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Don't be too Polite: Posters and Activism
  • Victoria Perin

18 Feb 2017
8 Nov 2016 - 19 Mar 2017

The title of Don't Be Too Polite: Posters and activism cuts off the gendered call made by the sing-song union ditty: Don't be too polite, girls, don't be too polite / Show a little fight, girls, show a little fight. A sensible (if regrettable) choice, as indeed the un-fair sex is also represented in this exhibition of screen prints made by various Melbourne poster collectives in the 1980s and 90s. The ratio of women to men was also noted at a related panel discussion, when a large audience crowded into the level two exhibition room on a Saturday afternoon, to hear a discussion on poster art and collectivism. Excluding the host (Roger Butler, Senior Curator of Prints and Drawings from the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra), of the five speakers there was only one male artist on stage. When an audience member quibbled about the quota, each of the artists demurred, graciously refusing what I interpreted as bait, saying broadly it was characteristic of their particular collectives: sometimes gender was an issue, sometimes it was not. This typified the collegiate discussion, in which the five artists talked nostalgically about the posters they made when they were young.

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