1980s

Art for Liberation’s Sake: The Activist Art of Gavin Jantjes

In his screen-prints of the 1970s, South African artist Gavin Jantjes sought to convey the urgency and interconnectedness of global Black liberation movements. As an art student in exile in Hamburg, Jantjes dedicated his early practice to raising awareness of the brutal injustices of the apartheid system in South Africa, engaging with anti-colonial struggles waged by African and African-Diasporic populations around the world. In this essay, art historian Allison K. Young looks at a selection of early abstracted, dynamic compositions which evidence his belief in the connection between art and resistance, and his commitment to solidarity between localized struggles across the diaspora.

Working with Peripheries: Workshop for the Restoration of Unfelt Feelings

In this essay, Māra Traumane guides readers through the diverse, interdisciplinary practice of the Riga-based collective Workshop for the Restoration of Unfelt Feelings (NSRD), which operated from the end of the 1970s until 1989. NSRD was involved in the avant-garde music scene as well as in architecture, and their activities ranged from concerts and the production of record albums to performances, writing, and video art.

Culture as a Weapon of Struggle: The Art of the Medu Poster You Have Struck a Rock (1981)

How do you historicize the events of the dehistoricized? From its inception in 1948, the apartheid regime implemented a system of institutionalized racial segregation against the nonwhite citizens of South Africa. In recent years, a counter narrative has emerged of a group of artists and activists who viewed “culture as a weapon of struggle” against the oppressive policies of the apartheid regime.