Shen Wei is included in group exhibition From the Margins at Gallery 102 at the Corcoran School for the Arts & Design, Washington DC.
2019 marks thirty years since the cancellation of The Perfect Moment: Photographs of Robert Mapplethorpe at the Corcoran Gallery of Art following complaints from the American Family Council, Republican Senator Jesse Helms, and others regarding the inclusion of male nudity and homoerotic visual themes in the exhibition. From The Margins invites us to examine the history of representation in light of Mapplethorpe's legacy. The show brings together 16 artists who both take up and refuse Mapplethorpe’s ethos in the service of making space and considers the importance of filling in the gaps in our visual vocabulary, challenging the viewer to reconsider the legacy of representing those on the margins and the role of critique.
Drawing inspiration from Glenn Ligon's Notes On the Margins of the Black Book in which photographs from Mapplethorpe’s infamous Black Book are paired with texts taken from writers such as Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin, and Zora Neale Hurston, as well as quotes from everyday patrons to New York City bars and clubs. In his response to Mapplethorpe, Ligon reveals the inextricability of identity, race, sex, history, and politics. From the Margins views Ligon’s work as critique, but more specifically critique as care. Works on view such as Naima Green’s Pur·suit updates Catherine Opie’s Dyke Deck to better reflect lived queer experiences of today, with 54 card-sized portraits of queer womxn, trans, non-binary, and gender nonconforming people.
From the Margins speaks to the function of critique, the authority of public reception, and the spectacularization of an artist into a mythos. Critique is presented without the condemnation of finality but rather as a form of care and collaboration.
In addition to the sixteen artists on view, From the Margins includes a resource library and a fully illustrated catalog with over ten contributors.
Exhibiting Artists: Peter Clough, John Edmonds, Benjamin Fredrickson, Naima Green, Florian Hetz, Sara Lusitano, Carlos Motta, Matthew Papa, John Paradiso, Luis Alberto Rodriguez, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Stanley Stellar, Matt Storm, Gerardo Vizmanos, Shen Wei, and Shikeith.