Taking its impetus from the global refugee crisis, this sweeping survey explores how artists from around the world have responded to stories of rootlessness. With work by 75 individuals on show, spanning the early 20th century to the present day, this is an expanded version of ‘Restless Earth’, an exhibition that took place at the Triennale in Milan in 2017. Find out more from the Phillips Collection’s website.
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At the onset of the Great Depression in the early 1930s, Dorothea Lange took to the streets with her camera; the resulting photographs brought national attention to the plight of the suddenly destitute across the southern US, drawing comparisons to Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath. Lange continued to cast a political eye over American society in the decades to come; this work from 1942 captures an expression of the pro-US jingoism that followed the Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbour.
Since 2015 – the year Donald Trump made his campaign-trail promise to erect a wall along the 2,000-mile length of the US-Mexico border – the photojournalist Griselda San Martin has been working on a project to document families separated across the national divide by immigration status. This image depicts the fence at Friendship Park; located between San Diego and Tijuana, this is the border’s only official bi-national meeting place.
The brightly coloured figurative canvases of American painter Aliza Nisenbaum explore what the artist has termed the ‘politics of visibility’ – the ways that society represents people of different cultural backgrounds. This painting, which depicts the members of the Women’s Cabinet at New York’s office of immigration, offers a counterpoint to the exhibition’s prevailing concern with rootlessness by presenting a vision of cultural integration.
Liu Xiaodong’s paintings of the modern world manage to be at once expansive and intimate, homing in on moments of personal connection and asserting the interrelatedness of cultures. This three metre-wide canvas places the viewer squarely in the midst of a group of refugees, huddled together beneath a blanket in a coastal village.