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AND PER SE AND, Galería Perdida & Fiona Jack & Aram Saroyan – Three projects organized by Michael Ned Holte

23 April 2016 — 28 May 2016
Commonwealth & Council, Los Angeles

Fiona Jack is an artist working in Auckland, New Zealand. Driven by research and dialogue, her work often explores the social space of political action, and she frequently draws upon collaboration in and with specific communities. The 2014 exhibition “The Heraldry of Presence,” at Auckland’s Fresh Gallery ?tara, consisted entirely of banners—some made by the artist based on historical protest signs, others borrowed from community groups or produced in collaboration with them. “Banners can be disquiet, or celebratory,” Gwyneth Porter argues in an essay on Jack. “A banner, at a basic level, indicates the formation of a crowd, and a crowd suggests numbers of people that are too many to be a comfortable thing. A crowd is something that is big enough to make it hard to count it quickly, or at all, like a group of sparrows feeding. A group speaks of a collective and therefore a higher purpose; of a constituency or fellowship or conscience that is large enough to have power by virtue of its sheer force of volition.”

The subject of Jack’s presentation at Commonwealth & Council follows from a single banner in “The Heraldry of Presence” exhibition that reads, in emphatic all-caps, “THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE IS LAW.” The banner follows from a placard seen in a photograph of women marching in the 1915 rent strikes in Glasgow. The image carries personal history for the artist: Her great aunt Helen Crawfurd was one of the key organizers of the strikes. But divorced from this specific origin it becomes possible for the phrase to be read in a variety of cultural or geographical contexts, reflecting popular sentiment on either side of the political spectrum. Here, the banner is made and remade, and in the force or absurdity of that repetition the phrase reveals its allegorical potential in the present—or even in the future.

Catalogue text by Michael Ned Holte