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Sotheby’s Institute of Art is proud to present Radical Roots: A Global Conversation. This exhibition examines how governments and society have employed oppressive tactics — such as censorship, surveillance, but also overall discourses that other — to suppress dissent, alienate differences, and ultimately, lead to discrimination.

“Radical simply means ‘grasping things at the root’.” - Angela Davis

The artists featured employ a variety of media and techniques — from paintings and drawings to digital media installations, performance pieces, and 3-dimensional works — to create dialogue on a range of varying activist themes developed throughout.

Radical Roots builds on the concept of art as a form of activism against underlying systemic and outright governmental oppression. From modern revolutionaries to their ancient cultural counterparts, artists have long been on the front lines in the fight for equality and justice. This exhibition seeks to introspect the (in)justice system in the United States, with a particular focus on the victims of mass incarceration and the immigrant experience, which is often tainted by xenophobia and racism. Radical Roots also provides a global perspective that delves into artistic creations emanating from China during the bleak COVID lockdown. Through these myriad examples, viewers are invited to investigate the nuanced experiences of oppression that differ in their details, appearances, and geographical locations but are all too similar in their injustice and inequity.

By exploring how this group of twelve artists utilize their art to challenge oppressive measures, this exhibition highlights the intersectionality of art and activism while demonstrating how visual expression can be a powerful tool for social change and resistance. Through our diverse list of artists, a variety of visual displays, historical perspectives, and personal stories, we strive to create an environment that is inclusive, educational, and meaningful. This exhibition is curated by Ricki Blakesberg, Amanda Garcia, Helen Yixuan Han, Manuela Sanchez, and Dong-Peng Wang.

Prinston Nnanna, T R A V E L (2023)
Mark Loughney, FIGHT. DONT. FIGHT (2023)
Kang Li, Mask No.2 (2021)
Yinglun Dai, Cultivation (2023)
Victoria Martínez, Puzzle Piece 101 (2023)
Halim Flowers, Not for Cell (2) (2023)
Prinston Nnanna, Dad Missed My Birthday(s) (2023)

Regular Hours: Tuesday, April 25 - Monday, May 1, 9AM - 5PM EST
Please email to RSVP

Location: Sotheby's Institute of Art, 570 Lexington Avenue, 6th Floor, New York, NY, 10022