January 7th Exhibition
Opens Saturday 6PM, January 7th 2017.
With a nod to Leonard Cohen's final song, "You Want It Darker," as well as to the
sorrowful state of democracy in the US and the world, Sholette's third solo exhibition
at Station Independent Projects presents a series of ink, pencil and acrylic wash
drawings portraying scenes of recent activist art and direct political resistance.
"Darker" is based on photographs of activist art and other political protests. Some
of the reference material was shot by Sholette using his flip-phone as he participated
the art action. While working on the series over the past year the artists states that his
approach to the drawings began to shift.
"I began to layer these images of resistance with darker, somber ink washes
and marginalia that made reference to Goya's private sketchbooks, as well
as such things as graphic novels and the cult movie "Donnie Darko". Perhaps
it was the coming gloom generated by the November 8th elections that already
began to intrude on my drawings?"
Nonetheless, the prime influence on Sholette's Darker series is the epic three-volume novel
"The Aesthetics of Resistance" by Peter Weiss, which pivots on organized working class resistance to
Fascism in 1930s Germany. In the opening scene of Weiss' book the author's protagonist stands
before the Pergamon Alter Frieze in Berlin and muses on its depiction of the ancient war between
gods and Titans:
"All around us the bodies rose out of the stone, crowded into groups, intertwined,
or shattered into fragments, hinting at their shapes with a torso, a propped-up arm,
a burst hip, a scabbed shard, always in warlike gestures, dodging, rebounding,
attacking shielding themselves, stretched high or crooked, some of them snuffed out,
but with freestanding, forward-pressing foot, a twisted back, the contour of a calf
harnessed into a single common motion"
With the Pergamon Frieze serving as Sholette's leitmotif, Darker portrays public interventions,
direct action and performances by such individuals and groups as Decolonize This Place, The
Reverend Billy, Aaron Burr Society, Occupy Museums, Native American Water Protectors in
North Dakota, and members of Global Ultra Luxury Faction (GULF) who are portrayed engaged
in occupations of the Guggenheim Museums in New York and Venice to focus support on workers'
rights in Abu Dhabi where a new museum has been proposed despite intolerable
labor conditions and human rights abuses in that nation. But the figures depicted
in Sholette's frieze are far more earthly and less perfect bodies and beings than
gods and titans.
"Darker" offers tribute to this dissident agency without dismissing the frequently
gloomy medium of historical circumstances in which we live, work, and make our
In his wide-ranging art, activist, and writing practice, Greg Sholette (American, b. 1956; lives in New York)
has developed a self-described "viable, democratic, counter-narrative that, bit-by-bit, gains descriptive
power within the larger public discourse." Sholette is a founding member of Political Art Documentation/Distribution,
which issued publications on politically engaged art in the 1980s; of REPOhistory, which repossessed suppressed
histories in New York in the 1990s; and more recently, of Gulf Labor, a group of artists advocating for migrant workers
constructing museums in Abu Dhabi. His recent art installations include Imaginary Archive at the Institute of
Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania and the White Box at Zeppelin University, Germany and three solo
exhibitions of his work at Station Independent Projects, NYC in 2016, 2014 and 2013, and his collaborative performance
piece Precarious Workers Pageant premiered in Venice on August 7, 2015. In dozens of essays, three edited volumes,
and his own books that include "Delirium & Resistance: Art Activism & the Crisis of Capitalism" (forthcoming Pluto Press,
2017 with a preface by Lucy R. Lippard), and "Dark Matter: Art and Politics in an Age of Enterprise Culture" (Pluto Press, 2011),
Sholette has documented four decades of activist art that, for its ephemerality, politics, and market resistance, might
otherwise remain invisible.