Fred Lonidier
STRIKE

12.06 — 30.08.2015

The Centre de la photographie Genève (CpG) is presenting the first institutional exhibition in Europe of the work of Fred Lonidier from 12 June to 6 September 2015, in collaboration with L’Istituto Svizzero di Roma. An extension of the exhibition will be shown in the Salle des Pas Perdus of the UN’s Palais des Nations in Geneva from 10 July to 21 August 2015, in partnership with the Permanent Mission of the United States of America to the UN.

Vernissage: 11.06.2015

Curator Geneva: Joerg Bader
Curator Rome and Zürich: Egija Inzule

In collaboration with l’Istituto Svizzero di Roma; ONU, Palais des Nations, Genève; CLAP – Camere del Lavoro Autonomo e Precario, Rome; Haute École d’art de Zurich (ZHdK)

The series 29 ARRESTS, shown at the CpG for the first time in the group exhibition AGAINST THE GRAIN in 2014, is the point of departure for Fred Lonidier's STRIKE exhibition (born in 1942 in Lakeview, Oregon, Fred Lonidier lives and works in San Diego).

29 ARRESTS shows the same set-up twenty-nine times: a photograph of the police, from behind, taking the photograph of one of the students arrested at a sit-in outside San Diego's Naval district headquarters at a time when it was launch [...]

The series 29 ARRESTS, shown at the CpG for the first time in the group exhibition AGAINST THE GRAIN in 2014, is the point of departure for Fred Lonidier's STRIKE exhibition (born in 1942 in Lakeview, Oregon, Fred Lonidier lives and works in San Diego).

29 ARRESTS shows the same set-up twenty-nine times: a photograph of the police, from behind, taking the photograph of one of the students arrested at a sit-in outside San Diego's Naval district headquarters at a time when it was launching massive bombing raids on Cambodia in 1972.

This series, which the artist considers one of his first significant works, also marks his political radicalisation, after his elder sister had familiarised him with feminism.

A member of the SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) since 1965, the USA's post-colonial war against Vietnam was a major factor in the politicisation and radicalisation of hundreds of thousands of students, including this young art teacher at the brand new University of California, San Diego. Among the students at UCSD were Angela Davis, and among his Marxist colleagues, Herbert Marcuse and Fredric Jameson. The first, having fled Nazi Germany, was associated with the Frankfurt School of critical theory, while the second was an analyst of cultural trends in their economic and political aspects, bringing him close to the pioneers of "Cultural Studies".

So, for Fred Lonidier, the term "art" makes no sense unless it is rooted in its historical, political, social and economic soil. In this sense, the historic avant-gardes of the early twentieth century and more specifically the Soviet constructivists are a reference for the artist, since they clearly aimed to change society through their artistic activities. Other influences we can mention are the Marxist artist John Heartfield and above all the playwright Bertolt Brecht.

In the early 70s, Fred Lonidier found himself at UCSD among an informal group of teachers including Phel Steinmetz, and students including Martha Rosler and Allan Sekula, determined to do away with the myth of the documentary photography of the kind espoused by Dorothea Lange and Walker Evans – of a history of depression-era America that had over time been completely emptied of its political edge to become an object of photographic history, in other words a museum piece.

They wanted to formulate a new art of documentary making and they turned to the most contemporary form of the avant-garde: conceptual art. But unlike their colleagues on the east coast, such as Joseph Kosuth and Lawrence Weiner who perpetuated the notion of the autonomy of the art object cultivated by the painters of the New York School then by the minimalists, they used written text and photography to load them with social and political content.

In the STRIKE exhibition at the CpG, following the 29 ARRESTS series and DRAFT RESISTANCE, also reporting on a demonstration against the US war in Vietnam, this time in Seattle (where Allan Sekula would produce WAITING FOR TEAR GAS in 1999), you will see the series VACATION VILLAGE TRADE SHOW : A MATERIAL PIECE. In the spirit of conceptual art, with a feminist theme, it looks at the machismo of photographic sessions with models posing in bikinis in public gardens, organised for any amateur photographers prepared to pay $20, highlighting, as did the advertising of the period, male dominance in adverts by manufacturers of cameras and photographic objectives.

Although the militancy in Fred Lonidier's art began with series related to the anti-war movement that numbered up to 750,000 activists across the country, with 100,000 students members of the SDS in 1968, and feminism is to the fore in VACATION VILLAGE TRADE SHOW: A MATERIAL PIECE or WEDDING (presented at the CPG in the form of Dia projection), the most important part of the artist's work, and also his most radical position, came in the 80s and after.

The radical nature of Fred Lonidier's approach does not consist only of turning away from traditional art venues, especially in the 80s, by moving into community centres, bookshops and union halls, and even going as far as to take a semi-trailer truck to factories, as he did to show the NAFTA series. He also makes a radical change on an aesthetic level by adopting forms of popular culture, from the tabloid press to popular advertising leaflets – the chief reading matter of the working classes. Fred Lonidier no longer applies the position of the historic avant-garde who insisted that the everyday should be raised to the highest level (de Stijl, Bauhaus, etc); instead, he uses the forms familiar to those he wishes to see emancipated.

NAFTA will therefore also be the most important piece in the STRIKE exhibition. The 22 panels comprising photographs and text dating from 1997 to 2006, are a call to the men and women workers of the Maquiladoras on either side of the Mexico/United States border. With his artistic work, Fred Lonidier not only led a counter information campaign on the trade treaty between the two American nations called the North American Free Trade Agreement – which in militant language becomes Not A Fair Trade – but is also a call to this very cheap labour force to unionise and defend its rights.

Another part of his work strongly marked by trade union activism will be shown in the Salle des Pas Perdu at the UN in Geneva from 10 July to 21 August 2015. This is a campaign on behalf of trade unionism that Fred Lonidier launched in 1983 under the title I LIKE EVERYTHING NOTHING BUT UNION in a political landscape in the USA in which the left had been completely decimated by the hard-line neo-liberal conservatives who embarked, with England under Maggie Thatcher, on a dismantling of the welfare state that endures vehemently today in western countries.

CpG opening hours: Tues-Sun, 11am-6pm

Palais des Nations opening hours: Mon-Fri, free admission by reservation (tel: 022

The Fred Lonidier – Strike! exhibition will be held at 5 different venues: •Centre de la photographie Genève, from 12 June to 30 August 2015 •Istituto Svizzero di Roma, from 6 June to 19 September 2015 •UN, Palais des Nations, Salle des Pas Perdus, Geneva, from 10 July to 21 August 2015 •CLAP - Camere del Lavoro Autonomo e Precario, Rome, from 28 May to 6 July 2015 •Zürcher Hochschule der Künste (ZHdK), from September 2015 to June 2016

 

The Fred Lonidier – Strike! exhibition is supported by: The USA Mission to the United Nations Geneva Volkart Stiftung


Sponsors

With the generous support of the following partner(s)

Artist file

Fred Lonidier * 1942 in Lake View (Oregon), lives in San Diego

The series 29 ARRESTS, shown at the CpG for the first time in the group exhibition AGAINST THE GRAIN in 2014, is the point of departure for Fred Lonidier's STRIKE exhibition (born in 1942 in Lakeview, Oregon, Fred Lonidier lives and works in San Diego).

29 ARRESTS shows the same set-up twenty-nine times: a photograph of the police, from behind, taking the photograph of one of the students arrested at a sit-in outside San Diego's Naval district headquarters at a time when it was launch [...]

The series 29 ARRESTS, shown at the CpG for the first time in the group exhibition AGAINST THE GRAIN in 2014, is the point of departure for Fred Lonidier's STRIKE exhibition (born in 1942 in Lakeview, Oregon, Fred Lonidier lives and works in San Diego).

29 ARRESTS shows the same set-up twenty-nine times: a photograph of the police, from behind, taking the photograph of one of the students arrested at a sit-in outside San Diego's Naval district headquarters at a time when it was launching massive bombing raids on Cambodia in 1972.

This series, which the artist considers one of his first significant works, also marks his political radicalisation, after his elder sister had familiarised him with feminism.

A member of the SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) since 1965, the USA's post-colonial war against Vietnam was a major factor in the politicisation and radicalisation of hundreds of thousands of students, including this young art teacher at the brand new University of California, San Diego. Among the students at UCSD were Angela Davis, and among his Marxist colleagues, Herbert Marcuse and Fredric Jameson. The first, having fled Nazi Germany, was associated with the Frankfurt School of critical theory, while the second was an analyst of cultural trends in their economic and political aspects, bringing him close to the pioneers of "Cultural Studies".

So, for Fred Lonidier, the term "art" makes no sense unless it is rooted in its historical, political, social and economic soil. In this sense, the historic avant-gardes of the early twentieth century and more specifically the Soviet constructivists are a reference for the artist, since they clearly aimed to change society through their artistic activities. Other influences we can mention are the Marxist artist John Heartfield and above all the playwright Bertolt Brecht.

In the early 70s, Fred Lonidier found himself at UCSD among an informal group of teachers including Phel Steinmetz, and students including Martha Rosler and Allan Sekula, determined to do away with the myth of the documentary photography of the kind espoused by Dorothea Lange and Walker Evans – of a history of depression-era America that had over time been completely emptied of its political edge to become an object of photographic history, in other words a museum piece.

They wanted to formulate a new art of documentary making and they turned to the most contemporary form of the avant-garde: conceptual art. But unlike their colleagues on the east coast, such as Joseph Kosuth and Lawrence Weiner who perpetuated the notion of the autonomy of the art object cultivated by the painters of the New York School then by the minimalists, they used written text and photography to load them with social and political content.

In the STRIKE exhibition at the CpG, following the 29 ARRESTS series and DRAFT RESISTANCE, also reporting on a demonstration against the US war in Vietnam, this time in Seattle (where Allan Sekula would produce WAITING FOR TEAR GAS in 1999), you will see the series VACATION VILLAGE TRADE SHOW : A MATERIAL PIECE. In the spirit of conceptual art, with a feminist theme, it looks at the machismo of photographic sessions with models posing in bikinis in public gardens, organised for any amateur photographers prepared to pay $20, highlighting, as did the advertising of the period, male dominance in adverts by manufacturers of cameras and photographic objectives.

Although the militancy in Fred Lonidier's art began with series related to the anti-war movement that numbered up to 750,000 activists across the country, with 100,000 students members of the SDS in 1968, and feminism is to the fore in VACATION VILLAGE TRADE SHOW: A MATERIAL PIECE or WEDDING (presented at the CPG in the form of Dia projection), the most important part of the artist's work, and also his most radical position, came in the 80s and after.

The radical nature of Fred Lonidier's approach does not consist only of turning away from traditional art venues, especially in the 80s, by moving into community centres, bookshops and union halls, and even going as far as to take a semi-trailer truck to factories, as he did to show the NAFTA series. He also makes a radical change on an aesthetic level by adopting forms of popular culture, from the tabloid press to popular advertising leaflets – the chief reading matter of the working classes. Fred Lonidier no longer applies the position of the historic avant-garde who insisted that the everyday should be raised to the highest level (de Stijl, Bauhaus, etc); instead, he uses the forms familiar to those he wishes to see emancipated.

NAFTA will therefore also be the most important piece in the STRIKE exhibition. The 22 panels comprising photographs and text dating from 1997 to 2006, are a call to the men and women workers of the Maquiladoras on either side of the Mexico/United States border. With his artistic work, Fred Lonidier not only led a counter information campaign on the trade treaty between the two American nations called the North American Free Trade Agreement – which in militant language becomes Not A Fair Trade – but is also a call to this very cheap labour force to unionise and defend its rights.

Another part of his work strongly marked by trade union activism will be shown in the Salle des Pas Perdu at the UN in Geneva from 10 July to 21 August 2015. This is a campaign on behalf of trade unionism that Fred Lonidier launched in 1983 under the title I LIKE EVERYTHING NOTHING BUT UNION in a political landscape in the USA in which the left had been completely decimated by the hard-line neo-liberal conservatives who embarked, with England under Maggie Thatcher, on a dismantling of the welfare state that endures vehemently today in western countries.

CpG opening hours: Tues-Sun, 11am-6pm

Palais des Nations opening hours: Mon-Fri, free admission by reservation (tel: 022

The Fred Lonidier – Strike! exhibition will be held at 5 different venues: •Centre de la photographie Genève, from 12 June to 30 August 2015 •Istituto Svizzero di Roma, from 6 June to 19 September 2015 •UN, Palais des Nations, Salle des Pas Perdus, Geneva, from 10 July to 21 August 2015 •CLAP - Camere del Lavoro Autonomo e Precario, Rome, from 28 May to 6 July 2015 •Zürcher Hochschule der Künste (ZHdK), from September 2015 to June 2016

 

The Fred Lonidier – Strike! exhibition is supported by: The USA Mission to the United Nations Geneva Volkart Stiftung


Exhibition view

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