March 29, 2007
Protest art is passionate. It can be done with great flourish, conceived in irony or worked out with fury. But itâ€™s exciting to look at. It jolts you out of the everyday and rattles your assumptions. Protest art for many artists is not just political, itâ€™s personal.
Jill Kasakâ€™s two-panel acrylic painting at the new exhibit at Protest Space Gallery is emblematic of all those qualities. When Pigs Fly is the depiction of the Japanese bombing a U.S. battleship at Pearl Harbor, with saintly little pigs on wings hovering directly above. Kasakâ€™s grandfather, whose favorite expression is the title of the work, was at Pearl Harbor, an event Americans never thought they would see. Kasak compared that destruction to an impending environmental catastrophe.
Other pieces are clever, playing off iconic consumer images. Sarah Nicole Phillipsâ€™ Little Brown Barf Bag is the perfect zing at materialist culture. In a painting reminiscent of Georgia Oâ€™Keefe, Sam Sebrunâ€™s Black Tulip is coated in oil. What You Need to Know by Seth Toberman is a helpful comic book styled tutorial on global warming.
There are many political works. Dave Treeâ€™s collage Dare to Compare pits Hiroshimaâ€™s deliberate destruction against that of New Orleansâ€™. The Decline of Western Man takes a medieval map of battle wounds against a line up of soldiers in WWI gasmasks. Lopi La Rueâ€™s How to Fit a Gas Mask onto a Childâ€™s Face is a chilling series of small painted installments, also available in a flipbook format. (Photo: Brian Bothwell and Dave Tree)
Peter Meitzlerâ€™s photograph, Iâ€™m Walking Here is of an elderly woman eloquently holding a placard for humanity. Jenn DeWaldâ€™s Untitled, a painting on polar bears at the beach, is surreal. Bloated bodies lie in the blazing sun, surrounded by polar bears, some of them forever locked in frozen television cubes. Others walk about like ghosts, one baby cub pawing pathetically at an abandoned snow cone cart.
Other post-apocalyptic works include Mike Alanâ€™s Predictions where a mutant couple tool around in oversized tricycles. Alanâ€™s pieces are idiosyncratic, complex and visionary. This is a show not to be missed.
In conjunction with Timeâ€™s Up
511 West 20th Street
New York, NY