When Artists Speak Truth…

When Artists Speak Truth…

The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation

Andrea Bowers, Workers’ Rights Posters, 2013. Spray paint on giftwrapping paper, 32–24 x 18 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York.
November 5, 2015

November 12, 2015–March 18, 2016

Opening: November 12, 6–8pm
RSVP is required

The 8th Floor
17 West 17th Street, 8th Floor
New York, NY 10011
Hours: Tuesday–Friday 11am–6pm,
Saturday by appointment

info [​at​] the8thfloor.org


The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation announces the opening of When Artists Speak Truth…, an exhibition conceived as a multi-vocal dialogue about how artists contribute to political transformation and help shape an expanded and more nuanced understanding of human rights. The exhibition will be on view November 12 to March 18 at The 8th Floor, located at 17 West 17th Street, New York City.

From the art world to the real world, artists in the exhibition collectively express what happens when culture is used as will to power. Taking the form of political posters, interactive installations, painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, and pedagogical display, the selected works both enact and question the role that artists play in communicating the issues affecting our broader culture.

Touching on a variety of contemporary and historical socio-political issues, from corporate power to religion and violence, Mel Chin‘s Cross for the Unforgiven (2002) features a Maltese cross—a symbol of the Crusades—constructed from eight AK-47s, a weapon that signifies international resistance to the West.

Andrea BowersWorkers’ Rights Posters (2013) and Edgar Heap of Birds‘ ongoing monoprint series “Dead Indian Stories” call out the loss of laborers’ rights and Native American communities across the United States. Matthew Buckingham also addresses the politics of Native land ownership, looking to the history and projected future of Mount Rushmore with his 2002 project The Six Grandfathers, Paha Sapa, in the Year 502,002 C.E.

Between the 1960s and the 1980s, Emory Douglas graphic artwork was featured prominently in issues of The Black Panther newspaper. Included in the exhibition is his cover of the September 21, 1974 issue, which depicts the hand of corporate power—comprised of The Chase Manhattan Bank, Pan Am, Gulf, PepsiCo, Chevron, Ford, and IBM—pulling the strings of President Gerald Ford, “the 38th Puppet of the United States.” Sam Durant‘s Emory Douglas Suite (You pig) (2004) is part of a larger series in which Durant adapted Douglas’ depictions of police aggression.

Working with text and archives, Jaro Varga will create an immersive, site-specific installation in the gallery. Varga’s Library project (2008) is a room-scale print of a library in which the book spines have been left intentionally blank. The viewer is invited to write in titles of personal import, generating a collective and participatory notion of what constitutes essential knowledge.

Artworks in the exhibition also generate new approaches to the commemoration of political leaders and movements. Rico Gatson, Dread Scott, and Andres Serrano create alternative forms of political portraits. Serrano’s Cuba (Portrait of Fidel) (2012) features a photograph of Fidel Castro on the wall of a modest bedroom of an unidentified Cuban citizen. Gatson’s graphic portraits of Nina Simone, Gil Scott-Heron, James Baldwin, and Amiri Baraka (2014–15) transmit the power that emanates from radical artists and thinkers. Paintings from Dread Scott’s “Revolutionary Archive” series (2010–12) draw on vintage photographs from the arc of Communist uprisings, including the Paris Commune, the Russian Revolution and the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Each of the works from the series exhibits a conceptual underpinning examining how artists continually engage with ideas leading to transformative revolution.

Other artists in the exhibition include ACT UP, Shimon Attie, Maja Bajevic, Luis Balaguer, Félix Beltrán, Adigio Benitez, Tania Bruguera, Nancy Burson, Yoan Capote, Dyke Action Machine, Shepard Fairey, Charles Gaines, Guerrilla Girls, Sister Corita Kent, Hew Locke, Raul Martínez, René Mederos, Yoko Ono and John Lennon, Adrian Piper, Favianna Rodriguez, Alfredo Rostgaard, and Felix Gonzalez-Torres.

When Artists Speak Truth… is curated by Sara Reisman, Artistic Director of the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation, and is part of a continuing series of exhibitions centered on the newly focused mission of the Rubin Foundation, with an emphasis on art and social justice. For more information, please visit www.the8thfloor.org.

For further information, members of the media may contact:

Andy Ptaschinski, Blue Medium Inc.
T +1 212 675 1800 / andy [​at​] bluemedium.com

George Bolster, The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation
T +1 646 738 3971 / gbolster [​at​] sdrubin.org

RSVP for When Artists Speak Truth…
The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation
November 5, 2015

Thank you for your RSVP.

The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation will be in touch.


e-flux announcements are emailed press releases for art exhibitions from all over the world.

Agenda delivers news from galleries, art spaces, and publications, while Criticism publishes reviews of exhibitions and books.

Architecture announcements cover current architecture and design projects, symposia, exhibitions, and publications from all over the world.

Film announcements are newsletters about screenings, film festivals, and exhibitions of moving image.

Education announces academic employment opportunities, calls for applications, symposia, publications, exhibitions, and educational programs.

Sign up to receive information about events organized by e-flux at e-flux Screening Room, Bar Laika, or elsewhere.

I have read e-flux’s privacy policy and agree that e-flux may send me announcements to the email address entered above and that my data will be processed for this purpose in accordance with e-flux’s privacy policy*

Thank you for your interest in e-flux. Check your inbox to confirm your subscription.