The Graphic Idealism of the 1970s US Radical Left
An exhibition at the Interference Archive creates the feeling of wandering around an old curiosity shop where the stock is radical politics.
March 20, 2017
by Murat Cem Menguc
In these days of protest and protest culture, the Interference Archive is making its own contribution in order to keep us going. Titled Finally Got The News: The Printed Legacy of the U.S. Radical Left, 1970–1979, their new exhibition focuses on the legacy of US radical left movements during the 1970s. The archive regards this as their most ambitious exhibition so far, and in their small gallery space they showcase a truly rich collection of pamphlets, posters, and flyers. The exhibition brings back to life the culture of social movements that fought racism, imperialism, patriarchy, and capitalism throughout the 1970s.
The ‘70s saw an explosion of revolutionary ideas and activist fervor. This was due to the radicalization of the anti-war movement youth following the Vietnam War, which meant their transition into a generally anti-imperialist front. At the same time, the Civil Rights and Black Power movements’ increasingly identified with communist, feminist, and Pan-Africanist points of view. What seems to have truly united all these organizational struggles was their collectivist spirit and political idealism.
Finally Got The News includes original material representing some usual suspects, such as Puerto Rican revolutionary group the Young Lords Party, and Amiri Baraka’s Congress of African People. There is also less expected and more curious material referring to the socialist initiatives regarding queer movement, the Middle East and East Asia which constitutes a substantial part of the show. One of the most impressive aspects of the exhibition is the array of printing styles, techniques, and formats brought together. They create the feeling of wandering around an old curiosity shop where the stock is radical politics. The majority of the material in the show comes from Brad Duncan’s archive, collected over twenty years, while the remainder derives from the collection of the Interference Archive.
The Interference Archive believes not just the exhibited material but also their general holdings have become more relevant since the 2016 election and the subsequent emergence of protest movements across the country. The charm of their approach lies in their geniality: There is always a volunteer who is willing to assist those interested in their general collection. If you are willing to spend the time, in the archive’s library you can delve into more material of the same nature as the exhibition but from other regions and periods. The Interference Archive promises a series of public events that will accompany Finally Got The News until it closes in May 14. A print copy of the exhibit is available for pre-order and an interview with the curator Brad Duncan is the latest podcast published by the archive.
Finally Got The News: The Printed Legacy of the U.S. Radical Left, 1970–1979 continues at the Interference Archive (131 8th Street, No. 4, Gowanus,
Brooklyn) until May 14.