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An exhibition with Indrani Pal-Chaudhuri exploring the intersection of fame, fantasy, and issues of social justice and human rights
Opening reception: Friday, November 15, 2019 from 6:30-8:30pm
The exhibition features work often made in collaboration with foundations, community activists, artists, and celebrities such as David Bowie, Serena Williams, and Alicia Keys, among others. An opening reception will take place on Friday, November 15, 2019 from 6:30-8:30pm and will feature a discussion with Indrani and special guests about comparative strategies for art, advocacy, and structural change. The SP2 Initiative makes the bold claim that the arts are an indispensable means and method of imagining justice and making democracy.
Kim Kardashian is Dead! aims to encourage conversation about how artists, thinkers, and activists can utilize strategies of fame, fantasy, advertising, and aesthetics to encourage ethical awareness, provoke conversation, and inspire change. The exhibition explores diverse experimental approaches to raising awareness of social justice issues in Indrani’s work, and focuses on three main strategies – the mobilization of fame, fantasy, and ethical imperatives. In addressing the efficiency, advantages, complexities, and at times complicities that these strategies involve, the exhibition also provides an opportunity for measuring the relative success of such endeavors in reaching their intended audiences and achieving their desired impact, while at the same time discussing the risks involved in such projects. It also considers the effects of the transformation of persons into images, of the commodification, and even self-commodification, of celebrity, and the resulting creation and destruction of celebrity subjectivity. Is it possible for celebrities to have a fixed identity or must they always exist in relation to the set of images that define them at any given moment? In what way might the transformation that is perhaps their signature be what enables them to be appropriated and mobilized in either the direction of social justice or its opposite, or even in both directions at once? To what extent are celebrities—or any of us—able to control or claim the images through which they are presented to the world?
The exhibition takes its title from a campaign in which Kim Kardashian is Dead! is printed over Mrs. Kardashian in a coffin, and over other celebrities who, in a similar pose, also participated in the project. The campaign asked for donations to revive Mrs. Kardashian and these other celebrities in order to raise millions of dollars for families with AIDS in Africa and India. It inspired massive media and public discussion about the mobilization of celebrity in the direction of social justice activism. Other projects in the exhibition include David Bowie’s music video Valentine’s Day, featured in the HBO Movie The Last Five Years, and starring Bowie exploring the mind of a high school mass shooter; the CNN Expose Best Picture Award-winning short Girl Epidemic, featuring media hysteria as men in hazmat suits quarantine girls in a pandemic metaphor for the millions of girls disappearing because of sex slavery, child labor, and infanticide; Till Human Voices Wake Us, a short film in which Selkies, mythical creatures that are seals in water and women on land, storm Manhattan in order to remind us of the importance of environmental sustainability; Crescendo, a short film in which Indian girls escape work and marriage to play football with an elephant; and a conventional public service announcement Crisis in the Central African Republic, featuring Mandy Moore for Nothing But Nets, advocating more equitable health care and distributing mosquito nets against malaria.