Reclaiming the image of the 1968 protests

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1968 resistance protests, the Brussels-based museum Bozar has exhibited a collection about resistance -- one that proves radically different from the usual depictions of 1968. 

Marjan Justaert
Marjan Justaert De Standaard, Belgium
Source: De Standaard
Reclaiming the image of the 1968 protests - NewsMavens
Protest 1968, Wikimedia Commons

Why this story matters:

When it comes to Belgian media, most discussions about 1968 are led by white men talking about the student protests in Louvain and how their experiences. That's why the exhibition at Bozar (the Brussels Museum of Fine Arts) is a breath of fresh air.

Christine Eyene, its curator, has composed a much more universal look back at 1968, placing famous names such as Steve Schapiro or Henri Storck next to new discoveries.

The (sometimes unspoken) link with the present is remarkable and even touching. 

Belgian artists such as Marcel Broothaers are represented, but the exhibition also focuses on the Prague Spring, as well as Brazil, Colombia, Russian artists and of course on the apartheid in South-Africa. The anti-apartheid protests from the seventies are compared to today’s situation in the US.  In works by Hank Willis Thomas, the sporting achievements of black sports men and women are honored. But the most burning question to emerge from the exhibition is undoubtedly: "Has anything changed?"

Details from the story:

  • The Bozar itself played a role during the 1968 protests.
  • The sixties are center stage in "Resist". Not only the events of May 1968 in Paris but protest movements across the globe during this decade. 
  • It opens with Brodsky's work "1968, the Fire of Ideas".
  • The exhibition explores how photographers recorded protests and showed them to a wider audience, often putting themselves in danger. It also shows how artists drew inspiration and portrayed resistance and what the legacy of the sixties' protests represents for us today.

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