ABOUT POP-AGANDA: REVOLUTION & ICONOGRAPHY
The Mattress Factory is pleased to announce Pop-Aganda: Revolution & Iconography, an exhibition of new site-specific works from eight artists opening on April 16, 2022 in the Museum’s Main Building. Pop-Aganda is the fourth iteration of director, founder and curator Tavia La Follette’s ongoing Sites of Passage series – a global interchange for the migration of ideas across political and cultural borders.
La Follette works with artists who investigate new channels of artistic communication. For this exhibition, after three research trips in 2018 and 2019, La Follette selected eight multidisciplinary, social practice-oriented artists based in the US and in Russia.
From the first stages of planning in early 2019, world events impacted this exhibition. La Follette and the artists had sought to explore an understanding of the world around us in the age of disinformation and the investigative role artists play in this process. The exhibition was thus originally planned to open in November 2020, to align with the U.S. Presidential elections, but was postponed to April 1, 2022 due to the COVID-19 global pandemic.
More recently, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February 2022 prompted further pause and consideration. The Mattress Factory and La Follette condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the war, and stand in solidarity with Ukraine. They will not work with artists who support the invasion or Russian President Vladimir Putin — and also will not boycott Russian artists by merit of their nationality alone.
The Mattress Factory and La Follette thus postponed the exhibition for two weeks to allow time for additional discussion, in light of rapidly evolving world events. In conjunction with the opening, the Museum is also issuing the below statement regarding the exhibition.
In Russia today, those who speak out against the war face up to a 15-year prison sentence. As of now, one of the Russian-based artists has thus chosen to withhold their name from the exhibition, for the safety and security of themself and their family.
Throughout the exhibition, the Mattress Factory and La Follette are planning a variety of opportunities to engage in cross-cultural dialogue and learning, as well as to demonstrate support for Ukraine and global freedom of expression.
“As a curator, I am also moving to create a transformative journey – a project toward reconciliation and transcendent practices in both the artists, the programming and the visitors/community who interact with it,” says La Follette.
La Follette continues: “This show grew out of an age of disinformation, where worldwide ‘realities’ are spread, bred, and cultivated in the name of facts. Off-script political expression is not allowed in Russia where dissident culture can barely survive in the margins. As we know well in this country, one can’t judge a people by their leader. This show and this statement are historic acts in a historic moment in support of artistic expression. We trust our visitors to make their own judgement calls.”
The original questions that La Follette posed in 2019 remain true today, and are even more important to explore now: How does an idea become a fact? As cultural meaning makers, how do artists play a role in the migration of thought? This exhibition, and the answers to these inquiries, will continue to evolve with world events.
The exhibition will formally open on April 16, 2022.
MATTRESS FACTORY STATEMENT
The Mattress Factory condemns, in the strongest possible terms, Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified war against Ukraine. We stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine and its democratically elected government.
In early 2019, we began working with renowned curator Tavia La Follette to plan a major exhibition exploring themes of propaganda, idea, and fact in the age of disinformation. After three international research trips in 2018-2019, La Follette selected eight female and non-binary artists, four based in the United States and four based in Russia. The exhibition was originally scheduled to open at the Mattress Factory in November 2020 but was delayed until April 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, we have spent the last weeks in deep consideration regarding an appropriate course of action. We recognized — and unequivocally rejected — the inclination to cancel the exhibition, and the artists themselves. The Mattress Factory will not work with artists, or any individual or organization, who support Russia’s invasion of Ukraine or Russian President Vladimir Putin. We also will not boycott Russian artists by merit of their nationality alone.
After delaying from the intended April 1 opening date, we have made the decision to open the exhibition on April 16, 2022. We believe that it is important now, more than ever, to move forward with this show, which promotes cross-cultural understanding, cooperation and dialogue.
In Russia today, those who speak out against the war face up to a 15-year prison sentence. For their own safety and security, the name of one of the Russian-based artists who currently cannot leave Russia and/or has family remaining in Russia has been withdrawn, at their request. We hope that, in time, it will be safe to add their name. In the meantime, their unattributed work represents the millions of Russians whose voices have been silenced.
We ask you to watch as the exhibition evolves with and around local community and global events. In the meantime, the Mattress Factory stands in support of peace, freedom of expression, and Ukraine.