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Au Coeur de Mai 68

Image: Photograph by Philippe Gras. This image is part of "Au cœur de Mai 68," a traveling exhibition of photos by Philippe Gras, accompanied by a film by Dominique Beaux (entitled "Mai 68, un étrange printemps")

The University of Chicago is hosting a series of events on its campus in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the tumultuous month of May 1968 that forever changed France. The program features a photography exhibition by Philippe Gras, a roundtable discussion, a film series with special guest filmmaker Romain Goupil.  

50 Years Later: Memories of May '68 marks the events that brought nine million French students and workers together in a general strike and a unified uprising against capitalism, American imperialism, and Gaulism.


The exhibition, entitled Au cœur de Mai 68, is a collaboration between the Association des Amis de Philippe Gras and les Films des quatre Planètes. It features 43 previously unpublished images of the May ‘68 protests taken by acclaimed photographer Philippe Gras and discovered after his death in 2007. The photography exhibition is accompanied by the 2-part documentary film Mai 68: une étrange printemps featuring first-person accounts by politicians, union representatives, and law enforcement.

This exhibition tells the story of May ’68, fifty years after the event, translating the passions of the moment, the joyfulness that striking students and workers frequently displayed.

Philippe Gras (1942-2007) was an independent photographer, but more important, he had an independent mind, refusing all compromises. All his life, he directed his camera towards works, themes and artists in whom he believed, and with whom he nurtured a deep relationship. He aimed also his camera at social phenomena which were important for him. He never fell in any kind of elitism, all the contrary. By browsing through his archives, one can easily verify that he had a very sure taste regarding advanced creation. But one can as well testify that he devoted equal attention to popular culture and to all kinds of neglected visual productions, and also to musical productions coming from all the continents. He developed deep and long-lasting friendships with many musicians and creators. Among them was Robert Wilson, whom he met during the original production of Einstein on the Beach and with whom he had an important correspondence.

This photo exhibition is part of a larger series of events —films, visiting artists, roundtable discussion — organized by the France Chicago Center at the University of Chicago with the partnership and strong support of the Cultural Services at the Consulate General of France in Chicago, the Film Studies Center, the Department of Cinema & Media Studies, the Department of Romance Languages & Literatures, the Office of Study Abroad in the College, and the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality.