Graphic design for social justice in South Africa
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In this dissertation I examine of the role of graphic design in the struggle for social justice in South Africa - with specific reference to the concept of human rights. I am motivated by an overwhelming awareness that the Bill of Rights in post-apartheid South Africa exists in striking contrast to the daily struggles for human dignity. In addressing this contradiction I present a historical examination that focuses on the visual impact of the creative combination of images and text to effect socioeconomic and political change. Drawing from Steve Biko’s philosophy of psychological liberation and Paulo Freire’s educational philosophy for critical thinking, I distinguish between propaganda and education. I take the stand that people are not really free if they blindly accept the myths of the established state order and I explore the various ways in which society is misguided by these myths. I argue that unlike graphic design that maintains the status quo and represents the propaganda of the established order, ‘graphic design for social justice’ represents the voice of people’s power against state power. Through this study and practice I conclude that the role of graphic design for social justice in South Africa is to uncover the myths of state power by presenting scenarios that encourage critical thinking, dialogue and open debate about power and the abuse of power in the continued struggle for human dignity. It is intended that this body of work, and the exhibition that results from it, contributes in part to the writing and documentation of a history of South African socio-political graphics.