THIS IS NOT A SAFE SPACE*
June 16 – August 10, 2016
PHILLIP T. ANNAND | NATALIE BAXTER | COLM DILLANE | JESSE EDWARDS | BRYAN ELLINGSON | DEVIN FRY |
HARIF GUZMAN | MELVIN GUZMAN | JUSTIN HAGER | ANNA JENSEN | JAMES KERR | TERRY MACK |
MARK MULRONEY | VERNON O'MEALLY | JOSHUA MICHAEL PAULIN | MALIK ROBERTS | SHAY SEMPLE
* May contain viewpoints or ideas that do not confirm your personal beliefs, which might make you feel weird.
A+E Studios, in collaboration with JARS, is pleased to announce, This is not a Safe Space, a group exhibition opening June 16th from 6-9pm featuring the works of 16 contemporary artists providing sharp and clear satirical commentary that takes the idiocy of our generation head on. The show title references the “safe space” epidemic sweeping American universities, and stands in opposition to the notion that we should prioritize individual feelings over the free exchange of knowledge and ideas. As the most socially progressive American generation to date we collectively struggle with the inherent duality between learned notions of inclusiveness and that of rational thought as the best tool for understanding reality. It is through this lens that we hope to provide the cognitive and emotional fuel that will inspire people to think critically and rationally about the difficult changes facing America today.
Nobody likes to be preached to, we prefer to be leveled with and made laugh. Though couched in political commentary, This is Not a Safe Space, is filled with elicit, imaginative renderings of vibrant worlds we recognize but have never seen —one of bold colors, imaginative shapes, and gestural graphics—providing a whimsical absurdity to serious subjects. The works on display are at liberty to indulge their enthusiasms without apology or embarrassment, with a spoonful of sarcasm to help get it all down.
This is NOT a Safe Space features a group of contemporary artists working across various mediums. The exhibition seeks to protect our minds and let our emotions fend for themselves. Dispelling the illusion of political correctness, the works in this exhibition collectively provide an unapologetic space for honest, and perhaps, uncomfortable political and socially charged discourse.
From the looks of things, America is empirically diverse and inclusive: our first black president is finishing his second term and there’s a chance he will be seceded by our first female president, (or reality television star)— not to mention gay couples can legally marry in all fifty states. But somewhere along the way it was decided, without ever really deciding, that you’re either on board with the changes or you’re a bigot, racist, sexist, or homophobe. It seems corners had to be cut when Thomas Jefferson hypocritically proclaimed in the Bill of Rights that “all men are created equal,” and so now too, in order to facilitate a forcible yet comfortable transition into modern times we skipped a few steps. The energy that now goes into avoiding being called one of those ugly words has created a blind spot in the correlation between our ability to progress intellectually in order to make sense of the rapid social and political changes happening around us. Our propensity towards quieting the mind and prioritizing our feelings has left huge gray areas that encompass the complexities behind some of the most important social issues shaping our lives today dangerously unexamined. [this guy]
This is NOT Safe Space is not about making the viewer frightened or threatened; it's not an attack on one's safety, but is merely interested in cultivating a space where a free market of ideas can flourish, and subsequent dialogue – genuine dialogue – can be forged. Were more acutely aware of our historical injustices than ever before and years of progressive education have worked to assuage rational thought by favoring and prioritizing the ability to emote over the ability to think critically. As rationalist men of the enlightenment, the more worldly founding fathers strongly advocated for public access to a variety of political voices and opinions, the press was seen as a functional service to the community to ensure the accountability of those in power by supplying its focus demographic with a wide range of opinions reflective of the multi-layered diversity of its citizens, as well as by providing analyses and debates on important issues.
In the fifties and sixties (when the term “safe space” was initially coined in reference to the women’s movement) the new media of the radio and television quickly made a vast continent into a global village, requiring for the first time a reformulation of our identities as both individuals and as members of a nation. It created tribal-like bonds amongst a young generation of Americans who united in a counter culture based on the Rock and Roll lyrics of Bob Dylan and militant anti-war movements. Two distinctly different peoples with different values, cultures, myths, heroes and villains, and history inhabited America. Not since the 1960’s and 70’s has society in the United States has been shown on television in such a state of disarray.
The Internet fuels “precisely what the Founders feared about democratic culture: feeling, emotion, and narcissism, rather than reason, empiricism, and public-spiritedness. Online debates become personal, emotional, and irresolvable almost as soon as they begin.” There’s a lot of noise but we can’t decipher the message and don’t know what to believe, or who to trust—all aspects of editorial judgment or notions of relevancy have been abandoned, “the distinction between politics and entertainment became fuzzier; election coverage became even more modeled on sports casting; your Pornhub jostled right next to your mother’s Facebook page.”
Threatened by allegations of bias, the mainstream media of today has abandoned its responsibility as pundits of truth, assuming instead the role of uncritical promoters of partisan ideology in the name of “balance,” and a blurring of the line between fact and opinion throughout public discourse. News content has shifted away from the intended democratic role of the press (to uncover government inefficiency and keep those with extreme power in check) towards manipulated stories or superficial, titillating scandals with the purpose of simply providing entertainment, ratings, and prioritizing stories with the potential of going viral, or being meme-worthy.
This is NOT a Safe Space is a proud supporter of free speech and intellectual objectivity and through various lenses of satire and humor will cleverly poke at the complexities of our culture free from the shackles of "micro-aggressions" and "trigger warnings.” Trigger Warning: Life is NOT a Safe Space, it will not privilege our feelings over our intellectual value, nor should it, so its time we learn to grow up. This is a good place to start.