Trump's in office; where the hell do we go from here? This is (effectively) the question posited by the exhibition POST-ELECTION, an ongoing group show at SEPTEMBER in Upstate New York. Works by over 170 artists have been included in the show, most of which were conceived after the election and specifically for the exhibition. In the words of the press release, it's an attempt to "respond to the current circumstance" of post-election USA.
POST-ELECTION was organized by gallerist Kristen Dodge and artist Kate Gilmore in the immediate aftermath of the electoral result. The two, however, prefer to avoid the label of 'curator' for this particular occasion, due to the open nature of the exhibition: "This show was the worst, best idea. Rather than being curated, it was more of an open invitation, beginning with artists who Kate and I know, and spreading from there," Dodge tells Creators. "Artists who wanted a place to respond to the election of Trump, either personally or politically, were welcome.
Although the show initially planned on 50 artists, visceral reactions to the election jumped the open-call numbers to over 170, including heavy hitters like Marilyn Minter, Martha Wilson, and Maren Hassinger. It was an intimidatingly large leap forward that proved to be an organizational challenge: "Having an open invitation show with self-selected works, while courting divergent perspectives and output, could lead to a complete shit show (at one point, a working sub-title for the exhibition)," Dodge jokes. "But as the works arrived en masse [in January], and as we spent two days unwrapping and laying everything out, the show somehow fell smoothly into place in the course of one, very long installation day."
Although Dodge seems to attribute the exhibition's successful layout to uncalculated chance, that's simply a fraction of the story: "The one aspect of the show that could be considered curated, and not simply responsive, was deciding on a few overlaying conceptual arcs for the placement of the works," explains Dodge. "It seemed poignant to begin with an overlooked, neglected area of the gallery and fan out from there, as a metaphor for the real work that needs to be done in this country."
"From there, it seems relevant to loosely follow the stages of grief, beginning with anger (represented by two polar and aggressive images of open mouths, one being Trump's), pocketed with panels of black in varying mediums. The last stage, with messy and non-linear stages in between, is one of action (represented by words, slogans, calls to act)."
"Overlaying the concept of stages was an institutional thrust fanning out from Trump on the right and a womanist theme fanning out from the left," Dodge adds. "We also have a vagina wall and other sections that were happily arranged by aesthetic. Most of it works, and some of it will (and already has) changed as we spend more time with the show."
The feminist themes Dodge lays out aren't mere coincidence. All of the near-200 artists included are women, a facet of POST-ELECTION that is (seemingly) intentionally undisclosed in the press release, and slyly glossed over in my conversation with the exhibition's organizer: "It's an incredible list of artists, isn't it? 10% of proceeds will be donated to both Planned Parenthood Upper Hudson and Staley B. Keith Social Justice Center. Starting local seemed like the right thing to do."
POST-ELECTION was on view at SEPTEMBER in Hudson, New York through March 5th, 2017. For more information, including the extensive artist roster, click here.