City Gallery

Past exhibition

Iconography of Revolt

28 July–18 November 2018

ARTISTS Michelangelo Antonioni, Emory Douglas, Marco Fusinato, Jean-Luc Godard, Johan Grimonprez, Giovanni Intra and Michael Parekōwhai, James McTiegue, Marharishi, Oliver Maxwell, Dane Mitchell, Monash University, Muslimgauze, Pussy Riot, Varvara Stepanova, Michael Stevenson, Rosemarie Trockel, Jemima Wyman CURATOR Robert Leonard


Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.
—attributed to Denis Diderot, c.1840

Humanity won’t be happy till the last capitalist is hung with the guts of the last bureaucrat.
—Occupation Committee of the People’s Free Sorbonne University, 16 May 1968


Iconography of Revolt showcases some of the ways revolt and revolution, protest and insurrection, have been pictured in art, film, and elsewhere, from the Bolsheviks to the Black Panthers to Pussy Riot, from the barricades to the catwalk. It asks how images of revolt challenge us, but also how they have been absorbed into culture.

The show excavates history, from Varvara Stepanova’s Bolshevik sportswear and theatre costumes from the 1920s to Emory Douglas’s Black Panther newspaper graphics from the late 1960s and early 1970s. It also features Belgian artist Johan Grimonprez’s harrowing collage documentary, Dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y (1997), which explores the romantic heyday of airplane-hijacking revolutionaries through the eyes of the media.

Australian artist Marco Fusinato creates industrial enlargements of news photos of the decisive moment in riots, when a protagonist brandishes a rock against a backdrop of fire. He also invites well-known graphic designers to update a historic protest banner in their own distinct styles.

Dress code is crucial. Los Angeles-based artist Jemima Wyman explores the rhetoric of camouflage and masks, via the Zapatistas and Anonymous. In their trademark balaclavas, Russian punk band Pussy Riot are whipped by Cossack security guards at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, while attempting to sing ‘Putin Will Teach You How to Love the Motherland’. Plus, there’s a promotional video for the London fashion label Maharishi’s 2015 ‘Viet-Afghan Coalition Tour’ collection.