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CRIS BRUCH’S ROLLER ROASTER, ON WHICH HE COOKED ONIONS OUTSIDE TONY RESTAURANTS


for the show’s proud labor-union quilts made from T-shirts, Jason Simon’s funny-sad video of the addictive con- sumer Vera (2003), and Cris Bruch’s Roller Roaster (1985), a shopping cart laden with cooking utensils and a grill on which he roasted onions to hand out on streets near chic restaurants. In the photograph series Rich and Poor (1979– 85) by Jim Goldberg, captions handwrit- ten by the photo sub- jects expose sharp class divisions: “We don’t want to be part of the masses. We want to live


ON THE HEELS OF THE


GREAT RECESSION, “THIS IS SOMETHING WE ALL NEED TO BE ENGAGING WITH.”


with style!” stands in contrast, for in- stance, with “No money means living in the pits.” And Irving Norman’s Meeting of the Elders 3 (1977), a large oil painting, offers a vision of capitalism wherein the greedy “haves” thrive by exploiting the “have-nots.” Like many works in the show, it is both visually compelling and emotionally unsettling. Weber says, “Some will find the show controversial—hopefully. The system is not working for a lot of people, and


that’s very hard for Americans to think about, regardless of their income.” Com- ing on the heels of the recent Great Re- cession—after which, says Odekon, “class divisions became sharper and sharper”—the show’s development took on increased relevance. Seligman says, “There is a feeling in the air right now that this is something we all need to be engaging with, and the large numbers of courses that have been working with the show suggest that our faculty are feeling it too.” Classless Society has


been a required “text” in many first-year Scribner Seminars, was slated for the syl- labus of Casey’s seminar “Class in Ameri- can Culture” for the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program, and inspired theater students to develop American Collisions and perform it within the ex- hibition in October.


Certainly no student has explored it more thoroughly than art major Joe Klockowski ’14. He spent last summer working with the Tang’s video specialist


Vickie Riley to develop the show’s online feature, blending essays, charted data, and powerful audio and video clips com- piled during a “Classless Society Stories” project. He found the interactive Web- site development challenging and deeply affecting. “I think the poignancy of the content is the most important as- pect,” he says. “There were too many moments where I was taken aback.” Coming into it, he explains, “I thought I knew a bit about the extreme inequality in the American classes, but I was con- stantly surprised by the actual reality.” So while there are plenty of graphs and charts, it is the human factor, as re- vealed in the numbers, in the myths ex- plored and exploded, and in the varied artworks that leaves a lasting impres- sion. Odekon’s hope was that people from across the economic spectrum would view the exhibition, “come out feeling they have something in com- mon,” and then think and talk about what class means in American society today and what the future may hold for the American dream. —KG


WINTER 2014 SCOPE 5


YALE UNIVERSITY ART GALLERY, JANET AND SIMEON BRAUGIN FUND


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