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Aulich, J., 2013.

The Polish Health & Safety Poster and the Health & Safety of the Polish Poster 1945-89

Output Type:Chapter in a book
Publication:Polish Public Health Poster
Brief Description/Editor(s):Krzysztof Krajewski-Siuda
Publisher:Medical University of Silesia, Katowice-Krakow

This essay addresses a number of issues relating to the historical context of the post war public health and safety poster in the Polish People’s Republic. Unlike most studies of communist era posters, alongside the more familiar questions of ideology, politics and the public face of the regime, the article considers the socialist realist institutional, cultural and aesthetic structures and systems inhabited by the posters. Public health and safety posters have not been subject to same close scrutiny as cultural or political posters in histories of graphic art and design. More recently they have been found, as they are here, on the borders of the relatively new disciplines of visual culture and image theory where they intersect with histories of medicine and science (see Martin Gorsky, Krzysztof Krajewski-Siuda, Wojciech Dutka and Virginia Berridge (2010) and Roger Cooter and Claudia Stein (2007)). The public health and safety poster by definition, had a natural home within a socialist realist worldview. Its social role was as explicit as it was self-evident but in its depiction of the pathological other it was both potentially subversive and affective within nationalist and individualist mythic narratives. Forced into the cultural arena in the category of the Political and Social poster within the official discourses created by museums, exhibitions and publications it offered a direct imaginative challenge to the imaginary of the New Soviet People. Simultaneously and paradoxically, those very same structures served to construct the only realm where socialist realism and the vision of an egalitarian and humanitarian future could exist and this was embodied most clearly in the health and safety poster.