07.04.2017 – 10.06.2017 / Opening 05:00 p.m. – 08:00 p.m.
300 W Superior Street, Suite 203
Chicago, IL 60654, US
Opening April 7, Weinberg/Newton Gallery presents In Acts, a group exhibition inspired by the summit that will bring international artists to the University of Chicago’s campus later that month to ask: Whatis an Artistic Practice of Human Rights? Featuring Lola Arias, Jelili Atiku, Tania Bruguera, Zanele Muholi, Carlos Javier Ortiz, and Laurie Jo Reynolds, In Acts provides a setting for artworks by these artists who advance human rights discourse and policy through their art.
These artists are performative, searching, and ambitious, yet incisive in emotional acuity. Their practices are at once endeavors in political engagement and sensitive creative explorations. In Acts makes apparent the intricate systems that undergird the discrimination and inequality in global culture. The exhibition strives to amplify a sense of political efficacy amongst its visitors, willing them to take action in matters of human rights–from immigrant and refugee justice to LGBTQ rights to the eradication of poverty and youth violence.
Two artists use fresh approaches to the tradition of documentary photography and filmmaking in order to shed light on underrepresented communities, in which they have personal stakes. Zanele Muholi makes images of members of her own community– queer and trans South Africans. Her portraits on display from the series Faces and Phases vibrate with the energy of their subjects. Muholi regards her practice as visual activism, a stand against the frequently violent homophobia that pervades contemporary South African culture. Carlos Javier Ortiz makes documentary films and photographs that capture the effects of violence on American families in cities like Chicago. Ortiz often depicts Puerto Rican and black families that have experienced the loss of kin to violence in order to provide viewers with insight into the nuances of such violence, the factors that produce it, and the resilience of people who live through it. His short film A Thousand Midnights illustrates socioeconomic realities for African-Americans living through the Great Migration and in its wake.
Two more use their own bodies and personae in high stakes live performances to elicit reactions and mobilize their audiences. Jelili Atiku addresses pressing human rights struggles while incorporating elements of traditional Nigerian performance into his works. Atiku’s emphatic, boldly embodied performances often traverse public space, dragging issues of poverty, corruption, climate change, and prejudice out into the open air. In preparation for his Chicago performance, which will begin in Hyde Park at the summit and end at Weinberg/Newton Gallery, Atiku will collect written responses to questions about LGBTQ rights. During the performance, he will wear a cloak made from hundreds of glass bottles that contain the collected responses. The material aftermath from his performance on April 29 will be added to Atiku’s gallery installation. Tania Bruguera’s performances situate themselves in the space where art and activism overlap. Although she performs in her work, her projects are often not truly realized until other people respond, participate, and interact – utilizing the very model of participatory democracy as artistic practice. In doing so, Bruguera proposes solutions to political problems through art.
The remaining artists reframe existing structures of power in order to remake them for the future. Laurie Jo Reynolds confronts tools of discrimination within the US criminal justice system, like solitary confinement in prisons and public crime registries. Ephemera that conveys her current efforts to disrupt the 20-year long systematic registry of sex offenders will be on display. Reynolds refers to her practice as legislative art and regularly engages institutions and people outside of the art world to yield tangible effects. Lola Arias retells prevailing realities from the past and the present. She imaginatively reconstitutes localized histories through her theatre-based projects. Veterans is a five-channel video installation examining the long- lasting effects of military action on Argentinean men who served in the Malvinas/Falklands War in 1982. Arias collaborates with non-professional performers in the creation of her work, asking them to combine their lived experiences with aestheticized embellishments to shed light on the political inheritances that shape our time.
Weinberg/Newton Gallery has partnered with the University of Chicago’s Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry, Logan Center for the Arts, and Pozen Family Center for Human Rights to bring the work of these artists into dialogue with one another for this exhibition. The summit What is an Artistic Practice of Human Rights? will take place on April 29 and May 1.
ABOUT WEINBERG/NEWTON GALLERY
Weinberg/Newton Gallery is an exhibition space with a mission to educate and inform the public on social justice issues. Through artwork and programming, the gallery provides an engaging environment for discourse on critical contemporary issues facing our communities. Connecting artists with social justice organizations, the gallery works to drive change and cultivate a culture of consciousness.