During World War Two, while the British government used exhibitions as propaganda, anti-fascist Artists International Association (AIA) also recognised exhibitions’ potential as communication. Founded in London in 1933 the AIA had declared exhibitions - mounted on bombsites and billboards - a form of ‘demonstration’, a means through which to express solidarity and raise urgent issues. AIA’s For Liberty exhibition, held in 1943 on a London bombsite, was one such ‘demonstration’. Mounted by a group including German émigré designer FHK Henrion, recently returned from British internment, the exhibition - amplifying the four freedoms of the UN Charter - asserted the importance of maintaining culture in a democracy. In this paper I analyse how AIA used exhibitions as political vehicles as enacted through For Liberty, considering how it provided a space for artists and designers on the left, many of them refugees, to work for a common cause. I discuss the democratic ideals contingent on choice of site and analyse its content, which drew visitors in to a sense of the common with ‘ethical immediacy’ (Ranciere, 2012), its integration of graphics, text and image and AIA’s use of public space as site of ‘plural performativity’ (Butler, 2015).
|Title of host publication||ICDHS Conference Proceedings 2020|
|Publication status||Published - Oct 2020|