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The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation opens the first in a two-year series of exhibitions
Chto Delat (realized by Nikolay Oleynikov), Migrants (To Those Who), 2019. Mixed-media textile. Courtesy of Chto Delat and KOW, Berlin | Madrid. Photo: Artem Agafonov.

NEW YORK, NY.- The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation presents Revolution from Without…, the first in a two-year series of exhibitions under the larger title Revolutionary Cycles, at the Foundation’s exhibition space, The 8th Floor, in New York City. The six installments will be organized around a single theme, including labor, gender, the media, surveillance, and family. Through each exhibition, Revolutionary Cycles will focus on different modes of resistance, emphasizing how revolutionary gestures are manifest in the contexts of art and life.

The inaugural exhibition Revolution from Without… features five artists and two collectives—Tania Bruguera, Tony Cokes, Chto Delat, Raqs Media Collective, Kameelah Janan Rasheed, Dread Scott, and Mark Wallinger—whose practices engage structures of power that determine who is entitled to, and excluded from, access to human rights and positions of privilege.

The title suggests that social and political change can come from the margins of the polity, motivated by conditions of being without: without rights, without capital, without representation. Each artist specifically addresses key political and historical moments in which the articulation of rights has been advanced. The artworks in the exhibition provide historical context for understanding current political conditions, with specific projects signaling activist methodologies involving research, education, critique, and more radical forms of protest.

Anchoring Revolution from Without... is a sculptural rendering of Mark Wallinger’s large-scale, circular, public artwork, Writ in Water (2018), which commemorates the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta, revisiting one of the foundational documents outlining human rights. Tania Bruguera and Dread Scott, both known for touchstone works pointing to the limits of free speech and freedom of expression, present works that serve as prompts for participation. Their contributions to the exhibition elaborate on the legacy of artworks like Scott’s What is the Proper Way to Display a U.S. Flag (1988), and Bruguera’s Tatlin’s Whisper (2009), amplifying individual agency and collective efforts in enacting political change.

Kameelah Janan Rasheed’s large-scale associative installations assemble material culture from African American history, making visible the structural conditions that determine how rights are granted, and to whom, with an emphasis on the right to education. Synthesizing archival footage, animated text, and popular music, Tony Cokes’ research-based video installations analyze and reinterpret the media’s construction of collective knowledge, with video projects like his ongoing "Evil" series.

The exhibition also includes Raqs Media Collective whose work reflects on borders and the right to mobility—a heavily contested issue in the United States, as immigration policies continue to interfere with the right to asylum. Russian collective Chto Delat, whose name translates to "What is to be done?", creates sites for strategy, education, and activism through the production of textile-based banners and signs that examine and conflate activist histories, cultural theory, and political iconography.

With specially commissioned artworks, as well as restaged installations, Revolution from Without… lays a foundation for the central themes which will be expanded upon in the subsequent exhibitions in Revolutionary Cycles, ultimately questioning how art spaces can be sites for organizing.

The exhibition is curated by Sara Reisman, Executive and Artistic Director of the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation, with a brochure essay by writer Rehan Ansari. A program of events will be organized in conjunction with the exhibition.

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