curated by Béatrice Gross
Jakob S. Boeskov / Ginger Brooks Takahashi / The Bruce High Quality Foundation/ Marcelline Delbecq / Jeanne Detallante / Douglas Ross
As opposed to the proselytizing strategies of traditional instances of activism, away from the univocality of propagandist discourse, the works presented in The Activist Way employ an encrypted criticism that takes metaphorical detours to address current political and social issues.
Strictly speaking, they don’t deliver any message, nor serve any purpose, their existence as open poetic structures is their true raison d’être. When literal activism per se is merely a modus operandi, deprived of any value, and worthless if not pragmatically somewhat efficient, artistic activism, in other words art as critical praxis, becomes self-sufficient. Virtue is its own reward.
The show includes diverse instances of activist art. Ginger Brooks Takahashi’s quilting forums offer a participatory model where a communal creative process, involving special guests and/or random visitors, constitutes the work itself. Marcelline Delbecq’s In Camera, with its isolated stage directions of a virtual plot, delivers intriguing sentences into the public space. With the audacity of classic political infiltration but without its typical hostility, The Bruce High Quality Foundation maneuvres within the realm of public art: perpetuating the tradition of staged mockery, this Brooklyn based collective, engaged with their faux Christo Gate in a “hot pursuit” (NYT, Sept. 24, 2005) of the Robert Smithson Floating Island.
In a similar satirical turn but using different means, the sculptural series Major Fun, by Jeanne Detallante, unfolds a typology of contemporary hedonistic figures and situations, questioning a now widely common activism of pleasure. Combining historical facts, cultural theory and biography, Jakob S. Boeskov revisits the trope of political drawing while he focuses on his recent experience of New York City.
Finally, through even more indirect and contemplative approaches, Douglas Ross, Marcelline Delbecq and Ginger Brooks Takahashi evoke almost incidentally their political concern: they conjure up old ghosts, and re-activate agonizing ideals, but without nostalgia – they exhibit their underlying faith in the transformational power of their oeuvre.