What kind of painting do you make in the face of the killing of an unarmed civilian by a police officer? What type of drawing sums up the pain of more than a century of institutional racism?
The archway under the Manhattan Bridge was the site of artist Dread Scott’s one-time-only performance “On the Impossibility of Freedom in a Country Founded on Slavery and Genocide.”
No Longer Empty’s current exhibit, If You Build It, manages to avoid the ickiness of so many other art projects exploited to anoint development projects on the verge of fruition, and in an art economy that’s popularized the practice of artwashing that’s no small feat.
“Artists do not necessarily have the solutions, but they ask the great questions” says Andreas Stadler, director of the Austrian Cultural Forum in regards to their new convention-questioning show It’s the Political Economy, Stupid, a devastatingly harsh look at our political realities in the times of this financial crisis.
The art world has a tendency to make everything about itself, and some of the art happenings at Occupy Wall Street are no different. Contentious art projects that have spawned from the movement like the No Comment exhibition and Occupy Museums have sparked important discussions, but also remain somewhat insular. While its certainly worthy to critique and examine the art world under the lens of Occupy Wall Street, artistic responses to the movement should also aim to educate and entice more people to join the ranks of OWS. NYU Gallatin’s exhibition This is What Democracy Looks Like, which opened last Friday, makes such an attempt to extend a hand outward.
I encountered Dread Scott’s curious flag project, “Flags Are Very Popular These Days” (2011), on Facebook and was fascinated by its simplicity. Last month, the artist placed the flags of four nations (Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and Pakistan) on overpasses in upstate New York. These symbols of pride for four Muslim-majority countries— two of which America is currently (and officially) at war with — must have felt jarring to passersby who may not have been able to recognize their meaning or discerned their origins.
In recognition of the Fourth of July, I interviewed groundbreaking artist “Dread” Scott Tyler, whose work is directly engaged in challenging public perception of and reactions to US politics and history. He answered my questions about his desire to engage, America’s relationship to freedom of expression today, nationalism, and the lack of critical discourse around his work.
Brent Burket (aka Heart as Arena) has a report on artist Dread Scott’s “Money to Burn” performance in front of the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday … it included a lighter, US currency, cops, and confused tourists …