What does refusal look like? How does it fuel our ability to envision hope? Inspired in part by Theodor Adorno’s writings critical of the fascist tendencies found in American democracy— today especially relevant under Donald Trump’s presidency—Fuck the Patriarchy explores negation’s ability to envision (and complicate) hope and optimism for a better world and a feminist future.
Some interpretations of Adorno find an unresolved hope that wavers between possibility and impossibility, while allowing space for the uneasiness of nonidentical (that is, incoherent, difficult) experiences. In this view, hope is a radically engaged and deeply felt attunement to the present, in all of its uncertainty and dissonance. Fuck the Patriarchy is a refusal that likewise aspires to defy what it refuses and accept the unknowable. Toward this end, the works in this group exhibition both celebrate resistance and tap into the despondency of our current political climate.
A number of the works create a visual language for resistant subjects. Inspired by Michel Foucault’s 1966 radio broadcast “The Utopian Body,” in which he poetically contemplated the sensorium of the body and its relation to utopia, Ana Roldán’s Negative Bodies (2016) are a series of snakelike shapes crafted from lit neon tubes and black paint. Foucault, citing the body as the “zero point of the world,” argued that it is through the body’s capacity to feel that “all possible places, real or utopian, emerge and radiate.” The luminous Negative Bodies attempt to give shape to this feeling body.
Cristina Victor’s textiles also consider the slipperiness of representation, particularly of one’s identity, through the symbolism of flags. Self-taught in vexillology (the study of flags), Victor created 100 Days of Action Resistance Flag (2017) in collaboration with 100 Days, an artist-initiated counternarrative to Trump’s one-hundred-day plan that includes one hundred creative gestures/actions against his administration. The flag has been used in demonstrations in San Francisco, and it symbolizes an intersectional and continuous resistance.
Other works demonstrate defiance and feminized strength. Lauren Satlowski’s sculpture For Protection (2015–16) rests on a pillow, as if waiting to be discovered and wielded by its owner. Satlowski is interested in the dreamlike quality of consumerism in America, and the lure of transcendence imbuing objects such as figurines. Her drawings, paintings, and sculptures imagine a peripheral, alternate universe just below the shiny surfaces of the prepackaged and consumer-ready.
In her series Espinas (2016), Angélica Maria Millán Lozano adds thorns to used and distressed floral fabrics stretched over frames. In her practice, Lozano honors the experience of Latinas in her family and community, with specific attention to the space of the home. Espinas acknowledges the resilience of past generations of women who might have worn frocks made of such fabrics.
The Oakland-based multidisciplinary collective Gallery Y2K locates a rebellion emergent from femininity in their clothing designs featured in the show. The statement on the T-shirt “My Wrath Is My Will to Survive” reclaims the feminized and consequently demonized concept of “wrath.” Gallery Y2K’s gender-neutral clothing and guerrilla fashion shows enact a method of adornment that encourage community, pride, and support, queering fashion away from capitalistic and heteronormative concepts of beauty.
Our complex media environment, where messages are so easily twisted, co-opted, or emptied of meaning, complicates the terrain for resistance. Written the weekend after Trump’s election, Paul Chan and Badlands Unlimited’s poster New-No’s (2016) cuts through the clutter, clearly listing what should be refused, from clickbait to racists. Another project produced by the same publication house, New Proverbs (2017), reuses the poster designs of the Westboro Baptist Church hate group to communicate statements directed squarely at the Trump administration. Both New-No’s and New Proverbs are mass-produced, and the proceeds from their sales go to progressive charities like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Planned Parenthood, the Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting, and Black and Pink.
Seth Price’s Organic Software (2015) is also an avenue for activism. The algorithm behind the project scrapes the internet for publicly available information about high-profile art patrons and collectors and aggregates it to the a website, with the intent to create transparency around their political affiliations. It makes visible those who have supported, financially or otherwise, the Trump regime, thus revealing complicities between the art world, which is often assumed to be open and liberal, and the Trump administration’s threat to American democracy.
In a recent text in Texte zur Kunst by Seth Price about Organic Software, the artist asks, “You can put your body into spaces of protest and solidarity, you can put your money into organizations, but what can an artwork do?” This quandary was pervasive after the 2016 presidential election. Art might not solve problems, and perhaps should not be expected to. But it can provide an important collective catharsis in times of political duress. Laugher is key, a point made in D-Bag Makeup Tutorial for Life under Fascism (2016), starring performance artist Jibz Cameron’s over-the-top alter ego, Dynasty Handbag. Shot in the weeks after the election, the video takes the form of the YouTube make-up tutorial, hilariously upending the genre’s promise of glamour and glitz.
Roy Martinez’s diverse practice incorporates clothing, zines, painting, sculpture, and installation. On the occasion of this exhibition, Gas commissioned Martinez to produce a limited-edition bumper sticker, Fuck tha Patriarchy. A simple, straightforward intervention, it will hopefully proliferate its message around town.
YERBAMALA COLLECTIVE, an anonymous online group of antifascist witches, writes zines in all-capitals 60-point Arial font that spread spells and poems damning the current administration, and circulate virally on and off social media. The authorship behind the collective is loose and open, and each publication ends with an invitation for readers to join and write their own. Over the course of the exhibition, different pages of their zines will rotate in the back windows of Gas. One page of BURN IT ALL DOWN: AN ANTIFASCIST SPELL BOOK reads, “A QUEER FUTURE WHERE EVERYONE IS A WITCH & A SCIENTIST & A POET.” Let’s hold onto this future, in hope.
Paul Chan is an artist based in New York. Badlands Unlimited is a New York-based independent publisher founded by the Chan in 2010, and consists of artist Micaela Durand (Director), Ian Cheng (Editor at Large), Parker Bruce, Ambika Subramaniam, and Maddy Varner. The press publishes works by and with other artists in the form of paperbacks, ebooks, digital group exhibitions, and other various media. https://badlandsunlimited.com/
Jibz Cameron is a performance/video artist and actor living in Los Angeles. Her work as alter ego Dynasty Handbag has been presented at such institutions as MOCA LA, PS1, Joe's Pub, The Kitchen, REDCAT, The Broad Museum, Hammer Museum, New Museum of Contemporary Art New York, among others. She has been heralded by the New York Times as “the funniest and most pitch perfect performance seen in years” and “outrageously smart, grotesque and innovative” by The New Yorker. She has written and produced six evening length performance pieces and countless short works that have been performed in clubs and venues internationally. She has produced numerous video works and two albums of original music. In addition to her work as Dynasty Handbag she has also been seen acting in films, theater and television (internet web series no one has seen). She also works as a professor of performance and comedy related subjects at Cal-Arts and NYU. Cameron also produces and hosts Weirdo Night, a popular monthly alternative comedy and performance event. Jibz recently moved from New York to Los Angeles and is in development with Electric Dynamite on a television series about a performance artist that moves from New York to Los Angeles. http://www.dynastyhandbag.com/
Gallery Y2K is a collective of designers, curators, and artists thinking about the intersection of visual art, fashion and community. Y2K started in 2015 as a single-room exhibition space, located in a North Oakland living room, that focused on exhibiting early-career artists in an unconventional gallery setting. Over the past year they have moved from a fixed location; transitioning into organized events and curated experiences in public and domestic spaces among other satellite projects. As a collective they are malleable, and many of their projects are direct responses to the needs of their community. Y2K primarily produces fashion experiences, curated exhibitions, and facilitates communal work. There is an ever evolving and rotating crew of persons involved with Y2K, though the core members include Analee LaPreziosa, Liam Sanborn- Peterson, Hanan Sharifa, C. E. Anderson, Olivia Krause, John Wade, Hunter Savoy Jaffe, and Mariel Eplboim. https://www.instagram.com/gallery_y2k/
Angélica Maria Millán Lozano is a Portland based artist from Bogotá, Colombia. She creates abstract and figurative compositions on distressed fabrics that question the social injustices that affect Latinas in the home. She received her MFA in Visual Studies at Pacific Northwest College of Art and is currently the Curatorial Fellow for Community Engagement at Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (PICA). Millán is also a co-founder at cvllejerx, a POC -focused fashion, poetry, and performance collaboration. Millán has presented work at Disjecta, Williamson | Knight, Nationale in Portland, OR; Gallery Protocol in Gainesville, Florida; and Bridge Productions in Seattle, Washington. http://www.angelicamillan.com
Roy Martinez was born in Chicago, ILL in 1984, raised in Tejas, and currently resides in Los Angeles. First generation Mexican Zacatecanx-American born, queer, genderfuk. Interdisciplinary artist, with disciplines ranging from ceramics, sculpture, screenprinting, and installation work. Concentrating on cultural identity, gender identity, sexuality, femme-ness, oppression within US society via pop culture/representation, and technology in relation to art production/accessibility. They also run an online store that carries different items, ranging from artist produced zines and prints, to their own lyfestyle brand: Lambe Culo. They have received their BFA from CalArts ‘16 and are currently a CalArts MFA ‘18 Candidate. http://www.lambeculo.com/
Seth Price’s conceptual, multi-disciplinary practice comprises video, film, sculpture, installation, collage, performance, and text that investigate how art and media are produced and disseminated. He has shown widely in galleries and museums across the globe. This year, his first career retrospective Social Synthetic tours through Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam and the Museum Brandhorst in Munich. His work has also been exhibited at the Whitney Biennial (2008), the Biennale di Venezia (2010) and dOCUMENTA 13 (2012). He has staged solo presentations at Kunsthalle Zurich (2008), the Kunstverein in Cologne (2008), and the MAMBo in Bologna (2009). In addition to showing his works in a traditional gallery setting, Price has used open-source Internet downloads and small-scale publishing to circulate his work. http://www.distributedhistory.com/
Ana Roldan lives and works in Zurich, Switzerland. After studying history at ENAH, Mexico, she studied fine arts at HKB Bern from 1999-2003. In the same year, she began showing her work in well-known institutions such as Kunsthalle Zürich, Kunstmuseum Bern and Kunstmuseum Solothurn. In 2005, Roldán was awarded a grant from the Swiss Federal Office of Culture, as well as a residency in Paris. 2006 and 2007 she won two prizes and exhibited in France, Germany, England, Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, Poland, the Netherlands, Spain and China. In 2008, Roldán spent one year working in Kunming, China, invited by the cities of Zurich and Kunming. Two further prizes were awarded to Roldán in 2009 and 2010. Important exhibitions include solo shows at Badischer Kunstverein and at Kunsthaus Langenthal in 2011 as well as group shows at Witte de With in Rotterdam 2012 and the participation at Lulennial in Mexico in 2015. Her work is inspired by cultural phenomena: Historical events, philosophical ideas, language, systems, reflections on aesthetics; theoretical concepts in general. Roldán is interested in how the spectators can be stimulated physically as well intellectually through the opposition or displacement of the mentioned systems. Ana Roldán works in diverse medias such as performance, sculpture, installations, video and collage. She often employs natural materials such as coconuts, bamboo, wood, semi-precious stones or leather that reflect the origin and usage of the material in the investigated cultures. http://www.anaroldan.ch/
Lauren Satlowski is a painter, object maker and photographer working in Los Angeles. In 2013 she received an MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art and in 2009 a BFA from Wayne State University in Detroit. Her work has been presented in recent group exhibitions in Los Angeles, New York, Detroit and Dublin, Ireland. Her solo shows include Wasserman Projects in Detroit and Embassy in Los Angeles in 2017. http://www.laurensatlowski.info/
Cristina Victor’s interdisciplinary art practice explores ways to generate inclusive dialogue about the layered complexities inherently involved in discussing identity. Through performance, textiles, installation, and public engagement, she designs and constructs ways to expose, critique and challenge binary perspectives on culture, often delivered by mass media outlets. Vexillology acts as a foundational thread for her textile works. Whether collaborating with the public, artists, organizations or working within auto- ethnography, Cristina creates works that are visually seductive, symbolically loaded and experimentally activated. Victor holds an MFA in New Genres from the San Francisco Art Institute and a BA in Latin American History from Sarah Lawrence College. She has exhibited and performed throughout the Bay Area and nationally in/with Interface Gallery, SOMArts, CounterPulse, and Sonoma Valley Art Museum. She is an avid vexillologist, Cuban history freak and Spanglish specialist. http://cristinavictor.com/
YERBAMALA COLLECTIVE JOIN THE RESISTANCE CRAFT ANTIFA POEMS LIKE RN // FORGET EVERYTHING YOU'VE LEARNED ABT POETRY // YOU'VE GOT REAMS OF BEAUTIFUL WORDS IN YOU THAT LIVE TO DESTROY YOUR OWN CHAINS // WRITE WITH ONE GOAL: DESTROY FASCISM WITH POETIC WITCHCRAFT // TYPE IN 60PT ARIAL TO PROTECT YOUR ANONIMITY: YOU ARE NOW ONE OF US // PRINT IMMEDIATELY// DO NOT SAVE // DISSEMINATE // WASH RINSE REPEAT THE WORK ISN’T FINISHED UNTIL FASCISM IS DEAD https://yerbamalacollective.tumblr.com/