City Gallery City Gallery Wellington


Iconography of Revolt

28 July–18 November 2018

General Entry


Revolutionary politics and hip style seem poles apart. We think of revolutionaries as sincere, serious, and rebellious, and aesthetes as frivolous, superficial, and complicit. But what happens when revolution and style dance: when stylists look to politics for an edge and when the revolution needs a brand? Iconography of Revolt considers this interface, asking: politics and aesthetics, politics or aesthetics?

The show looks to history, to Varvara Stepanova’s Bolshevik sportswear from the 1920s and Emory Douglas’s Black Panther poster art from the late 1960s and 1970s. It also features Johan Grimonprez’s​ notorious 1997 collage documentary Dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y, which chronicles the history of airplane hijacking just a few years before 9/11.

Two key contemporary artists are Australian. Marco Fusinato offers minimalist-decor treatments of classic riot photos and a designer remake of an historic art-protest banner. Jemima Wyman explores camouflage and masks, citing the Zapatistas, Occupy, and Anonymous.

Clothes play a key role, with Pussy Riot's balaclavas and London fashion label Maharishi's promotional videos for their collections​, 'Viet-Afghan Coalition' and 'Post-Geographic Devotional Uniform and Habits: Part II​​'.

Also featured: Jean-Luc Godard, Giovanni Intra and Michael Parekōwhai, Oliver Maxwell, Dane Mitchell, and others.​