Prepared: Strategies for Activists
The result of Beijing-based artist Chen Shaoxiong’s month-long residency in March 2012, Prepared: Strategies for Activists, is a dynamic multi-media installation that delves into the complexities of contemporary social activism, drawing on the perspectives of a diverse cast of contributors, including scholars, students, artists, and activists.
In light of recent political movements around the world in 2011—from the Arab Spring to Occupy Wall Street—Chen conceived his project as an attempt to better understand the "anatomy of a protest." A primary aim of the project is to foster a better understanding of the broader historical and cultural iterations of demonstration strategies and tactics deployed around the world.
During the course of Chen's residency, the Museum became a "training camp for activists"—a site for sustained inquiry into protest strategies and activist discourse. With its grassroots approach to exhibition-making, Prepared: Strategies for Activists attempts to embody the organic, dynamic processes of the protest in action.
A substantial part of the exhibition comprises artwork dealing with demonstration tactics. The exhibition also features protest artifacts that trace the turbulent history of social activism in the 20th century, including banners, posters, and other ephemera that range from local 1980s anti-nuclear activism to more recent events by Occupy Wall Street. Drawn from the Spencer’s permanent collection, a timeline charts different historical iterations of protests and includes documentary photography and works on paper by artists Bullet Space, Andre Devambez, Lesbia Vent Dumois, Archie Scott Gobber, Guerrilla Girls, Lewis Wickes Hine, Hugo Kaagman, Michael Krueger, Alex Lukas, Josh MacPhee, Lee Neary, Sean O'Neil, Marion Palfi, Alexander Rodchenko, Arthur S. Siegel, Andy Warhol, and Dan Wynn.
This project and exhibition are supported by the William T. Kemper Foundation. The Spencer’s international residency series has also been supported by the Freeman Foundation and the Center for East Asian Studies, the University of Kansas.