on exhibit

February 2018

Josh MacPhee – Amilcar Cabral


This poster is a portrait of African revolutionary Amilcar Cabral. Cabral was the leader of the PAIGC, the liberation movement of Guinea-Bissau in West Africa. Much of Cabral’s writing and speeches have been collected and published in English and are still available. Unlike many of his contemporaries who feel dated, his ideas still resonate deeply, especially his writing on culture and politics. He was murdered by the Portuguese secret police before he could see the liberation of his country.

Each layered pattern in the print is cut from the inside of a business envelope. As a kid I worked in a junk mail factory, one of the most tedious and meaningless jobs I’ve ever had. I like the idea of using that same junk to create something both beautiful and rich with significance.

Josh MacPhee is a designer, artist, and archivist. He is a member of the Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative (Justseeds.org), the co-author of Signs of Change: Social Movement Cultures 1960s to Now, and co-editor of Signal: A Journal of International Political Graphics and Culture. He helps run Interference Archive, a public collection of cultural materials produced by social movements (InterferenceArchive.org).
MacPhee began the Celebrate People’s History poster series in 1998 with Liz Goss. MacPhee, then actively putting artwork on the street, and Goss, a Chicago Public Schools teacher, both were looking for a way to create imagery and posters missing from their respective fields, particularly celebrations of people, groups, and actions that are important to understand the history of social justice struggles but have largely been erased or marginalized by mainstream representations of history. After the initial poster of Malcolm X, MacPhee ran with the project, inviting additional artists to design posters and regularly wheatpasting them in the street. As of 2018, 115 different poster designs have been printed, created by over a hundred artists and designers from more than a dozen countries.

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