Curator’s Note


Living in New York or the New York that we used to live in, one in which it was possible to choose from hundreds of exhibitions on any given Wednesday-through-Sunday there was always more that we missed than what we are able to see. This largesse now, in some ways, can feel like a luxury of past days and better economies, as studios close, commissions are postponed or canceled, and the value of goods and services directly correlates to their ability to be consumed from home. When a streaming media company is worth more than Exxon-Mobil, when the procuring and preparing of food eclipses most other pursuits, while those who slaughter and pack and ring up that food are simultaneously declared “essential” while their lives are criminally undervalued, a sobering awareness of the inadequacy of our existing capitalist logics of exchange is widening.

Half a century ago, artists moved to position themselves as arts workers, in solidarity with the antiwar, civil rights, and feminist movements. A primary motive of the Arts Workers Coalition was the public redefinition of artists and critics as workers, subject to economic imperatives and the (raced, gendered) power dynamics of labor under capitalism. Art work in political alignment with labor — without labor’s class stratifications — was a fraught position for prominent artists to take in the 1960s and 70s. Today, as 1.3 jobs were gutted from the arts and culture sector in April alone including jobs in museum education, held predominantly by artists — the identification of art with labor seems not only deeply warranted, but demands an even greater radicality. A position, perhaps, that not only is the production and interpretation of works of art a public good, it is societally essential: its non-exchange values lie in the desperately needed unlocking of our political and social imaginary.

The twenty artists with work on view in this online exhibition — a preview of an installation to come — provide a critical view on the shape of our world. They explore our highly mediated vision, and the ways in which we negotiate, consume, and traffic in images. They make tangible the brutality of digital economies on cityscapes and bodies, and throw our traumas and erotics into sharp relief. They explore gift economies, radical generosity, and the politics of individual and collective care. As a cohort, they remain at a distance — but their work remains as intimate as it is urgent.

Stamatina Gregory

Stamatina is a curator and an art historian, whose work focuses primarily on the interrelationship of contemporary art and politics. She has organized exhibitions for institutions including The Cooper Union, FLAG Art Foundation, Austrian Cultural Forum, the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, and the Santa Monica Museum of Art. She has taught art history, critical theory, and writing at The New School, the School of Visual Arts, Sotheby’s Institute, the University of Pennsylvania, and New York University. She is Chief Curator and Director of Programs at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art.