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Martha Rosler at Cornell Fine Arts Museum

A powerful moment occurs when a narrative is cracked open, when something one expects to be presented simply for what it is, or even more, for fact, is left unguarded as one possibility among many. Suddenly, experiences or information, most typically taken for granted, are made accessible to reflection, debate and perhaps even, a deeper understanding or feeling than would have been possible before. At a time when many artists intentionally fulfill the roles of cultural commentators or agitators through extremely direct, either documentary or action-based practices, there are a subset of those who take on social, political or cultural content and purposefully avoid didactic or direct polemical expression, in order to create opportunities for challenging, uncomfortable, and nuanced consideration of their subjects.

Frequently this outcome is the result of breaking apart the elements of stories and histories and rearranging the components. This leaves the work in a sense unfinished or open, until each viewer’s critical engagement becomes the essential final ingredient. As each viewer brings their subjectivity to these works, the process of looking is elevated to a form of seeking that is powerfully engaging.  Limiting the presentation to artists making work in the past decade, the exhibition considers this approach given the cultural, psychological and technological conditions of the past 10 years.