With the support of the French Institute affiliated with the French Embassy in Russia, the Moscow Museum of Modern Art presents the exhibition IT’S FORBIDDEN TO FORBID, the first part of a two-part project dedicated to the events of the 1968 movement in Paris and their impact on contemporary culture and society. The display at the MMOMA includes the original posters of 1968-1970 from private collections, magazines and newspapers of the time, video interviews with the protesters, special literature, documentaries and feature films, as well as a timeline of the 1968 movement events in France, Vietnam and Eastern Europe.
50 years ago France experienced large-scale upheaval, which made history as ‘May ‘68’, or the ‘May revolution’. The student riots in Paris grew into a wildcat general strike and then into a political crisis, which led to the dissolution of Parliament and early elections. The events of that spring and early summer in France are compared to a revolution, which, even though it didn’t overthrow the regime, had a crucial effect on the transformation of government and society and jumpstarted far-reaching social and cultural changes.
The events of May ’68 were the glorious hour of street rioting. As an instant response to the initiatives of the authorities, new propaganda posters and slogans would emerge each and every day. Many of them were creations of the so-called ‘popular workshop’ (Аtelier populaire), which during the movement events became virtually a clandestine typography. Among the exhibits to be displayed at the MMOMA there are such original posters from 1968-1970, as ‘To work now is to work with a pistol at your back’, (Travailler maintenant c’est travailler avec un pistolet dans le dos!), ‘Hold on, comrades, together till victory!’ (Tenez bon camarades tous unis juscu’a la victorie!), the SS poster featuring a riot policeman with a truncheon and a shield with the SS logo on it, or, for instance, the memorable poster ‘Workers, Unite!’ calling the French and migrants to stand united for their rights. The official mass media were under the control of De Gaulle’s government, accordingly, graffiti on walls and posters created by the campaigners turned into the voice of the streets, an alternative means of communication with the rest of society.
The MMOMA display starts with a timeline of the ’68 events in France from the publication of Guy Debord’s The Society of the Spectacle and the sack of the founder of the Cinémathèque Française Henri Langlois to the demonstration of thousands of De Gaulle’s supporters on the Champs Elisées and the final victory of Gaullist forces. A separate section of the display deals with the Vietnam War, which triggered a vigorous public response not only in France and the USA, but all over the world. The cartography of leftists’ thought will reveal all the variety of ideological and philosophical background of the ’68 revolutionary events in France and their impact on the development of leftist thought until the present day. The infographics is accompanied by a file where all movements and major figures are more thoroughly portrayed, with a bibliographical record. The display also will comprise sections featuring the events of the time in Eastern Europe and the international strike movement.
Events involving visitors into different forms of collective creative and research activity will be organized as part of the project. Among the events scheduled are workshops on creating cinétracts, sessions of Guy Debord’s Game of War, discussion on self-management problems, lectures on cinematography and much more.
The exhibition is to open at the venue of the MMOMA Educational Centre and goes in line with its goals and tasks, namely, to become a platform for self-education, creative and social initiatives, and academic research, to facilitate the integration into the community of social groups left out of the cultural exchange. The display will present video interviews with French protesters of ’68 movement taken by the exhibition curator Natalia Smolianskaya. The exhibition visitors also get the chance to explore literature and documentaries from 1968. They can play the artist Julio Le Parc’s interactive game Choose Your Enemy, which includes a dartboard with a set of members of different social classes. The players are to throw darts at them depending on their class-specific political opinions. The viewers are also invited to watch the films by the classic of French avant-garde cinema Alain Montesse featuring the era of ‘68.
The project at the MMOMA builds the documental and factual foundation to revisit the events of ’68 and to reconsider them from the perspective of the participants and based on their own accounts.