This Week in Art

For Freedoms Launches the 50 State Initiative, Nick Cave Takes Over the Park Avenue Armory, & More

With Democracy in the Balance There is Only One Choice by Carrie Mae Weems — Cleveland, OH 2016

For Freedoms launched a new project this week that ignites civic dialogue about freedom and equality across all fifty states. Continuing to use the billboard as a central platform for visibility and awareness, their 50 State Initiative would place fifty billboards created by artists in all fifty states, Puerto Rico, and Washington D.C. this fall ahead of the 2018 midterm elections. In addition to the billboards, organizers are planning further forms of engagement, including exhibitions, town hall meetings, and workshops. If completed, the 50 State Initiative may be the largest-ever collaborative public art project to take place in the United States.

Founded in 2016 by artists Hank Willis Thomas and Eric Gottesman, For Freedoms is a non-partisan platform that promotes public explorations of freedom in the twenty-first century through exhibitions, billboard commissions, and public programming. Originally launched as the first-ever artist-run Super PAC during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, For Freedoms is treating the 50 State Initiative as a nonprofit endeavor. Through a massive Kickstarter campaign, they’re asking citizens to choose a state and donate $10 to support the project, with the goal of raising $3,000 per state in a 30-day period.

“Artists practice free speech every day, and art plays an important role in galvanizing us to meet, talk, and share with our fellow inhabitants of this country.”

Both previously exhibited and newly-commissioned billboards will be displayed, with artists such as Carrie Mae Weems, Trevor Paglen, Tania Bruguera, and Rashid Johnson already participating. And while the billboards are unquestionably political, they are intended to remain non-partisan, injecting art into the public discourse and considering the role artists play in creatively challenging the status quo. As the For Freedoms organizers write, “Artists practice free speech every day, and art plays an important role in galvanizing us to meet, talk, and share with our fellow inhabitants of this country. It’s time we come together, raise our concerns, and move towards a more representative form of self-governance.”

News of the Week

  • On view through September 2, the exhibition This Brush for Hire: Norm Laich & Many Other Artists opened at the ICA LA yesterday. Curated by Meg Cranston and John Baldessari, the show explores the work of artist, fabricator, and sign-painter Norm Laich, as well as artists who have been inspired by his work, such as Ed Ruscha, Barbara Kruger, Paul McCarthy, and Jenny Holzer.
  • The Hammer Museum’s celebrated biennial Made in LA opened over the weekend. Featuring thirty-two artists working in drawing, textiles, performance, video and more, the exhibition speaks to the artistic diversity of Los Angeles and the immense creative output taking place in the city today.
  • Starting on June 7, Nick Cave is taking over the Park Avenue Armory with a dance-based town hall in which visitors are invited to “let go” by speaking their minds through movement, while celebrating community. Part installation, part performance, The Let Go will stage performances through July 1.
  • Yinka Shonibare MBE is one of a select group of artists invited to create artwork for a new series of British stamps, commissioned to celebrate the Royal Academy of Art’s 250th anniversary. After exploring the Academy’s archives for inspiration, Shonibare created a colorful stamp inspired by a 1950s photograph of gallery visitors waiting in the rain to see a J.M.W. Turner retrospective.
  • Joan Jonas returns to Danspace Projects June 14-16 with an immersive lecture-performance entitled Moving Off the Land. Exploring the “ocean as a poetic, totemic, and natural entity,” the work will draw from literature, mythology, and the artist’s collection of sketches and notes on the sea.