For better or worse, we are living in an age of identity, where the growing speed of our technology, media and means of communication has seen a corresponding rise in the efficiency with which we define ourselves in opposition to others. Ideas of citizenship and belonging, borders and barriers have become more prominent not only in virtual space, but also in people’s minds. With the worrying rise of populism and the increasingly erratic expression of democratic seen the world over, from the passing of laws to the erection of walls, these mental barriers are manifesting in the physical world.
I am you, you are too at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, explores these troubling phenomena by exhibiting an exceptionally diverse range of works taken from the institution’s collection. Borrowing its title from I M U U R 2 (2013) – a room-sized installation by Danh Voh that considers the ways in which various collected objects can communicate ideas of who we are – the show brings together creations by a groups of artists spanning generations and borders, time and space, to ask how we memorialise the past and understand the structures that shape us, be they social, geographic or political.
Works by the included artists examine the question from a number of angles. Francis Alÿs, Song Dong and Robert Longo take a special interest in the significance of monuments and shared public space when it comes to the relationship between the individual and the state, whereas for Chantal Akerman and Julie Mehretu changing political systems and shifting geographical borders are a point of focus. Wolfgang Tillmans and Postcommodity, meanwhile, make reference to recent debates surrounding Brexit and the Mexico-US border. In the final gallery of the exhibition, a juxtaposition of generations and geographies comes to the fore with a selection of works hung against selected wallpapers created by Yto Barrada, Yoko Ono and Adam Pendleton.
Seen together, this varied collection of works gives recognition to the many ways in which artists have charted and challenged prevailing value systems surrounding gender, race and sexuality. But it also suggests a more fluid reality beneath the constant struggle to define oneself and one’s group against another, raising apposite questions around identity, culture and political space.
I am you, you are too opens 7 September at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis. For more information: www.walkerart.org
1. Lorraine O’Grady, Art Is. . . (detail) (1983/2009), Courtesy Walker Art Center. Copyright Lorraine O’Grady.