Zoe Leonard, “I want a president” (1992) (© Zoe Leonard, courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth)

Zoe Leonard’s text piece “I want a president” was written over 25 years ago, at moment of political and cultural upheaval with chilling contemporary resonance. The nation was emerging from 12 long years of the conservative Reagan-Bush era, AIDS was the number one cause of death for men aged 25 to 44, and the NEA Four scandal marked a reactionary turn in government funding for the arts. Leonard’s words aren’t a call for civility or a plea to find common ground. They unapologetically demand equality and empowerment for groups that have been long been discriminated against and excluded from positions of leadership in the US.

On the occasion of two Los Angeles shows of Leonard’s work — Analogue at Hauser & Wirth and the upcoming Survey at the Museum of Contemporary Art — Hauser & Wirth has organized an afternoon of responses to this seminal work. Participating artists include Lita Albuquerque, Edgar Arceneaux with performer Joana Knezevic, Nao Bustamante, and Edgar Heap of Birds who will be presenting performances or readings that reconsider “I want a president” on the eve of the impending midterms. Also participating will be Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of Black Lives Matter, curator Kimberli Meyer, and former MOCA curator Helen Molesworth, who will be reading Leonard’s text. Dr. Bidhan Roy, founder of the Prison BA Program at California State Prison, Lancaster, has asked his students to write their own responses, which he will read at the event, providing a platform for those whose voices are rarely heard outside prison walls.

When: Saturday, November 3, 1pm
Where: Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles (901 East 3rd Street, Downtown, Los Angeles)

More info at Hauser & Wirth.

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Matt Stromberg

Matt Stromberg is a freelance visual arts writer based in Los Angeles. In addition to Hyperallergic, he has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, CARLA, Apollo, ARTNews, and other publications.