Richmond is a hotbed of social rest. Or at least, that description is sometimes invoked and variously attributed to either native writer Tom Wolfe or broadcaster Tom Brokaw. At any rate, that may have once been true. Not as much now. You can see and judge for yourself in a Gallery 5 and Richmond Independent Zine Library exhibition called “Richmond Resists.” It’s on view through Feb. 25.
Zines and artifacts in Richmond Independent Zine Library, housed inside Gallery5 (Photo courtesy Gallery5)
In the present season of political upheaval, there is a sense of anxiety, not just in Richmond or Washington, D.C., but throughout the world. A few weeks ago, I was in Paris at the Jeu de Paume to experience a two-level, multimedia exhibition about art’s reaction to civil unrest and social movements. The massive and emotionally draining presentation took the visitor through some 200 years of injustice, protest and reprisal. You can read about this overview by artist and writer Adam Turl here.
Here in Richmond, Gallery5 curator Claude Marin Dustin Fenton with Celina Williams organized a show of art, artifacts, zines and paraphernalia collected from local activists, protests and resistance movements past and present. The items come from the collections of groups including the All the Saints Theater Company, the Richmond Peace Education Center, Virginia River Healers, and Rag & Bones.
Fenton says that a loose call for submissions went out in early November around the time of the elections. “Celina and I were talking about what to put in the gallery for the next show. We really wanted to do something that reflected the feeling of the times.”
Howard Zinn lives, in puppet form, created by the All The Saints Theater Co. (Photo courtesy Gallery5)
The oldest items in the display cases are mid-1960s issues of Richmond’s first modern anti-establishment newspaper, The Sunflower. All The Saints gave a puppet of historian and activist Howard Zinn, who is perhaps best known for his effort to address gaps and lapses in the standard version of U.S. history, “A People’s History of the United States."
“Being kind of archival in mindset, but also in a gallery space, we wanted to give an historical perspective, but also with an artistic bent,” Fenton says. The Richmond Independent Zine Library is presenting a curated collection of resistance-related zines on the browsing shelves.
“There’s really no two ways about it,” Fenton says. She explains that for many people, the current political situation isn’t just disappointing, it’s actually frightening. “And we wanted to reflect that.”
Gallery5 hours are Wednesdays 4 to 10 p.m. and Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., or by appointment.