Let Me Be a Witness
This exhibition that I curated at Root Division in San Francisco surveyed a range of work that might be referred to as “witness art.” Witness art distinguishes itself from political art in general by responding to specific events in the world, and by its use of artifacts and statistics. Witness art presents the observable within a framework of knowledgeable research. Witnessing connects subjective experience with objective truth, while asking the following: how do we make the invisibility of witnessing visible? What methods and strategies best serve the subject and act being witnessed? How can art introduce the viewer to the social and factual context of the subject, while hinting at deeper layers of meaning and interpretations?
These artists put their art at the service of issues that are bigger than their individual practice. Their art explores their themes with nuance, sometimes with irony, and avoids propaganda by presenting evidence with an aesthetic framework that pulls in the viewer, requiring them to go deeper into the subject.