A year after the inauguration of President Trump, where are we, and how do we feel? In a follow-up to last years’ critically acclaimed show UPRISE/ ANGRY WOMEN, Indira Cesarine of The Untitled Space has invited over 80 artists to participate in ONE YEAR OF RESISTANCE. Artists from various backgrounds, ages, and genders will respond to the current political climate and examine different social and political movements, like the #MeToo social media movement, Pussy Fights Back and Pussy Hat Project, the “post-Weinstein allegation” effect, among others. Some of our favorite artists-who-make-splash represented in the show include Digi-Feminist Leah Schrager, storyteller and socially conscious artist Olive Allen, and lets not forget Lobster-Porn performance artist Rebecca Goyette and her collaborative film about Trump and his golden showers.
We spoke to Cesarine about what to expect in the upcoming show, the goals of the space and the acts of resistance within art and activism.
Quiet Lunch: The Untitled Space has developed a name for itself as a feminist arts space, and inherently political, was this always the goal? Is this very personal to you?
Indira Cesarine: When I launched The Untitled Space a few years ago, my mission was to create a gallery space and platform for contemporary female artists and feminist art as a genre. My initial intention wasn’t necessarily to go in a highly political direction, although as the situation in the US has evolved since the election of Trump, the exhibits have become far more politically oriented. I think feminism has become a far more urgent theme in this country since the election. Women’s reproductive rights, gender equality, as well as many other issues relating to human rights have become threatened by the current political administration. The fact that we have a President who has a Wikipedia page detailing over 15 allegations of sexual misconduct says a lot! It’s impossible for me to stand back and watch as our human and civil rights are eroded by our own President, whom many think is not of sound mind to be in office.
When I first launched the gallery I focused on a lot of all-female curated exhibitions due to my interest in promoting feminist themes. As time has evolved I have opened up our group shows to all genders as I think it’s increasingly important to be inclusive. A lot of artists of all backgrounds and genders feel strongly about the political situation right now, and as a result there is a massive amount of incredible art that is being made on these subjects. I think this is a crucial time to stand up and fight for our rights however we can, and as a gallerist I am fully supportive of art as activism, as well as supporting the empowering missions of non-profits such as the ERA Coalition, She Should Run and the ACLU with our exhibitions.
QL: The show is titled ONE YEAR OF RESISTANCE, can you explain the meaning behind the title, and what type of work to expect.
IC: The title for the exhibit “ONE YEAR OF RESISTANCE” refers to the last year since Trump took office, and specifically to the resistance movement that has developed in response to his politics. We had an exhibition last January that opened during the week of his inauguration titled “UPRISE / ANGRY WOMEN” and this exhibit is a follow up to that group show. The artwork featured in ONE YEAR OF RESISTANCE includes works in all mediums, including painting, photography, video, sculpture, printmaking, textile art, virtual reality and performance, that has been created in response to the last year of Trump’s politics. Artists have created works that address themes such as reproductive rights, health care, immigration rights, gun control, climate change, transgender rights, white supremacy, gender equality, sexual harassment, as well as works inspired by the protest movement and the battle our society is currently entrenched in with such a divisive government in office. Some of the artwork is very serious, while other works are more satirical or conceptual takes on the subjects that we are currently grappling with in regards to the controversial policies and practices of our president.
QL: When referring to “resistance” will we be seeing work exploring the #PussyFightsBack and #MeToo movements?
IC: Absolutely. A lot of the female artists in the exhibit have created works that are in line with both of these movements. Trump‘s misogynist comments against women, as well as his horrific history of sexual misconduct allegations motivated the works of several of the artists in the exhibition. A few works worth checking out that address these themes include “Blood” by Parker Day, “”Blood Coming Out” by Elisa Garcia de la Huerta, “Wetgrass” by Dessie Jacson, “Boxing Gloves” by Jen Dwyer, “Out of Her Whatever” by Kate Hush, “Flash Burn” by Leah Schrager, “My Body My Business” by Michele Pred, and “Uprise” by Rebecca Leveille as well as “Control” by Signe Pierce which makes a statement on women’s rights and gun control. Her artist statement is particularly powerful,
“Gun control and birth control are historically controversial topics, largely because they each are embroiled in fundamental philosophical debates surrounding life and death, right and wrong, and personal responsibility. Why is it easier to get a gun in some parts of the country than it is to attain birth control? Why is there a criminalized stigma surrounding the termination of unwanted pregnancies, yet mechanized weapons are readily and easily available? Why is it that women are forbidden from making their own decisions regarding their bodies and health, as well as their futures and children?
Women have been abused, enslaved, ignored, and institutionally exploited since the beginning of time. We have fought for decades for our freedom, yet the Trump Administration seeks to ignore our strides towards equality by attempting to hijack our personal agency as human beings. However, the women of the United States are not going to allow ourselves, our bodies, or our rights to be held hostage any longer.
CONTROL is a disarmament of patriarchal constructs that dictate what we are and are not allowed to do.
CONTROL is a swift, blunt reminder that in order to know thy enemy, we must also know thyself.
CONTROL is the refusal of submission when faced with adversity.
CONTROL is a call to arms.”
QL: This exhibition is a follow-up to another show, UPRISE / ANGRY WOMEN which opened the week of the 2017 presidential inauguration, how has the message differed?
IC: UPRISE / ANGRY WOMEN was an all-female exhibition created in response to Donald Trump being elected president considering his history of misogynist comments and actions, as well as his determination to roll back women’s reproductive rights. It was specifically about sexism in America and the apparent acceptance that Trump’s horrific words and actions against women were acceptable for a president of the United States.
ONE YEAR OF RESISTANCE, on the other hand features artists of all genders, and addresses a far broader range of civil rights issues that our culture has been grappling with since the election.
QL: In this post-election rendition, what do you hope that viewers take away from seeing this show?
IC: ONE YEAR OF RESISTANCE give voices to artists from all backgrounds, genders and ages in light of the divisive politics of the last year, shedding light on urgent issues that have brought millions to the streets in protest. I hope that viewers walk away feeling the passion of these artists, as well as contemplate different points of view on these subjects. Some of the work is very personal and intense. I think a lot of people have gotten sick and tired hearing about Trump and his politics of hate, and perhaps feel like they are over it. A lot of people are tuning out, but these are very crucial and urgent issues we are talking about that are affecting the entire country as well as will have long lasting impact. It is important to continue the conversation and keep raising our voices in protest, as otherwise things can get far worse. I hope viewers who see this exhibit get re-inspired, and that it has a positive impact to empower those that see it and encourage them to continue to fight for their rights, and also of course to raise funds to support the mission of the ACLU.
ONE YEAR OF RESISTANCE opens January 16, 2018 from 6pm-9pm at The Untitled Space, 45 Lispenard St, New York.