On the Exhibition
The metropolis of New York, of course, differentiates itself from the rest of the United States in a similar kind of dialectical opposition. Many ‘American’ factors are incongruous to New York society and reality, and are abhorrent to those who hold dear the Protestant values of the American states. The recent rise in Christian fundamentalism remains a prime trait: admired by the mid-States and upheld as pro-American, it is evidenced in New York only in the routine use of large convention centers, rather than in the setting of a moral agenda. It is this very lack of precision that makes New York so vital and such a metisse, and which has earned it the name of laboratory – here, the arterial nature of its history allows it to act as a constant space for re-birthing and of cynical transition, where the throbbing multitude is in itself regarded as cultural capital. The selection of artworks and artists for this exhibition helps to define contemporary culture and the cultural understanding of makers based in New York, of how living in New York impacts on production, especially since the sixties.
The selection purposefully collates a series of works by artists from a diverse set of social, political, ethnic, and intergenerational spaces bound together only by the confined space that is the city of New York. Here, critical interventions by artists upon the communal aspects that New York provides reveal how a metropolitan condition can become a breeding ground for materializing concerns. In gathering these works together, a sense of the interdependence of visual histories is revealed. These palimpsest images hold within themselves a restored sense of freedom by which to analyze the social reality of New York’s citizens. More importantly, however, the exhibition implies that images are also used for the gradual fortification of the “cultural othered”.
Shaheen Merali, from the in the exhibition catalogue, Saqi Books 2007