Glenn Ligon, Condition Report, 2000, Iris prints with silkscreen ink on paper (diptych)

Sonic Rebellion: Music as Resistance is inspired by the vital history of music in Detroit and the legacy of the 1967 Detroit Rebellion. The exhibition continues MOCAD’s investigations into the history of Detroit as well as its programmatic focus on the relationship between art, music, and politics.


Sonic Rebellion connects Detroit’s musical and political histories with a wide range of artworks, music ephemera, and artifacts to offer a listening space for the Rebellion’s reverberations. The Rebellion must be listened to and heard if it is ever to be understood. The show connects this historic event to more recent social movements, from Occupy to Black Lives Matter, illustrating threads between past protests and the unresolved racial politics in the United States today. One major thread is the role of music as a catalyst for social change and empowerment.


The contemporary artworks in the presentation all deal with race, identity politics, and protest in connection with music. Interspersed with the artworks, the show features materials from music and resistance movements in Detroit such as posters, flyers, record covers, magazines, photographs, music artifacts, audio, and video drawn from numerous Detroit-area collections. Resonances generated among the exhibition’s interdisciplinary and intergenerational components connect Detroit’s history with underlying social and economic inequalities persisting in this country and across the globe.