artists & participants
1 Million Roses for Angela Davis
(October 10, 2020–January 24, 2021)
venue: Kunsthalle im Lipsiusbau
In the early 1970s, Angela Davis captivated the minds and hearts of East German youth, as well as the ambitions of party officials. Hundreds of thousands of East Germans had participated in the officially-sponsored postcard campaign 1 Million Roses for Angela, which had contributed to the young Black Power activist and philosophy professor’s acquittal and release from prison after being on trial for terrorism in the United States. In 1972, a jubilant crowd of East German citizens awaited her in East Berlin upon her release. In the GDR (German Democratic Republic), Eastern Europe, and leftist circles world wide, this “hero of the other America” was stylized as an icon of revolution in the 1970s. The exhibition 1 Million Roses for Angela Davis explores the unbroken resonance of this activist, scholar, and abolitionist feminist—and the making of a socialist star.
From her inclusion on the FBI’s Most Wanted list in 1970, her arrest and trial facing death row, to her turning the tables and putting the racist legal system of the United States on trial; from community organizing and rallying for the Black Panthers in Oakland to addressing tens of thousands at the internationalist youth festival in East Berlin; from being framed as the face of the revolution to revolutionizing Black feminist theory: Angela Davis writes, embodies, and rewrites intersectional, internationalist, and abolitionist feminism.
1 Million Roses for Angela Davis traces Davis’ immense influence and legacy as activist and scholar on contemporary artists today, while simultaneously teasing out the contradictions her presence and agenda posed to the GDR’s interpretation and application of Marxism. The exhibition brings together archival materials, historical portraits of Davis painted by artists of the GDR, international contemporary works, and new commissions by Ângela Ferreira, Steffani Jemison & Justin Hicks, Elske Rosenfeld and Lewis Watts. Unfolding across the Albertinum’s Kunsthalle im Lipsiusbau, the exhibition follows artistic practices picking up on Davis’ formation as a radical activist, the inscription of her iconic image within a global history of resistance, but more so offers artistic reworkings of the many pressing issues addressed in her work. The exhibition—along with its accompanying reader and public program—offers possibilities to think with and through contemporary artworks, alongside Davis’ expansive contributions to Black radical thought.
Artists include Yael Bartana, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Sophie Calle, Contemporary And, Sadie Barnette, CHTO DELAT?, Melvin Edwards, Ângela Ferreira, Bernhard Franke, Coco Fusco, Ellen Gallagher, Claudia Martínez Garay, Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Arthur Jafa, Steffani Jemison & Justin Hicks (Mikrokosmos), Iris Kensmil, Hassan Khan, Kapwani Kiwanga, Raja Lubinetzki & Petra Schramm, Julie Mehretu, Heinz-Detlef Moosdorf, Senga Nengudi, Ahmet Öğüt, Slavs and Tatars, Julia Phillips, Alex Martinis Roe, Elske Rosenfeld, Anri Sala, Willi Sitte, Cauleen Smith, Nancy Spero, Gabriele Stötzer, Strawalde (Jürgen Böttcher), Nasan Tur, Lewis Watts, Carrie Mae Weems, Christoph Wetzel, Charles White, and Heinz Wodzicka.
The German/English reader 1 Million Roses for Angela Davis with texts by Nikita Dhawan, Kata Krasznahorkai, Sophie Lorenz, Doreen Mende, Peggy Piesche, Kathleen Reinhardt, Maria Schubert, Hilke Wagner, Jamele Watkins, and a new interview with Angela Davis is available from Mousse Publishing. Discursive events with Katharina Oguntoye, Ilanga Mwaungulu, Contemporary And, Mikrokosmos, Slavs and Tatars, and others take place online or in Dresden. For details and visiting modalities check www.skd.museum/albertinum
1 Million Roses for Angela Davis is curated by Kathleen Reinhardt.