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Arnold and Sheila Aronson Gallery
Sheila C. Johnson Design Center

A living archive of creative and critical responses to the Occupy Wall Street movement by THE NEW SCHOOL community.

Quiet Riots

Sam Hancocks

Quiet Riot is a relational sculpture by Sam Hancocks in response to Occupy Wall Street.

In its sculptural element, the work comprises five transparent Perspex riot shields ordered from a Chinese manufacturer, Suzhou Stone-tech Co Ltd, and displayed hanging against the gallery wall in the format of traditional art objects. To this end, the work seeks to consider the aesthetic elements of the shields, situating them somewhere between objects of beauty and objects of function, drawing into question the usefulness of art and the aesthetics of revolution.

In its relational element, the work includes the history of transactions and eventual purchase from Suzhou, China via the website that brought it into being. In this way, the work raises the material possibilities for change introduced by the advent of the internet, whether in making riot shields previously reserved to the access of nation states by reducing the need for economies of scale, or in the physical acts of protest making up the global Occupy movement.

The work was previously displayed at ‘Brand New value’, Personal Best gallery in Auckland, New Zealand from 17 November to 3 December 2011.

“Sam Hancocks runs Visual Aids, an evolving online anthology of images and videos that looks at consumerism and the seductive sheen of global capitalism. (It is a wee bit like Jahjahsphinx.) Like a magazine it is astutely put together so you can read the connecting sequences in a specific order. However in Brand New Value Hancocks contributes a group of police riot shields made of curved Perspex so they are transparent and reflect the contents of the small room. He has installed fluorescent lighting at the bottom of the gallery wall so (I think) the tubes refer to the ambient light from computer monitors. Each shield looks like two screens stacked vertically. Subtle stuff.”

From ‘Straddling Material and Immaterial Worlds’ by John Hurrell, 1 December 2011 (