Amid the sea of signs during last month’s Women’s March, one poster epitomized the event: “Too many demands to fit on one poster”. This more or less summarizes the ambitious selection of activist art in Whitney Museum’s 6th floor exhibition. The show reflected on finite forms of protest over the past eight decades, organized into eight themes ranging from protests against the Vietnam War to self-reflective appeals within the museum walls. Rooms filled with poignant war posters are juxtaposed with works such as Ad Reinhardt’s non-objective, relation-less black field painting to show that protest can happen in many forms.
The exhibition's inclusiveness is the outcome of a protest titled “Strike, Boycott, Advocate: The Whitney Archives”. Featuring objection letters from renowned artists against the Whitney, they disputed the museum’s bigotry and demand a more inclusive and accessible representation of artistic styles. It is a relief to read these letters and then witness how the Whitney was willing to admit its imperfections and has made efforts toward change. In recognizing their past faults, it is admirable to see protested institutions and authorities take the humility to acknowledge their protestors. Artists as protestors continues explore their ongoing relations with politic.