Sister Corita: Power Up
- Neil Cooper
- 16 October 2008
Dundee Contemporary Arts Print Room, until Tue 4 Nov
If a sign points ‘Left!’, which way do you jump? For Sister Corita, radical 60s poster-maker and nun, the answer was obvious. This small exhibition, tucked away upstairs above the DCA bookshop, displays 15 of her bright, brash but not unsophisticated text-based silk-screened posters in an all too rare UK showing. While clearly of their time, beyond the yellow submarines, ‘Handle With Care’ badge-wearing sloganeering and vivid cartoon headlines are some big ideas which predate a world that would go similarly day-glo a decade later. Witness ‘Workpower, Air Conditioner’, which reimagines a now murky-looking American flag with quotes from the Book of John where stars and stripes used to be.
Modern day peaceniks could learn much from Sister Corita’s subtle but unambiguous flourishes. The lettering’s bold splurges of colour combined with scrawled-on epistles recall both Jules Feiffer’s monochrome Nixon-era satires and Sergio Aragones’ far groovier fare in DC Comics’ 1970s post-acid rag, Plop! Where their take on what was left of American politics in light of an equally denuded counter-culture was laced with strung-out cynicism, Sister Corita kept the faith with a purer form of hippy idealism.
Not that she’s naive in any way. ‘News Of The Week’ places two magazine covers from 1965, each depicting a scene from Vietnam, next to each other. Given that particular war’s fall-out, that one of the images is from Life, the word emblazoned in blood-red, is deeply ironic. Like the woman says, ‘Life Is A Complicated Business.’ Amen to that.