Mandela Without Borders

Posted inCulturally-Related Design
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It’s the design exhibition seen, talked about, and inspiring people around the world.

We last reported on the Mandela Poster Project in August 2013, right after its inaugural exhibition opened at the University of Pretoria, South Africa. Since then, this collection of 95 posters celebrating the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela (1918-2013) — the imprisoned freedom fighter who became his country’s first black president — has been exhibited in other South African cities and has traveled to Australia, Austria, Brazil, Croatia, Greece, Slovenia, Spain, and the U.K. Known as the MPP, the poster exhibition has been seen by tens of thousands of people. It’s been the subject of TEDx talks, articles, academic papers, and seminars. The first U.S. exhibition, in Boston, is planned for January 2017.

The project was conceptualized and curated by South African designers Jacques Lange, the 2005-07 president of the International Council of Design (ico-D, formerly Icograda) and Mohammed Jogie, the 2007-09 vice president of this important international organization. In the days when Mandela’s health was failing, they posted “calls for entries” on Facebook and Google+ with specifications for the poster format. More than 700 designers around the world responded. As Mani Hanekom wrote in her recent comprehensive article about the MPP in Contributoria, “The selected posters represent a broad demographic spanning all parts of the world and more importantly, a mix of voices ranging from high-profile international designers to students.”

This is truly design without borders:


Pretoia_Eyescape 1
1 Pretoria_MPP volunteer team

The MPP volunteer team gathers at the exhibition opening on July 17, 2013, at the University of Pretoria Department of Visual Arts Gallery, Pretoria, South Africa.


Cape Town

After his release from prison in 1990, Nelson Mandela presented his first speech at Cape Town City Hall. This exhibition in that venue attracted 6,000 visitors.

::October 2013BARCELONA, SPAIN


Here is “Arte en Resistencia: del Apartheid al Mandela Poster Project” at Centre Cultural la Farinera del Clot, which is considered the official cultural center of Barcelona.

: :November 2013 – January 2014JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA

Johannesberg_Mohammed Jogie presentation at TEDxSoweto 2

Organizer Mohammed Jogie presents at TEDx Soweto 2013 at the Soweto Theatre, Johannesburg.


The installation at the Peacemakers Museum in Nelson Mandela Square attracted 9,000 visitors.

::December 2013LONDON, U.K.

TedX Euston

A full house at TEDx Euston, an event dedicated to the African diaspora, saw a presentation by organizer Chikwe Ihekweazu of Nigeria.


Melbourne_Kelo Kubu presentation at agIdeas 2014 – Melbourne

More than 2,500 delegates attended the Melbourne International Design Festival. Here’s a link to the brilliant explanation and presentation by Kelo Kubu, director of TEDxYouth Soweto, who spoke at the Look Upstairs event there. On this video Ms. Kubu describes the project in detail, what the organizers were trying to achieve, and the art itself — portraits of Mandela, maps of Africa, Mandela as boxer, hands and fists, jail bars, hearts, birds, cages, flights to freedom. And its impact: by May 2014, the exhibition had been viewed by 40,000 people. More importantly, she challenges the audience: “Apartheid was the big problem of Mandela’s time,” she says. “Find your own passion, build a coalition of other professionals, and use design to solve the big problem of your time.”

::April and July 2014THESSALONIKI, GREECE

Greece_Mediterranean Cosmos in Thessaloniki

The Toolkit Startup Conference at Institut Français Thessalonique was accompanied by this installation at the Mediterranean Cosmos, Thessaloniki.

y 2014

Slovenia 2

The installation at the National Museum of Contemporary History generated much discussion.


PortEiizabeth_Image courtesy of Basil Brady 3

At the National Arts Festival, The Athenaeum.


Vienna_Exhibition opening

On U.N. Nelson Mandela International Day in Vienna, Lydia Greyling, Chargé-d’Affaires at the Permanent Mission of South Africa to the United Nations, hosted the opening and addressed the attendees.


Croatia_MPP photo A Bukovec[1]

During Africa Week 2015, Dyalli, an association for cultural cooperation and promotion of African culture in Croatia, sponsored the exhibition in partnership with the Croatian Association of Applied Artists.

::July – November 2015CURITIBA and SALVADOR, BRAZIL

Curitiba, BR, Leandro Taques image

“Mandela em cartaz,” curated by designer and design professor Ruth Klotzel, a former ico-D board member, recently closed at Galeria de Arte da Caixa Cultural in Curitiba.


This week, the exhibition, curated by Kelo Kubu and Ruth Klotzel, opened at a second venue in Brazil, Salvador. Ruth Klotzel designed this poster.

Upcoming venues include Belgrade, Serbia; Eskişehir, Turkey; and The Brooklyn Museum in NY, USA — with several organizations currently in negotiations. A book is planned. The permanent exhibition will be installed at the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital in Johannesburg, which is under construction and will be opening in 2016.

For more information and to view all the selected posters, please visit the official Mandela Poster Project website.


Naïve documents the extraordinary renaissance of Classic Modernism, from the 1940s to 1960s, in contemporary graphic design. This compilation introduces a new wave of young designers who are rediscovering the stylistic elements reminiscent of classic graphic design such as silkscreen printing, classical typography, hand lettering, woodcutting and folk art and integrating them into their work. Inspired by 20th Century American legends such as Saul Bass, Charley Harper and Alexander Girard, the burgeoning designers and their work showcased this in this book are inspiring, ranging from illustrations, poster art, editorials, book covers and record sleeves to stationary and textiles.