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Lordy Rodriguez: Polar Democracy
October 17, 2020 - November 25, 2020Free
Twenty-four years ago, Lordy Rodriguez (b. 1976, Quezon City, Philippines) started using a visual lexicon of map-based forms as metaphors for defining an individual’s position within a culture or society. For his sixth solo exhibition at Hosfelt Gallery, Rodriguez utilizes this ever-developing, cartography-inspired vocabulary to ruminate on issues about the immutable appeal of democracy and its very precarious existence.
Like many of us, Rodriguez is a news junky— fixated on unfolding stories of unequal access to resources; the violent quelling of peaceful demonstrations in Hong Kong, Minsk and Washington D.C.; and governments that murder journalists, poison political rivals or enact laws to disenfranchise their citizenry. The work in this exhibition — two new bodies of large-scale drawings — focuses on the bravery inherent in demanding a place at the table.
The first series memorializes historic and contemporary efforts at peaceful demonstration. These include the 1930 Salt March, led by Mohandas Gandhi challenging British rule over India; the Langa March of 1960, in which between 30,000 and 50,000 demonstrators marched in opposition to apartheid; the 1965 civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery; and recent pro-democracy protests against Mainland China’s oppression in Hong Kong. In Rodriguez’s cartographic lexicon, these routes are “code-switched” in candy-colored references to race and oppression.
The second group of drawings represents efforts by those in power to manipulate the boundaries of voting districts in order to favor a political party or racial group, thereby diminishing the voting power and political voice of others. While researching these gerrymandered districts, his very personal “ah-ha moment” came when he realized many of them were districts in which members of his large and far-flung, Filipino-American family live — states like Texas and Florida with large immigrant populations.The pieces in this series represent some of the most egregious examples of voter suppression as well as districts in which activists and courts have compelled boundaries to be re-drawn in ways that are more equitable.