Art Of Solidarity At International Slavery Museum

Courtesy Lincoln Cushing/Docs Populi Archive:
A NEW exhibition, Art of Solidarity: Cuban posters for African liberation 1967 – 1989, will open next week at the International Slavery Museum, with a display of 32 rarely-seen posters – beautifully designed examples of graphic art – produced by the Organisation in Solidarity with the People of Africa, Asia and Latin America (OSPAAAL). Following the recent death of Cuba’s revolutionary leader, Fidel Castro, these iconic posters offer a timely reminder of Cuba’s support for African independence movements and its long struggle against foreign political and economic domination. The exhibition opens on Friday 13 January and runs until 18 June 2017. Entrance is free. Support for the struggles of other nations is an important part of the national culture of Cuba, owing to its long history of fighting against foreign political and economic domination. Art of Solidarity is the first exhibition to focus on OSPAAAL’s campaigning links with Africa. Stephen Carl-Lokko, Curator, International Slavery Museum, said: “The exhibition is a fascinating snapshot into the history of the solidarity poster which grew rapidly in Cuba during the 1960s. The posters are beautifully designed, yet reflect some of the most ruthless conflicts and historically-significant events taking place in Africa during the Cold War era.” Founded in Havana, Cuba in 1966, OSPAAAL is a Non-Governmental Organisation recognised by the United Nations. It has a board of representatives from all over the world, with the stated aim to promote ‘solidarity with the Third World people’s struggles, claims and most precious desires’. OSPAAAL was the primary producer of international solidarity posters in Cuba until production stopped in the mid-80s, following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Stephen continued: “The posters were prepared primarily using an off-set printing technique, combining art, photography and text. They are striking and political. The Cuban artists brought their own particular style to their poster, using simple images and symbolism to convey complex ideas and subjects. Many of the works focus on the fight against foreign domination and the struggle for self-determination, conveying resistance to colonialism and apartheid, including visual references to the struggle against racism and discrimination. They fit perfectly in the International Slavery Museum”. The posters are part of the private collection of architect and collector, Michael Tyler. They are not usually on public display so this is a rare opportunity to see the collection. Michael said: “The bulk of my collection dates from OSPAAAL’s founding in 1966 to the mid 70’s, which is referred to as the ‘Golden Period’ of Cuban poster art. It is no coincidence this was a time of great political and social unrest with the civil rights movement, Vietnam War, Watergate scandal and struggles against apartheid all providing fuel to creative fire. “The main appeal for me is the graphics, however, I’ve found the more I learn about the historical context of the posters, the more they reveal hidden symbolism and imagery. And, for me, the posters provide an insight into many of the conflicts that continue to plague regions of the world today.” For more information about the exhibition, see #artofsolidarity and www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/artofsolidarity