Socialist Worker

Art exhibition that shows how another world can be made possible

A collection from dozens of artists range from the inspiring to the baffling. Richard Rose explains how it seeks to look beyond the walls of the gallery

Issue No. 2593

el Seeds mural in Cambridge

el Seed's mural in Cambridge (Pic: Richard Rose)

“There’s no alternative” is a phrase socialists often hear.

This exhibition helps us to imagine how things might be different.

The images included are designed to reassert the potential of art as a poetic, social and political force in the world.

Inspired by a letter by artist Naum Gabo, Actions reflects the energising diversity and breadth of art in the modern and contemporary period.

Some 38 artists make up this exhibition using diverse media—paint, mural, film, vinyl, books, music, speech, illuminations and more.

They’ve created work ranging from the inspiring to the baffling.


Particularly powerful are works dealing with anti-racism.

The ripped pages of Issam Kourbaj’s “Cancelled” Syrian passport were especially moving.

Another highlight is Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme’s short film about young Palestinians exploring an abandoned village in an Israeli-occupied area.

I felt proud to see pieces both featuring and by Cambridge Stand Up To Racism activists on display.

I found Zoran Popovic’s strongly anti-capitalist film Struggle in New York 1976 interesting because it seemed to combine the tensions within the show as a whole.

It featured footage of a picket line outside The Whitney Museum of Contemporary Art alongside a raucous musical performance.

Alongside it were some intensely theoretical pronouncements about the link between art and society, both of which I found very obscure. Does change come from cultural or from economic struggle, it seems to ask. Perhaps it is a bit of both?

There were other powerful images of protest as an agent of change.

I’d have loved to have seen more of these, more images of the masses as a means of making the world different. I really liked the way that artist el Seed’s Perception mural spilled out of the galleries and onto the streets of Cambridge.

His beautiful work featured on the walls of the shopping centre of the working class community where I live.

And any exhibition that seeks to look beyond the walls of the gallery to show that there really is an alternative, should definitely be applauded.

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