ACTION VERBS > ACTION WORDS
Graduate students boycotting PAFA. A series of exhibitions hosted by AUTOMAT, Pink Noise Projects, Grizzly Grizzly, and Practice
September 5 - 27, 2020 / Gallery hours: Sats and Suns, 12-4 pm and by appt.
Please practice COVID safety, wear a mask and socially distance in the 319 building.
Student Boycott Statement: The participating artists in Action Verbs > Action Words are boycotting PAFA’s 119th Annual Student Exhibition. These recent graduate students condemn the recent actions and words that have come from the institution’s current administration. The administration and Board of Trustees have failed to adequately respond to our demand letter. Instead, they continue to hide behind ineffective “listening sessions” where students are asked to perform emotional labor in perpetuity. These meetings do not absolve the institution of making immediate, real and lasting systemic change. Without these necessary changes, PAFA perpetuates a toxic environment that is not safe for nor supportive of our BIPOC community. It is our moral obligation to no longer contextualize our work within this institution – an institution that: refuses to publicly support the defunding of the police; perpetuates and profits from white supremacy; and, therefore, demonstrates a lack of true solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and human rights crisis.
Where one shows their artwork is equally important to the work itself. Therefore, we are deeply grateful for the swift solidarity and support from Philadelphia’s AUTOMAT, Grizzly Grizzly, Practice and Pink Noise Projects. Upon hearing about the boycott, these artist-run galleries immediately reached out to donate their spaces. Their actions exemplify the kind of arts community we hope to foster – wherein being resolute in one's morals will always be stronger than the spineless, antiquated, financially-motivated agenda of any institution. As PAFA continues to fail to meet the essential changes that this moment demands it contributes to its own irrelevance.
Sara Havekotte, Severing the Parasite Head, found objects & beads, 8 x 7 x 5 inches
Public Opinion @ AUTOMAT
Victoria Davis | Lily Furniss | Sara Havekotte | Steve Notich
Artists have a long history of holding art institutions accountable for their connections to violence and conflict. Victoria Davis, Sara Havekotte, Lily Furniss, and Steve Notich are exhibiting work in Public Opinion in protest of The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art- where they all just received their MFA degrees.
The works in this exhibition express disappointment in the status-quo. They draw from personal stories of excess, guilt, exploitation, and confinement as inspiration for distorted and reassembled imagery. From this process of distortion, the works reveal a strong determination to shift the power dynamic. The works expose familial ties to neoliberalism, collage everyday crisis, investigate personal relationships, and display the hidden horrors of domesticity in order to confront the experiences that inspired them.
The exhibiting artists are tapping into public opinion, making judgements about moral responsibility, and are holding others responsible for their actions and related consequences. Notich’s collages address global warming, consumerist excess, and mundane labor rituals of the everyday through immediate iconography and text. Havekotte’s intimate assemblages look towards the internal trauma of gender confines and the feminine experience. Davis’ ceramic etchings document the particularities of domestic memories and suggest that what lies beneath the façade of a building may be more harmful than one would expect. And, Furniss recalls the experiences and guilt of a personal nature in this political landscape.
The works in this exhibition provide a dramatically different viewpoint to that laid out in PAFA’s email response to the violent murder of George Floyd. By cautioning members of the PAFA community against using their PAFA affiliations when signing petitions or engaging in protests, the administration distanced themselves from the Black Lives Matter movement and the judgements of public opinion. The artists of PAFA and of Philadelphia at-large harnessed their pent-up grief and anger into a list of demands which can be found at www.changeatpafa.com. As an artist collective and gallery, AUTOMAT stands with these artists’ protest of the Annual Student Exhibition and welcomes their work.
All proceeds from the sale of artworks in the show will be donated to Black Lives Matter Philly or another racial justice organization of the artists’ choosing.
Artworks for sale can be found on AUTOMAT’s website (automatcollective.com/pafasale) starting Friday, September 4, 2020.
Installation shots and images of works are available upon request.