The exhibition Clapping with Stones is a chilling reminder that the history of art is also the history of power.
A resplendent display of 272 fuchsia-colored paper lotus lanterns adorns the light-filled oculus on The Rubin Museum of Art’s top floor. The sweeping circular installation, “Lotus: Zone of Zero” (2019) by Kimsooja, is among the more striking of the works by 10 international artists selected by guest curator Sara Raza for the exhibition Clapping with Stones: Art and Acts of Resistance.
Raza’s show, while addressing the far-reaching effects of Western neoliberal imperialism, focuses more on the remedial nature of artistic resistance, and even celebrates it. The lotus flower, an iconic Buddhist motif prevalent throughout Asia, symbolizes enlightenment and rebirth. The flower grows in the mud, emerging from it perfect and whole. For a world in the grip of seismic political, social, and ecological upheavals, it’s an uplifting metaphor.
Like Kimsooja, the artists in the show come from everywhere and live, mostly, elsewhere. Kimsooja was born in South Korea. Shahpour Pouyan, in Iran. Nari Ward, in Jamaica. Pallavi Paul, in India. Hank Willis Thomas, in the United States. Lida Abdul, in Afghanistan. Nadia Kaabi-Linke, in Tunisia. Naiza Khan, in Pakistan. Kader Attia, in France. Ibrahim Qureshi, in Kenya.