Thursday, March 10, 2011

Secret Propaganda - Response to the Shanghai Propaganda Poster Art Centre

Hidden away in the basement of some residential high rises, the Propaganda Poster Museum, featuring posters from the time of Chairman Mao and the Communist Party of China, is located near the intersection of Hua Shan Lu and Wu Kang Lu. During the Anti-Rightist Movement under the leadership of Mao, scholars, students, artists and other “Rightists” were persecuted. While the art featured in here was embraced during that time of censorship, it seems almost ironic that these propaganda posters are now the ones concealed from sight. Inside the basement, there are walls of images featuring the iconic Mao, his army, hardworking people, and even foreigners. Since the museum is small, they are tightly packed on the wall with little descriptions stuck next to them.

As I walk through, I learn from these posters the values of Chairman Mao and the Communist Party as the times change. The exhibit begins in a time of peace and the posters focuses on the common people with their high-spirited, hardworking nature reflected through their exaggerated expressions. As the timeline leads into the period of the cold war, the army and Mao become the center point. Surprisingly, many of these posters include content regarding foreign countries and other global issues. Perhaps most striking to myself is the seemingly friendly relationship between the army and the people.

This “hole in the wall” museum of propaganda posters reminds me of the changing roles that art can take and how heavily it can affect people’s opinions. What was probably widespread then, has been mainly reduced to the contents of this small museum.

No comments: