Political Voices

Stephanie Allespach, Kristen Baumliér, Jason Byers, Yane Calovski, Rutherford Chang, Chris Coleman, Brett Colley, Lane Cooper, Amy Franceschini, Futurefarmers, Hristina Ivanoska, Kayrock, Marc Lepson, Billie Grace Lynn, Lisa Moren, Carrie Moyer, Mark Rentschler, Jef Scharf, Michael Smith, Andrew Stoltz, William Tourtillotte, Cheryl Yun
April 15 - June 10, 2005

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Curators' Statement

By: Kristen Baumliér

In the 1960's Herbert Marcuse identified and dissected the trends leading to a new type of technological society. In One Dimensional Man Marcuse was one of the first to examine consumer society by analyzing how consumerism, advertising, mass culture and ideology integrate individuals into the prevailing system. Intellectual freedom of expression is made ineffectual when the media co-opt and defuse, or distort and suppress opposing thought and action.

Rather than conceptualizing contemporary society as a closed monolith of domination, Marcuse points out that the contradictions within the ruling social order produce a tension. Society should be analyzed as systems of conflict and strain that oscillate from stasis to change, and it is this tension that allows the possibility of critical thought to emerge. His work continues to be relevant today as the forces of domination he analyzed have become ever more prevalent in the 40 years since One Dimensional Man was published.

The growth of the military and industrial state, the consolidation of the media, the curtailment of personal liberty in the name of national security, and the suppression of opposition form our current political and social landscape. However, the critical potential of art continues, partially due to its semi-autonomous status. Art remains a burr under the saddle of the dominant culture.

The works in this show represent many forms of dissent and resistance and explore a range of political and cultural themes. The works raise questions about the role of consumption, resistance, and political actions. They suggest the role that art can create to open dialogue and effect change.

Some works question issues of American politics such as patriotism, authority, and homeland security. International issues include foreign policy, globalization, and the results of changed political systems. Artists in this exhibition also examine man's relationship to the natural environment, the effects of war, and the role of the media.

Is art the last uncensored form of dissent? Can the questions raised in political art be acute enough to motivate action in individuals?

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