedom of the press (see also Censorship in France), colonialism (see also French colonial empire) and the status of immigrant workers (see also Immigration to France). The posters were also used to voice opposition to consumerism and were inspired by the Situationist International‘s critique of the spectacle and Georges Perec‘s 1965 novel Things: A Story of the Sixties. Though the posters display various styles, individual artists were never credited and each work was treated as the work of the collective. General assemblies (see General assembly (Occupy movement)) were held to discuss and vote on the posters. In a 1969 book of the posters, the Atelier Populaire wrote ‘To use them for decorative purposes, to display them in bourgeois places of culture or to consider them as objects of aesthetic interest is to impair both their function and their effect.’ Much of the imagery they created, including a poster of a truncheon-wielding riot policeman (right) has since achieved iconic status. …”
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