Sobre a exposição de fotografias de Maio 1968: Protest in Paris 1968: Photographs by Serge Hambourg, Berkeley Art Museum
. What veteran of 60s protests can view Serge Hambourgs photos and not murmur, Well always have Paris? , 19/3/2008., Anniversary of a rebellion
Most Americans look back on 1968 with characteristic parochialism, as a year of largely domestic tribulations and (occasional) triumphs: the assassinations, two months apart, of RFK and MLK; the political theater and police violence surrounding the Democratic convention in Chicago; the hard-fought race for the presidency that brought Richard Nixon the prize he had so long sought. Even the year-end excursion into lunar orbit by the crew of Apollo 8, which yielded an epochal photo of our borderless One World brightening the darkest gloom of space, is viewed as a quintessentially American achievement.
But 1968 was also a meaningful year far beyond our borders, for reasons that had little to do with Americas multiple strains and stresses. There were popular revolts around the globe: in Mexico and Czechoslovakia, Senegal and India, Poland and Argentina. None, however, appeared to develop as rapidly, and to threaten the underpinnings of a major industrial economy so directly, as did the student protests in Paris that May, which in a matter of days engaged millions of French citizens, including a great many industrial workers, in mutual rebellion against the established order, threatening for a brief but heady few weeks to revolutionize the nation.
A number of the pictures taken by Serge Hambourg, a press photographer for the weekly magazine La nouvel observateur, during those eventful days make up Protest in Paris 1968, an exhibit on display through June 1 at the Berkeley Art Museum. The majority of the images, taken between May 9 and 13, capture the days of action and debate that followed the May 3 police attack on student demonstrators at the Sorbonne, which resulted in hundreds of injuries and arrests. Two nights of pitched battles between students and police across the Left Bank were followed by the declaration of a general strike across all of France; it began to seem likely that the government of President Charles de Gaulle would collapse as the nations economy, in essence, shut down.
Paris was no Berkeley
Viewing Hambourgs images of marchers, onlookers, and police, exhibit visitors dun certain age will notice dissimilarities between Paris 68 and, say, Berkeley or Columbia in the same era. The protesters occupying Hambourgs frame are, in the main, neat of dress and short of hair, resembling the best-and-brightest participants in Berkeleys Free Speech Movement of four years earlier far more than the hippies and yippies who stood out on the campuses of Amerika 68. Their banners, posters, and placards call for change not in their countrys foreign policy but in the hierarchical conditions under which French students studied and French labor labored. Indeed, its the partnership that developed between students and labor in France that May that seems most foreign to an American viewer accustomed to regarding campus protests, then as now, as the exclusive province of students, with passivity, if not outright hostility, the dominant response of working-class citizens.
Excellent piece. As someone who was young in 1968 it’s difficult to explain to people the possibilities we felt were before us in that magnificent year. Suffice it to say that the working class have been punished by their employers and their governments ever since.