The Museum of Non Participation: The New Deal is a fictional museum by London-based artists Karen Mirza and Brad Butler. The exhibition’s multilayered text, sound, film and performance addresses peculiar evolving questions around the public institutions and the collisions of art and the political praxis. In their new act, The New Deal, the duo transforms the gallery space into an open-ended platform to question the marginalization of the common, perpetuation of the bourgeois, urgency of the political resistance, growing tension between the 99% and the 1%, among other social and political struggles we are confronting in this geopolitical entanglement. Mirza and Butler keeps the audience at the verge—purporting the importance and the urgency to choose a political position for social change. The artists also curated the Walker’s Art News From Elsewhere as another form of their participatory reaction. Their investigations in the dissonance of the public realm and the idea of turning around the public’s positions and perspectives intrigued the initial idea for the exhibition’s graphics.
The word MUSEUM is horizontally flipped to create a subtle tension within the title—turning the museum into the city and vice versa. (It’s similar to glass doors that have push and pull signs on the same side to disorient you.) Reversed type also connotes the act of resistance and Urdu alphabet’s right-to-left writing system.
Mirza and Butler, with the curators and local participants, performed Bertolt Brecht’s Exception and the Rule as an inquiry into the conditions of capitalism, free market and power play. Play scripts for the players were incorporated as a part of the opening night performance.
The enlarged gallery guide (12 × 18 inches) evolved from the urgency of the situation. Non Participation: Acts of Definition and Redefinition is compiled with local and international contributors’ understandings of the art of opposition and resistance. It is on view in the gallery and for those of you who can’t make it, the texts will be available to read on the Visual Arts blog in the coming days.