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AOUON Archive

August 8, 2008

A couple months ago a friend and comrade, Michael Rossman, passed away. I first met Michael 3 or 4 years back while I was in the Bay Area for something or other, likely the Anarchist Bookfair. Michael was a voracious poster collector, buying, finding or peeling any and all political posters off any walls he walked past. He was the founder of the All of Us or None Poster Archive (AOUON Archive), an amazing and huge collection of posters from around the world, with a strong emphasis on Bay Area social movements, including the Berkeley Free Speech Movement (which he was involved in), Black Panthers, Chicano organizing, Native Struggles and many others. He had devised a genius system of archiving his tens of thousands of posters in a small room in his house, putting them in wood file folders that slid in and out of hand-made wooden cabinets that doubled as benches which surrounded the room. Going to Michael’s house was like a trip to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, with Michael excitedly pulling out files and showing off amazing posters from farm worker strikes to Native land occupations. He collected so much, from 10-color beautiful silkscreens to down-and-dirty photocopies, anything and everything went into the folders. And the amazing thing was that of the hundred he pulled out, I might have seen one or two of them before. This was all new stuff, rarely seen outside of its original usage, and never published in books or traveled in shows.
When Michael died, the responsibility for his collection passed on to Lincoln Cushing, another friend and poster aficionado. I couldn’t think of another person better suited to find a home for AOUON. The Oakland Tribune just did a nice piece on Michael, Lincoln and the collection. Give it a read here.

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