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Waiting for Tear Gas

March 12–July 17, 2022

The act of collectively expressing political dissent has long appealed to artists for a variety of reasons. Protests contain moments of both great intensity and periodic stillness. They highlight chaotic masses as well as exemplary individuals. And perhaps most importantly for artists, they can be a catalyst that unites their aesthetic and political commitments.

This installation offers many different visual interpretations of political protests, with works spanning from 1913 to 2017 and a geographic scope that runs from Philadelphia to Tokyo.

The centerpiece is Allan Sekula’s slideshow Waiting for Tear Gas [white globe to black], which invites viewers to confront his depiction of Seattle’s massive antiglobalization protests of 1999. The work addresses many of the most salient questions that face artists engaging with the theme of protest: How to encapsulate an ever-evolving moment? How to distill a communal expression into an image? Do I choose to be a participant or merely an observer? And where, ultimately, do my sympathies lie?

Main Building


Waiting for Tear Gas has been made possible by the Lois G. and Julian A. Brodsky Installation and Exhibition Fund.


Samuel Ewing, former Horace W. Goldsmith Curatorial Fellow in Photography

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