The final room of the exhibition features a jokey but sharp 1993 piece by Art Chantry, known album covers for such bands as Nirvana and Hole. In the poster, a policeman holds up a condom and advises, I take one everywhere I take my penis!!) to ACT UPs classic 1986 poster.
The most power work in the show is a classic Act Up poster from 1986. A pink triangle, a reference to Nazi branding of homosexuals, is set against a black background with the slogan Silence=Death and equally powerful text, Why is Reagan silent about AIDS?...Turn anger, fear, grief into action. That kind of simple toughness is in short supply in the contemporary art world, and its wonderful to see anger part of all the posters in Graphic Intervention turned into art, rather than the cheaper strains of irony.
• At Miami Art Museum, the video installation Kimsooja: A Needle Woman, examines the current era of rampant globalization and urbanization. Born in Taegu, South Korea, Kimsooja has exhibited at P.S. 1/MOMA in New York and Madrids Crystal Palace of Reina Sophia. A Needle Woman began in the years between 1999 and 2001, when Kimsooja traveled to different cities New York, London, Tokyo, Lagos, Shanghai, Mexico City, Cairo and stood on busy city streets and sidewalks, totally motionless as the everyday swarm of humanity flowed around her. She was, in effect, a needle subtly penetrating the morass of pedestrians, asserting her role as an individual and yet blurring into the global city that is the world now.
A Needle Woman occupies the downstairs galleries of MAM. Each city in the piece is given its own video screen. In each video, the camera films Kimsooja from behind: its interesting to see the reactions of people in different cities to Kimsooja and her cameraman. Pedestrians in New York and London are profoundly indifferent; in Lagos, the citizens radiate pure delight, as if the circus had come to town. Thankfully, the world still has cultural differences.
A thoughtful essay by Rene Morales, MAM Associate Curator, accompanies the show. In 2007, the urban population of the world exceeded the rural population for the first time, he points out. By 2030, four out of five city residents will live in the developing world. Currently, 80 percent of the population of cities in the developing world often live in slums.
To Morales, globalization is synonymous with mass urbanization: By 2015, Lagos will have more than 23 million people and will be the third largest city in the world, right behind Tokyo and Mumbai, Morales notes. Lagos doesnt have the infrastructure for such a massive increase in population. In her piece, Kimsooja deals with the effects of mass urbanization on the street level, addressing specific places and specific issues.
That wasnt her initial intent, the artist said during a recent Miami visit. When I started this piece, I wasnt really thinking about globalization: it was more about connecting with every person in the world in some way, embracing humanity, she said. A needle has a certain duality: it pierces the surface, and also joins things together, which is what I want to do with A Needle Woman.