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A&E
Art and Activism: Examining Power Dynamics in Society
Adeliza Grace '18 Staff Writer
January 27, 2017
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“Whatever you say reverberates, whatever you don’t say speaks for itself, so either way you’re talking politics.” This is the truism projected onto Jenny Holzer’s piece of art, which is the first piece one sees when walking into the Arts and Activism exhibit in the Von Auersperg gallery. The exhibit was curated by Lily Louis `18, and Lulu Fanjul `18 (pictured at left with Dawoud Bey’s piece Chevies II), with a focus on gender and race issues, true to the spirit of Martin Luther King Day.  To express the theme of power within society, the show features three walls, each exhibiting a different theme.  The first wall presents the individual, emphasizing the invisible and the objective to give those who are unheard a voice, making the invisible visible. This wall is positioned to face the one that conveys community, to symbolize the coherence and mirroring of these two aspects of human life. This placement is meant to portray how humans interact with their communities.  Finally, the third wall reflects power, and is connected to both the individual and the community, implying that the government does not always use its power to cater to the greater needs of society and the individuals within it.  According to Louis, “All the walls are aimed at the idea that every single person is part of a greater community and each person has their own significant role within that community.”

Credit: Olivia Jones

This exhibit is especially significant this year because of the controversial incidents such as US presidential election and English “Brexit.” The contentious nature of the 2016 US presidential election allowed for a wide range of opinions to be expressed including those that many saw as xenophobic and racist, offending different demographics. It portrays the idea that people in government with strong views are sometimes ignorant to the sentiments of the masses and abuse their power. All of these aspects of the showcase regarding power and its connection with the individual and the community as a whole, and the idea of giving everyone a voice, play into what Louis and Fanjul, as curators, wanted to convey to the Deerfield community.

Louis says, “Curation is a balance between aesthetics and the story you wish to convey. We organized the room into themes that we wish to portray to Deerfield regarding the world that surrounds us today.” Louis and Fanjul are especially affected by a book included in the exhibit called “The Abuse of Power Comes as No Surprise.” They have included this book because they feel it exemplifies the message of exploitation of power, and think it especially applies to Deerfield because it discusses how there is often inconsistency between the community and the individual’s needs. Fanjul notes, “The book is physically small.  However, the truism on the cover along with the bright red color gives the book a powerful presence within the gallery.”

This exhibit sparks an important discussion for the Deerfield community. The curators hope that visitors will get the opportunity to think about the important ideas it prompts regarding the world we live in today, and the powers who rule it.