Of Human Bondage

Image: Untitled, 2011, Eleni Lyra

at the Anya and Andrew Shiva Gallery

John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY

860 11 Avenue New York, NY 10019


February 17, 2015 from 5:30-7:30pm


February 17th, 2015 through April 3rd, 2015

Curated by Dr. Thalia Vrachopoulos



The title of this show is inspired by W. Somerset Maugham’s 1915 novel much of which is autobiographical and in turn, was based on Part IV of Spinoza’s Ethics. Also subtitled Strength of Emotions it is about humanity’s lack of control that can result in a type of enslavement. Perhaps the most destructive of these emotions is the drive for profit which is to a large extent responsible for people’s inhumanity to each other.

Exploitation occurs in multiple ways and in a variety of different industries, this exhibition highlights one small part of that experience, which is exploitation within the sex trade. It is a basic human rights violation that results in the commodification of humans. The victims can span all ages and gender identities orphaned, runaways, and others marginalized by poverty, documentation status, and structural inequity.

Individuals who are exploited through force, fraud and coercion in the sex industry are just one small part of the larger portrait of global inequity. Structural forces such as documentation issues, racial and ethnic barriers, discrimination against trans* and gender non-conforming individuals, and the many ways people face criminalization and poverty make individuals vulnerable to exploitative situations. Trafficking occurs when another exploits those vulnerabilities, whether through the sex trade or other industries. Even within the course of one person’s experience, they may move through multiple trafficking situations in domestic work, factory labor, hospitality, or agriculture.

The five artists in this show Steven Cavallo, Eleni Lyra, Yiannis Christakos, Angelo Gavrias and Photini Papahatzi explore their feelings on the subject of trafficking into the sex trade. Some of their works deal directly with the subject as do Cavallo’s, Gavrias’ or Papahatzi’s while others comment on the topic in a subtler more abstract way as do Christakos and Lyras. Continue reading


Alexandre Dang Installation/Interview

John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York, NYC proudly presents Dancing Solar Flowers an exhibition of Alexandre Dang’s ongoing environmental installation as part of John Jay’s 50th Anniversary celebration.

Dang’s scientific educational background informs his Dancing Flowers that are light driven installations raising awareness about sustainable ecological developments. These kinetic paper flowers use solar energy as their power to move, and as they appear applied to the glass facing the Jay Walk, they not only echo the natural backdrop outside thus bringing the outdoor environment indoors, but they also bring joy to everyone viewing them. Continue reading

Assenting Voices: Agitprop Art from North Korea

Image by Cheol Ung Hong “Woman” , 2012

Assenting Voices: Agitprop Art from North Korea.

at the Anya and Andrew Shiva Gallery
John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY
860  11 Avenue
New York, NY 10019

November 12, 2014
from 5:30-7:30pm

November 12th, 2014 through January 23rd, 2015

Assenting Voices: Agitprop Art from North Korea is of seminal importance being one of a few exhibitions of its kind in the west to show formerly inaccessible North Korean art. The paintings and posters in this show feature celebrations of the North Korean regime and its Juche (Self-Reliance) philosophy. Consequently, and because of the morphological and political similarity of the works it is up to the viewer to surpass what is obvious to discern the underlying message. When the Korean art scholar Jane Portal recently visited an exhibition of North Korean Art in Vienna, she asserted “we’ve seen it all in terms of totalitarian societies.” “But” she continued, “this is the last bastion of this kind of thinking that’s bound to disappear. That’s why it’s so important for it to be seen and collected for posterity.”

The depiction of didactic subjects containing pageants, smiling children, hymn-singing youths, street and domestic scenes, upbeat girls and marching men are typical subjects of artists trained in North Korea in propaganda art defined by the government’s needs. This type of vernacular art as was also the case in the Soviet Union remains the paradigm for Socialist Realism in North Korea. In its dramatic, monumental scaled, message-laden tenor this art is meant to arouse comradery firing up as it does nationalistic fervor for the ultimate purpose of the Korean reunification, to maintain order and loyalty to the government and to the revolutionary struggle, and to show the superiority and independence of North Koreans. Cultural expression is part of everyday life and Art Propaganda squads go to the provinces to cheer on workers with songs and poetry and to congratulate them for their creativity as well as to inspire them towards ever greater successes especially during so called ‘speed battles’ meant to increase production. Continue reading