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Get up, stand up!

For 2019, I promised myself I would do more of that which takes me out of my comfort zone. I also promised myself to do more of that which I already enjoy doing on a regular basis. Today I managed to marry these two aims together by joining a group of fellow art lovers in visiting the Get up, stand up! exhibition at the Millennium Iconoclast Museum of Art (MIMA) in the Molenbeek-Saint-Jean district of Brussels.

It may not be so obvious to the naked eye but I do get a bit of social anxiety disorder at times and the idea of meeting people I don’t know did give me some apprehension and anxiety in the hours leading up to the meeting time. But then I thought back on what my best friend told me a few days ago as I opened up to her about this: “What’s the worst that can happen?” I’m so delighted I plucked up the courage and joined the ‘Art for Everyone’ group for today’s visit. After all, today was the last opportunity to visit this exhibition at MIMA so it was a bit of an ‘it’s now or never’ scenario too! Discussing the different works and their relevance then and now with like-minded people after the exhibition visit was so refreshing and enlightening, I could’ve sat there chatting away for so much longer!

The exhibition Get up, stand up! brought together over 450 posters from 30 countries spanning 5 continents, as well as an installation by Julio Le Parc titled ‘Frappez les gradés’. The works covered themes such as race relations, gender equality, workers’ rights, pollution and the environment and war. Despite most of them dating back to the 60s, 70s and 80s, their relevance today is – unfortunately – just as strong. It was a common realisation among the group, that the battles which were fought 40, 50 odd years ago are still being fought today albeit in different ways.

The collection of works also underscored the iconography used across different cultures and causes such as the raised fist; and one could also see an evolution in styles from hand-drawn posters which in some cases also made reference to canonical artworks like Picasso’s Guernica and Goya’s Saturn Devouring His Son, the psychedelic almost art nouveau styles of the late 60s and early 70s to the more photographic latter-day designs. It would have been interesting to explore further the poster’s evolution into the digital age – have memes become the new posters? That was pretty much the gist of our post-exhibition debate!

If you’re in and around Brussels, check out MIMA and for those more permanently based here, check out Art for Everyone for art classes and exhibition visits and tours

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