Philly art exhibit celebrates 'shithole countries'
An exhibition from the Le Chapeau Project, titled "Shitholes," will be held in Philadelphia in reaction to comments made by President Donald Trump earlier this year.
Words have consequences, especially when said by influential public figures and the most powerful political leaders.
Take for example the now notorious meeting at the White House in January 2018, when lawmakers suggested creating a bipartisan immigration deal protecting immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and African countries. In response, President Donald Trump asked, “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?"
Reports of Trump's question caused a widespread backlash. Many politicians, public officials, celebrities, and average citizens condemned the president's remark, which also alienated people from those nations as well as other foreign countries.
The entire ordeal inspired the Le Chapeau Project, an organization which curates and organizes ephemeral exhibitions around the world, to host a free one-day-only art gallery in Philadelphia.
The exhibit, titled “Shitholes,” aims to promote emerging and unknown contemporary artists not often showcased in typical galleries while challenging the current negative narratives that surround many nations across the globe.
Founders Fatène Ben-Hamza of Casablanca, Morocco, and Steve Garguilo, who lives in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, put the exhibit together as a way to actively respond to what’s going on in the world.
“We’re doing this in an effort to say hats off [“chapeau” is French for “hat”] to the various individuals, groups and organizations that are doing interesting things in the world of art,” Garguilo said.
Le Chapeau hopes to use the art gallery to highlight the many things that people from different countries worldwide have to offer, and various forms of art— visual, spoken, performing — are some of those things.
“We know there are so many remarkable people from these countries, and we wanted to give them a chance to showcase their talents,” Garguilo said.
The exhibit will showcase contemporary artists from more than a dozen countries, including Brazil, Guatemala, Haiti, Kenya, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Rwanda, Tanzania, Tunisia and Uganda.
When the idea came to fruition, Garguilo said, organizers knew they definitely wanted to hold the exhibition in the United States because of the diversity that exists in the country. While New York and Los Angeles were both appealing, the decision to choose Philadelphia as the host held even more symbolic value to what the Le Chapeau Project is aiming to do.
“It’s the city of Brotherly Love, the first capital of the United States, and the only UNESCO World Heritage City,” Garguilo said. “So it made it, in our minds, the perfect spot.”
The exhibit will also provide the chance for local Philly artists to showcase their personal artwork. Garguilo added that he is very excited to meet with as many people from the city as possible.
The idea for it being just a one-day event, Garguilo said, is to draw more attention and focus to the specific subject the organization is promoting.
“It creates urgency and immediacy,” Garguilo said. While the event only lasts a day, some of the artwork may remain in the city for a while longer for people to enjoy.
The event will take on Friday, September 28, 2018, at The Adrienne Theater from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Live musical and artistic performances are from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. The exhibit will give the audience the chance to get a better glimpse of what these artists and their countries of origin are really all about, and the hope is that a diverse mix of people will attend.
Entry is free and open to the public; however, Le Chapeau Project will be accepting donations in hopes to help provide support to the Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition (PICC), Philadelphia immigrants, refugees and the sanctuary movement.
"We want to get the word out," Garguilo said. "We want to see any and everyone join us."