Section: Arts

Post-Feast, Gund Gallery tackles political resistance

Post-Feast, Gund Gallery tackles political resistance

The semester-long “Feast” has left the Gund Gallery, and in its place are four new exhibitions. On Friday, Jan. 16 a brand new set of exhibitions opened to the public, kicking off with a celebration and reception. The works showcase a wide range of artistic engagement with and responses to political issues by a variety of artists, both from the Kenyon community and beyond. On the roster is “Resistance and Revolution: Responses in Contemporary Print, Technology, and Community Activism” by Steve Lambert, “Tchotchke: The Mass-Produced Sentimental Object in Contemporary Art,” by Yoko Inoue “Currents” by Kenyon professor Barry Gunderson and “Host” by Kenyon Professor Claudia Esslinger. Lambert’s exhibit begins with the large and hard-to-miss “Capitalism: Works for Me! True/False” sign outside the gallery, which has also shown its lights on Times Square in New York City. But inside the Gallery is even more art, ranging from digital poster designs to contemporary sculptures that center around the theme of political activism.

“This exhibition focuses on contemporary artists who are responding to and grappling with political events and social issues through varying media,” Gund Gallery Associate Sarabeth Domal ’15 said. “Many of the artists featured in the exhibition, like Steve Lambert, Shepard Fairey and the Yes Men are at the forefront of the intersection of contemporary art and political activism.”

Similar to the main exhibition from last semester entitled “Feast: Radical Hospitality in Contemporary Art,” “Resistance and Revolution” showcases artists confronting different views on contemporary issues. However, rather than focusing on themes regarding food, the new exhibition is concerned with ideas such as gender, race, consumerism and mass production.

“Although the themes are obviously pretty different, I would say that the main similarity between ‘Feast’ and ‘Resistance and Revolution’ is that the artists in both exhibitions are responding to and challenging social and cultural norms that are so influential to society in general,” Domal said.

Gund Gallery Associate Hector Marreo ’15 said, “So the exhibition has transitioned from … food-centric to … the objects and commodities of our life. Both are calling attention to capitalism and consumerism.”

In addition to “Resistance and Revolution,” there are four different exhibitions art lovers can look forward to as part of the new direction the Gallery is heading in this semester, beginning with two faculty sabbatical exhibitions, showcasing new work by Professors of Art Barry Gunderson and Claudia Esslinger. According to the Gund Gallery website, Esslinger’s project, “Host,” will utilize electronic media to explore our relationship with the natural world. Gunderson’s project, “Currents,” will also explore a relationship with nature, but through sculpture.

Another main exhibition, called “Tchotchke: Mass-Produced Sentimental Objects in Contemporary Art,” by Yoko Inoue is curated by Gallery director Natalie Marsh, in collaboration with Professor of Art and Visual Culture at Denison University Joy Sperling, who is acting as guest curator.

“This exhibition focuses on an exploration of the mass-produced object and how it can relate to the aesthetic values of contemporary art,” Domal said. “We are seeing more and more artists focus their work on breaking down the commodification of such objects as an exploration of the cultural and social conditions they originate from.”

Marsh said, “They’re making a number of different statements through their work. Their work is sculpture, and we have video; we have a number of pieces involved in a very large-scale installation. It’s meant to also tap into … issues of economic diversity and how value is assigned to different kinds of objects associated with different classes in our society.”

Finally, the fourth exhibit showcases works by a number of artists working with methods ranging from traditional print media to more advanced modes of technological activism. This exhibit also includes several opportunities for audiences to interact with the work to make it more personal to their own views, and bring their individual perspectives to the Gallery.

“That exhibition includes prints as well as some interactive pieces, and also a special computer station with printers where students can print off posters for Occupy Wall Street that have been designed by all different kinds of people — professional and amateur artists — and have been posted online,” Marsh said. “You can post your selection from those websites in the gallery itself as kind of your contribution.”

Part of the appeal of the range of different exhibitions is that all Kenyon students and community members can find a topic in which they are interested and expand their perspectives.

Domal said, “I think that ‘Resistance and Revolution’ appeals to all different types of Kenyon students. It’s important that we try to stay connected with the current political and cultural climates, both globally and domestically, and learning more about it through activism and art can introduce students to viewpoints that can help them further their own opinions.”

From film screenings to interactive signs and posters, the Gallery offers a number of chances to meet the goal of integrating artistic activism into the Kenyon community. The Gallery is open Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday from 1 to 7 p.m., Thursday from 1 to 10 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m.

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