Chinese poster
Long live the great Communist
Party of China’ 伟大的中国共产党万岁.
Jiang Nanchun 江南春, Yao Zhongyu 姚中玉.
Shanghai People’s Publishing House,
1974, 1975.
Poster from the University of
Westminster’s Chinese Poster Collection.

Private View: 11 May 2011, 6.30 - 8.30pm
Exhibition: 12 May – 14 July 2011

Posters from Mao’s China exercise an enduring appeal to audiences across the globe, more than sixty years after the events that produced them. They are revisited in modern and contemporary Chinese art and commercial design, and curated in exhibitions in China, the US and Europe.

So why does imagery produced to support a revolutionary ideology half a century ago continue to resonate with current Chinese and Western audiences? What is the China we see between posters of the Mao years and their contemporary consumerist reinventions? How do we explain the diverse responses such imagery evokes? And what does the appeal of the posters of Mao’s China tell us about the country’s ‘red legacy’?

Poster Power explores some of these questions through setting up a visual dialogue between posters produced between the 1950s and the 1970s and their echoes in recent years. With posters from the University of Westminster’s Chinese Poster Collection, Chinese video art, documentary film, photographs, and contemporary items such as playing cards and nightclub advertising, the exhibition invites viewers to explore the posters’ ambiguities of appeal to their audiences. As visual reminders of both autocratic rule and exuberant youthful idealism, they evoke diverse responses, challenging the idea that Cultural Revolution poster propaganda transmitted a single, transparent meaning. These posters’ capacity to inspire ambiguous responses opens up new narratives of what remains a complex period of China’s recent past, and sheds light on its changing significance in contemporary China.

View the slideshow of the Private View

Download the Poster Power: Exhibition Catalogue

Download the Poster Power: Exhibition Poster


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