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May 9 through 13, 1968 was the beginning of a time of upheaval and social spectacle that pitted students and workers against an unsympathetic government in a series of spirited protests that would fundamentally change France. This catalogue showcases photographs of the famous events by French photographer Serge Hambourg. Hambourg captured the various moods and moments of the protests, including powerful portraits of student leaders Jacques Sauvageot, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, and Alain Geismar, writer Louis Aragon, and filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard.
An essay by political scientist, M. Anne Sa'adah describes the intense frustration on the part of students, which escalated quickly into demonstrations and clashes between police and protestors. The inept reaction of the government in turn led to workers' strikes, and the general upheaval precipitated the dissolution of the French National Assembly and new general elections. Paired with a critical essay by art historian, Thomas Crow that delves into the contemporary relevant arts scene of the time, this marriage of never-before-exhibited photographs and penetrating interpretation gives us a more tangible sense of the climate of dissent, of what it might have been like building barricades or defending the status quo in the capital of France in 1968.
These photographs of Paris will raise numerous questions. To those who study or lived through these events, they are a source of information and a spark to memory, what Serge Hambourg has described as a slice of life during a fascinating time. Hambourg captures the force of this cultural moment, and his photographs in turn become part of its memory, joining with written accounts by witnesses, political analyses, social commentary, filmed footage, films, posters, performance, art, novels, and other photographs in a patchwork of social science and artistic representation.