The 1960s was a decade of transition and change around the world, when political protests, rallies, women’s rights movements and music festivals began to revolutionize social norms.
In June, 1970, the influence of these changes came to Gärdet, Sweden, where the country’s first major ‘progg’ music festival was held. The result was the birth of a new era in the country, which mirrored transformations happening across the globe. With these changes came the rise of poster production, which advertised events and subsequently helped spread new ideas.
Until October 4th, a collection of these posters is on display at Stockholm’s Nordic Museum, entitled “Progg Posters.” Håkan Agnsäter is the owner of the posters who has offered them temporarily to the museum to be displayed.
“I have around 320 posters in total,” Agnsäter says. “I used to collect them when I was a musician in the 70s, but now they are hard to get. I was lucky when I found them in my cellar. For two or three years I’ve been going through them; it was fantastic to see them after such a long time.”
He says he wanted to share the posters with others, and decided to photograph them and put pictures on the internet. The Nordic Museum caught wind of his project and asked to create an exhibit from them, an idea to which Agnsäter agreed.
“I was the drummer in a band that was big in the 1970s, called Solen Skiner [The Sun is Shining],” Agnsäter recalls. “So when we were playing at festivals I kept our posters. Then I started to take other posters from festivals we were playing at. Most of them are one-of-a-kind.”
Agnsäter says visitors will likely be drawn to the aesthetic appeal of seeing the posters, most of which are full of bright colours and whimsical designs.
“It’s a personal touch to every poster, they are almost all hand-made,” he says. “It has cost me a lot to get this exhibition together. My posters were more of musical festivals, but I wanted to have more with politics and such. I contacted my friends and asked them to look for posters in their cellars, and I have bought some posters from them.”
A poster may not be a typical source of knowledge and understanding, but visitors might be surprised how much they can learn from the collection. In the 1960s and 70s, there was a wave of music referred to as ‘progressive,’ or ‘progg’ for short, hence the title. The exhibit is largely focused on the musical movement in the country, but also offers insight into other social changes of the time: the Vietnam War and NLF movement, magazines, instruments, political art, and the women’s movement.
For example, a section of posters comes from Group 8, the women’s equality organization that rose in Stockholm in the 1970s. They fought for the right to work, liberal abortion rules, and the right for textile workers to strike; they also fought against pornography, prostitution and the use of nuclear power.
The exhibit concludes with a video displaying footage from a 1970s music festival. The film, in Swedish, offers an interesting glimpse into festival life of the time. Leif Nylén wrote the Gärdet festival was the “birthplace of the Swedish music movement.” A Woodstock-like event, Gärdet brought together both experienced musicians with newcomers, mixing folk music, protest songs, jazz, pop, and ballads. For now, a better understanding of the festival and its’ implications can be gained by a visit to the Progg Posters exhibit.
See also: PHOTO GALLERY