This Is Not America looks at the intersection of art and social change through the lens of the ASU Art Museum’s collection in conversation with emerging and established artists. Works are paired as a form of call and response in order to create a dialogue around current issues related to protest and poetic gestures within the aesthetics of resistance. The exhibition title takes a cue from Alfredo Jaar’s seminal 1987 public art video intervention at Times Square in New York City, A Logo for America, a three-part video animation that plays off the notions of “America” and its relationship to citizenship, homeland and borders.
Part 1 explores the power dynamics and political implications of oppression. From the ASU Art Museum collection comes a haunting watercolor by one of Cuba’s most important collectives, Los Carpinteros. The name Los Carpinteros derives from the historical term for skilled slave laborers. The collective has developed a body of work that pushes the boundaries between art and craft and between fact and fiction. Dominar Bestias/How to Dominate Beasts is an illustrative study that poses the question: Who is the dominator? And who is the beast?
Responding to Los Carpinteros’ work is musician and visual artist Paul Rucker with an animation video titled Proliferation (2013). A word that can refer to healing of a wound through rapid growth of new cells, Proliferation explores the evolution of prisons in the United States through an animated series of colored dots indicating location and number of prisons from 1778-2005. The incarcerated are a relatively invisible aspect of American society, while a recent Pew Research Center report found that “one in 100 U.S. adults are currently in prison’. And ‘one in 31 Americans—more than five million people—were on probation or parole. The United States leads the world in number of people behind bars with 2,245,189. (2008-10)
This Is Not America
Resistance, Protest and Poetics
Part 1: Aug. 12-Nov. 9, 2013
Part 2: Nov. 16 2013-March 15, 2014
Part 3: March 22-June 6, 2014 (co-curated with ASU MFA students)