Kunsthalle im Lipsiusbau, Dresden, Germany 10 Oct 2020 - 24 Jan 2021
Installation view 1 Million Roses for Angela Davis. Courtesy of Kunsthalle im Lipsiusbau.
Kunsthalle im Lipsiusbau presents 1 Million Roses for Angela Davis from 10 October to 24 January, 2021. The show traces Davis’ immense influence and legacy as activist and scholar on contemporary artists today, while simultaneously teasing out the contradictions her presence and agenda posed to the GDR’s interpretation and application of Marxism.
Few East Germans over the age of fifty fail to remember the state-organized solidarity campaign calling for the release of the US philosopher, communist and Black Power activist Angela Davis. “A million roses for Angela” was the motto of a postcard campaign in 1970-72 in support of Davis, who at the time was being held under terrorism charges.
The large-scale campaign firmly anchored the activist within the cultural memory of the GDR, which — in this critical phase of the Cold War — sought to position itself by asserting its commitment to the comrade. In the GDR, the media spun Davis as the “heroine of the other America” and after her acquittal she was welcomed as a state guest. For her part, Angela Davis had hoped for an internationalist movement promoting a socialist, feminist, and non-racist democracy — the antithesis of her experiences of violence and oppression as a Black woman in the USA. This moment of hope provides the historical starting point for the exhibition, which features contemporary works by international artists.
These works focus on the issues that the now emeritus professor campaigned on at the time, which are still pressing today, and thereby initiate discussion about the background, flaws, and unfulfilled potential of this unusual relationship between Davis and the GDR. In photographs, videos, sculptures, sound installations, and conceptual works, some of which are new commissions for this exhibition, a young generation of artists focus attention both on Davis’ ongoing commitment to social justice and her struggle against racism and sexism, as well as on how her iconic image came to be inscribed within a global history of resistance.
Artists: Yael Bartana, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Sophie Calle, Contemporary And, Sadie Barnette, CHTO DELAT?, Melvin Edwards, Ângela Ferreira, Bernhard Franke, Coco Fusco, Ellen Gallagher, Claudia Martínez Garay, Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Arthur Jafa, Steffani Jemison & Justin Hicks (Mikrokosmos), Iris Kensmil, Hassan Khan, Kapwani Kiwanga, Raja Lubinetzki & Petra Schramm, Julie Mehretu, Heinz-Detlef Moosdorf, Senga Nengudi, Ahmet Öğüt, Slavs and Tatars, Julia Phillips, Alex Martinis Roe, Elske Rosenfeld, Anri Sala, Willi Sitte, Cauleen Smith, Nancy Spero, Gabriele Stötzer, Strawalde (Jürgen Böttcher), Nasan Tur, Lewis Watts, Carrie Mae Weems, Christoph Wetzel, Charles White, Heinz Wodzicka