On inauguration day, protests of all sorts will surely be taking place across America. A display of protest will also be happening in the Distillery Gallery in South Boston — but of the artistic persuasion. Titled "re·volt·ing: an art show in protest," this one-night pop-up show on Jan. 20 will display works inspired by America’s political climate. More than 40 artists and curators will be showing works in styles ranging from portraiture and drawing to sculptural pieces and performance art.
Head curator Robert Moeller has been putting on pop-up shows for years — between the gallery’s standard exhibitions, Moeller uses a space for a show, usually for less than 24 hours. “Typically museum curators may be planning a show fo r several years,” Moeller explains. “We install the show Thursday evening and open on Friday evening. You don’t have much time to futz.”
Though “protest” is in the title of the show, don’t expect to show up to a combative environment. “There are no effigies of Trump being burned or anything,” Moeller adds. “I’m not asking for any artificial militancy, but to show work that reflects how artists are feeling.”
To assemble a diverse group of artists and works, Moeller invited eight curators to select pieces for the show. “Once I choose a curator, they’re fully in charge of what they can and can’t do,” Moeller explains. Though Moeller knows what most of the pieces are, he won’t know how the works will play together until installation.
J.R. Uretsky, an artist and independent curator based in Rhode Island, is one of the curators Moeller chose for the show. She notes, “The show is about a bunch of artists and curators coming together and seeing what kind of conversations come out of the juxtaposition of different kinds of work."
Urestky stressed how valuable pop-up shows can be for emerging artists. "Re·volt·ing" is going to feature work from artists ranging in fame from Annette Lemieux — whose work has been shown in the Whitney Museum — to younger, local artists.
For her curated section, Uretsky will include the work of four performance artists. “There’s an urgency that comes with performance art that is really captivating,” she says.
Uretsky describes her artists’ work as not only political, but “hard to watch.” She explains, “I wanted to give voice to people that might be underrepresented in this moment like queer people, women, and people of color.” Dealing with work that is either satirical, visually jarring, or deeply personal, Uretsky hopes that giving space to these artists will open the eyes of those who come see the show.
Moeller makes a point to say that ultimately, "re·volt·ing" is an art show, not a protest. “This space is to allow artists to reflect back on an impactful election,” he says.
Uretsky agrees. “I don’t believe there is going to be a call to action,” she says, “but bringing this many voices together will remind us that we can still come together, be funny, be weird, and that we need to keep supporting each other.”
IF YOU GO:
Jan. 20 at 7 to 10 p.m.
The Distillery Gallery
516 East 2nd Street, South Boston