We Must Risk Delight - About the exhibit

We Must Risk Delight - About the exhibit

Exhibition entrance. Photo by Stefano Leoni

Exhibition entrance. Photo by Stefano Leoni

We Must Risk Delight: Twenty Artists from Los Angeles presented, for the first time on Biennale's international stage, a group of exceptional contemporary Los Angeles artists whose work makes Los Angeles one of the most exciting hubs of creativity in the world today. We Must Risk Delight is inspired by the poem A Brief for the Defense by a Pulitzer Prize for Poetry finalist, Jack Gilbert. In his viscerally visual poem, Gilbert calls on humanity to recognize every moment of delight even in the most ominous of impressions. By slicing through the somber depictions of the world we live in with sharp and vibrant moments of joy, the poet presents an irrefutable case for our happiness as being our most requisite expression of freedom, not in spite of the cruelty that is a part of our world, but because of it.     
A work of art represents the artist’s vision of the world and, when embraced, it can be seen as a way of making a world. The artists presented in We Must Risk Delight gave the audiences of the Biennale Arte 2015 an opportunity to discover the city of Los Angeles through the kaleidoscope of its creative community, while also encouraging us all to celebrate the act of creating as humanity’s pathway to joy: both within ourselves and in the collective world around us.
We Must Risk Delight: Twenty Artists from Los Angeles was presented as an official Collateral Event of the 56th manifestation of La Biennale di Venezia, Biennale Arte 2015, in collaboration with our partner, Accademia di Belle Arti di Venezia.


Brandy Eve Allen - Tanya Batura - Jamison Carter - Carolyn Castaño - Robbie Conal - Kenturah Davis - Amir H. Fallah - Alexandra Grant - Margaret Griffith - Sherin Guirguis - Ben Jackel - Mark Licari - Rebecca Niederlander - Stas Orlovski - Natasa Prosenc Stearns - Tony de los Reyes - Frank Ryan - Shizu Saldamando - Carole Silverstein - Alexis Zoto

Click here to download the exhibition catalog PDF.


A Brief for the Defense



Sorrow everywhere. Slaughter everywhere. If babies
are not starving someplace, they are starving
somewhere else. With flies in their nostrils.
But we enjoy our lives because that's what God wants.
Otherwise the mornings before summer dawn would not
be made so fine. The Bengal tiger would not
be fashioned so miraculously well. The poor women
at the fountain are laughing together between
the suffering they have known and the awfulness
in their future, smiling and laughing while somebody
in the village is very sick. There is laughter
every day in the terrible streets of Calcutta,
and the women laugh in the cages of Bombay.
If we deny our happiness, resist our satisfaction,
we lessen the importance of their deprivation.
We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure,
but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have
the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
furnace of this world. To make injustice the only
measure of our attention is to praise the Devil.
If the locomotive of the Lord runs us down,
we should give thanks that the end had magnitude.
We must admit there will be music despite everything.
We stand at the prow again of a small ship
anchored late at night in the tiny port
looking over to the sleeping island: the waterfront
is three shuttered cafés and one naked light burning.
To hear the faint sound of oars in the silence as a rowboat
comes slowly out and then goes back is truly worth
all the years of sorrow that are to come.


From REFUSING HEAVEN (Knopf, 2005)