Broad Street, East Broadway, Market Street, New York, 2023, consecutive floor rubbings with graphite on a piece of paper, 22.75” x 29.75”


Direct Action

Francisca Benítez


Exhibition Dates:
June 17th, 2023 – September 9th, 2023


#DirectAction #franciscabenitez @storefrontnyc 


We put our bodies on the streets 

our bodies in the trees 

our bodies against the fences of a chemical plant 

our bodies inside banks 

our bodies in the forest 

our bodies against the pavement 


we harmonize 

we dissonate 

we become one sonic body 

we spread 

we vanish 

we reappear 

in crescendo through tunnels 

caves, theaters, jail cells 

we become everybody 

and one with the buzzing of the honeybees 


— Francisca Benítez


Accessible public space can only exist if it is collectively created, used, exercised, and cared for. Dissent and meaningful dialogue are forms of expression that uncover its political possibilities. Direct Action by Francisca Benítez explores the many ways in which the artist and activist grapples with the ethics of protest and her sustained commitment to solidarity through collective action.


By putting her creative body on the line, Benítez uses direct action as a method. In the words of the late anthropologist and activist David Graeber, she embodies the practice of direct action by her insistence in engaging the city freely when faced with structurally oppressive urban environments. Her expansive work is both a product and a stage of the rituals of resistance that result from her long-term involvement with activist groups rooted in Lower Manhattan. Whether it’s organizing against displacement, fighting for housing, standing up to developers, or singing about climate futures, her work imagines and engenders a society beyond capitalism.


Rubbings hung on the wall are part of Benítez’s growing catalog on the many ways in which the ground floor of the city is both host and platform to diverse forms of protest and collective dissent. A sculpture consisting of the artist’s old bicycle seat includes a branch used in a performance protest at the East River Park. A metronome made from a piece of New York City streetscape serves as a reminder of the urgency of the work that Benítez undertakes in her melded life and art practice. A consistent tool in Benítez’s work is her voice—an instrument used to harmonize, to unionize, to crescendo. Whether it’s uttered or gesturally performed, Benítez understands her voice as a tool for collective action, and music as her ultimate form of sociability. 


Direct Action showcases the processes and procedures of her artistic practice, which is centered in the use of performance as a method to engage the politics of space and her participation in political and community action. Her involvement with various activist organizations such as The Stop Shopping Choir, Art Against Displacement, Chinatown Working Group, Coalition to Protect Chinatown & The Lower East Side, East River Park Action, and Asamblea Popular de Chile en Nueva York, are crucial aspects of her practice. With her artistic work operating as both backdrop and instigator, Benitez uses Storefront as a productive space to strengthen existing collaborations and forge new ones. 


Throughout the run of the exhibition, the gallery will operate as a meeting room, a rehearsal studio, a writing workshop, and an urban stage. By opening up the space of the institution to the many activist groups she is an integral part of, Benítez transforms Storefront into a site for social intervention. Direct Action invites the audience to consider the possibilities of protest, and encourage participation in local collective organizing efforts.


Earth Chxrch at 36 Loisaida Avenue and East 3rd Street. Photo by Francisca Benítez



About the Artist

Francisca Benítez. Photo: PJ Roundtree.


Francisca Benítez is an artist born in Chile in 1974, living and working in New York since 1998. Her art practice explores relations between space, politics, and language, being closely linked to the places where she lives and the communities she interacts with. Her videos, photographs, performances, and drawings are shown internationally. Recent exhibitions include: Riego at Die Ecke, Santiago; In Support at The Kitchen, New York; New/Now at the New Britain Museum of American Art, CT; Uprisings at the Jeu de Paume, Paris; Much wider than a line at SITE Santa Fe, NM. She graduated as an architect from Universidad de Chile (1998) and Master in Fine Arts from Hunter College of the City University of New York (2007). She is an alto singer in the Stop Shopping Choir, an anti-capitalist direct action performance group based in New York City.


Scheduled Exhibition Events:

Performance by Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Choir for opening night of Direct Action. Photo by PJ Rountree


June 17, 6pm: Performance by Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Choir

June 29, 5pm – 7pm: Performance by Leila Adu with Savitri D.

July 6, 5-7pm: Performance by Leila Adu with Kwami Coleman and Erich Barganier

July 7, 2:30-4pm: Art Against Displacement zine-making party

July 11, 6:30pm: Art Against Displacement monthly meeting

July 15, 5-7pm: Performance by Ali Dineen

July 29, 4-6pm: Performance by Raimundo

August 3, 1pm: Performance by Ray Santiago

August 8, 6:30pm: Art Against Displacement monthly meeting

August 12, 5-7pm: Performance by Cecilia Vicuña and Ricardo Gallo

August 19, 4-6pm: Performance by Eduardo Pavez Goye

August 26, 5-7pm: Performance by Ricardo Gallo and Amirtha Kidambi

September 1, 5pm: Performance by Sunder Ganglani

September 2, 2pm: Performance by Gregory Corbino

September 8, 7-8pm: Film Program

September 9, 6pm: Performance by Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Choir


On the Ground
Direct Action is presented as part of On the Ground, a yearlong research project and exhibition series about New York City’s ground floor. Through a close look at the urban typology of the storefront, this expansive endeavor presents newly commissioned artistic explorations and dialogues about the heterogeneous threshold between public and private space throughout 2023. The project will unfold through three exhibitions, a radio show, an open call, a public program, and a thematic reader. 


Direct Action by Francisca Benítez. Organized by the Storefront Team. Graphic design by Estudio Herrera

Photography by PJ Rountree


This exhibition has been made possible through the support of the Graham Foundation, the Ruth Foundation for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature; public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; with invaluable support from Storefront’s Board of Directors, the Storefront Circle, Storefront members, and individual donors. Storefront is a proud member of CANNY (Collaborative Arts Network New York), currently supported by the Mellon Foundation, the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Arison Arts Foundation, Imperfect Family Foundation, and the Jay DeFeo Foundation.