Artists: Pedro Barbeito, Eve K. Tremblay, Jack Henry, Karlis Rekevics, Kati Vilim, John Gerrard, Christopher Saunders

Curated by Alan Lupiani

“So Real” at Radiator Arts, March 8 - April 20th, 2013 offers a contemporary survey which considers associations between the twentieth century art movements of Western Social Realism and Socialist Realism of  Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.

The words "subjective" and "official” are paramount in describing the differences between both movements. Western Social Realism has been described as a “subjective” tradition allowing for the expression and development of unfavorable narratives. In contrast, Socialist Realism has been characterized as state sanctioned, official, and oppressive.

Recent global instability concurrent to the transfer of power from old regimes to new has cast a fresh light upon this "subjective" vs. "official" narrative. As heads of state draft legislation to address a multitude of geo-political and economic challenges, inherent conflicts arise between preserving individual liberties and protecting the state against general chaos, terror, and/or complete collapse. Consequently, the individuals' right to speak out and act critically against the government have become increasingly challenged and diminished. Re-defining "subjective" individuals' rights has become increasingly constricted by overriding "official" mandates to protect the "state." 

“So Real” further explores these incongruities by suggesting that past political and economic constructs organically mutate into new overlapping hyper realities. For example, the Obama Administration has appropriated the socially progressive doctrines of two previous Social Realism(ist) era Presidents, Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy. 

Roosevelt's  "New Deal," Kennedy's "New Frontier" and now Obama's "Forward" all possess similar premises based on socialist principles. Likewise, all three Presidents have been accused of practicing, "undisguised state socialism."  Ironically, these conflicting assertions that socialist based initiatives are necessary to sustain capitalistic free markets from doom and gloom, speaks volumes to the complexities that co-exist within diametrically opposed axioms similar to that of both Social Realism(ist) traditions.

Speaking of doom, "So Real" also vogues as “provocateur” in the form of shared compressed psychologically charged narratives. Taken one step further, the exhibition functions on a plane of personal protest, challenging the sustainability of past and present day utopian constructs.

On a more positive and final note, “So Real” alludes to new beginnings in the aftermath of failure, death, and destruction by the inclusion of brutalist inspired sculpture and architectural forms. This “clean slate” segue provides an entry point to explore alternative models which may provide pathways for future growth and progress.

Press Links:

hyperallergic Review 1

hyperallergic Review 2