“Acts of Sedition” is a mixed-media exhibition that indirectly takes its cue from two previous WhiteBox shows that addressed facets of the U.S. elections. Sedition (2008) paralleled the general election leading to Obama’s first term, while #makamericagreatagain (2016) was prescient in focusing on the primaries and subsequent emergence of Trump who is now the 2016 Republican Presidential nominee. Whereas Sedition revealed art about the tumultuous times Americans were living in, #makeamericagreatagain was more partisan, incorporating social media as curatorial strategy.
Acts of Sedition is like a third party, for it takes the aforementioned exhibitions as a point of departure but extends their thematic concerns to the contemporary world-at-large yet linking international geo-political strife to the U.S. political landscape and forthcoming Presidential elections. Artworks to be exhibited that underscore this include Carlos Aires’ collaged dollar bills consisting of superimposed imagery of the homeless as well as Iraqi war dead in American flag draped coffins.
The work questions U.S war policies and economic disparity, however because money is traded in transnational markets whose value can fluctuate according to global events, it also reveals the symbiosis of local, national and international politics. Another work that highlights an aspect of the exhibition’s foci is Dread Scott’s A Black Man Was Lynched By Police Yesterday (2015). Taking the form of a flag, Scott’s sculpture is meant to be displayed in outdoor public spaces and is based on a similar banner hung outside the Manhattan offices of N.A.A.C.P from 1920-38 to draw attention to lynching of African-Americans in the Jim Crow South. In the same manner that N.A.A.C.P. attempted to alert the public of the racial violence being inflicted on our fellow Americans, Scott’s updated version comments on the treatment of the African-American community by certain members of the police.
The work forces us to think of how the horrors of the past are still with us today but under different guises producing the same atrocious results: unabated racial violence that is seemingly institutionalized.