Richard Serra, Stop B S (2004)
Unrest is in the crisp fall air as Election Day 2006 rolls around, and examples of artists who are mad as hell and not going to take it anymore abound. Printed images, which can be quickly and inexpensively produced and reproduced and lend themselves to broad dissemination, have served as the medium of choice for protesters over the years, and “Dissent!”, which opens at Harvard’s Fogg Art Museum on November 11, provides some provocative examples of their subversive power, from Francisco Goya’s etched protests against suppression of thought in late-18th-century Spain to Richard Serra’s early-21st-century offset photolithograph decrying the scandals at Abu Ghraib prison.
Also using the medium of print, in a way that’s a bit more cumbersome but certainly no less effective, artist Günther Selichar has emblazoned the word “EMBEDDED” on 53-foot banners mounted on both sides of a tractor-trailer that can be seen driving around Boston on November 7, in the hope of moving us to think about the impact of mass-media consumption on our political opinions. Called “Who’s Afraid of Blue, Red, and Green?” , Selichar’s project is staged in connection with his exhibition “Media Machines,” which is on view at Tufts University Art Gallery through November 19.
Of course fashion can be a political tool, in the right hands . . . just look at the experimental, boundary-pushing work of Turkish-Cypriot designer Hussein Chalayan, who’s been lauded for work that reflects his interest in socio-political themes, or Belgium’s Martin Margiela, whose collections include garments constructed from recycled items like gas-mask bags and bottle caps. But does it really matter? Mostly, we look to fashion for glamor and thrills; the drama of the runway is a distraction as well as a reflection of our times. The Museum of Fine Arts’ “Fashion Show: Paris Collections 2006,” which opens November 12, includes clothing by Chalayan and Margiela along with haute luxury from Chanel, Dior, Lacroix, and Valentino, and more — all fully accessorized.
Michael Smith may not be all that fashionable, but he is a funny guy. With a classic vaudevillean’s stretchy face and deadpan humor, Smith has been cutting up at the extreme edges of video and performance art for decades. As a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Visual Studies at MIT, he’s been developing a new video called “Portal Excursion,” which is at present an eight-minute work-in-progress that follows a middle-aged OpenCourseWare (OCW) student as he makes his journey from one end of MIT’s infinite corridor to the other. Join Smith and his collaborators for a screening at CAVS on November 8.
“Dissent!” at Fogg Art Museum, 32 Quincy Street, Cambridge | November 11–February 25 | 617.495.9400 | “Who’s Afraid of Blue, Red and Green?” at locations throughout Boston | November 7 | “Media Machines” at Tufts University Art Gallery, Aidekman Arts Center, 40R Talbot Ave, Medford | Through November 19 | 617.627.3518 | “Fashion Show” at Museum of Fine Arts, 465 Huntington Ave, Boston | November 12–March 18 | purchase tickets at 866.319.4658 | “Michael Smith’s Portal Excursion” at MIT’s CAVS, 265 Mass Ave, third floor, Cambridge | November 8 at 7 pm | 617.253.4415
On the Web
Fogg Art Museum: http://www.artmuseums.harvard.edu
Tufts University Art Gallery: http://www.ase.tufts.edu/gallery
Museum of Fine Arts: http://www.mfa.org
MIT’s CAVS: http://cavs.mit.edu