Rebel Yell: The Lifelong Activism of Two British Artists
Among Atkinson’s contributions to the exhibition are his newspaper paintings, sketched or altered papers—including a partially obscured front page from the New York Times dated September 11, 2001—that serve to highlight the way that the media shapes (or manipulates depending on whom you ask) the truth. A similar approach is given to the artist’s own U.S. naturalization papers, which he transforms into a statement on immigration with the childlike insouciance of a student doodling on his homework.
Ever since that first London show, Harrison’s activism has been more focused on feminism, including pinup-inspired sketches that placed male figures like Captain America in poses and outfits typically reserved for consumption by the male gaze. At Ronald Feldman, Harrison’s installation The Last Gaze injects Tennyson’s “Lady of Shalott” (1832) and the painting of the same name by
Harrison has noted that in the decades since their debut, the controversial images from her first show have come to represent more the broadened options for self-expression available today than the radical statements on gender they once were. Likewise, the works by both artists in this exhibition serve to show how activism can move things forward, in art and beyond.