The Occupy Wall Street movement has resurfaced in New Haven.
A spontaneous exhibit of Occupy-inspired artwork went up in the School of Art’s Green Hall exhibition space this Saturday. Dean Robert Storr organized the show to commemorate the anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement that began on Sept. 17, 2011 in New York City. The display includes photographs, digital prints, videos and a makeshift tent fashioned out of printer paper. The exhibit is a work in progress: The school will be receiving and consequently displaying submissions from Yale alumni and international artists until the exhibit closes Nov. 5.
Although the show contains explicitly political elements, its intent is to showcase the “little discussed” arts of graphic design and documentary photography, Storr said. Nonetheless, the social criticism embedded in the artwork may inspire political awareness in the “insulated” college environment, Associate Dean of the School of Art Samuel Messer said.
“I personally find that students are very unengaged [in politics],” Messer explained. “I think the goal is, with the elections coming up, to think about that.”
Messer added that students are often not inspired to take political action, recalling individuals he knew who did not protest the Iraq War despite their disagreement with its purpose.
The artists whose work is displayed at the exhibit may inspire such students with examples of socially active individuals. Artist Angie Smith, whose two-part video is running on loop in Green Hall, said in her submission statement that she herself protested when a police barricade during Occupy interfered with access to an exhibit held in the J.P. Morgan building that focused on the Sept. 11 attacks.
Michael Mikulec ART ’11, whose mixed media piece juxtaposes video footage of a news ticker with music, said he uses his artwork to comment on the media’s hyperbolic rhetoric.
“[It comments on] the news media and how over-the-top it is, and how the rhetoric was so far out there in the sense that, rather than focusing on trying to figure out what anyone was trying to say, it was creating a caricature or extreme portrait,” Mikulec said.
The music in Mikulec’s piece ironically heightens the urgency of the quotes running in the news ticker, such as excerpts of Tea Party newsletters written during the Occupy movement, he explained.
Another artist, whose name was not listed on the show’s press release nor in the exhibition space, said in their submission statement that they hope to use irony to convey a social message. The artist’s piece is a series of 29 digital print images of protests and police interventions that occurred over the course of Occupy. The artist uses a purple rectangle as a “roadblock” to censor portions of the images, tricking the reader into believing that something exists behind the obstruction.
“The roadblock makes the viewer slow down and maneuver more carefully, weighing meaning more,” the artist said. “Since the absurd defies meaning the meditation becomes possibly infinite.”
The exhibit consists exclusively of works submitted digitally to the Art School.