Danny McDonald. Restricted Access to Medical Care (The Mummies), 2008
Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Project Space
455 West 19th Street
October 3 - November 17, 2012
Reception: Tuesday, October 2, 6 - 8 PM
We the People, the exhibition will be a conjectural exploration of American identity politics against the backdrop of this year’s political debates.
The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, in collaboration with curator Alison Gingeras and artist Jonathan Horowitz, will mount a show titled We the People, which provides an artistic view of the diverse demographics of our country, in contrast to the taglines and catchphrases of the 2012 election. We the People will run from October 2 through November 9, to coincide with the 2012 presidential election, and will take a close look at who the American people are, as seen through 55 different artists’ eyes.
Using the famous first words of the U.S. Constitution as its title, the exhibition explores issues of identity politics, demographic trends, swing-state gaming, and the influence of special interests against the backdrop of this year’s political debates. We the People…but just who are the American people? Can we be pigeonholed into categories such as Starbucks Moms, NPR Republicans, America First Democrats, and the Facebook Generation? Can we be reduced to the 99 percent and the 1 percent, or special interests pitted against regular folks? Are we able to define ourselves as red vs. blue states? Does the issue of income inequality translate into class war? “This exhibition’s theme resonates with Robert Rauschenberg’s own artistic and philanthropic legacy—the use of art to explore and expose key issues of our time, the power of media and headlines in our society’s understanding of itself, and the pulling together of a community of artists as activists to confront those issues,” says Christy MacLear, Executive Director of the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation. “In reviewing our archive we extracted Rauschenberg’s testimony from the Robert Bork Supreme Court nomination hearings in 1987 where his opening statement included the following thought: ‘Democracy is not the product of law; democracy is the need of people to be free in dreams and reality. Controversy is part of creation and changes are essential to current survival nationally, and therefore internationally. The doors of control should be broad minded and wise with experience, compassion and understanding. This, without a doubt, must be the history of the future.’ Exploring how one characterizes the American fabric is relevant to understanding the voice and representation of the people. This is a part of Rauschenberg’s legacy, as much as being an artist he was a man of the people, in all their diversity.”
Exhibition Artists and Works
We the People will create a diorama of the American populace using strategically chosen examples of figurative painting, sculpture, and photography. Works from American artists of older generations―including Romare Bearden, George Segal, Margaret Bourke-White, Alice Neel, Duane Hanson, Alex Katz, and Robert Rauschenberg—will be installed in cacophonous dialogue with works by a younger generation of artists—Tina Barney, Fred Wilson, Elizabeth Peyton, Barkley L. Hendricks, Shirin Neshat, Nicole Eisenman, and Danny McDonald. This exhibition includes new works made for the show by artists Nate Lowman, Julio Cesar Morales, Richard Phillips and Swoon.
We the People Public Programs – October 2012
Over the course of the We the People, exhibition, the Rauschenberg Foundation will host several public programs, panel discussions, and lectures that engage with and elaborate on the show’s themes. Programs are free but limited in space. RSVP is recommended.
We the People on TV
An evening with Norman Lear and curator Anna McCarthy
Monday, October 8
5:00 – 7:00 pm
A conversation with Richard Saul Wurman and Nancye Green
Friday, October 19
10:00 – 11:30 am
An evening of poetry with Mark Doty, Tom Healy, Marie Howe, and Patricia
Hosted by Jeff Gordinier, New York Times
Tuesday, October 23
5:00 – 7:00 pm