Exhibition provides glimpse at the many ways artists question, expose and confront power

The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Thursday, May 30, 2024

Exhibition provides glimpse at the many ways artists question, expose and confront power
Jose Alvarez (D.O.P.A.) The Visitor, 2007. Courtesy of the artist and GAVLAK Gallery.

MIAMI, FLA.- As we continue navigating this disorienting phase in national history, we find new opportunities to take risks. And as always, art is there to tell the story. This summer starting today, Oolite Arts presents Where there is power, an exhibition about the many ways that artists access, spy upon, expose, memorialize, and occasionally trouble the machinations of power.

Where there is power is co-organized by Amanda Bradley, programs manager at Oolite Arts, and René Morales, chief curator at Pérez Art Museum Miami. “When I was first invited to do the show last summer, the world really felt like it was on fire,” said René Morales. “Between the pandemic, the movement for Black lives, ongoing trauma from the last administration and election, and crises at the border, the societal powers that structure and regulate our lives were clearly becoming unstable. So, we wanted to put together a show that would respond to the political instability and volatility of the times.”

The exhibition’s title refers to a famous quote by the philosopher Michel Foucault: “Where there is power, there is resistance.” The Miami-based artists featured in the exhibition include José Álvarez, Asif Farooq, Edny Jean Joseph, Francisco Masó, Yucef Merhi, Reginald O’Neal, Rodolfo Peraza, Chire Regans, Tony Vázquez-Figueroa, Judi Werthein, Agustina Woodgate, Antonia Wright and Ruben Millares. Their works touch on several urgent themes including racial conflict, law enforcement, mass incarceration, cults of personality, mass protests, immigration, the exploitation of natural resources, and digital surveillance.

“Inclusive of both deeply personal and political intersections with power, the exhibition creates an entry point into understanding some of the larger systems that govern our daily lives,” said Bradley.

Highlights include a work by Yucef Merhi who intercepted the emails of Hugo Chávez from 1998-2004 and creates wallpaper installations out of them. The late Asif Farooq recreated the Soviet-era MiG-21 jet fighter, down to the smallest detail, in true scale – wholly out of paper. Farooq’s work was the seed that germinated this show and is a reflection on the military industrial complex, the legacies of the cold war, and the fetishization of the military and death. Antonia Wright and Ruben Millares’ piece reimagines the barricade, a symbol of power and control. Agustina Woodgate encases a month’s supply of emergency water in an impenetrable acrylic box referencing corporate attempts to monetize water particularly in Latin America and Africa. Chire Regans, who creates memorial portraits of victims of gun violence, presents a new, site-specific work that includes portraits of her own children.

Morales adds, “It is an important moment to take stock of and think about how power impacts our lives. These artists remind us of the inherent value of shedding light into dark places.”

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