Event Theme: Art Activism

Question: What is the effect of art activism on reality?

Excerpts from suggested readings:

Artist’s Nude Self-Portraits Explore Former Sites Of Slavery Throughout New York

"From My Body I Will Make Monuments In Your Honor," Pre-revolutionary Cemetery, Brooklyn. ~HuffPost

“From My Body I Will Make Monuments In Your Honor,” Pre-revolutionary Cemetery, Brooklyn. ~HuffPost

“Through her photography, artist Nona Faustine investigates such convoluted spaces, with pasts and presents that don’t quite line up. Her photo series, titled “White Shoes,” revisits many of the New York locations once plagued by slavery — from City Hall to the Supreme Court — capturing the traces that may or may not have been left behind.

“Standing at Wall Street at the exact spot where they sold Native and African men, women, and children 150 years ago, I wasn’t able to feel any of the horrific sorrow and pain of the activities that once went on there,” Faustine explained to The Huffington Post. “Perhaps it was a defense mechanism that wouldn’t allow me to tap into that for fear of crumbling. What I did feel was the energy of New York City, an incredible force. There I found myself at the curtain of time between two eras, past and present. I went into a deep reflection.”” ~Huffipost Arts & Culture

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Diving Deep

 On Art Activism

Double Comb: Scenes from the Story of Joseph, mid-sixteenth century. Ivory, probably of flemish origin. ~e-flux

Double Comb: Scenes from the Story of Joseph, mid-sixteenth century. Ivory, probably of flemish origin. ~e-flux

“Current discussions about art are very much centered on the question of art activism—that is, on the ability of art to function as an arena and medium for political protest and social activism. The phenomenon of art activism is central to our time because it is a new phenomenon—quite different from the phenomenon of critical art that became familiar to us during recent decades. Art activists do not want to merely criticize the art system or the general political and social conditions under which this system functions. Rather, they want to change these conditions by means of art—not so much inside the art system but outside it, in reality itself.

Art activists try to change living conditions in economically underdeveloped areas, raise ecological concerns, offer access to culture and education for the populations of poor countries and regions, attract attention to the plight of illegal immigrants, improve the conditions of people working in art institutions, and so forth. In other words, art activists react to the increasing collapse of the modern social state and try to replace the social state and the NGOs that for different reasons cannot or will not fulfill their role. Art activists do want to be useful, to change the world, to make the world a better place—but at the same time, they do not want to cease being artists. And this is the point where theoretical, political, and even purely practical problems arise.” ~e-flux

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Return to January 26, 2016 event.

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