Selected pages from "The Protest and The Recuperation"

The Protest and The Recuperation focuses on art that reveals the visual and performative aesthetics of protests. Without getting into territory beyondmy expertise as a curator and an art historianwith a focus on contemporary art, I will say simply that the basic rights of freedom to express oneself, freedom to voice an opinion that is not that of the prevailing government and its surrogates, to question laws as unfair, or to be determined tomove policy intomore just territories has become a companion to liberal democracy’s obsession with the vote. The vote canmove amountain and reverse a deadly toxic flowof corruption, up to a point. The vote can be turned into something it was never intended to be— manipulated, distorted, ignored. In other words, voting is at the core of liberal democracy but in reality is rife with inequities and oftenwith unresolved problems. In some nations—China, United Arab Emirates—suffrage is limited and highly controlled, so resistance will take other forms such as noncompliance, the creation of underground networks, digital subterfuge, and hunger strikes. While I herald these forms of resistance, this exhibition prioritizes the live corporeal protest and the gathering of many bodies into a collectivity, with a nod to digital circulation’s role in expediting the diffusion of strategies. My interest in the public displays of performative aesthetics as an important component of resistancemovements crystalized in 2017 upon experiencing theWomen’s March. I find the expression of both joy and struggle by those who can and choose to use their bodies as a vehicle for positive

18 The Lure of Protest

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