Petr Davydtchenko; Democracia; Kendell Geers; Leon Golub; Franko B; John Heartfield; IRWIN; Peter Kennard; kennardphillipps; Barbara Kruger; Oleg Kulik; Andrei Molodkin; Gustav Metzger; Shirin Neshat; Arsen Savadov; Andres Serrano; Santiago Sierra and Ai Weiwei
Selected works from the a/political collection, curated by Franko B
7 October – 2 December 2017
Opening reception – 6 October at 6pm
“It’s not moral, it’s not about educating, it’s not about telling people what to believe, rather it’s about showing how the artists, as living beings, perceive it to be and the necessity to express and show it.” – Franko B
Curated by pioneering performance and visual artist Franko B, HOW TO SAY IT THE WAY IT IS! marks the first exhibition of selected works from the a/political collection, opening at Rua Red Gallery, South Dublin from the 7 October – 2 December 2017. The exhibition initiates the forthcoming programme of Rua Red’s new Director Maolíosa Boyle and the yearlong partnership with a/political.
At a time when history is eating itself, bloated off war and genocide, we look towards its nuclear death. HOW TO SAY IT THE WAY IT IS! provides an alternative narrative to the current political status quo – one of timeless definace, resistence and disorder – from some of the most influential socially and politically engaged contemporary artists.
The exhibition will feature works by: Franko B; Petr Davydtchenko; Democracia; Kendell Geers; Leon Golub; John Heartfield; IRWIN; Peter Kennard; kennardphillipps; Barbara Kruger; Oleg Kulik; Andrei Molodkin; Gustav Metzger; Shirin Neshat; Arsen Savadov; Andres Serrano; Santiago Sierra and Ai Weiwei, many of whom have never shown in Ireland before.
Through a series of accompanying workshops, talks and events Franko B and invited guests will explore how we as people respond to power within domestic and political arenas.
‘This is a time of change for Rua Red as the organisation embarks on a new trajectory. The new programme and partnership with a/political commencing with the exhibition ‘HOW TO SAY IT THE WAY IT IS!’ will focus on the importance of politics, people and place. At a time of horrendous global uncertainty, unease and fear it is important that there is a space where contemporary artists have the freedom to express their opinions. Rua Red is that space. We are delighted to be working with Franko B and the incredible range of renowned international artists who inform this exhibition’ – Maolíosa Boyle, Director, Rua Red
Franko B (1960) born in Milan. His practice spans drawing, installation, performance and sculpture. A pioneer of body art and a leading performance artist and activist, Franko B uses his body as a tool to explore the themes of the personal, political, poetic, resistance, suffering and the reminder of our own mortality and vulnerability. Franko B lives and works in London and is a professor of Sculpture at L’Accademia Albertina Di Belle Arti di Torino, Italy. He is also a visiting lecturer at the Royal College of Art, London. He has presented work internationally at: Tate Modern; ICA (London); South London Gallery; Arnolfini (Bristol); Palais des Beaux Arts (Brussels); Beaconsfield Contemporary Art (London); Bluecoat Museum (Liverpool); Tate Liverpool; Ruarts Foundation (Moscow); PAC (Milian); Contemporary Art Centre (Copenhagen) and many more. His works are in the collections of the Tate, Victoria and Albert Museum, South London Gallery, the permanent collection of the city of Milan and a/political, London.
Petr Davydtchenko (1986) born in Arzamas-16, a closed military town Russia. Growing up in St. Petersburg, he experienced the hostility of far right groups before moving to Europe. Now situated outside of this repressed sub-community, Davydtchenko reinterprets fixed social codes through exploring cultural semiotics. Currently opting out of society, Davydtchenko critiques the notion of progress, living off animals killed on the road by man-made machines.
Founded in 2001 by Pablo Espana and Ivan Lopez, Madrid based collective Democracia explore the imaginary, symbolic, semantic, and iconographic facets of power, violence and the status of the spectator through projects, public action, systems and working processes set in the cultural, urban and socio-political context of democratic society. Their work comes in the forms of messages, simulations, artefacts and critical mechanisms that shun the concept of art as an object for visual contemplation, documentation and public participation.
Kendell Geers (1968) born in apartheid Johannesburg, South Africa as Jacobus Hermanus Pieters Geers. In 1993, he changed his names to Kendell Geers and his date of birth to May 1968 (the start of the civil and student revolution). In 1988, Geers was one of 143 Young Men who publicly refused to serve in the South African Defense Force. Facing either a life in exile or six years’ imprisonment in a civilian jail he imposed self-exile, moving to New York in 1989. Although his work has been artificially divided into two parts (1988-2000/2001-onwards) Geers has continually used violent material such as barbed wires, broken glass and the word fuck to pertain to the brutality of his social struggles growing up in apartheid South-Africa.
Leon Golub (1922 – 2004) born in Chicago. An American, post-war, figurative painter, Golub was heavily involved in the anti-Vietnam war peace movement. His activism led him to create large scale history paintings, using subject matter that includes interrogations, torture scenes and riots of the 1980s and early 90s. Golub believed art should have relevance and through his work returns to themes of oppression, violence, power or the misuse of power and dystopian images of urban life.
John Heartfield (1891–1968) born as Helmut Herzfeld in Berlin-Schmargendorf. He is seen as the forefront leader of the Dada Movement in Berlin During the early 20th Century and the pioneer of photo-montage, using art as a political weapon through his agit-prop photo montages. Publishing his photo-montages regularly in weekly anti-fascist/pro-communist magazines, Heartfield directly spoke out against Hitler’s National Socialism and Nazism during the 1930s, putting his life in danger.
Founded in 1983, artist collective IRWIN developed their own visual language, through the appropriation of historical European avant-gardes, critiquing the artificiality of Western art-historical structures that continue to exclude contemporary Eastern European art. IRWIN is one component of NSK, a collective formed during the disintegration of Yugoslavia, noted for developing and introducing the retro-avant-garde, an idiosyncratic version of the postmodernism, into the globalizing cultural sphere.
Peter Kennard (1949) born in London. Seeking to reflect his involvement in the anti-Vietnam war movement, he turned from painting to photo-montage to better address his political views. He is best known for the images he created for the campaign for nuclear disbarment (CND). Because many of the left-wing organisations and publications he used to work with have disappeared, Kennard has turned to using exhibitions, books and the internet for his work. Creating posters, placards and t-shirts, Kennard uses blunt statistics juxtaposed with images to critique the globalised world, highlighting issues such as inequality and political injustice.
kennardphillipps is a collaboration between Peter Kennard and Cat Phillipps working since 2002 to produce art in response to the invasion of Iraq. It has evolved to confront power and war across the globe. The work is made for the street, the gallery, the web, newspapers & magazines, and to lead workshops that develop peoples’ skills and help them express their thoughts on what’s happening in the world through visual means. The work is made as a critical tool that connects to international movements for social and political change.
Barbara Kruger (1945) born in Newark, New Jersey. Drawing on her background in graphic design, Kruger adopts the same visual tools as mass media; the appropriated images and texts acting as both social commentary and political agitator commenting on religion, sex, racial and gender stereotypes, consumerism, corporate greed, and power. A conceptualist and collagist, Kruger has developed instantly recognisable artworks through her chosen typeface Futura Extra Bold.
Oleg Kulik (1961) born in Kiev. Beginning his career as an unorthodox curator, he caused controversy through his zoomorphic performances whereby he took on the role of a dog, revealing his discontent at the horrors of human corruption and the uneasy characterisation of the east by the west in the post-communist era.
Andrei Molodkin (1966) born in Boui, North Russia. Whilst studying he served in the Soviet Army, convoying missiles through Serbia. In the freezing temperatures, Molodkin would rub oil over his body to provide the warmth to keep himself alive. Oil became his source of survival, yet he was acutely aware of the corruption and exploitation embedded in its very substance. As a result, he continues to explore the connotations of oil in myriad high-profile socio-political contexts.
Gustav Metzger (1926 - 2017) born in Nuremberg, Germany to Polish-Jewish parents, arrived in Britain on the kindertransport in 1939 - most of his immediate family perished in the holocaust. By 1958, Metzger was becoming heavily involved in anti-capitalist, anti-consumerist movements and the campaign for nuclear disarmament; in 1960 he was a founder member of the committee of 100 and this led to a short imprisonment in 1961 with Bertrand Russell and other members of the committee for encouraging mass non-violent civil disobedience. Metzger’s political activism provided the foundation for his first artist manifesto in 1959, titled ‘auto-destructive art’. Auto-destructive art — a public art form — sought to provide a mirror of a social and political system that Metzger felt was progressing towards total obliteration. At the heart of his practice, which spanned over 65 years, are a series of constantly opposing yet interdependent forces such as destruction and creation.
Shirin Neshat (1957) born in Qazvin, Iran. living in exile for the majority of her life, following the 1979 Iranian revolution and the nature of her controversial artworks, Neshat primarily works in film and photography. Her work concentrates on the notion of femininity and its relation to Islamic fundamentalism and militancy. Neshat, through her work, questions the oppressed role of the woman in contemporary Iranian society, drawing on historical and religious Islamic roots and the female gaze.
Arsen Savadov (1962) born in Kiev. Through the mediums of paint and photography, Savadov explores sub-cultures illuminating the often disturbing and unusual to contemporary post-communist society. One of Savadov’s most Notorious works, ‘Book of the Dead’, features a series of carefully composed scenes of human corpses.
Andres Serrano (1950) born in New York City. Serrano received international attention for the scandal around his work Piss Christ (1987), igniting a national debate on the freedom of artistic expression and the public financing of controversial artworks. He went on to produce series including The Klan, The Morgue and Shit. Throughout his confrontational and challenging work, Serrano unpicks the hypocrisies and political and social constructs.
Santiago Sierra (1966) born in Madrid. Influenced by the formal language of minimalism and conceptual art movements, Sierra’s practice reveals the networks of power that cause exploitation of workers, the injustice of labour relations, the unequal distribution of wealth produced by the capitalist system, the unfair paradox of work and money, and pandemic racial discrimination in a world scored with unidirectional (south-north) migratory flows. His actions in which underprivileged or marginalised individuals were hired to perform menial or pointless tasks in exchange for money, are amongst his best known work.
Ai Weiwei (1957) born in Beijing. An outspoken human rights activist, Weiwei was arrested by the Chinese authorities in April 2011 and held in a small cell for 81 days. Upon his release, he was prohibited from traveling abroad, engaging in public speech and was closely watched by the authorities. His sculptures, photographs, films and public artworks, are fueled by a strong political conviction, often making use of historic Chinese art forms, connecting tradition with contemporary social concerns.