event · Through July 17

Waiting for Tear Gas

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?


Philadelphia Museum of Art
2600 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy
Philadelphia, PA 19130 US