Dan S. Wang

Committee for the Equitable Redistribution of Violence, 2020
48 x 20 x 18 (+solo live performer)
mixed media and performance

Working on a project about the long shadow of the distant past in a time when the present is heaving with possibilities, and possibly not for the better, is disorienting to say the least. The pandemic has already shifted my fixations having to do with this particular past, i.e. the French Revolution. Whereas I began with the problem of a present shackled to a past, now I wonder again about the event that ruptures time, that reopens the imagination (but, in our situation, maybe not restaurants and hair salons). Siting my project in our front yard has by itself forced a different perspective—not that our homebound weeks didn’t. Still, I think the elasticity of art can help us process the many angles, both historical and contemporary, that will determine our shared future recently made deeply uncertain.

Artist Statement
The actors of the French Revolution made political speech into a primary medium of conflict and in the process laid the foundation for modern political culture. With twenty-first century democracies in perpetual crises, incapable of solving their own problems, never was there a better time to excavate the speeches of the French Revolution, to put the original weaponized words to contemporary voice. Committee for the Equitable Redistribution of Violence is a work from the early phase of this project. It focuses on the words of Robespierre, the most notorious of the revolutionary leaders, feared by his enemies and adored by the Jacobin-led masses. Performance at the top and bottom of the hour. Language sourced from the compendium of Robespierre’s speeches, Virtue and Terror (Verso, 2007).

Dan S. Wang/王念華 writes and makes art about social movement concerns and political conditions. His writings have been published internationally, including the collaborative book The Social Practice That Is Race co-authored with Anthony Romero, published by Wooden Leg Press, and the critical essay “In the Back of the Beyond” in Global Activism from MIT Press, co-authored with Sarah Lewison. Currently suspended exhibitions include a presentation of more than 80 works from twenty years of letterpress printing at the Darling Foundry of Montreal. He lives in Los Angeles and is a resident artist at 18th Street Arts Complex in Santa Monica.