Language in Times of Miscommunication opened March 4th at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary art. The show is curated by Lauren O’Connell, the museum’s curator of contemporary art, with the support of Kesha Turley. The exhibition includes the most recent iteration of my installation, Possibilities for Representation, that I began work on over three years ago. It spans a period of time that includes a pandemic and Joe Biden’s defeat of Donald Trump in the 2020 election.
The exhibition brings together the work of 18 artists whose work addresses the role perception plays in the reception of information. It’s an ambitious show that pushes back against dismissive labels like ‘political art’ with a range of works that engage subjectivity and how viewers or audiences may construct meaning, perhaps differently than intended by any individual author. The speed with which words, phrases, and are coopted and appropriated by the right highlights the mutability of language to function as a political symbol.
The show was recently reviewed by Lynn Trimble for Hyperallergic who observed “William Powhida’s “Possibilities for Representation” (2020–ongoing), an expansive watercolor and gouache installation comprising a timeline of the United States’ political history and several imagined futures, speaks to the existence of propaganda across time with an elegant mix of history and humor, conveyed in part through images culled from the overlapping realms of politics and pop culture.”
My installation shares a gallery with York Chang, Christopher Jagmin, April Bey, Jenny Holzer, and Safwat Saleem among the artists included in the exhibition. If you are in the area this excellent group show is currently on view in Scottsdale, AZ until August 27th and well worth a visit. A catalog is currently available for pre-order and curator Lauren O’Connell has written an extensive and insightful essay that provides far more context for all the artists' work.
I’m grateful to Lauren O’Connell and the museum for providing me the space and time to produce the latest version of Possibilities. Further documentation of all of the paintings included in the installation will be available soon. This is an exhibition that I would love to see travel in 2024 as we enter another election cycle in times of constant and intentional miscommunication.
Installation views of Language in Times of Miscommunication at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA), March 4 – August 27, 2023. Photo: David Blakeman
Pictured: William Powhida’s Possibilities for Representation (Variation 6), York Chang’s Factograph Series, Christopher Jagmin’s I Will Sleep Tonight (center) and April Bey’s Your Progress (left). Safwat Saleem’s Concerned but Powerless #1 - #22