“Power Structures,” currently at P! gallery and featuring Leslie Hewitt, Karel Martens and Zia Hader Rahman, provokes important questions about our current political state. The dynamics of civic engagement and action as they may be reflected – or used as a tool – in the creative process underscore contemporary issues of economic exchange and disparity, civil rights, and the objectivity of “value” (cultural, personal, and political). The works are presented in a thoughtful installation that further implores interaction and consideration by the viewer.
A black horizontal line runs along the gallery’s perimeter, on top of which Leslie Hewitt has installed diverse work from the past seven years. Taken together, her photographs and sculpture offer a highly subjective historic timeline of culture and civil rights since the 1960s. Hewitt’s characteristic approach draws from personal or political records, displayed in a manner that reveals deeper issues in the power of representation and infrastructure. It is a well-suited anchor for the show’s main agenda.
With an art form traditionally used for printed publications, graphic designer Karel Martens prints vividly colored letterpress monoprints over Belgian 4×3 inch identity cards. Martens cleverly uses technology as a medium, causing us to see how print media can be (artfully) manipulated.
Zia Hader Rahman’s novel, In the Light of What We Know, is on display and on sale at cost as a part of the exhibition. The political narrative at the core of Rahman’s work relates to the visual art in the exhibition, while the exchange of it as an object – priced not at retail, but at wholesale – forsakes profit in favor of distribution and accessibility. In the end, the sale of the book well punctuates the objectivity of value and meaning at the core of this exhibition.
-Naana Frezel, Digital Intern