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Documenting the history of the peace symbol

Almost 60 years following its creation, the peace symbol has come to signify activism and unity in the most unparalleled of ways.

Initially designed by Gerald Holtom in 1958 for the British Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, the circular symbol, featuring the semaphore signals for the letters ‘N’ and ‘D’ – you know the one, you painted it on your forehead at Glastonbury – quickly began cropping up at anti-war protests in the U.S., before eventually establishing itself as the internationally recognised symbol for peace, union and togetherness all over the world.

Upon its first appearances at rallies and protests back in the 60s, Jim Marshall began documenting the CND symbol as a somewhat of a personal project. While the Chicago-born photographer’s career is usually associated with shooting the rock stars of that era, his commitment to capturing to the symbol’s rise and subsequent role never wavered. After consolidating his images, he tabled them on an index card in his archives – scrawled with that very peace sign – where they have since remained. Until now.

Collated and published for the first time, Marshall’s photographs strike a timely chord with the modern world. Showcasing the fiery potential of peaceful protest that burned brightly across the world, in tandem with the symbol’s making. Peace – featuring a foreword by Shepard Fairey, creator of Barak Obama’s iconic ‘Hope’ poster – is a collection of images that demonstrate the power of people.

Peace, published by Reel Art Press is available to by in September 2017. The book launches in New York at ACA Galleries, September 6 2017.

Words by Niall Flynn

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