An Incomplete History of Protest

Solo en Inglès

“I make revolutionary art to propel history forward. I’m a visual artist.”
—Dread Scott

Hear directly from artists including Dread Scott, and Senga Nengudi as they discuss their work in An Incomplete History of Protest: Selections from the Whitney’s Collection, 1940–2017. Listen to additional commentary from curators on selected highlights from the exhibition.

 Non-war memorial installation with army uniforms laying on ground.

Edward Kienholz (1927–1994), The Non War Memorial, 1970 (installation view, Whitney Museum of American Art). Military uniforms, acrylic vitrine, seeds, sand, wood, metal, and book, dimensions variable. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; gift of Nancy Reddin Kienholz 2003.14a-h. © Nancy Reddin Kienholz. Photograph by Ron Amstutz

Narrator: Edward Kienholz, the artist behind the Non War Memorial, vehemently opposed American military action in Vietnam. 

Jennie Goldstein: Like many of Kienholz’s installations, it’s really like a tableau. 

Narrator: Assistant Curator Jennie Goldstein.

Jennie Goldstein: You walk into the space and you find yourself face-to-face with these strewn, body-like forms. It’s actually sand stuffed inside of surplus army fatigue uniforms. The tableau is almost like a sketch or a model for something he was never able to realize.

His idea was that he would go to this seventy-five-acre meadow and there he would take 50,000 of these surplus uniforms, and instead of being filled with sand, they would be filled with slurred clay. And what he’d envisioned was that the clay and the uniforms would essentially go to seed. The clay would kind of dissipate and start to decompose, so too the uniforms would kind of decompose over time. So you would go from having an actual memorial, something you could visit, to essentially nothing.

And that’s what’s so interesting about the title of the work. In a way, it really is this kind of non-war memorial. There would be nothing left, nothing to visit, nothing to memorialize. I think that’s a kind of apt way of thinking about the uselessness of all of this death from his perspective.

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