A jumble of brightly colored, homemade protest signs rests against the walls in the entrance to the Buchwald Wright Gallery. They resemble signs used in protests from the past century, addressing issues ranging from prohibition to civil rights to gun violence. The signs collectively form RESIST!, one of the Gund Gallery’s new spring exhibitions.
Gund Gallery’s new spring exhibitions bring together a range of voices tackling ideas about gender, race and power.
RESIST! invites the viewer, with tables covered in poster-making supplies, to make their own sign and contribute to communal dialogues about different social issues.
In the next room lie Throw and Menace, a two-part collaboration by artist duo Type A. The pair, Adam Ames and Andrew Borwin, use their friendship as a base for exploring a variety of themes within their work.
“It’s less about masculinity and more about just this interaction, this willingness to explore our relationship,” Ames said. “We immediately were drawn to these ideas of competition, comradery and intimacy which float around masculinity.”
For Throw, the artists dipped knives into graphite powder and threw them at the wall 1,640 times. The result, a lacy swarm of black gashes, caused pieces of the wall to crumble and splinter off, beckoning the viewer into the charged space of the former throwing zone for closer examination.
For Menace, Ames and Borwin photographed one another. The photo series presents ghostly glimpses of a face or an arm lurking within a murky darkness. The pieces, marked by their dark, shadowy quality, offer an interesting exploration of male threat.
The next exhibit, Beyond the Club: Re-historicizing Women in Abstract Expressionism, curated by the Gund Gallery Associates, presents the work of a series of female abstract expressionists from the mid-20th century. Pieces like Gretna Campbell’s Garden (Maine) present an explosion of formless, colorful chaos. Others, like Helen Frankenthaler’s What Red Lines Can Do, use color more sparingly, with a few simple painted lines against a white backdrop. While perhaps more subtle than the rest of the spring exhibits, Beyond the Club innovates by providing a space for the often unheard voices of female artists.
In Testimony, Shaun Leonardo brings together groups of participants representing differing beliefs and backgrounds. He then works with the participants, leading them in dialogue about these issues through movement. On a screen plays a clip of an exhibition that Leonardo conducted at the Guggenheim, where he worked with military veterans, police officers, citizens impacted by street violence and recreational gun users. Through various movement exercises, the viewer sees different relationships, power structures and conversations emerge.
Andrew Moisey’s The American Fraternity features a chilling collection of photos from Moisey’s book The American Fraternity: An Illustrated Ritual Manual. The black-and-white photos that line the walls of the curtained-off room are from Moisey’s brother’s fraternity house. They feature the faces of aggressive and gleeful young men, juxtaposed against snarling dogs and glassy-eyed, inebriated women. Gund Gallery associate Sofia Lieblein ’22 reflected on the exhibit.
“I think [Moisey] made it very clear and important how it needs to be known that this is actually happening because everyone keeps it very hush-hush,” Lieblein said. “The whole idea of fraternities is that it is secrets passed down from generation to generation … everyone wants to be in this little sect where you feel important, but how can this continue when they are treating their members so poorly?”
The final exhibit, Paul Rucker’s Red Summer, presents a timeline centered around the Red Summer, the time between May and October of 1919 when white mobs, spurned by a fear of Communism and post-war changes like unemployment and shifting racial dynamics, killed approximately 200 African Americans. The timeline, supplemented with photos and pieces from old newspapers, follows the events leading to and following the Red Summer. On the opposite wall, another timeline, spanning from 2000 to 2019, exposes markers of the current era, like the shooting at Columbine High School. This timeline aligns these tragedies of the past more closely with our current moment in time. As the last exhibit, this push towards a sense of relevance urges the viewer to string themes from the six different exhibits together into important conversations about power, inequality, aggression and fear.