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Unique group of Mai 1968 French political posters opens FRED's new project space
The Police Speak to You Every Night at 8 pm, 61.5 x 46 cms.

LONDON.- To launch their new project space FRED presents a unique group of Mai 1968 French political posters, alongside an archive of publications and material that examines the impact and influence of the French radical thinking of the late 1960s on London of the 1970s.

The French National Strikes of the late 1960s began as student strikes, which broke out at a number of universities in Paris. The de Gaulle administration's attempts to disperse and control the strikes by police action only inflamed the situation and led to street battles in the Latin Quarter, a general strike by students, and strikes throughout France. The Paris students were particularly active in producing posters documenting slogans for social reform using revolutionary artwork.

The “Situationist International” was heavily involved in the protests in 1968. The group rejected all art that separated itself from politics, and believed that the notion of artistic expression being separated from politics and current events “renders artwork that expresses comprehensive critiques of society impotent”. They published widely and many of their texts (especially key texts by Guy Debord) became available to UK intellectuals and students.

The reported success of the student demonstrations, strikes and sit-ins, led to a rash of student protests in the UK; the first student sit-in was held at the London School of Economics in 1967. It was organised by the Student Union because of student suspensions. A national student rally of 100,000 held during 1967/8, saw the start of an active UK student body. It campaigned against American involvement in the Vietnam War, and issues of Race, Class, and Equality; and led to a protest of 80,000 strong in Grosvenor Square, London. However, unlike in France, most students still believed that the UK had a functioning democratic system.

Alongside a rare selection of original Mai 1968 posters, which we are delighted to offer for sale, FRED presents selections from the left-wing political archive of Andrew Mann (1941 – 2009). As an activist closely involved with radical thinking, writing and campaigning, his archive represents not only one man’s political and social journey, but the impact of French radical thinking on the British Left between 1965 and 1975.

The exhibition is formed with particular reference to Mann’s contacts and work on various fronts, including: Amnesty International; Situationist International/UK; Solidarity!; the writings of both Guy Debord and Wilhelm Reich; Spare Rib; feminist and educational campaigning and reform; and his devout anti war stance. The archive contains material gathered from his time at The Sorbonne, Paris in 1967/8, SOAS, London in 1968/70 and his work with a wide variety of campaigning groups and figures during the 1970s in London. FRED will exhibit key publications, student produced posters from SOAS, original Art Work from Amnesty International and a small group of archive photographs by Jo Spence (1934-1992).

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