Who is an activist? What role does art play in social change?
Performance, visual art, and technology offer a new kind of toolkit for today’s activism, allowing for a broad range of participation in changemaking. At the same time, social media offers an unprecedented platform for increased visibility and public dialog. Take This Hammer: Art + Media Activism from the Bay Area explores these possibilities through the recent work of artists, activists, and technologists addressing the most pressing issues of our time.
Guest curator Christian L. Frock provides an expansive look at artworks, media projects, and ephemera from tactical interventions, as well as several new sitespecific commissions.
The exhibition includes 3.9 Art Collective, Indira Allegra, AntiEviction Mapping Project, Bay Area Society for Art & Activism, Cat Brooks with Black Lives Matter | Anti PoliceTerror Project, CultureStrike, Dignidad Rebelde, Leslie Dreyer, the Guantanamo Bay Museum of Art and History, Jeremy Mende, Tucker Nichols, Oree Originol, PERSIA featuring Daddie$ Pla$tik, Pitch Interactive, Adrienne Skye Roberts, Favianna Rodriguez, Ruby Mountain, and Stamen. A full-color publication features new essays by Jeff Chang, Christian L. Frock, and Rebecca Solnit.
Artist/activist Adrienne Skye Roberts uses the tools of the art world to organize against laws that funnel women into life without parole sentences.
Take This Hammer: Art + Media Activism from the Bay Area reflects on the Bay Area’s unique legacy as a center for social justice movements and considers the ways in which the tools of visual art and performance are amplified via the internet by artists, technologists and organizers to leverage global public dialog. Spanning a wide range of media and tactical interventions, Take This Hammer complicates conventional narratives around art, activism and the role of the internet in coalition building, social movement and organizing. It also simultaneously challenges the function of art in daily life recasting it as a powerful vehicle for public engagement with the most pressing issues of our time.
The exhibition includes painting, drawing, printmaking, installation, performance, design and data visualization, sound, film, video, web-based works, documentation, and ephemera, among other media. Through these means, the work in Take This Hammer delves into the role art has to play in expanding the possibilities for action, the tools at our disposal online, and the powerful social movements coming out of the Bay Area today. The work in the exhibition explores present-day tactical gestures aimed at impacting important social issues, including racial justice, wealth disparity, gentrification, displacement, police brutality, the prison industrial complex, immigration, gun violence, war, and the environment.
Christian L. Frock
YBCA Exhibitions 1516 are made possible in part by: Mike Wilkins and Sheila Duignan, Meridee Moore and Kevin King, and The Creative Ventures Council.
Lead image: PERSIA featuring Daddie$ Pla$tik, Google Google Apps Apps, 2013, Courtesy the artists.