ONE YEAR OF RESISTANCE
The Untitled Space
45 Lispenard Street, New York
January 17 – February 4, 2018
New York-based artist, gallerist and curator Indira Cesarine was inspired to create a gallery space and platform for contemporary female artists and feminist art as a genre when she opened TriBeCa gallery The Untitled Space a few years ago. Since its opening, the space has hosted a number of critically-acclaimed shows confronting pertinent themes such as the female gaze on the nude and feminism in art. Now, coinciding with the upcoming one-year anniversary of President Donald Trump’s inauguration, the gallery is gearing up for the opening of “ONE YEAR OF RESISTANCE,” a group show featuring the work of over 80 artists responding to Trump’s destructive policies and behavior.
“A year ago I curated an exhibition titled ‘UPRISE / ANGRY WOMEN‘ at the gallery that was timed with the presidential inauguration and Women’s March on Washington,” Cesarine explains. “That exhibit featured 80 female artists responding to the election of Trump and his sexist, misogynist and racist comments. Our forthcoming exhibition, ‘ONE YEAR OF RESISTANCE,’ is in many respects a follow up to our show from last January. Though not specifically revolving around women’s issues, it rather confronts far broader themes that are affecting society today. ‘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.”
The works in the exhibition will confront topics ranging from reproductive rights to gun control to xenophobia in a range of media. Alison Jackson’s portraits of Trump using body doubles create scenes that, Jackson says, “we all imagine but have never seen before;” Signe Pierce’s “CONTROL” is a “disarmament of patriarchal constructs that dictate what we are and are not allowed to do…a swift, blunt reminder that in order to know thy enemy, we must also know thyself,” and Desire Moheb Zandi’s multimedia weavings are “inspired by the resistance movement and world immigration crisis.” Cesarine’s own artwork (such as “EQUAL MEANS EQUAL,” a neon light sculpture calling for the end of “discrimination and the abuse of power”) will be displayed alongside that of myriad other artists, male and female, from around the country and globe.
Brooklyn-based painter Annika Connor created “Blind Faith” in response to the greed of Trump’s administration. “It seems that money is the driving factor in politics. These white men in suits don’t care that they can’t see what they agree to and whom they join hands with, as long as dollar bills are backing their decisions,” she writes in her artist statement.
Pop artist Cabell Molina “created a series of paintings and collages that highlight the absurdity of [Trump’s] backward politics” in response to the President and his prehistoric cabinet members’ attempts to stifle women’s rights. “Using actual wording from vintage comics and 50s-style comic drawings combined with some modern imagery, the series hopes to draw attention to the problems with Trump’s administration,” she writes.
Former stand up comedian Joe Tretin created images like the above as a “tribute to our tin-pot dictator, fast-talking charlatan and full-time scoundrel. They are part of a series entitled “Stranger in Paradox.” Instead of showing photographs that lampoon Trump’s image, I concentrated on creating imagery that shows the consequences of his actions, casts his cronies in their true light and shows the absurdity of his actions. I’ve spent the past year dedicated to taking Trump down. These images, along with other actions, are my way of participating in trying to make things right again.”
Desdemona Dallas first began photographing during the Occupy movement. She continues her politically-charged practice with “The Ashes.” “Through the lens of my camera, I have attempted to make sense of America’s cultural upheaval. On my many ventures into the streets to document protests, I found that the American people will not cease to stand up for justice and a better future for the masses,” she says.
Diagnosed with a rare form of cervical cancer in 2010 that eventually led to a full hysterectomy in 2013, photographer Kat Toronto uses “Miss Meatface” as an artistic and spiritual catalyst to delve into a complex set of questions about where she now fits into society as a woman. Her work featured in “ONE YEAR OF RESISTANCE” was born out of a self-induced period of isolation following the election of Trump: “I shut down. I locked myself up in my grandmother’s house and shot as much as I could, putting blindfolds over my eyes and a protective latex skin over my body in order to keep the world out… I spent much of 2017 at my grandmother’s vacant house (she had suffered a severe stroke in May and was moved to a care home as she was no longer capable of taking care of herself) photographing myself going about daily household duties, completely shutting myself off from the outside world and living in my own little universe.”
Painter Dessie Jackson, who has worked with famed fashion photographer Nick Knight, created a similarly personal work for the show. “‘Wet Grass’ is inspired by the #MeToo movement,” she writes. “The painting is a reflection on my personal connection with sexual assault and abuse—it’s a portrait of where I was when it happened to me. The movement has given me an opportunity to confront my personal experiences and has made me feel brave enough to explore and talk about it by hearing and seeing other women do the same.”
Greek artist Eleni Giannopoulou created a framed sculpture of an abortion bed that “argues pro-choice, no matter how hard a woman’s choice is. White, privileged men should not have the power to decide what happens in my own body. Abortion is a hard decision that carries a lot of baggage, and women should be treated respectfully if they choose to undergo it.”
Self-taught artist Linda Friedman Schmidt was born stateless in a German displaced persons camp. She is the first child of Holocaust survivors, a perosnal history that has fueled her passion for creating work that fearlessly addresses religious intolerance, racism, ethnic cleansing, violence and the pain and suffering caused by displacement and war. “HEADS ROLL” is a “powerful visual metaphor for lives tossed aside” It “brings the viewer face to face with disposable clothing, disposable humanity, and the world’s indifference.”
Acclaimed Los Angeles-based photographer Parker Day took the trope of blood and created “something equal parts fearsome and silly” that addresses the ideas of menstruation and reproduction. “Rather than capture a vulnerable femininity, I wanted show the woman as potentially threatening, to subtly question why her body and her blood would be considered threatening at all,” she writes.
Swedish American Michele Pred uncovers the cultural and political meaning behind everyday objects with a particular focus on themes like equal pay, reproductive rights and personal security. “I started to use the phrase ‘My Body My Business’ in my artwork 4 years ago in response to the increasingly difficult access to affordable birth control and women’s health services,” Pred writes. “In this new and dangerous world of a Trump-ian politics that routinely voices unambiguous disdain and hatred, this statement now connects to a much wider range of progressive issues and movements: gender/trans, body positivity, #MeToo and so many more. I chose the purse as my canvas as a way to marry the powerful, politically-charged language of today’s resistance with representations of women’s modern economic power and the possibilities for change that come with it.”
Rebecca Goyette creates persona-based works poking holes in Puritanical sexual mores. “Sausage Party Bride” is a the product of her belief that “sexuality is the most significant gateway into the rich territory of psychology and human interaction, into the remotest ranges of the subconscious mind.”
“ONE YEAR OF RESISTANCE” is proof that people around the world won’t easily back down in the fight against Trump. “It is an important time for those that oppose his political agenda to maintain momentum in their fight against his divisive politics,” Cesarine says. “As an artist and curator I believe in the powerful message of art as activism…Artists have always been perceived as a sort of mirror of the population and with a group show of this size, I think we are able to present a very real picture of what people are thinking and feeling on these subjects right now. We want to create an empowering and positive impact with this show, and hopefully encourage continued investigation of these subjects and themes.”
Cesarine encourages visitors to take their time exploring the exhibit. “The artists’ statements will be available at the exhibition so viewers can read about the artists and what motivated their works in the show. I recommend that visitors give themselves at least an hour to visit the exhibition,” she says. Cesarine also encourages viewers to take their own photos of the art to share with friends on social media.
“ONE YEAR OF RESISTANCE” is an especially important look at the importance of activist art in light of Trump’s proposal to end funding of the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA). “Art is not a luxury; it is our history, it is our story,” Cesarine explains. “It is important that art education and cultural enrichment continue to be accessible as they empower and inspire people.”
“ONE YEAR OF RESISTANCE” opens to the public on January 17th, 2018 and runs until February 4th. The Untitled Space is open weekdays from 12pm to 6pm and weekends 12pm-5pm.