June 11 – September 4, 2010
Jesse Albrecht unce upon a time David Dunlap and Pete Schulte, Jody Boyer, Carnal Torpor with Min | Day, Mel Chin, Matthew Cusick, Design99, Dana Fritz, Fundred Dollar Bills by the People of Omaha, Theaster Gates, Gregory Green, Patrick Greene, Natalie Jeremijenko, Lucy Raven, Eric von Robertson, Larry Schwarm, Morgan Schwartz, Aaron Storck, Matt Wycoff…
Project sketch and 250 hand written leaflets distributed
Sarah Palin’s recent barb “How’s that hopey changey thing workin’ out for ya?” sent a penetrating, shrill, cynical and knowing shot to the heart of our country’s public life. Deep divides surround fundamental concerns such as the health of capitalism, the role of government in relation to individual liberties, desires for social justice and sustainability, and belief in the free market. Our political discourse wielded to address such rifts, however is fraught with useless oppositions. In a political landscape where gamesmanship trumps dialogue, contemporary art makes space for openness, belief, hope and change rooted in an authentic attempt to understand what our world is, and what it could be. The exhibition HOPEY CHANGEY THINGS believes that artists enliven our democracy in ways that our political structures delude.
HOPEY CHANGEY THINGS celebrates artists who transform places, communities and subjective histories. Plato thought artists disturbed social order by traversing classes, yet their unique ability to infiltrate social structures allows omniscient perspectives. Artists have long harbored utopian impulses, both in creating the dream and digging through its ruins; however the current collapse of political and economic structures has rendered normalcy exotic. The artists in this exhibition have adopted a kind of radical pragmatism; their sense of wonder is tempered by making do with what’s at hand to produce work of subtle and sweeping import for their worlds.
HOPEY CHANGEY THINGS traces myriad ways artists understand their place in the world, carve new ways out of existing problems, and reframe the symptoms of our present condition. Including highly personal forms of documentation, social and community interventions, and works that re-imagine our shared public sphere, the exhibition triangulates three positions: apocalytic urgency, the right of an individual or community to re-envision their place, and a gleeful acceptance of the absurdity of our current moment.
There is benevolent danger in the way art can bring us to our culture’s frayed edges, places of lurid complexity and renewed possibility. These artists are not rogue figures; they pare down the extremism of our political life to ask large questions and form hyper-rational answers. It is a beautiful contradiction to find political frontiers in the normality of artists. Art and artists can do something new for our public life, because not much else can.
HOPEY CHANGEY THINGS is organized by Hesse McGraw, Bemis Center curator. Bemis Center For Contemporary Arts