Romancing True Power: D20-Co-curated by Milano Associate Dean and Prof. Nina Khruschcheva

Romancing True Power: D20003_onlineposter_letter_150121_print

February 12 to 26, 2015

Sheila C. Johnson Design Center

Arnold and Sheila Aronson Galleries

66 Fifth Avenue New York

The D20 – modeled after the G20 group of the most industrialized nations – is a selective list of leaders from present and recent past, across continents and political systems, who, in some way, represent many people’s ideal of strong power – a true power. We call it Dick power. What are the various aspects of history, culture or geography that have allowed, indeed in many cases cultivated, this dicktatorial leadership style? Why are so many of us enamored with power and the excesses that go with it? What is so attractive, even seductive, about this dicktatorial way of life? Why do we romance it?

Our exhibition Romancing True Power investigates the human reaction to an idea of power that is autocratic, authoritarian, dictatorial. This is a power undoubtedly present in dictatorships but can be equally be found in democracies. This exhibition is an invitation to re-imagine power by looking at dicktatorial constructs, their typology, and their trappings. These trappings including parades, salutes, group photographs, national currencies and stamps, formal and informal busts, and other memorabilia – official collectibles and pop-culture trinkets such as mugs and t-shirts, which are on exhibition. The trappings also include intangibles such as perception, support, posturing, and self-promotion, all of which will be explored as well.

Through the exploration of video, photographs, text, and architectural installation, we ask: Is dictatorship a product of geopolitics or of personalities?  Of political economies or of psychologies? What are the shared traits that unite these leaders? How do they manifest their strength? What exactly is true power and why are we fascinated by it?

Each person’s Dick list is highly subjective; a thousand spectators may choose a thousand dicktators. According to Alan Axelrod and Charles Phillips’ Dictators & Tyrants (1994), a biographical dictionary of absolute rulers, there have been at least 600 autocratic, authoritarian, or dictatorial leaders and would-be leaders throughout world history. You must have your own favorite. As such, we also invite you to PYOD (Pick Your Own Dick). Who is on your D20 list?


Panel: Radical and Reactionary: The Extremities of Authoritarianism

Bobby Ghosh with curators Nina Khrushcheva and Srdjan Jovanovic Weiss

Wednesday, February 18, 6:00pm – 7:00pm; followed by reception 7:00pm – 8:00pm 

The Bark Room (Orientation Room), 2 W. 13th Street New York

Guest: Bobby Ghosh, Managing Editor of Quartz, CNN Global Affairs Analyst, formerly World Editor, TIME

Curators: Nina Khrushcheva, Associate Professor of International Affairs and Associate Dean at Milano School of International Affairs, Management and Urban Policy, The New School

Srdjan Jovanovic Weiss, Ph.D., Founding Principal of NAO, Adjunct Assistant Professor at Columbia GSAPP and Lecturer at Penn Design


Concept:  Nina Khrushcheva / The New School

Exhibition Design: Srdjan Jovanovic Weiss with Joachim Hackl / NAO

Research Associate: Yiqing Wang-Holborn / The New School

Editorial Contribution: Beth Pappas / The New School

The exhibition is partially funded by the Milano School and Milano’s Studley Faculty Research Fund.

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