Exhibition Review by Bridget Fairbank
Activist Ink was mounted at the Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery in 2013
Upon entering the gallery once one’s eyes survey the room, one naturally examines the bright and jarring optimistic work of Emily Davidson. Located on her allotted wall is a conglomerate of brightly lettered hand letter-pressed posters proclaiming slogans such as, “ Capitalism has fallen. Art Must be redefined”, “Everything we need is already here” and “Share Power”.
Posters more akin to flyers are also apparent calling for meetings or gatherings such as the one, “Calling all harvesters!” asking “Willing workers wanted to share the labour & Yield of fall harvest”.
It becomes apparent upon reading the text that this is a call to action for a new sort of society.
“In the form of letterpress posters, pamphlets and other ephemera, Davidson’s militantly analogue printed matter advocates alternative forms of social organization in a future, post-capitalist era” (MSVU, Activist). One must muse over what actions could end capitalism a way of life that many movements, regimes and artists have tried to topple many a time.
Emily explains that she, “wanted to make a body of work that spoke to the possibility that capitalism isn’t the only system that will ever be” she thinks “one of the ways capitalism is most limiting to our imagination is that [we think] that it’s either capitalism or the apocalypse” (Lindsay) and so we read that these are posters for a post apocalyptic world. Davidson wants, “people to be able to see themselves in [the presented time], to imagine how we might get there … It allows the viewer to imagine that this could happen in the near future” (Lindsay), “this” being a post-modern utopia.
Artists are activists in Davidson’s imagined post-apocalyptic utopia. They function as the base communicators for action, a role Davidson plays in the making of this work. The posters asks us to act this way now, to avoid the apocalypse.
Emily Davidson (Halifax, NS) is an artist, worker and activist currently living in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Born under prairie skies Emily Davidson moved east to attend NSCAD University (BFA ’09). Emily was trained as a printmaker and currently works as a freelance graphic designer and letterpress printer. Her artistic practice includes have using social practice to engage with non-artists within the artistic spheres; using puppetry and performance art to activate public spaces; using printmaking to create agitational propaganda; and researching radical histories and engaging with nostalgic tendencies to critique of the notion of progress.
Davidson is now at the in Brooklyn doing a residency at theBrooklyn City Lab.