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Political Birthdays

  • Dream Farm Commons 349 15th Street Oakland, CA (map)

October 5 – November 3, 2018
Opening: Friday, October 5, 2018 6 - 9PM

Curated by Susannah Magers

Participating artists:
Jessalyn Aaland
Lukaza Branfman-Verissimo
Virginia Broersma
Artemisa Clarke
Sarah Hotchkiss
Weird Allan Kaprow
Mary Beth Magyar
Grace Rosario Perkins
Anna Luisa Petrisko
Mary Tremonte
Christine Wong Yap

“For different reasons (the instability of the world, being a project-based artist, taking time to catch up on life out of the studio) I’ve been uncertain what to do as an artist next. My courage as an artist is low right now. The news is so overwhelming part of me just wants to turtle up. I’m not sure what the right track is, but I know when it feels right. I am supported in so many ways that others aren’t right now. And I’m still interested in creating a feeling of belonging. In lieu of a clear direction, I’ll take a bit of orientation.”
                                                                                                     —Christine Wong Yap, Artist

Political Birthdays is a group exhibition comprised of video, performance ephemera, painting, mixed-media, Risograph posters, fabric, sculpture, and works on paper. The exhibition is one such offering—an orientation, in response to the aforementioned quote by participating artist Christine Wong Yap—that emphasizes visibility, agency, and collaboration as resources, sites of inquiry, and tools. The works in Political Birthdays leverage sculptural forms, language, patterns, color, text, and texture as political signifiers that inhabit and perform a kind of coded visibility. Taking up themes ranging from immigration, sexuality, and social justice, to identity, resilience, and marginality, each artist employs strategic and symbolic visual and conceptual devices that reframe and reflect back intentional, intersectional aims.

On the occasion of her retrospective, Invisible Strategies, at Modern Art Oxford, Oxford, UK, artist Lubaina Himid remarked in a conversation with Dia Art Foundation’s Deputy Director and Chief Curator Courtney J. Martin that she felt compelled to organize and connect artists and producers because their collective work as artists, “doesn't exist without one another.” The title, Political Birthdays, is an homage to a quote by the late founder ofThe Lesbian Tide, activist, organizer, publisher, and writer Jeanne Cordova. In Gregorio Davila's 2017 film,Jeanne Cordova: Butches, Lies, and Feminism, Cordova recalls when she discovered the Daughters of Bilitis (one of the first lesbian civil and political rights organizations in the United States) and describes this as her “political birthday,” a moment of recognition and surfacing of her passion and dedication to social justice, civil rights, and community organizing. In this spirit, and in conversation and solidarity with Lubaina Himid’s dedication to collaboration, Political Birthdays contemplates how can we can support each other in the face of divisiveness and uncertainty, and how the space of the exhibition can inhabit both critical and celebratory modalities in this regard.


Earlier Event: September 9
An Art Den
Later Event: October 18
The Circle of Truth