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Introduction

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ART REVIEW: Caution: Angry Artists at Work, By ROBERTA SMITH. NYTimes, August 27, 2004. List of NYC & Brooklyn venues.


Press Release July 2004
Watch What We Say

Venue: Schroeder Romero
173A N.3rd Street. Williamsburg Brooklyn NY. t: 718 486 8992.

Opening Reception: Wed August 25, 2004. 6-9pm

Exhibition Dates: August 26 – September 2, 2004. 12-6pm.

Contact: Marc Lepson. 718 692 4571. pauperprints@earthlink.net

Artists:
Robbie Conal, Jim Costanzo, Erika deVries, Electronic Disturbance Theater, Joy Garnett, Christopher Knowles, Jerry Kearns, Joyce Kozloff, Ann Messner, Carrie Moyer, Jenny Polak, William Pope L., Carla Repice, Dread Scott, Peter Scott, Leonard Silverberg, James Tomon, Barbara Weissberger, Krzysztof Wodiczko, Emna Zghal

An exhibition of new and recent visual works in a variety of media, Watch What We Say presents a mix of emerging and established artists who address pressing political issues of the moment in poetic, subversive, emotional and clear-eyed terms.

In the weeks following the attacks of September 11, 2001, President Bush’s press secretary Ari Fleischer replied to criticism of administration policy by warning that “all Americans need to watch what they say, watch what they do”. This challenge to free expression emphasized the climate of war, repression, and xenophobia that continues to run through American society. By speaking directly to this web of issues that remain intertwined and interdependent, the artists selected for this exhibition present works that testify to the power of creative thought in the face of overwhelming odds.

For this show, timed to coincide with the Republican National Convention in NYC, artists Joy Garnett, James Tomon, Carrie Moyer, Jerry Kearns and Robbie Conal show works that take on images of power via painterly construction and de-construction of mediated images. Jenny Polak looks closely at the immigrant experience and Krzysztof Wodiczko shows video documentation of a performative projection made in collaboration with female maquiladora workers in Tijuana. William Pope L. and Dread Scott examine racial relations in historical and contemporary terms, and Peter Scott's ‘mirror’ image “explores the interplay between the relentless marketing of fear and the selling of comfort”. Taking a more emotional aproach, Christopher Knowles presents a simple and moving interpretation of color coded alert levels, along with Leonard Silverberg’s carefully composed ink washes of wandering displaced persons, Joyce Kosloff’s meticulous watercolor map of the partition of 1948 Palestine/Israel, Emna Zghal's visual interpretations of contemporary Arabic poetry, Barbara Weissberger’s humorous and disturbing corporeal forms. Ann Messner’s newspaper vending machine installation presents a hopeful alternative by dispensing free copies of ‘un conventional heroes’, a narrative of personal courage and dissent. Rounding out the show are video interventions by Jim Costanzo, off-site performance by Carla Repice, live internet radio broadcast by Erika deVries and a Virtual Sit-In of the RNC by Electronic Disturbance Theater (Ricardo Dominguez, Carmin Karasic , Brett Stalbaum, Stefan Wray).

Looking directly at extreme circumstances, these artists project back lyrical responses that are complex, beautiful, and meaningful. Difficult questions are posed eloquently, with respect to the myriad of possible answers.

Watch What We Say is curated by Marc Lepson, an installation and graphic artist whose previous curatorial projects include Art During Wartime (co-organized with Dread Scott) shown at IT IN Space NYC, Spring 2003. His work is on view at the Brooklyn Museum’s “Open House” exhibition through August 15, and can be seen at http://www.artistsnetwork.org/news7/news288.html