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1968: Revolution I Love You

CACT Thessaloniki, Trafó Gallery Budapest, IPS Birmingham 2008
Artists: Mladen Stilinović, Tamás St.Auby, Zofia Kulik, Stefanos
Tsivopoulos, Oliver Ressler, Fia-Stina Sandlund, Miklós Erhardt, Heath, Bunting, Marko Lulić, Tamás Kaszás, Jean-Baptiste Ganne, Nancy Davenport, Csaba Nemes, Zanny Begg

Curated by Maja and Reuben Fowkes
 
‘Revolution I Love You’ is a slogan from May ’68 that recalls the exuberance, deep desire for change and belief in the possibility of freedom illuminating a precious moment of universal revolt. The exhibition investigates 1968 as an interlude of liberty and global resistance, focussing on the interplay between the politics of the street, radical philosophy, and the explosion of creative responses in the period. It considers the modalities of the unrest across Europe against the backdrop of contrasting economic and political systems in East and West.

One of the most significant aspects of 68 was its translocality and it can be considered the first global protest movement with insurrections, correspondences and acts of solidarity across the world. Opposition to the war in Vietnam mobilised thousands on both sides of the Atlantic, while student revolts spread through campuses demanding greater freedom and fairer social systems. The formation of workers councils during factory protests were brief exercises in direct democracy experienced from Renault Billencourt to Fiat Turin and Skoda Pilsen. In Czechoslovakia the lifting of censorship raised hopes for the dawning of ‘socialism with a human face’ that challenged both the Eastern Bloc and the western capitalist model.

The revolutionary year of 1968 is also synonymous with a radical philosophical shift. Theorists were deeply involved with the protest movements, either on a practical level or through the intellectual response that the uprising demanded. The Praxis group of philosophers from Zagreb, for example, brought together leading neo-Marxist intellectuals from Marcuse to Fromm to discuss the new meaning of revolution. In France, political theorists had to move fast to keep up with the revolutionary practices emerging on the Parisian street. The interchange between philosophy, protest and art was a notable feature of ‘68, just as the fusion of theory, action and art is a powerful force today.

The exhibition included artists from the neo-avant-garde generation, who provided a direct link to the revolution spirit or the period, as well as younger artists who reflected on the revolutionary legacies of 1968.