Julian Lorber, "This is How We Play Now," 2016, baseballs, metal alloy studs, dimensions variable


Alexander Barton, Todd Bienvenu, Jen Hitchings, Kenya Johnson, Kat JK Lee, Julian Lorber, Nao Matsumoto, Ash Thayer, Sophia Wallace

September 9 – October 2, 2016

Curated by Julian A. Jimarez Howard


Please join us September 9th from 7-10pm to celebrate the opening of RESPECTABILITY POLITICS featuring work by Alexander Barton, Todd Bienvenu, Jen Hitchings, Kenya Johnson, Kat JK Lee, Julian Lorber, Nao Matsumoto, Ash Thayer, and Sophia Wallace.  The exhibition will continue through October 2nd with regular hours Saturday & Sunday, 12-6pm.


Often used within the black community, the term respectability politics denotes the belief that embodying and projecting the hegemonic norms of a society are why successful demographics are such, any why those demographics that do not, are not. While the efficacy of this practice has always been controversial, the Black Lives Matter movement has brought this point into sharp relief within larger American culture. Recently, activist and musician Killer Mike, has argued that riots, not unlike the ones that precipitated the founding of this country, have always been important (and often effective) tools for social change, though only certain demographic segments are brought to bear on the stigma of such acts[1]

RESPECTABILITY POLITICS as an exhibition aims to broaden this line of thinking into a larger examination of American culture through the arts. As we witness the increasing consolidation of both global media and production[2] along with the proliferation of the Internet, there is a paradoxical effect in the shrinking of peripheral spaces. In the art world, this can been seen in the market power of galleries like Gagosian and Zwirner, the fact that one third of all museum solo shows in the U.S. are with artists represented by only five galleries,[3] or in increasing emphasis on MFA programs regardless of their soundness as financial decisions[4]. Given these considerations, what kind of spaces exist for artists and what concessions must they make to participate within them? How can artists use their work to talk about issues that are not socially acceptable, or MFA approved? And more importantly, through which channels of race, class, and gender do artists get to either self-identify or get labeled as transgressive, and who benefits from the label? This exhibition seeks to examine these questions along the above three axes, exhibiting work that questions the representational politics of our various American social norms, delving into the existential query of who gets to embody which roles and why.   


[4] http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/12/mfas-an-increasingly-popular-increasingly-bad-financial-decision/383706/


For reference see also: “Gramsci and the Theory of Hegemony”, Thomas R. Bates, Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol. 36, No. 2 (Apr. - Jun., 1975), pp. 351-366, University of Pennsylvania Press, http://www.jstor.org/stable/2708933


James C. Scott, Weapons of the Weak: Everyday Forms of Peasant Resistance, (September 10, 1987) Yale University Press; Reprint edition.