2 June 2011
Venue: Room 59, History Department
Contact info: Aroha Harris
Contact email: email@example.com
Department of History seminar by Professor Elizabeth Rankin, Professor of Art History, The University of Auckland.
The protests that accompanied the Springbok rugby tour to New Zealand in 1981, and the events that led up to them, are well rehearsed in the annals of New Zealand political history. But the imagery that emerged in this context has had less attention, and it is the visual culture that developed around the tour that is the focus of this paper. While the most common forms were posters and banners that might be made by any protestor, many artists also took part, even forming a special group, Artists Against Apartheid. They not only made a contribution by creating ephemeral posters and banners for the protest marches, but artworks that were sold to raise funds in support of protest action and for the legal costs of those who had been detained after clashes with the authorities. The dramatic events of 1981 also affected their ongoing art production as they explored new media and new ideas in response to the political situation. One might even say - surely uniquely in this situation - that rugby acted as a catalyst for innovation in the arts.