Academic journal article Jerusalem Quarterly

"Visit Palestine": A Brief Study of Palestine Posters

Academic journal article Jerusalem Quarterly

"Visit Palestine": A Brief Study of Palestine Posters

Article excerpt

This article describes the Palestine posters in the Palestine Poster Project Archives, and then briefly discusses the history and genres of Palestine posters. It concludes by examining the trajectory of one particular poster - "Visit Palestine" from 1936 - and its iconography and rebirth sixty years later.1

The Palestine Poster Project Archives

The Palestine Poster Project Archives (PPPA) collects and archives posters, handbills, other paper ephemera, and more recently since 2005, also digital image files. Because of the decision to look comprehensively at the land and people of Palestine, the archives includes not only Palestinian posters, but also international posters, as well as Zionist and Israeli posters, all of which serve to tell the history of the land and people of Palestine.2 The PPPA's digital collection (online at palestineposterproject. org) numbers ten thousand, with more than four thousand paper posters in the physical archives. While private in its hard copy form, it is publicly available on the internet, adhering to open access standards that allow people around the world to access, download, and use the images, as well as submit their own works or collections. The PPPA also encourages submissions, translation help, informational input, and other crowd-sourcing techniques to build, annotate, and translate the archives for public use. Collaboration and exchange with artists, graphic designers, NGOs, and individuals globally has allowed the archives to expand its paper collection as well as its collection of contemporary digital works.3 A unique user contribution section encourages people to send in photographs of posters in situ (hanging on walls), which now numbers over 680 images.4

An increasing number of new Palestine posters are "born digitally" and then printed and distributed locally, often in very small quantities, or they may only ever appear as a digital file on the Internet. This combination of localization and globalization represents a sea change in the way political poster art is produced and disseminated. Traditionally, political posters were printed in a single location and then distributed as hard copies. The global reach of the Internet combined with the rising costs of mass production is shifting production away from large centralized printing operations to a system controlled more by small end-users in multiple and global locations. It also allows for interesting reworkings and remixes of images and iconography from earlier posters, reincarnated in digital and print forms, as will be detailed in the third part of this essay.

The collections in the PPPA overlap with and complement Palestine poster collections elsewhere. Other large collections and archives include the rich and detailed work in the American University of Beirut's Jafet Library; the International Institute of Social History (an institute of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences); the Ethnographic and Art Museum at Birzeit University; the Center for the Study of Political Graphics, based in Los Angeles, California; and the Museum of Design, Zurich. Private collections such as those of Ezzeddine Qalaq from the 1960s and 1970s, George Michel Al Ama, and Saleh Abdel Jawad's intifada poster collection are unique and valuable holdings that have also been exhibited in public.5

Several publications have examined Palestinian posters as an artistic genre as well as their significance within the cultural and political milieus of their production. Artist Shafiq Radwan's 1992 Arabic monograph on Palestinian posters focuses on the artistic traditions from which posters emerged.6 More recently, graphic designer Zeina Maasri's outstanding study of political posters of the Lebanese Civil War includes many posters related to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Palestinian cause.7 Rasha Salti's work curating and explicating Ezzeddine Qalaq's Palestine poster collection analyzes and places this preeminent collection within the political and historic events and emerging organizations of the PLO in the 1960s and 1970s. …

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