Thomas Dane Gallery, London: Civil Restitutions

Curated by Jeffrey Uslip and Simon Preston
8 Sep – 3 Oct 2006

A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new; when an age ends; and when the soul of a nation long suppressed finds utterance… Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie

Thomas Dane is pleased to present Civil Restitutions, a group exhibition of 11 inter-generational American artists positing a reclaimation of civil liberties and socio-political mores within the lattice of US history. These works challenge contemporary notions of otherness through painting, sculpture, photography, and mixed media installation. Civil Restitutions, through its conceptual and existential matrix, proposes a renewed compensation and indemnification in the body, landscape and in urban conditions. Here, the diverse practices spanning four decades, aim to unmute the oppressed voice through a complex historiographic analysis.

Civil Restitutions presents emancipated forms, through their inherent deviance and intuitive approach to artmaking, evade limitations and stealthily avoid objectification. Through their radical hybridity, embody revolution, challenge hierarchy, reverse a cultural amnesia and denature authority. The artworks elaborate on materiality’s mercurial, perishable, shape-shifting characteristics by investigating the entropic quality of materiality; the sculpture’s materials are transformed in the process of making.

Civil Restitutions tackles the integration of fact and fiction as a tool for revisiting, remembering and recovering from trauma. Complicating the legibility of race, class and gender in America, the artworks supersede category and each become indefinable, non-locatable free agents. Through the lens of “abject formalism”, these works challenge America’s position in the world, constructed and mediated identity, and notions of lack. Civil Restitutions does not manage history, instead it applies a visceral approach to incite self awareness; as Rushdie states “we simply could not think our way out of our pasts…”

Artists include: Ken Gonzales-Day, Jimmie Durham, David Hammons, Leslie Hewitt, Mary Kelly, Ana Mendieta, Maria Nazor, William Pope.L, Michael Queenland, Kelley Walker, David Wojnarowicz

Images and press release at Thomas Dane Gallery