“Protest Club” Exhibition

EFA Project Space

poster for “Protest Club” Exhibition
[Image: Şener Özmen "What Does an Artist Actually Want?" (2012) HD Video, colour, sound, 2:20 minutes. Courtesy of the artist and Pilot Gallery, Istanbul.]

This event has ended.

EFA International Partnership Artists: Ava Ansari, Salar Ansari, Maria Elvira Escallón, Rashwan Abdelbaki, Şener Özmen; and EFA Studio Member Artists: Wafaa Bilal, Saya Woolfalk, Richard Jochum, Karina Skvirsky, Pablo Helguera

Curated by Natalia Nakazawa

The Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts Studio Program presents Protest Club, an exhibition featuring five International Partnerships artists and five Studio Member artists engaged with global issues of power and protest. Side-stepping expectations of political art, works on view use humor, fantasy and participation to engage viewers with small and large stories of our troubled globe. This multifaceted exhibition features media, sculpture, painting and site-specific installations.
Exhibition Artworks

In the video piece, What Does an Artist Actually Want?, Kurdish artist Şener Özmen (b.1971, Turkey) stands in a plowed field with the sound of military jets drowning out his statement: “Do you think it’s possible for me to influence global art from where I am standing?” His questioning strikes at ubiquitous biases towards western mega cities, where wealth, power, and privilege conspire to drown out the voices of other artists in regions deemed outside of the political favor.

Across from this video work, Iraqi artist Wafaa Bilal (b.1966, Iraq) underscores the relationship of icon to political power with a golden space satellite of Saddam Hussein. At the height of Saddam Hussein’s power, members of the Ba’ath party in Iraq had planned such a tribute in his honor. They commissioned a golden statue in his likeness, to be propelled into space where it would orbit Earth for all eternity, gazing upon his pan-Arabic lands and its enemies with the eye of God.

Also addressing hubris with humor is Maria Elvira Escallón’s (b.1954, Colombia) recreation of a series of events surrounding the discovery of a meteorite in Colombia. Spurred by the realization that museums often omit important historical information about objects in the name of science, Maria Elvira Escallón set to recover the sordid and messy details of the meteor’s history. Displayed as a mini-museological display, historical photographs, drawings, and didactics offer a guide to rectifying the wrongs of the past.

The exhibition’s name comes from El Club de Protesta, an installation of ephemera and recorded protest songs by Pablo Helguera (b.1971, Mexico) in collaboration with composer Carlo Nicolau. El Club de Protesta focuses on traditions of the protest song and on current issues surrounding immigration. As part of the exhibition’s public programs, Helguera will host a free night of performances around his installation on Wednesday, May 15th at 6 PM, at EFA.

Rashwan Abdelbaki’s (b.1984, Syria) large paintings are haunted by figures with one eye open and one eye closed. They huddle, sit, stand and lie down with a sense of urgency and discomfort. Growing up in Damascus, Syria, Abdelbaki’s early life was filled with sounds, food, and community - all of which are now existing in a constant state of fear and uncertainty, with control firmly in the hands of political and military factions.

Richard Jochum’s (b.1967, Austria) Survey is a participatory wall installation presenting viewers with an imaginary choice about their projected attitude toward the world around them. Marking the electoral success of right-wing governments across the globe, Survey has been translated into a number of languages.

Ava Ansari’s (b.1982, Iran) curated video project, Little Syria, orchestrates both an uncovering of forgotten history and a fantastical reenactment of memory. Before the construction of the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel and the World Trade Center an area called Little Syria was home to one of the largest and earliest communities of Arab and Eastern European immigrants in the US. The organizers and participants celebrate the invisible neighborhood and ask for support to preserve its three remaining buildings: a church, a community center, and a tenement house.

Saya Woolfalk’s (b.1979, Japan) site-specific installation, ChimaCloud Crystal Body C, is part of a larger fictional utopian universe, called the Empathics, where virtual beings inhabit women-centric worlds. Woolfalk combines visual and ontological strategies found in sci-fi fantasy and cultural anthropology as a counter to the violent and harsh realities of contemporary life.

Karina Skvirsky (b.1969, USA) physically cuts, bends, and folds images of contemporary landscapes taken in Ecuador in her series, Los obreros del ferrocarril, revealing an overlooked history of indigenous workers, Jamaicans and Chinese migrants who labored constructing the railroads across the country.

Salar Ansari’s (b.1990, Iran) Binaural Collection forges a relationship in the artist’s work between his newly fraught immigration status and his current home in Detroit, Michigan. It is at once a deeply personal and collaborative series of 3D sound works that tease out some of the heaviest subjects facing immigrants and Americans alike in today’s political climate.



from March 06, 2018 to July 13, 2018
Public Performance: El Club de Protesta, Wednesday, May 15, 6 PM

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