This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001

18Jun/16

OF THE PEOPLE

Esteban del Valle installation at Smack Mellon imagines a postapocalyptic political future (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Esteban del Valle installation at Smack Mellon imagines a postapocalyptic political future (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Smack Mellon
92 Plymouth St. at Washington St.
Opening reception: June 18, free, 5:00 - 8:00
Wednesday - Sunday through July 31, free, 12 noon - 6:00
718-834-8761
smackmellon.org

On June 17, Alicia Grullon kicked off the new political exhibit at Smack Mellon with a full reenactment of Bernie Sanders’s 2010 eight-and-a-half-hour Bush tax cuts filibuster, setting the stage for what will be happening at the Dumbo gallery over the next six weeks. Through July 31, Smack Mellon will be home to “Of the people,” a multidisciplinary show curated by Erin Donnelly that examines the current state of political discourse in America as presumptive presidential nominees Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump prepare to do battle, both under the threat of contested conventions. Sheryl Oring’s “I Wish to Say” consists of hundreds of index cards and Polaroids for which ordinary citizens have dictated brief personal letters to the presidential candidates. Daniel Bejar’s “Rec-elections (Let’s Make America Great Again, Isabel González)” are lenticular campaign buttons promoting the Puerto Rican activist. Ben Pinder IV’s small pamphlet “A Brief and Mythic History of Super PACs” turns the birth of the super PACs into comic-book legend. Leah Wolff’s “Political Buttons” declare “Don’t Do It” and are not for the taking.

Sheryl Oring’s “I Wish to Say” gives voice to the people (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Sheryl Oring’s “I Wish to Say” gives voice to the people (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Brittany M. Powell’s “Debt Portraits” detail the stories of four Americans, photographed in their homes, facing serious financial problems. Guy Ben-Ari’s “Oval Office Interior” painting imagines the White House room taken over by women. On Saturdays and Sundays (and July 7 evening), anyone can come to Smack Mellon and present their own case to be president in Jeremy D. Olson’s multimedia “Campaign Office.” Esteban del Valle’s untitled corner installation depicts a kind of postapocalyptic scenario with black balloons, a falling presidential podium, and a bull rising in the background. Peggy Diggs’s “Heirloom” includes a large-scale “Ideal Ballot” you can take home The show also features works by Isabella Cruz-Chong, Emily Greenberg, Brooklyn Hi-Art Machine (Mildred Beltre and Oasa DuVerney), Kate Sopko, and Lauren Frances Adams. On July 27 at 7:00, Hrag Vartanian, Miriam M. Basilio, and Bejar will participate in a panel discussion on propaganda; on July 28 at 5:30, Brooklyn Hi-Art Machine will present a silkscreen workshop in which attendees can make their own political posters; on July 30-31, t.Rutt will display Trump’s actual old campaign bus, which they bought late last year on Craiglist; and on July 31, Martha Wilson will be at Smack Mellon for “Martha Wilson as Donald Trump — Politics and Performance Art Are One and the Same,” followed by the panel discussion “Community Practices: Art and Intervention” with Cruz-Chong, Oring, and Sopko, moderated by Donnelly. The exhibition also has information on all of the registered political parties in New York State, useful websites, and voter registration forms, so you have no excuse not to get involved in this rather vitriolic and critically important election year.

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