5 Art Exhibits You Need to See This Month in NYC
The hordes of smart, young, pissed-off people on social media aren’t wrong in their recent demands to reconsider art’s role: in politics, social justice and otherwise. It’s a pressing question, and a tough one: how does art fit into our current political climate?
The art we’re interested in right now embodies resistance: through who it supports, whose voices it amplifies, how clear it is about its ethical positions, and how helpful it is to marginalized people. If politics have been reduced to aesthetics (social media propaganda, de-contextualized images, etc), we think that now, more than ever, art is necessary for gaining some critical distance, and for putting some clarity, sanity, and empathy out there into the swirling mass of articles, tweets (hi #ChanoForMayor), and posts. That said, we’re hitting you with another rad list of art (and activist) events happening in New York City this April. Come out.
Art is LaborThe Knockdown Center brings you Art is Labor: A Day of Creative Advocacy and Critical Imagination. This one day event is being hosted by Get Artists Paid (@getartistspaid), an international alliance formed online in 2016 to address ongoing exploitation in the art world, and MAMI, a curatorial initiative started by Dyani Douze and Ali Rosa-Salas that foregrounds the voices of womxn of color. The day consists of a super informative and helpful AF lineup of discussions and workshops that address challenges and barriers that come with being a young artist. Topics covered include healthful eating on a budget, internet security, managing student loan debt, making sense of the art commissioning process, and more. Plus there will be an ART IS LABOR marketplace selling goods by local qtpoc artists. Hosted at the Knockdown Center on April 23.
Sick Time, Sleepy Time, Crip TimeThe EFA Project Space Program presents Sick Time, Sleepy Time, Crip Time: Against Capitalism’s Temporal Bullying. This killer group show proposes better incorporation and accommodation of different states of disability, and also advocates for inserting more time for rest into everyday life. It investigates everything from the structure of the work week to the myth of “physical normalcy” and the failure of “public health” in marginalized communities. For a seriously topical meditation on why care, illness, fitness, and sleep quality are all political ideas that directly relate to questions of access, check this out. Runs through May 13 at The Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts Project Space.
LavendraAmerican Medium brings you Lavendra, a solo show of work by E. Jane. “E. Jane is a Black woman, artist and sound designer. Their work is a critical inquiry surrounding softness, safety, futurity, cyberspace and how subjugated bodies navigate media/the media.” Lavendra deals with these themes through creating a sci-fi informed utopic space that centers around “the black diva,” a figure inspired by 90’s R&B music videos. Lavendra imagines an alternative universe: one where the black female body is not placed under such high levels of stress. It’s an exhibit that gets at the transformative potential of (relevant) contemporary art: the first step to getting something is knowing and imagining what it is we want. Don’t miss this. Open through May 7 at American Medium Gallery.
Postcommodity CoyotajePostcommodity Collective just put up their first solo exhibition in New York, and it’s a seriously relevant and important body of work. The collective is made up of artists Raven Chacon, Cristóbal Martínez, and Kade L. Their practice examines indigenous cultural narratives, with a focus on socioeconomic realities in the Southwestern United States. Presented by Art in general, Coyotaje examines the real-life experiences of those living and moving near and around the US-Mexico border. The show provides a nuanced narrative surrounding the complex dynamics between US border patrol and the people living or traveling through the San Pedro River Valley region. Open through June 3 at Art in General.
Open Call for Poster!Black Ball Projects is currently producing an experimental, interactive exhibition in response to the election, which “seeks to reflect the actions our collective bodies have taken through different types of protest and expression.” They’re inviting anyone to submit posters, T-shirts, and general ephemera embodying adversarial responses to the election. It’s an interesting project, because it fosters communitarian and inclusive art-making, and also is an important step towards archiving some of what’s happening right now (so when Twitter disappears in five years, there might actually be something left). The show will culminate in an archival zine. We’re sold. Open on Saturdays through April 22 at Black Ball Projects Gallery Space. To participate, drop off your ephemera anytime the gallery is open during the run of the show.
Images via Facebook, Project Space, American Medium, Art in General and Black Ball Projects
Stay tuned to Milk for more NYC art happenings.