kaufmann repetto is pleased to announce Disrupting and Resisting, Andrea Bowers’ second solo exhibition with the gallery.
The foundation of the show is a new video that records the protests and marches on the first two days of the Trump presidency in Washington D.C. The video focuses on two different activist groups, #DisruptJ20 and the Women’s March. It is the artist’s goal to memorialize these activist groups and their actions around the Trump inauguration as important moments of descent in support of democracy, freedom of speech, social justice and the right of the people to peaceably assemble. As the activist named Future of Black Lives Matter is recorded proclaiming in the video, “Coalitions aren’t meant to be permanent. Sometimes they are fragile and they are temporary but we have got to build them. This, these next four years, we have got to find each other in this movement... We have got to find each other in this.” Forming political alliances and understanding intersectionality is the consistent theme of the exhibition.
The first room of kaufmann repetto Milan includes Disrupting and Resisting, J20 & J21, an hour and a half documentary video that honors the work of two activist groups whose founding principles are similar. #DisruptJ20 is a collective of activists who came together for a series of mass protests to shut down the inauguration ceremonies. The video documents actions, beginning in the early morning, as activists linked arms at security checkpoints attempting to block the entry into the inaugural parade route and the commencement ceremony followed by a nonviolent, celebratory parade to McPherson Square that is suddenly and violently dispersed by riot police using tear gas, rubber bullets and pepper spray. The footage continues into the night as DisruptJ20 members are arrested for protesting the inaugural galas. #DisruptJ20 coalition included: The Future is Feminist, Movement for Black Lives, Climate Justice, Labor Justice, Queer rights, Racial Justice and Communities Under Attack. The second day of video was shot on January 21, 2017 and records the Women’s March on Washington, the largest single-day protest in U.S. history, which was aimed at Donald Trump and his anti-women or otherwise offensive positions and statements. The women-led movement brought together people of all genders, races, cultures, sexual orientations, political affiliations, disabilities and backgrounds to affirm a shared humanity and pronounce a bold message of resistance and self-determination. Bowers purposely unites these two groups and days of action to highlight a strong and diverse alliance fighting against white supremacy, patriarchy and the suppression of freedom. Words are power, especially in a country committed to free speech in its constitution. Installed within the same space as the video is Forbidden Words Illuminated, a new neon piece, that puts the Trump administration’s recently banned words in flashing lights: vulnerable, entitlement, diversity, transgender, fetus, evidence-based and science-based. The Washington Post first reported on December 15, 2017 that the Trump administration was prohibiting the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the United States’s top public health agency, from using a list of seven words and phrases in official budget documents. After immediate, intense and viral response from medical groups calling these measures censorship and “Orwellian”, spokespersons for the Department of Health and Human Resources described not a ban or prohibition on use of the words but rather suggestions of avoiding these words.
The second room focuses primarily on feminist issues borrowed from the Women’s March. Bowers includes a grouping of four from her series of colorful cardboard collage drawings, each of which illustrate powerful women. The images originate from the history of political graphics, but have been reworked to represent contemporary feminist issues such as diversity, immigration, intersectionality, trans liberation and the #metoo movement. Along with these works is a playful LED sign made of cardboard that flashes the slogan, Fight Like A Girl, a prominent slogan seen throughout the Women’s March. The third, smaller space in the gallery has a wall installation of spray painted fans revealing slogans she collected from the first and second Women’s March.