Postcards as propaganda: Women’s suffrage movement, 1902-1915.

The battle of the sexes has been waged much longer than we would imagine, here and now. In the early 20th century, the women’s suffrage movement strengthened its foothold across both sides of the Atlantic, and in the face of this visible, growing strength, the (threatened) men in opposition deployed blistering propaganda targeting the opposite sex. The weapon of choice, of course, was the extremely popular postcard. To quote researcher John Fraser (The Oxford Art Journal, October 1980): “that the pictorial postcard was ‘possibly the great vehicle for messages of the new urban proletariat between 1900 and 1914’ (it was cheap to buy and to post, simple to use, and quick to arrive in an age of frequent postal deliveries).” From the blatantly misogynistic to the provokingly laughable, a range of these early pre-electronic mass media propaganda survive to this day. The right to vote was, and still is, a terrain of contestation and negotiation. Take a look.

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Jean-Marc Cote: Postcards imagining the year 2000 in 1899

In the year 2000: Firemen rescuing a woman and child from a blaze.

Predicting the future is always risky business. Having been part of the drafting of various institutional ‘vision’ documents, the underlying ‘understood’ assumption was not to hold back – to give a free reign to ones imaginative capacities to conjure up definitive ‘ideal states’. French illustrator Jean-Marc Cote in 1899 had the unenviable task of future gazing 100 years, and with that, to come up with a series of postcards for the Paris World Exhibition in 1900. These postcards (En L’an 2000 – In the Year 2000) were distributed across France in the first decade of the 20th C, and were rediscovered much later in 1985, by American science fiction writer Isaac Asimov. Asimov published a collection of these postcards with his commentary as a book titled “Futuredays: A Nineteenth Century Vision of the Year 2000”. Take a look at some of these postcards, and try and not be amused. Try and imagine life in the year 3012 instead.

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