Votes & Voices. Swiss Campaign Posters from 1918 to the Present
27 May – 29 August 2021
The Votes & Voices exhibition presents visual argumentation strategies and a pictorial rhetoric that have shaped Swiss campaign posters from 1918 to the present. As sensitive indicators of socio-political moods, and as valuable contemporary documents, the exhibits reflect not only the history of Swiss mentality but also global trends.
Ever since the foundation of the federal state in 1848, the Swiss population has been actively involved in political decision-making through the rules of direct democracy. Popular initiatives and referendums form the basis of municipal, cantonal or federal plebiscites. Time and again, the issues at stake make feelings run high and lead to fierce ideological battles. Testimony to these disputes are campaign posters, which have sought to influence public opinion since the early 20th century.
Clichés, undifferentiated simplifications, a repertoire of drastic motifs and catchy slogans correspond to the laws of the medium, whose aim is direct mass manipulation. Over time, however, many well-known artists and designers have also created posters that have imprinted themselves upon Switzerland’s collective visual memory and have become icons of Swiss poster art. After the Second World War, widespread de-ideologization and new advertising strategies gradually calmed the previously heated mood. Yet besides the many harmless campaign posters committed to political correctness, just as many posters seen in today’s streets reject a consensus-oriented aesthetic and continue to spark political discussion. This is illustrated by two posters at the beginning of the exhibition. To rally support against women’s suffrage, Otto Baumberger’s 1920 poster depicts a woman actively engaged in political events as a highly unattractive, wildly gesticulating hyena. The 2009 poster advocating a ban on minarets, which attracted widespread international attention, springs from the same conservative circles. Typecasting a Muslim woman veiled in a niqab as an enemy, this poster also accuses Islam of backwardness and a lack of female self-determination.
The exhibition was organised to celebrate the 100th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Switzerland and Lithuania.
Coordinator Evaldas Stankevičius
3A Arsenalo st, Vilnius, Lithuania
+370 5 212 1813;
+370 5 261 25 48; +370 5 262 80 80.