“The Art of Revolution,” an exhibition on cooption and subversion in graphic design, runs through Oct. 5 at Fordham University’s Center Gallery at the Lowenstein Center on the Lincoln Center campus.
The show features three interrelated components. The first is Dugald Stermer’s book The Art of Revolution: 96 Posters from Castro’s Cuba, 1959–1970 (McGraw-Hill, 1970). A bestseller when it was published, the book was the first to reproduce Cuban revolutionary posters. The second component is a wall text of an excerpt of the book’s introductory essay by the late critic Susan Sontag. Critical of the book itself, Sontag argued that revolutionary posters lose their subversive potential once they are reproduced commercially. The third component is a work by the Dutch design collective Experimental Jetset. Consisting of 45 graphic images of letters reproduced from the posters in Stermer’s book, the piece quotes a phrase from Sontag’s essay: “1 part sentimentality, 1 part irony, 1 part detachment.”
“A text by Susan Sontag that criticizes the collection and display of posters itself becomes a beautiful aesthetic object,” said curator Gerry Beegan, M.A., assistant professor in the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. “This is the question at the heart of the exhibition: Do objects lose their social meaning when we collect them, reproduce them, or exhibit them?”
The work of Experimental Jetset has been featured in solo and group shows at places including JFK Airport and Riviera Gallery in New York, Casco Projects in Utrecht, Netherlands, and Kemistry Gallery in London.
The Center Gallery is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. A closing reception will be held on Oct. 4 from 6 to 8 p.m.