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The Design of Dissent
SVA Gallery
209 East 23rd Street
Through July 2

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It's difficult to visit "The Design of Dissent" and not feel fired up to protest, provoke, and inflame. The exhibit, showcasing political posters and ephemera from the '60s to the present, is by turns angry and grotesque; all things grisly and gory feature heavily here (sample titles: Pentagon: Bloody Red; Blood Bath 2002.) Of these, the scene-stealer is Copper Greene's iRaq—last year's iPod spoof that swapped the groovin' silhouettes for horrifying Abu Ghraib imagery, complete with the tagline "10,000 volts in your pocket, guilty or innocent." Nearby, an image of a handgun painstakingly crafted out of fast-food french fries hangs across from a grinning George W. photomosaic built from images of fallen soldiers. Sure, it's a little heavy-handed—but the purpose of the exhibit isn't to offer delicate nuance; the goal of this politically charged graphic art is to draw us to the ugliness that we don't want to face ourselves, and then circle it, highlight it, and write big exclamation points around it. That said, the most moving piece amid all the blood-spattered iconography is a Serbian cosmetics ad depicting a statuesque woman wearing two bullet belts loaded with lipsticks in a rainbow of colors. The title, of course, is "Make Up, Not War."

 
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