Since its inception as a public art center 75 years ago, the Walker has never shied away from challenging art or “unsafe” ideas. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s artists across the United States found themselves working through a battleground of polarizing issues, from sexual orientation and women’s rights to censorship, AIDS, multiculturalism, and religious expression. The conflicts and political debates of this era, dubbed the Culture Wars, were captured in art that was provocative, boundary pushing, and often shocking. Many audiences embraced the work and the artists who created it as innovators, while others decried what they deemed offensive and even publicly attested and petitioned to its immorality or illegality.
The exhibition Art at the Center: 75 Years of Walker Collections presents a chronological narrative of institutional history, collections, and programs. Integral to the exhibition are rotating “time capsules,” sections of each gallery that provide historical context for the work on view. In Gallery 6, which concentrates on the 1980s and ’90s, Dan Graham’s 1995 sculpture New Space for Showing Videos features six monitors showing film and video clips from the era, with the first rotation focusing on the Culture Wars.