BRIC announces "Whisper or Shout" Exhibition

Feb 15, 2016 • 7:00 PM


Highlights Include:

  • A live, 11-hour reenactment, by Alicia Grullón, of Texas State Senator Wendy Davis’s filibuster to block an abortion bill, and Grullón’s video reenactments of the speeches of subway panhandlers

  • The live launch of Sol Aramendi’s wage theft app, accompanied by workshops by and for local workers

  • Shaun Leonardo’s performance The Eulogy, which uses Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man as a starting point for a powerful eulogy about police brutality in the United States

  • Matt Black, TIME magazine’s 2014 Instagram photographer of the year, presents a series of black-and-white photographs taken in locations of the highest levels of poverty in the U.S.
  • Kameelah Janan Rasheed recreates her old family living room in her ongoing project,
    No Instructions for Assembly

  • A curated listening station by Interference Archive of music from protest albums

  • Brendan Fernandes’ Devil’s Noise video, which recalls the 1976 South African student protests against the imposition of the Afrikaans language in schools

  • Taeyoon Choi’s Errantic Poetry challenges power structures imposed by spoken speech with poems that use English, computer code, and American Sign Language

  • Kenneth Pietrobono’s t-shirts, printed with neutral-seeming but politically charged words

BRIC is pleased to present Whisper or Shout: Artists in the Social Sphere, an exhibition of eight artists and one collective whose work seeks to generate dialogue about some of the most critical social justice issues of our day, including police violence, gentrification, homelessness, poverty, and workers’ rights, among others. Featuring work by Sol Aramendi, Matt Black, Taeyoon Choi, Alicia Grullón, Brendan Fernandes, Interference Archive, Kameelah Janan Rasheed, Shaun Leonardo and Kenneth Pietrobono, the exhibition highlights the various forms of communication used by artists to convey their message and catalyze change.

The artists exhibited in Whisper or Shout exemplify an activist impulse that has surged in the visual arts in the past two decades. The show is not exclusively focused on social practice art, as it is known, but many, if not all of the artists deploy some of its strategies and techniques. Others work with more traditional art forms such as photography or video to pursue social projects.

Curated by Elizabeth Ferrer, Vice President of Contemporary Art at BRIC, Whisper or Shout will remain on view at BRIC House (647 Fulton Street), home of Downtown Brooklyn’s largest contemporary art gallery, March 17 – May 1.  Gallery hours are Tuesday–Sunday, 10am–6pm; closed Mondays. Gallery admission is free. An opening reception will take place March 16, 7-9pm.

In the video piece Untitled (5 Speeches), Alicia Grullón reenacts speeches of those who have little voice, panhandlers on city subways. On Wednesday, April 13, 9am-10pm, she will perform Filibuster, a full reenactment of Texas State Senator Wendy Davis’s 11-hour filibuster to block an abortion bill, live at BRIC House. In another performance work, The Eulogy (Wednesday, March 23, 7pm), Shaun Leonardo, taking Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man novel as his starting point, will deliver a powerful eulogy about police brutality in the United States.

The notion of the archive is central to Kameelah Janan Rasheed’s ongoing project, No Instructions for Assembly. At BRIC House, she presents them within a poignant recreation of her old family living room to create a narrative of her family’s history, especially their years of homelessness.

Sol Aramendi’s Apps for Power, a project developed collaboratively with immigrant day laborers, artists, organizers, developers, and lawyers allows users to safely report abusive employers, thus inserting transparency into an exploitative system. Deploying the digital domain, Matt Black’s The Geography of Poverty is comprised of black-and-white photographs taken in locations of the highest levels of poverty in the United States. These documentary images are geotagged with census data and broadly disseminated via Instagram , where Black has over 188,000 followers. Black was named TIME magazine's Instagram Photographer of the Year in 2014 for his work on Geography of Poverty.

Kenneth Pietrobono’s Terms and Conditions reflects on the power structures inherent within various forms of language. Single words printed on displayed t-shirts are in essence neutral but in fact point to deep political and economic disparities. Pietrobono will wear the shirts in performance around the city, following the conclusion of the exhibition.

Taeyoon Choi’s Errantic Poetry, poems written and interpreted in English, computer code, and American Sign Language (ASL), aim to give form to a new kind of language while also challenging the power structures imposed by spoken speech.  Choi will also be leading a series of workshops with deaf students to teach poetry using both coding and American Sign Language.

Brendan Fernandes’ Devil’s Noise video recalls the 1976 South African student protests against the imposition of the Afrikaans language in schools, an act that effectively prohibited much of the local population from pursuing an education. The title of the work expresses the option of silence as a means of protest. Another traditional form of protest is presented by Interference Archive, which collects and explores objects created as part of social movements. At BRIC House, the collective exhibits protest music via a display of LP record covers and a digital listening station.

Performances, public programs, classes, conversations, and workshops are central elements to Whisper or Shout. They activate the exhibition and create opportunities for real-time exchange between artist, audience, and participant.

Elizabeth Ferrer, Vice President, Contemporary Art at BRIC said, “Whisper or Shout exemplifies BRIC’s growing commitment to present exhibitions that grapple with timely, pressing social issues. The work included here reflects the varied and innovative ways in which artists can communicate a social message, whether by employing traditional forms like posters or speeches, or the digital domain, such as apps and social media.  In its sum, this exhibition makes a powerful statement, not only about the social issues highlighted, but also about the deep commitment this new generation of artists has demonstrated to acting as catalysts for change.”