Peek beyond the media screen. Contemplate the practical, emotional, artistic, and conceptual dimensions of direct action. Participants will discuss the skills most essential to organizing, from writing pithy manifestos, to dealing with the press, knowing your legal rights, and learning from mistakes. Why does it take a community to do this work and what public action is most urgently needed?
- strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home4/mindfun8/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 906.
- strict warning: Declaration of date_handler_field_multiple::pre_render() should be compatible with content_handler_field_multiple::pre_render($values) in /home4/mindfun8/public_html/sites/all/modules/date/date/date_handler_field_multiple.inc on line 185.
- strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_argument::init() should be compatible with views_handler::init(&$view, $options) in /home4/mindfun8/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_argument.inc on line 744.
- strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_row::options_validate() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_validate(&$form, &$form_state) in /home4/mindfun8/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_row.inc on line 134.
- strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_row::options_submit() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_submit(&$form, &$form_state) in /home4/mindfun8/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_row.inc on line 134.
- strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home4/mindfun8/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 906.
- strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home4/mindfun8/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 906.
- strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_validate() should be compatible with views_handler::options_validate($form, &$form_state) in /home4/mindfun8/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 607.
- strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_submit() should be compatible with views_handler::options_submit($form, &$form_state) in /home4/mindfun8/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 607.
- strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_style_default::options() should be compatible with views_object::options() in /home4/mindfun8/public_html/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_style_default.inc on line 24.
Creative Time Summit
Financial Relief Sculptures
Noah Fischer’s exhibition “Financial Relief Sculptures” seeks to examine and reconstitute the value that emanates from the miraculous space of the studio. In the artist’s studio there is one window, and it looks out across industrial Brooklyn rooftops (slowly morphing into luxury housing towers) to lower Manhattan - the capital of global finance and the temple of money. Responding to this view, and to the fork in the river of fortune dividing rich from poor after the 2008 crash, Fischer has retuned to the basic artistic practice of visual equivalency, echoing cave painter’s efforts to understand the threats and forces of the primeval world. Fischer has taken derivatives, personal indebtedness, and the strange history of money as muse: amassing a hoard of relief sculptures, which resemble oversized coins or credit cards.
While today’s digital currency is no more visible than the wind, blowing open the doors of speculation and astronomical profits for the 1%, coins are living fossils from ancient economies, physically rooted in the slowness of metallurgy, of laborious design, and craft. The financial relief sculptures are rendered roughly from wood, wax, paint, plaster, found objects, and steel. They are generally displayed in pairs on graphic “backdrops” which are sewn together from fabric and recycled billboards. Their alter-like presentation is reminiscent of holy icons from medieval religious art. And this work is indeed religious, professing a faith not in money, but in the spirit of artistic practice itself. There is a belief that art can create basic tools to assess what is truly important to us today. This collection is shown for the first time in the Treasure Room of the Interchurch Center.
Occupation of Guggenheim Venice
As a member of Global Ultra Luxury Faction/ Gulf Labor participating in the 56th Venice Biennale, I worked with S.a.L.E Docks to stage an occupation of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice following the May 1 action in New York.
Together with Marco Baravalle of S.a.L.E, I organized much of the action and designed flags and other graphics.
Here is the Press Release for the Venice Action.
May 8, 2015, Venice. At the opening of the Venice Biennale, a premier art exposition run
on underpaid and free local labor, members of G.U.L.F. (Global Ultra Luxury Faction) and Gulf Labor Coalition declare their solidarity with migrant workers in the U.A.E. by occupying the Venice Guggenheim museum. The Gulf Labor Coalition, an international group of artists and writers, and an official participant in this year’s Biennale, has been pressuring the museum for five years to ensure fair labor standards for the workers constructing its new Saadiyat Island branch in Abu Dhabi. Neither the museum nor its Emirati partner has responded with any adequate program of protections. After five years of inaction, G.U.L.F. decided to follow last week’s occupation of the Guggenheim New York by targeting the Venice museum.
S.a.L.E.-Docks, the Venice arts collective, is also participating in the occupation. The joint action will draw attention to the exploitative use of unpaid workers to staff the expositions in Venice, Milan, and beyond.
A series of field investigations has established a systematic pattern of human rights abuse among migrant workers in the Emirates. While Abu Dhabi has the roaring wealth to purchase the names of high-profile cultural institutions like the Guggenheim, Louvre, British Museum, and New York University, it will not afford dignity and fair wages to the migrants who make up 90% of its population. Compliance monitoring programs put in place by NYU were not adequately enforced, and hundreds of workers who stood up for their rights were beaten and deported.
The Gulf Labor Coalition has asked for the Guggenheim to:
1) pay a living wage to its museum workforce;
2) reimburse workers for their crushing recruitment debts;
3) respect their right to self-organize.
The Foundation has responded that meeting these demands lies “outside the Guggenheim’s range of authority,” because “they are matters of federal law.” According to Andrew Ross, a New York University labor expert and Gulf Labor Coalition member, “nothing in UAE labor law prevents an employer from compensating workers for recruitment fees. In fact, the employment practices policy on Saadiyat Island specifically instructs them to do so.”More than two thousand artists around the world have signed on to the Gulf Labor’s boycott of the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi over the lack of fair labor provisions. G.U.L.F. intends to target the museum until the Foundation takes the demands seriously, and agrees to a meeting between trustees and its own representatives. “We are stepping up the pressure,” explains Amin Husain, artists and G.U.L.F. organizer. “Rather than passing the buck on to Abu Dhabi authorities who have shown scant concern for migrants’ rights, the Foundation should face up to its responsibilities and clean the stain from the Guggenheim’s name.”
The final phase of construction on the museum’s UAE branch will commence later this year on Saadiyat Island, a showpiece real estate venture off the coast of Abu Dhabi. “No artist should be asked to exhibit work in a museum built on the backs of abused workers,” observed Nitasha Dhillon, artist and G.U.L.F. member. “And the Guggenheim Foundation can ensure this will never happen by doing the right thing by workers now, before construction begins.”According to Marco Baravalle, member of the S.a.L.E.-Docks arts collective, “the Venice Biennale, like so much of the artworld, is the product of free, or cheap, labor. The more prestigious an art event is, the more likely that people are asked to work for nothing.”
Members of G.U.L.F. , the Gulf Labor Coalition, and S.a.L.E.-Docks are available for interview.
WSJ: Activists New and Old Jab Art World
May 7, 2015 9:07 p.m. ET
Last weekend, the art-activist group the Guerrilla Girls engaged in a typically bumptious gesture: projecting images from their latest campaign on the side of the Whitney Museum of American Art’s building in lower Manhattan as a block party to fete the new location wound to a close.
“Dear Art Collector,” read the message, traced in bright light from a mobile projector run by another New York City activist group, The Illuminator Art Collective.
“art is sooo expensive!
even for billionaires
we totally get why
you can’t pay all your employees a living wage”
It has been three decades since the Guerrilla Girls first began plastering New York’s art districts with funny, statistic-filled posters decrying the dearth of female artists on museum and gallery walls. Now the group—along with a new generation of artist-activists—continues to skewer what they see as the art world’s hypocrisy and corruption.
Never mind that the Whitney, which declined to comment on the “Dear Art Collector” projection, now owns more than 90 works by Guerrilla Girls. Or that some of the group’s members—clad in their trademark gorilla suits, to preserve anonymity—mingled with curators at a recent artist reception at the new building. An exhibit of their posters, stickers and billboards opened this month at Abrons Arts Center downtown, and the Guerrilla Girls have embarked on a new campaign.
Targets include everything from the art establishment’s lack of diversity—an issue that by some measures has made only marginal progress since 1985—to labor issues and soaring prices paid by wealthy collectors in today’s turbocharged art market.
“We are the agitated outsiders, the creative complainers, and we like it that way,” a Guerrilla Girl who identified herself as Käthe Kollwitz said in a recent interview. (Members assume the names of dead female artists.)
Recently, the group has teamed up with newer groups of activist artists. They include the Illuminator, as well as Occupy Museums and the Gulf Labor artist coalition, which on Friday shut down the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum with a protest over labor practices at Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi, where the museum is planning to build a new branch.
Another Guerrilla Girl, Frida Kahlo, said she was heartened to see a new crop of artists engaging in political art, many of them in collectives that operate outside the traditional art market.
“They are veering away from the idea of the lone individualistic genius,” Ms. Kahlo said. “They don’t want to participate in the art system.”
Take Noah Fischer, a Brooklyn artist and activist involved in the action at the Guggenheim organized by Gulf Labor, a group that has staged multiple protests over what it sees as exploitative conditions for the largely migrant workforce on Saadiyat Island.
Trained as a sculptor, Mr. Fischer, 38 years old, said he quit showing his work in traditional galleries amid the financial downturn, having concluded that the same economic system that led to the crisis was also fueling the art market: “I thought, I want to be challenging that system, not trying my hardest to be supported by those people.”
In 2011 he joined the Occupy Wall Street movement in Zuccotti Park and wrote a manifesto that catalyzed the Occupy Museums movement. Occupy Museums mounted a protest in September at the Metropolitan Museum of Art over the new plaza endowed by billionaire David H. Koch and recently helped stage an action outside the Whitney over an adjacent natural-gas pipeline.
On May 1, also known as International Workers Day, Mr. Fischer was among the protesters who dropped leaflets from the Guggenheim’s top tier and unfurled a red banner urging the institution to “Meet Workers’ Demands Now!” Some sat on the floor and refused to leave, while others, including some Guerrilla Girls, marched outside. Ultimately, museum officials shut down the building for the day.
Museum officials said in a statement that they have kept “open lines of communication” with representatives of Gulf Labor and that the Guggenheim has been working with authorities and its partners in Abu Dhabi to “advance progress on conditions for workers who will build the future museum.”
The Illuminator is a frequent partner in museum protests and other political actions. Teaming up with the Guerrilla Girls “was a way to collaborate with our forbearers and our sisters,” said Mark Read, 48, an Illuminator founder who also teaches at New York University.
The NYPD returned the sculpture of Edward Snowden that was placed in Fort Greene Park in the early morning hours of April 6. PHOTO: GEOFFREY CROFT/NYC PARK ADVOCATE
Last month, the collective projected an image of a bust of Edward Snowden over a column at Brooklyn’s Fort Greene Park. It was a tribute to an action by a separate group of artists, who earlier that day had glued a 100-pound bust of the former national-security consultant to the top of a monument there honoring Revolutionary War prisoners. (The bust was swiftly removed.)
On Wednesday the New York Police Department returned the bust. In return, two of the artists each agreed to pay a $50 summons for being in the park after hours, according to their lawyer, Ronald Kuby.
For the Guerrilla Girls, years of activism have conferred a sort of legitimacy that makes some members uneasy. The group’s work has been shown at the prestigious Venice Biennale and major museums including the Tate Modern in London and Paris’s Centre Pompidou.
Women artists and artists of color have more visibility than they did 30 years ago, and some museum curators are making efforts “to cast a wider net,” Ms. Kollwitz said.
But, as one sticker from the group’s current campaign points out, women still accounted for only a fraction of the one-person shows last year at the Guggenheim, the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Officials at the latter two said the sticker undercounted the number of solo shows by women in 2014 at the Met, and in 1984 at the Whitney.
“I always feel uncomfortable about this museum attention, because we want to be the royal thorn in their side,” said fellow member Ms. Kahlo. “We are here as the art world’s conscience.”
The Artist as Debtor at Cooper Union
We live in an era of unprecedented profits from contemporary art sales and massive debts incurred by art students. Are these phenomena related? Is it a coincidence that in an age in which art can be made from nothing, the price attached to an art degree is staggeringly high? Contemporary art institutions amass great wealth through real estate development and the value of their holdings — why then do museums, art-related businesses and art schools rely so heavily on precarious and unpaid labor provided by artists? What are the connections between big money in the art world and the big debts taken on by so many young artists? Are artists encouraged to believe that extreme economic disparity is just part of the way the art world works? Do romantic ideas about merit and talent mask a system of indenture?
We hope to engage students, art workers, and all those interested in art’s future in an extended reflection about ways that the art economy extracts financial benefits from artists who may not even be selling their art. We envision this as an opportunity for a growing movement to counter economic inequality in the arts, to gain strength from collective wisdom, and to develop better strategies for responding to situations that make many artists feel powerless.
For more information please contact: email@example.com and and firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit our blog at: www.artanddebt.org
Mercy Machine Video Released
A video for the first song of Jascha Hoffman's album The Afterneath. Each song on the album is inspired by an obituary.
The Mercy Machine (Jack Kevorkian, 1928-2011)
When the light dims and your sight dims and you’re ready to go. Anasthesia and the seizures. O my doctor am I ready to go? Can you find me, in your filing? Would you wheel me to the mercy machine? In the open, in the summer, in the back of a van. At a campground in his hometown, Dr. Death hit again. Tell the family, tell the family, she was ready to go. Tell the brothers and the others… Get the doctor to a doctor, give the doctor some room. Now he’s lying, almost dying, let some light in the room. Would you wheel me to the mercy machine? No we can’t sir. That’s the answer.
Countdown to Abu Dhabi: GULF banner drop and picket at Guggenheim
On November 6th, the Guggenheim Museum will host one of the premier fund-raising events for New York’s high society. Guests will be feasting royally at $75,000 tax-deductible tables. On the other side of the world, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi’s migrant workers are being exploited while having meager rations on their plates and very little time to prepare their meals after a punishing 12 hour workday.
Queen Mother of Reality Opens at Socrates Sculpture Park
Opening: May 11, 2014 (2:00 pm – 6:00 pm)
Queen Mother of Reality by Paweł Althamer is a monumental, mixed media sculpture of an elegant figure that is peacefully reclining in the shaded southern section of the park overlooking the East River waterfront. Althamer’s sculpture is dedicated to and inspired by “Queen Mother” Dr. Delois Blakely, a U.S. Ambassador of Goodwill to Africa,who has been the Community Mayor of Harlem since she was sworn in by Mayor Rudolph Giuliani in 1995. Queen Mother of Reality serves as a call to highlight the numerous displaced and homeless of New York City – Dr. Blakely’s paramount cause.
Originally built as a part of Althamer’s Performa Commission in 2013, Queen Mother of Realityat Socrates Sculpture Park will act as a platform for creative dialogue and interactive programming, reflecting the park’s commitment to engaging audiences through public art. This spring the sculpture was reassembled by Althamer and his collaborators – a team of artists and community members, including artists Noah Fischer, Roman Stańczak, Rafal Zwirek, and Jim Constanza (aka the Aaron Burr Society), and the artist’s sons Bruno Althamer and Szymon Althamer, as well as members of the community.
Continuing Althamer’s commitment to social collaboration, which underlines most of his work,Queen Mother of Reality will engage audiences through interactive programming organized by Socrates and the artist that will invoke Dr. Blakely’s pursuits of social justice and community building. The sculpture is situated in the midst of an active community. The park is surrounded by three of the nation’s largest public housing complexes (Astoria, Ravenswood, and Queensbridge Houses), and the local community has been a park stakeholder since its creation in 1986.
The first program is a Mother’s Day celebration during the opening on May 11 from 2pm-6pm, featuring art-making workshops presented by Minor Miracles Foundation and an experimental social project titled Nails Across America by artist Breanne Trammell.
Programming will develop throughout the summer, so please continue to check back for updates.
Queen Mother of Reality is presented by Socrates Sculpture Park in collaboration with Performa, and in partnership with the Polish Cultural Institute New York.
The Exhibition Program at Socrates Sculpture Park is supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies, Charina Endowment Fund, Lambent Foundation, Mark di Suvero, the Maxine and Stuart Frankel Foundation, Agnes Gund, Ivana Mestrovic, and the Thomas W. Smith Foundation.
Queen Mother of Reality is a Performa Commission and was originally presented as part of the Polish Pavilion Without Walls for Performa 13. The commission was generously supported by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, National Endowment for the Arts and Toby Devan Lewis, with additional support from Foksal Gallery Foundation (Warsaw), neugerriemschneider (Berlin), Fundacja Sztuka i Współczesność, CCA Ujazdowski Castle, and Polish Ministry of Cultural and National Heritage, Tilton Gallery
The Occupied Museum at Free University
Please join us for the 3rd annual May Day Free University in New York City!
We will create a space where everyone who cares about grassroots urban social justice can come together, learn about each others' initiatives, and share old wisdom and new developments in radical politics.
Join Occupy Museums for an action planning session and discussion on the possibilities of bringing effective politics to the museum space. We start with a short presentation on our top tactics developed since 2011, including a discussion of our recent actions at the Guggenheim (with G.U.L.F., MTL, and Gulf Labor), and kick off a brainstorm on new museum occupation strategies. We will end by collectively cooking up a concrete occupation of a major New York museum. Stay later to continue the conversation and participate in a collective painting.
Fore more information on Free University-NYC, visit
Activist's Summit, global aCtIVISm exhibition at ZKM, Germany
I will co-facilitate an activist;s summit at ZKM museum along with artist Joulia Strauss and curator Linnea Semmerling"Almost fifty scholars, artists and activists are scheduled to come together as part of the large-scale exhibition project "global aCtIVISm" at the ZKM, with the purpose of discussing the development and form of the socio-political significance of civil engagement in the 21st century. This development, under the influence of contemporary fine art, communications media as well as the growing possibilities and dangers of the Internet forms the focus of the discussion. But the role of citizens has also radically changed over the course of the development – its new role as actor in a performative democracy likewise forms an aspect of the symposium.The symposium is divided in two parts − scientific symposium and activist’s summit. Scholars from the fields of political science, sociology, anthropology, jurisprudence, media sciences, computer science and art theory will discuss and exchange ideas in the first two days with film makers, artists and activists about the role of the citizen in performative democracy. The final day of the symposium is given over to the activists summit at the focus of which are the future of activist artists – the artivists – as citizens."http://on1.zkm.de/zkm/stories/storyReader$8725
global aCtIVISm exhibition at ZKM
The exhibition global aCtIVISm is dedicated to the field of artistic form of expression as politically inspired by actions, demonstrations and performances in the public sphere, which draw attention to socio-political grievances and call for changes to existing conditions. By means of objects, photographic, cinematographic, videographic and mass medial documents, the exhibition presents global activism as the first novel art form of the 21st century.
global aCtIVISm serves as prelude to the exhibition marathon "Globale", scheduled to be held on the occasion of the 300-year anniversary of the founding of the city of Karlsruhe 2015.
Curator: Peter Weibel
What's Next? Kunst nach der Krise
An interview about Occupy Museums to be published in
What's Next? edited by Johannes M. Hedinger + Torsten Meyer
Book will be presented in Zurich Dec 2, 2013
"What's next ? Art after the crisis "is a reader, and the 177 essays and interviews , as well as over 150 theses , manifestos
Quotes from a total of 304 authors gathered about the possible neighbor in art. Discussed are the
changes in the conditions of production, distribution and reception of art today in a global context , the
latest development of the " art operating system " , the paradigm shift is imminent and possible future
Models of art , their plants and their placement in a " next society" ( Baecker ) .
The book has its origin in the same two conferences and lectures at the University of Cologne
( Department of Art & Art Theory ) and the Zurich University of the Arts ( Department of Cultural Analysis
Mediation ) . The questions and debates launched there were resumed and a further , even more global
Viewing angle enhanced . The reader is used both for future courses , but also appeals to a wide ,
transdiziplinäres audience of art and cultural studies, art and design practice , Communications and New
Media , sociology , pedagogy and philosophy . In a book belonging to the website ( http://whatsnextart.net )
are additional materials ( images, video, audio) available , which are directly controlled by means of QR Code in the Book
Winter Holiday Camp at CCA/Warsaw
Winter Holiday Camp is a next stage of Occupy Museums set in Poland- its an artistic experiment in institutional democracy, including every worker of CCA Ujazdowski Castle and its visiting public. It's a collaboration of an international working group flowing from the seventh Berlin Biennale.
The primary goal of Winter Holiday Camp is to form a deeper understanding of the cultural institution and to transform it playfully. Throughout a long process of research which started last March and has included may trips to Warsaw, the project was cancelled by the director, and then the unionized workers of the CCA began to openly oppose the directorship, and are voting independantly to reinstate the project. So we are returning to Warsaw in early December to continue the project in collaboration with the CCA workers and public but autonomously from the contemporary art institution.
In Early December 2013, we travelled to Warsaw to engage with the CCA uninvited. In the ensuing series of events we staged open meetings with the director, created sculptures outside and inside the castle, and the project was finally accepted into the collection of the CCA.
Letter to CCA employees on return to Warsaw:
Dear CCA employees
Queen Mother of Reality at Performa 13
A project of Performa 13, artist Pawel Althamer in collaboration with Noah Fischer, Roman Stanczak, Szymon & Bruno Althamer, Rafal Zwirek and the Aaron Burr Society present a space of performative possibility at BiBA of Williamsburg, open from November 2-21 2013. It will culminate in a feast, a monumental sculpture, and a ceremony in honor of all mothers displaced from their homes. Set against Manhattan’s skyline on the Williamsburg waterfront, BiBA of Williamsbug is the venue selected by artist Pawel Althamer. Sited near rising luxury towers, it’s a symbol of the rapid development and consequent displacement in New York City. We feel that dignity of place is an essential matter of citizenship.
Queen Mother Dr. Louis Blakely: Community Mayor of Harlem and Goodwill Ambassador to Africa at the United Nation will be present at the dinner to accept a gift from the artists, and to bless the 50 foot long steel and mixed media sculpture “Queen Mother of Reality” which will be ceremonially moved to a spot beside the East River. Szymon Althamer, master chef based in Warsaw will design a unique performative feast followed by live music and dancing at BiBA.
Performa 13: Collaboration with Pawel Althamer
For his first large-scale public work for New York City, Polish artist Paweł Althamer will stage events at Biba, a local bar and restaurant in Brooklyn situated on the East River, from which the shimmering Manhattan skyline can be seen from a distance. Althamer is interested in the Polish word ‘biba’, which gives the bar its name, and its strong association with the Polish Communist era. While it previously described an unproductive time in relation to the work-day, it now implies a wilder form of drinking or partying to excess. In light of this, and of Althamer’s customary interest in citizenship, collaboration, and marginalizisation, the artist will arrange events and interventions in collaboration with artists Noah Fischer and Roman Stańczak. Additionally Althamer and his sons Bruno (an artist) and Szymon (a Polish chef, will collaborate on the bar menu) will run creative workshops throughout the duration of Biba Perfoma. Althamer plans to create a sense of possibility among bar workers and members of the diverse local community, which includes Hasidic Jews, hipsters, Puerto Ricans and the Polish among others. Biba Performa is an invitation to audiences to join in conviviality and revelry throughout the biennial, and to participate in an open forum for considering the ways in which communities, particularly immigrant communities, are formed in suburban areas away from the bright lights of the city.
Decentralized, on- and off-line, crossing institutional hierarchies in both public and private spaces, artists contextualize their work within the narratives of their actual economic lives. Collectors receive artwork in exchange for checks directly to the artist’s loaning banks.
Awake Youth: Seven Bodies of Liberation at BZC
The No-Eyes Viewing Wall at Brooklyn Zen Center presents seven large collaborative mindfulness drawings created by members of the Awake Youth program in collaboration with artist Noah Fischer. These drawings depict the Seven Bodies of Liberation, as conceived by the teenagers from within an intensive space of meditation and reflection on their lives as part of the Awake Youth Program, now in its third year.
Friday June 14th from 7-9 PM
Please sign up for the event on Facebook.
Where is Occupy Now? for ArtFCity
Where is Occupy Now?
June 1, 2013. Answer:Turkey.
Gliding down Broadway last Saturday, the blazing-red Mark di Suvero sculpture known to arts professionals as “Joie de Vivre” and to Occupy Wall Street as “the Weird Red Thing” comes into view. The scene is familiar. Facing west, I see white-shirt cops on Broadway and Liberty and the Imperial Walker-esque NYPD surveillance tower perched in the lower right corner of the park. More friendly, are the falafel and juice stands lined up on the left. The 33,000 square feet of public/private space formerly known as Zuccotti Park pulses with energy: men and women waving red flags; shouting in unison and singing spirited songs in Turkish.
It is day one of #OccupyGeziParkNYC, an American offshoot of the Turkish #OccupyGeziPark, that began as peaceful sit-in demonstration against a shopping mall slated to replace Istanbul’s last major public square. The protest quickly morphed into a Tahrir-like movement to oust Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan. Tens of thousands of protesters in Taksim Square were tear gassed, arrested in the hundreds, some beaten and killed by the police. Within hours, a solidarity group called #OccupyGeziParkNYC had begun to organize a response. There were even those from the OWS movement who flew to the action, like Justin Wedes, a member of the communication working group in Zuccotti. “The revolution has just begun”, he tweets, the first of a day, in seemingly hundreds he sends out. (He also files regular posts atAnimal NY).
This converged last minute with a planned OWS re-occupation or “homecoming” action for June 1 which I was attending. Since the eviction of Liberty Square on November 15th 2011, big days of action such as May 1st (M1) or the September 17th anniversary (S17– we activists convert important dates into codes to make them sound ominous) partially fell into the shadow of the original Occupy season. Each big march provided proof that the movement is still here but dwindling. You’d see many familiar faces from the glory days of the park, but a reunion just does not equate to a movement that can take on Capitalism. Especially a slightly dysfunctional reunion. Occupy was slowly fragmenting into groups (though impressive ones); big moments where Occupiers came together were becoming less and less convincing.
Saturday felt different though, and it looked different, too. I saw very few familiar faces in the park, now filled with Turkish protesters. “It’s exciting” Occupier Marisa Holmes told me, speaking of the new upbeat energy in Liberty Park. This energy flows in from elsewhere causing creative hybridized memes to pop up like wildflowers. OWS posters from 2011 have been re-tooled for Turkey, yellow “Occu-tape” is wrapped around trees to highlight the eradication of green space in Istanbul, those famous ragged cardboard signs are scrawled in Turkish. Someone bangs a pot with a spoon in the protest style of the Quebec student movement or “Casseroles.” Others hold signs that say “Turkish Spring,” harkening back to Egypt and Tunisia. It’s as if all the movement memes from the last couple years have ended up in a common whirlpool.
By noon, the park was so packed that all I could see of the movement were those squeezed up against me. I made my way through the dense crowd to catch a better view from Zuccotti’s northern wall (hallowed site of the speakers’ area in the very first OWS general assemblies). There I met a Turkish woman in her fifties, Lutfiye Karakus, a nurse from Staten Island, who has been in the US for twenty-one years. She’s part of the 99%, having lost her home to foreclosure, and watched the American Dream slip away. She made it out to Liberty Park once in 2011 to join the protest.
This time, she tells me tales of Turkish corruption where the 1% straddle the financial and political lines, similar to the impetus for Occupy Wall Street. Luftiye was enraged at the Turkish media blackout, including even CNN Turkey, during the protests and police violence. “The police sprayed tear gas in people’s eyes and blinded them,” she told me.
The focus on Turkey– with red crescent flags, pictures of Turkey’s modern state founder Ataturk, and chants of “Turkiye! Turkiye! Turkiye!”– may seem strangely nationalistic for an Occupy movement. But Occupy doesn’t espouse a singular political view. The activist and anthropologist David Graeber reported from among the different political players in the planning stages before September 17th; not only Anarchists, but members of the Democratic Party and quite a few Ron Paul followers. (One of the “bottomliners” of the Declaration of the Occupation of New York City was a big fan of Ayn Rand). And then once the movement went viral, hundreds of cities interpreted Occupy differently, from Oakland’s militant style to El Paso’s protests against the government.
After we parted ways, I began to wonder why Lutfiye and her Turkish community decided to use Occupy to raise their voices. A few years ago, she had participated in a large Turkish protest outside the United Nations. Why head down to Lower Manhattan this time? “Because they’re not appealing to the UN” Occupier Marisa Holmes told me. She believes the slowness of a bureaucracy is unappealing to many, particularly now that there’s a little Occupy-inspired Anarchism in the air. Appealing to fellow citizens directly may be more effective than the state, and Occupy is building a platform for it.
That’s exactly why it’s exciting. For one, the “Occupy” meme itself can be interchanged with other locations and causes like Legos (Occupy Gezi Park, Occupy the SEC, Occupy Museums, etc).
Second, it offers tools for communication, whether through social media mutual aid efforts or offline “social software”: the hand signs, and the people’s mic, which allow large groups of people to project their voices without speakers or microphones.
Third, Occupy serves up a toolbox of direct action tactics: the long-term holding of space (Tahrir Square, Liberty Park, and Frank H. Ogawa Plaza) shorter-term occupations (a 2011 sleep-in at Lincoln Center, a 2012 occupation at the Berlin Biennale, and last month’s occupation of the Ludwig Museum in Hungary) and spectacular actions (just today, Occupy Gezi crowdfunded a full-page ad in the New York Times).
Finally, Occupy offers a form of horizontal organizing which discourages the centralization of leadership. These tactics have diverse roots, from the Zapatista Movement of the 1990’s to Spanish Anarchists. But this time, an unprecedented ability to socially network makes it possible for these tactics to flow in bursts of energy across the globe, and also to rapidly morph and develop in a co-authored but connected way: kind of like the Internet.
Circulation is happening offline as well, as occupiers travel the globe to exchange movement experiences and tactics. Hundreds of occupiers, for example, attended The World Social Forum (WSF) in Tunis as part of a group called Global Square. Their attendance, fellow occupier Marisa Holmes told me at Zucotti, took the form of an occupation. “They didn’t know how to relate to us.” she said, explaining this was in part due to a generational clash and in part due to an entrenched vertical leadership. Still, group met every day, and over all, Marisa concluded that “It was really great for us.”
I got that sense from other occupiers as well, but it’s important to remember that these movements have a darker side as well. Damage to the body can easily occur during protests, as police violence is common. Activists can lose jobs or damage professional reputations by standing up for strong political positions. The time and risk required in the heat of a movement can destroy relationships; a member of Occupy Museums went through a divorce, partly due to her strong commitment to the movement in 2011. Activists have power struggles with other activists, and most of all, exhaustion. Most of us have gone through some form of movement trauma.
At this point, Occupy Wall Street increasingly operates within totally separate networks. When the Turkish community began to thin out that evening, the tribe reconvened in little clusters to discuss re-occupation. I heard many woeful tales about power struggles, people’s Occu-nemeses, their banishment from groups, or just sense of burnout. Although there was a 6 PM assembly to discuss re-occupation organized by a group called Occupy Town Square, it became clear that any sort of large consensus wasn’t going to happen.
These may sound like big problems, but they don’t define the movement. It just means that the movement is moving along in stages. To name just a few of the many efforts in the last 9 months, Occupy Sandy has figured out a new model to provide direct relief to those affected by global warming-fueled catastrophes. Strikedebt has come up with ingenious new economic proposals such as the Rolling Jubillee, a crowdsourced fund to buy up personal debt, and it’s produced a manual for debt resistance. Occupy the Pipeline is putting up a spirited fight against fracking. The group I’m in, Occupy Museums, is launching Debt Fair: an experimental art fair spread throughout the streets of New York City that invites collectors buy art in exchange for artists’ debt.
These projects flow naturally from a view of the world you acquire by fatefully stepping into the public squares. But they take a tremendous amount of energy. As we enter the long-haul, this practice can seem like a heavy burden to bear.
Yet on June 1st, I remembered something that is actually totally obvious: Occupy is no one’s burden. It’s an uncontrollable open source project where all responsibility is shared, and in that way, I see Occupy as an alternative model for culture. For a generation, the private sector has been encroaching on the public, reenforcing the mentality that we must achieve individual goals at all cost to shared resources. As depicted in mainstream entertainment and news organizations, we are people who distrust strangers and associate the public realm with poverty. Occupying a park challenges these assumptions through practice. Serving food in a park, chanting, or organizing actions with people you just met points toward a culture based on shared, rather than private, space. There’s a sublime feeling of connection with fellow protesters anywhere in the world.
From its inception, it was a perfect storm of talent, wisdom from past movements, catalyzed by economic and political shocks. It’s always had a random quality: the name and initial call itself was coined by a Canadian magazine, Adbusters, who didn’t even show up to their own party! I have learned to suspend disbelief as the protest unfolded differently than any script I could imagine.
Yet another chapter is unfolding as thousands of Turkish protesters fill Liberty Park on June 1. This time however, the novelty has worn off, and Occupy is looking like a permanent part of our post-crash reality: a direct democratic forum for citizens to highlight and link political situations globally. And, as I stood there looking at a poster of Ataturk printed out on foamcore and decorated with yellow Occu-tape, I had another thought: Occupy just may be ahead of the curve.
New Ventures Unconference 2013
Who coaches the coaches in today's fluid marketplace? Occasionally, it's artist activists. I have been invited to lead a corporate coaching workshop, it will be a social experiment.New Ventures West:We are a group of dedicated practitioners on four continents who have been providing Integral Coaching® services for over 20 years. Our faculty includes people with backgrounds in sociology, philosophy, psychology, business, cognitive science, anthropology and integral studies. Our methodology has been honed by combining rigorous theory and the practical concerns of everyday people. We work with the entire person so that she has access to her own full potential in working with clients. For us, there is no separation between the development of the coach and the quality of the work they're able to do with clients. http://www.newventureswest.com/coach-training/programs/2013-unconference
DebtFair is a project of Occupy Museums and friends. It's a series of experimental market-actions to address the massive debt crisis in art today. Decentralized, on- and off-line, crossing institutional hierarchies in both public and private spaces, artists contextualize their work within the narratives of their actual economic lives. Collectors receive artwork in exchange for checks directly to the artist’s loaning banks.
In DebtFair, Art = Liberation.
We are calling on all artists and art lovers affected by the debt crisis or passionate to support a sustainable arts future to get involved in DebtFair. Please visit www.debtfair.org and sign up to share your story, exhibit your art, and help build it from the ground up.
Overall student debt has tripled since 2004, while defaults have soared 36% in the last year alone. And so, as the top of the art market booms, a generation of artists and art workers — the “roots” of the cultural ecosystem — is sinking deep into debt. Many begin their professional art journeys walking out of higher education owing six figures they are not likely to repay with precarious jobs and internships.
Many players are involved. Universities continue to advertise increasingly expensive MFAs and banks freely offer government-backed loans which artists willingly accept, sold on illusionistic free-market ambitions. Meanwhile, wealthy collectors collude with 1% galleries and auction houses to skim the cream off of this debtors system, turning a cold shoulder to the harsh economic reality of the 99%. We are experiencing a big bubble here: the art world has become one giant debt fair, and the 1% of the 1% are its only beneficiaries.
It’s time to create our own alternatives; we need a sustainable cultural bailout.
How it works:
This Summer, we’ll stage a meetup where artists interview each other about their debt. This information will go on our website alongside responses to our call for new statistics about the debt crisis in the arts, creating an intellectual context rooted in economic reality rather than luxury escapism.
In September, DebtFair will hit the streets of New York City. The fair is decentralized, mapped as a layer onto the city and connected through unique booths, maps, and performances. Artists themselves will design the innovative booths to cross the lines of institutional hierarchies as well as public and private spaces. Audiences and collectors will find booths within art galleries, non-profit spaces, sidewalks, bank lobbies, private homes, bodegas, and studios. The artists will be present at the fair to discuss their work and their economic lives. When a collector wants to support an artist’s work through real interaction, they write a check directly to the loaning bank in exchange for art. We encourage offerings of work at many levels from small Kickstarter gift-like amounts to help spread the love, to pieces that trade for complete debt bailouts.
In December, DebtFair will exhibit in a 5000 square foot space in Miami’s art foundation district, offering an alternative to the most vulgar of art fairs, Art Basel Miami Beach. It is time to return a sense of agency to artists and people who truly love art - a safe place for those not interested in what Kim Kardashian is doing over the weekend.
We can support artists and institutions who contribute to public culture rather than “Friezing” art into assets where the very few benefit at the expense of the many. It’s time to model a sustainable cultural bailout. Mutual aid is the exchange rate of a sustainable future.
Energize, Mobilize, Polarize! Heinrich Boll Stiftung conference Berlin
The spread of digital technologies has given new opportunities to activists around the world. At the same time they can also be the cause of new threats to activists and people using digital media for political communication or mobilization. Successful campaigning and political action requires knowledge of digital technologies and social media, as well as skills in communication strategies and creative forms to express a message. The event will attempt to answer the question: "What are the tools and trends, the opportunities and challenges for activism in 2013?" both on a theoretical and practical level and also both online and offline.http://www.boell.de/calendar/VA-viewevt-en.aspx?evtid=12194
"Lotus Petals" for the Brooklyn Rail
This came just came out in February issue of Brooklyn Rail, guest edited by Martha Schwendener.
"We’ll witness the colors of a beautiful new art bloom soon after we revolutionize the markets. Art schools, artists, galleries, fairs, collectors, auctions, museums, and the corporate media have lined up to manufacture a compelling narrative about value, circulating the same artists worldwide as currency and multiplying their value via speculation. This same assembly line also chains most artists into debt and freezes or hides away much creative practice. But we are already seeing experiments, hacks, and technologies that point to what lies beyond. I imagine the blooming of the art market into numerous small-scale systems (lotus petals), each proposing heterogeneous models to value and exchange and understand art. Together, these will bring creative practice into contact with many lives and unleash optimism and power into the world.
Digging out of the financial debt-hole many artists find themselves in today will be a first order of business. I imagine experimental economies where art objects trade as a “bailout currency” against shares of student debt. This will collectivize remaining debt loads (admitting we’re all in this together) and convert economic and social negativity into a catalyst for good feeling and flow. Artists will be challenged to scramble the 1 percent aesthetics and prices coded into their work; to open up their craft and their politics; to be humbler and more generous. Other models will remove the links between art and money altogether, developing barter and skill trading, and nourishing an open source conceptual art market that injects playful inquiry and transgression directly into popular culture. We will see a widespread hacking movement to hunt down loopholes and blind spots in the corporate (art and non-art) market and insert beautiful modules that promote equality. Additional economies will connect people into energized social nodes that experiment in public space, taking on the behemoth of corporate advertising to re-fashion the skin of cities and streets among which we live our lives, with non-messages much more interesting and unexpected than “buy me.” We’ll see open source projects with multiple authors, spinning off a web of outcomes temporarily capable of operating across the globe on the scale of the U.S. military or energy multinationals, leaving definitions of art far behind in favor of whatever is necessary to enact needed creative work and play.
The potential energy is here. As we continue to break through fear and cease praying to the market’s invisible hand and use our own to begin these experiments, the lotus will bloom."
Occupy Radio on WBAI radio NYC
Friday November 1 from 6:30 to 7 I was interviewed by Claire Lebowitz and friends on the Occupy Wall Street show on WBAI http://www.wbai.org/
Debt Coin on Russia Today
Russia Today, an international media station funded by the Russian Government, was the first TV on the scene on September 17th where I interviewed as FDR coin. Here they are following up on directions in the movement through three activists deeply involved in OWS. They filmed me in the studio working on a student debt currency project. This was right before Hurricane Sandy, and they managed to capture the re-energization of the movement in the last few weeks.
#7BillionBloombergs, discussion at Momenta Art
Occupy Museums hosts a Discussion #2 of Occupy Your BFF: 7 Billion Bloombergs
at Momenta Art
As we stand in the face of an escalating coup of the public sector by private interests, Occupy Museums asks the following questions of New York City’s art workers:
|| When does private philanthropy serve the public good and at what point does it undermine the public sector?
|| Is it ethical for cultural institutions to accept philanthropy when it abets the PR campaigns of corporations or individuals who have done harm to the communities served by those institutions?
|| Is art being used by the city’s elite to distract from their unethical practices?
|| Does acceptance of funding equate complicity with or even support of those practices?
|| Does private funding ultimately destabilize the sustainability of the receiving institution or individual?
|| Is private philanthropy inherently corrupt and cynical?
Occupy Museums raises these questions within the walls of Momenta Art, an institution that receives funding from the Bloomberg Family Foundation (BFF). From this position, we interrogate our complicity with the powers that be and invite others to do the same.
Michael Bloomberg is a figure whose hands are firmly on the levers of both public and private funding. The second wealthiest person in the city (after David Koch) is also in charge of a three term political dynasty; with personal friends installed as major decision makers, his level of influence is historic. With major funding across the board given through BFF, as well as popular mayoral support of bike lanes and city greenery, many see this influence as benign. Yet dig a little and realize that Bloomberg is not a friend of the 99% and those of us struggling to cope with rising costs in the city. As New York City’s Mayor, he has cut homeless programs in half and diminished funding for education. As philanthropist Bloomberg drains our city of tax revenue by funneling $2.7 billion in contributions to his foundation through offshore tax shelters. BFF’s funds are distributed by power brokers within his close circle, not democratically. Bloomberg is greasing the wheels for the complete private takeover of the public sector, which is part of a quiet corporate revolution: a grab-it-all moment for the 1%.
But BFF is not the only funding organization that operates in this manner. The current structure is the result of the Tax Reform Act of 1969, which requires nonprofits to function using corporate structures, resulting in a top down organization in which CEOs and board members make most of the of the decisions. At the same time, the (usually) wealthy (mostly) white folks holding these positions rarely represent the communities their foundations support. Meanwhile the smaller organizations that apply for funding are pitted against each other for diminishing amounts of money even while being forced to expand to remain eligible. All this occurs so that the wealthy can funnel money into organizations that mesh with their personal belief systems rather than pay their fair share of taxes. We need a democratically-governed public support structure. What can we do to get it back in a form that works here and now?
"Action is Concrete" at Steirischer Herbst
During the Truth is Concrete Festival (Steirischer Herbst) a group of artist activist organized a group within the group called "Action is Concrete" in collaboration with local activists from Graz to experiment with mobilized political vitality.
The press release from Sept 25, 22 p.m. announced:
"Tomorrow 26 September 2012, a jolly group of local and international artists and cultural workers will take to the streets of the capital of the Styria, Graz! They will visit local points of interest where global and local conflicts merge into one.
In a week where the people of Spain (Tuesday), Greece (Wednesday) and India (Saturday) raise their voice against the dominance of finance over every form of life, all citizens and non-citizens and tourists of all ages are invited to join this collective procession, which is also an assembly, a tour, an investigation and an inspiration!"
On September 27th, 2012 “Actions is Concrete” a series of political and artistic interventions in the city of Graz, born out of “Truth is Concrete” made up of a collective of international and local cultural workers. At 4pm we invited the public to protest a creative tour of Graz which included more than 100 people gathered at “Truth is Concrete” terrace Thalia. The first action was “Smash-Town, a patriarchal die-in” in which women and men performed a collective suicide, then able to be “born again”, no longer being suppressed by male domination.
After the rebirth, the participants were led by Mr. Alley to the contemporary art museum theKunsthaus Graz which is supported by Raiffeisen Bank, their biggest sponsor and investor in the oil industry. During the march participants sung together to drive away evil spirits of the Kunsthaus. This action was in response to the complicity between business enterprises and public cultural institutions.
The group then moved onto the main bridge, Erzherzog-Johann-Brücke, where a black strip of cloth was hung in the river Mur, to protest against the plans for a new Murkraftwerk.
The last interventions took place in the Hauptplatz the main square in Graz, a collective begging action against the discriminatory ban on begging in Styria and public drinking action in response to the alcohol prohibition at the Hauptplatz.
Video from a participant of “Action is Concrete.”
Truth is Concrete
A 24/7 marathon camp on artistic strategies in politics and political strategies in art. 21/09 – 28/09/2012, Graz
The Netherlands, Hungary, Spain, Great Britain, Greece, Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Japan… A list in progress of countries as synonyms for crises, hopes and disasters that are changing the world so fast that we can’t keep track: the rise of the populist right, financial devastations threatening the whole European project, fundamental destruction of economical, educational and cultural structures, democratic uprisings, Islamic fundamentalism, threats of technological and ecological catastrophes – where to start, where to end?
What is the role of art in this race of events that we can barely follow, let alone properly understand? At a time when theory and practice are constantly lagging behind reality? When art is seen rather as a mere leftist hobby than a foundation of humanity?
We have learned that there are no easy answers any more. We don’t trust ideologies, even though we follow the ideology of capitalism. We know everything is contingent and relative. We replace critique with criticality, the political with the post-political, modernity with post-modernity, and capitalism with added value. But where the answers get too complicated, the desire for simple solutions is growing. And we – perhaps indeed leftist hobbyists – seem to have lost touch with a larger base. The constant awareness of the complexity of the notions of truth, reality or politics seems to have manoeuvred us into a dead-end road: either we are too simple, or we are too complex, too populist or too stuck in hermetic eremitism. Either we include too much or we exclude too many.
So what is to be done? Should art help in solving problems that politics and society themselves have ignored for so long? Should art be a social or political tool, can it be useful? And why should it know what to do when nobody else does?
“Truth is concrete” is what was written in big letters over Bertolt Brecht’s working desk in his Danish exile – quoting Lenin quoting Hegel quoting Augustine. We take the possibility of concrete truth as a working hypothesis and look for direct action, for concrete change and knowledge. Large or small scale, loud and aggressive, or intimate and careful. Obscure or obvious. An art that not only presents and documents but that engages in specific political and social situations – and an activism that not only acts for the sake of acting but searches for intelligent, creative means of self-empowerment: artistic strategies and tactics in politics, political strategies and tactics in art.
“Truth is concrete” is a 24-hour, 7-day marathon camp: 200 artists, activists and theorists lecture, perform, play, produce, discuss, collect artistic strategies in politics and political strategies in art. All day long, all night long. It is a platform, a toolbox as well as a performative statement, an extreme effort at a time that seems to need some extreme efforts. The marathon is a machine, running in the centre, inspiring and frustrating. Surrounded by a camp-like living and working environment as a social space, that defines its own needs and demands. Having to miss out is part of having to make choices.
“Truth is concrete” creates a one-week community, mixing day and night, developing its own jet lag towards the surrounding world – at the same time being confronted non-stop with an outside audience passing by, joining in, leaving and returning. Lectures, discussion, performances, films and concerts will be accompanied by one-day workshops, open spaces and an exhibition. A full grant program additionally invites 100 students and young professionals from all over the world. In an attempt to create not just another event about politics, but a political event itself, the festival also investigates its own format and its own everyday decision-making.
Opening: Occupy Your BFF at Momenta Art
Momenta Art presents an exchange of ideas with Occupy Wall Street as the movement approaches its one-year anniversary. http://www.momentaart.org/cur_pro/index.html This Fall, Momenta Art will invite Occupy Museums (Occupy Wall Street) to use their resources to activate critical dialogue about the relationship between art and the market. From September 14 through October 28, Momenta Art will facilitate an open space to enable engagement through events, talks and knowledge sharing inside and outside the gallery space while acknowledging the one-year anniversary of the Occupy movement on September 17th.We face a crisis of culture in which our deepest values have been hijacked for private gain. The arts sector acts as an unregulated tax shelter for collectors while some wealthy board members abuse their privilege at publicly funded museums, routinely acting in self-interest through public institutions. Entrance fees are unaffordable to most young artists and working families. Auction houses report record profits while artists or their estates gain nothing from secondary market sales. The professionalization of art has left hordes of young artists with massive student debt and steadily decreasing opportunities. We are left with a general inability of the arts to act critically within a system to which we are indebted, ultimately weakening the democratic potential of art.Momenta Art supports Occupy Wall Street in questioning these unethical and unsustainable trends, and calls on other art institutions to join us in doing so. Momenta Art encourages an art community that embraces equality and is left able to question the conventions and assumptions that we live by. Art is a witness to changing social conditions. We recognize that we are all complicit in a loss of the commons—that which is owned by no one and shared by all. We recognize that we are all responsible for wresting the control of our culture from the hands of private interest. Occupy Museums participated in the 7th Berlin Biennale by working with and within the KW Institute. This demonstrated the ability and necessity for art institutions to engage in self-critique and to question their loyalty to privileged and exploitative systems within our society. We look forward to continuing this work in September. Momenta's programming is supported in part by Bloomberg Philanthropies, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the Harriet Ames Charitable Trust, the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, The Greenwich Foundation, The Jerome Foundation, The Lily Auchincloss Foundation, The New York Community Trust, The New York State Council on the Arts, and individual contributors.
Going Up Jerusalem
In late June, I participated in a project oranized by Jerusalem- based artist Guy Briller called Going up: Jerusalem. This was a creative act by a group of artists, social activists and intellectuals who made collective pilgrimage to Jerusalem in pursuit of an alternative reality. Inspired by the recent spate of social protests in Israel and abroad, and focusing on the question of what social and cultural ideals should shape our world today, the participants walked to Jerusalem over five days during which they created, conversed and most of all shared in a wholly unique experience.
For my participation in this open-ended project, I decided to wear a penny mask during much of the hike (a mask which I had often work in Occupy Wall Street protests). The copper coin, marked by the visage of Abraham Lincoln, took on a new meaning in the Judean Hills: I became Abraham the first Jewish Patriarch, interacting with the other artists and poets and passersby in a series of spontaneous micro-performances as seen here. As the journey unfolded, I realized that my goal was not the holy sites of Jerusalem but rather the separation wall that divides Israeli and Palesinian occupied lands. On the last day, I travelled to Adu Dis in Easter Jerusalem with a few of my fellow hikers and we enacted a series of poetic rituals to the Wall, marking the end of the pilgrimage- a forced stopping point, a barrier and a question mark.
Going up: Jerusalem is a direct continuation of a work by the artists Guy Briller, Ronen Idelman and Yonatan Amir (in the framework of the 2011 Jerusalem Season of Culture) and it represents a courageous and highly entertaining attempt to examine the current state of Israeli society through art and communal introspection.
When: June 21-28, 2012
Where: From Neve Shalom to the Rose Garden opposite the Knesset
Project Creator and Director: Guy Briller
Co-Artistic Directors: Gilad Reich and Guy Briller
Production: Noam Kuzar
Artistic Director, The Jerusalem Season of Culture: Itay Mautner
Occupy Museums at the 7th Berlin Biennial
Occupy Museums (OWS) participated in the 7th Berlin Biennial from June 1-14th. We saw this as an opportunity to share ideas, resources, tactics, challenges, and solutions with our international partners in a world struggle for economic justice. It was as a risky experiment between activists, governments, and cultural institutions which could possibly offer unique exposure and international connectivity. The risk was co-optation of our movement’s grassroots power. We hope that the relationships we build will open lasting lines of communication for this global- movement. It’s time for people to come together across national boundaries. A global system of economic oppression requires global organizing in response.
Here is an Occupy Museum's member's account of our work in Berlin,
also found here:
Arriving at the “Occupy Biennale,” the Occupy section of the Berlin Biennial, was shocking. Although interesting lectures and discussions were held in our ground-floor space, architecturally it was a sunken pit, a fishbowl. Visitors could enter and stand on an elevated viewing platform to observe the occupiers go about their activism. Seemingly unaware of the institutional frame within which they were viewed, the occupiers who had organized and decorated the space painted the walls with slogans and hung banners to create a kind of Occupy themepark. We dubbed the space the “Human Zoo.” The setting was complicated further by a very strong curatorial frame, based on Artur Zmijewski’s desire to display only effective political action, and not “art” per se. Zmijewski, an internationally renown artist in his own right, has a track record of using people as marionettes and creating ethically and politically ambiguous scenarios. We were afraid we unwittingly agreed to play a role in his latest piece, an Occupy time-capsule and tomb that historicizes and deactivates the movement.
In reaction to this stifling curated space within the Kunst Werke (KW) where the Biennial was held, our participation was present, future-oriented, and inviting. We scheduled our open action assemblies in the courtyard of the KW. After our first action, a pots-and-pans banging Casseroles at Deutsche Bank and the Canadian Embassy in solidarity with the Quebec student strike, the meetings attracted activists from around the world. Recognizing that our global crisis requires a global response, we drew on new international connections to develop a global action network that synchronized our actions with actions in other countries. We focused on targets outside of the Biennial including the Pergamon Museum, Deutsche Guggenheim, and Deutsche Bank. Our presence in the Biennial was limited to the occasional banner inviting people to actions and large action meetings in the courtyard that were open to the public.
While our actions could perhaps leave the deadening frame of this Biennial, we recognized that we would need to address our role within it and could not leave the institutional frames unchallenged. The curators may have framed the show, but framing the curators were the staff of the Kunst Werke and its director, Gabrielle Horn. Framing the KW was the Kulturstiftung des Bundes, the Foundation for Culture, a German government fund for art. Each needed to be addressed together and separately. To address the curators, we invited Zmijewski to join our political actions throughout Berlin and stand with us against art world abuses. He showed up. To address the frame of the KW, we organized a meeting with all the staff and opened a space where workers could openly and if necessary, anonymously, share their grievances. The well-attended discussion ultimately focused on the below minimum-wage salaries of the museum guards and further work was pledged to examine the budget closely to determine how they could be paid more.
We then submitted a proposal to the curators titled, “You can’t curate a movement,” calling for the Biennial and the KW to adopt a horizontal, non-hierarchical organizational structure. The curators would become the former curators and the director the former director, to be replaced by working groups operating within a consensus-based process. We consensed on the proposal and moved forward immediately, organizing assemblies and working groups. Meetings were convened to further clarify the budget, to discuss treatment and compensation of guards, and to determine the information available to the public on the Biennial’s website. The process for implementing this new horizontal structure has just begun, and a continuity working group that includes KW staff, Biennial staff, the former curators, occupiers, and members of the public are helping to oversee the transition. Working group meetings are open to all staff and the public.
It is safe to say that we have not yet successfully implemented a non-hierarchical structure at the KW. But we are making progress, and perhaps it more importantly, we are experimenting with new tactics to challenge the corporate logic of cultural institutions. Indeed, if we want a democratic culture, we will need democratic cultural institutions. Occupy Museums has gained a great deal from this experience; new connections with activists abroad, a better understanding of European arts funding models, and experience pushing institutional boundaries from the inside have refined our vision and strengthened us.
Before the Biennial started, I was interviewed about Occupy Museum's relation to institiutions for Camera Austria magazine, and for the BB7 website:
Here is an interview about Occupy Museums and the Biennial experience:
Symposium on Sustainability and Contemporary Art, Central European University in Budapest
Atmospheres of Protest
Symposium on Sustainability and Contemporary Art
The upsurge of new popular movements from Egypt to Greece and Bucharest to New York has engendered an atmosphere of defiance and social creativity that has captured the global imagination. Beyond the ebb and flow of individual protest movements, this symposium asks whether global solidarity has really taken hold this time and considers the variety of ways in which contemporary art is embroiled through practices of dialogue and collaboration in the emergence of a common horizon and the imagining of a sustainable future. Providing a trans-disciplinary forum for discussion of the vital issues bridging the fields of art and environmental thought, the symposium sheds light on our understanding of the multifarious notion of sustainability, which appears by turns as a radical concept in global ecological thinking, can be recruited as a corporate strategy for green capitalism, and may act as a spur to new forms of social activism.
Speakers include artist-activists Noah Fischer and Maria Byck, who are members of theOccupy Museums Collective that protests against the domination of the interests of the 1% in the running of New York art institutions, as well as Berlin and Amsterdam-basedurbanibalists Matteo Pasquinelli and Wietske Maas, who will present a radical manifesto of urban cannibalism that seeks to recover the spontaneous living matter of the city. CuratorsMaja and Reuben Fowkes explore the creation of liberated zones and the relevance of ecological thought to new protest movements. Activist and writer on affective labour Emma Dowling will reflect on the sustainability of the protest movement in the light of the spread of locally-organised occupations of public and private space, while Tomas Rafa’s video archive of marches and counter-demonstrations illuminates the spectrum of contemporary protest.
The symposium is organised by curators Maja and Reuben Fowkes (Translocal.org) in collaboration with the Department of Environmental Science and Policy and the Centre for Arts and Culture at Central European University (CEU).
For more information see:
Occupying Tension- essay for Inquiring Mind
http://www.inquiringmind.com/Articles/OccupyingTension.htmlThe night that we were evicted from Liberty Park, I spent the early hours of the morning struggling in the streets of Lower Manhattan with a few hundred disoriented & angry people. Hundred of cops in riot gear were chopping up the street into mazes of steel barricades. They were forcefully deploying researched & effective crowd control strategy; we tried to unify our scraggly numbers and rally, but our endeavor proved to be futile and disheartening and it became gradually clear that the police had the upper hand. We were losing: the tension in our bodies gradually easing into defeat toward the early hours of the morning. Among my company that night was a man patiently trying to unify the hot-headed crowds. He had been a student protester in Tiananmen Square. He said to me, “movements do not attract activists, they create them.” So all that night, even though we seemed to be losing, we were in fact learning. Our bodies were in position to feel the sensations of freedom and obstacle in the streets-rare and profound sensations. We were in the midst of grasping a new way together, and that’s why this is the beginning of my story, not the end. read rest of article here
Silence and Noise at the No-Eyes Viewing Wall
The No-Eyes Viewing Wall at Brooklyn Zen Center is proud to present Silence and Noise, a new multidisciplinary project that will open on Friday, April 13th from 7pm to 10pm.
In the Zen Buddhist tradition, each silent meditation period begins and ends with the striking of a bell. The sound waves emanating from the vibrating body of the bell fill the room, envelop the sitters, and slowly pulse to silence. The silence that abides is in fact not silent at all, but filled with the sound of breathing, noisy thoughts, and street traffic outside of the meditation room. From this non-silence, the bell emerges once more. The sound of the bell, as Shunryu Suzuki Roshi notes, is both objective and subjective. Objectively, it is the movement of the air in the vicinity of our ears and body; subjectively it is the transmitted effort of the bell striker encouraging our efforts to encounter silence, peace, and freedom.
Silence and Noise is a boundary-crossing project for the No-Eyes Viewing Wall. A group of artists that includes sculptors, sound-designers, musicians and researchers has been meeting for several months, meditating and sharing ideas together, and slowly soaking in the unique silence of the Brooklyn Zen Center space. From this experience, they have created a series of organically evolving sculptures that will be displayed on the No-Eyes Viewing Wall from April 13th through mid July. Like the striking of a bell, this exhibition will be being to pulse and resonate on April 13th with a very special evening performance reinterpreting the traditional Zen form for sitting, walking and chanting.
Curated by Terence Caulkins and Noah Fischer.
LeftForum Panel: The Significance of Art in the Occupy Movement
I will be speaking on this panel along with other members of Occupy Museums: The Occupy Wall Street movement (OWS) has altered conceptions of the international socio-political environment on the left, and has accordingly sent shock-waves throughout the realm of art and culture. In solidarity with OWS, artists took their work to the streets, creating on-site carnivalesque performances as forms of protest. Artists globally designed posters and logos to collectively construct the aesthetic appeal of the movement, and more significantly, diverse groups of artists organized to "Occupy Museums," such as the MoMA, the Frick Collection, and New Museum, critiquing them as as "temples of cultural elitism." Occupy Museums claims that the mainstream art world circuit is complicit in neoliberal capitalism and caters to the interests of the "1%." Overall, OWS has renewed a sense of political urgency within the art world that has up to now been relegated to the margins. This panel critically investigates the role of art and culture in the Occupy movement, and how OWS has affected the infrastructure of the mainstream art world. What role does art play in the political struggles that OWS seeks to accomplish? In what ways is OWS a resource for creating change in the way art is produced, received, and distributed? These questions, among others, will act as the touchstone for artists and cultural theorists to asses how art and politics affect each other as the OWS continues to take form.
New School Visiting Artist Lecture Series:Occupy Museums: Imani Brown and Noah Fischer
Performance with the Aaron Burr Society at the Austrian Cultural Forum
On Monday, January 23rd, Noah Fischer joined Jim Costanzo of the Aaron Burr Society to perform a distribution of stamped dollar bills and smashed pennies for the opening of a show titled "It's the Political Economy Stupid." The show is curated by Gregory Sholette.http://davidplakke.us/client/ACF_Political_24Jan2012/content/ACF_193_lar...
Speaking at Occupy Providence
On Sunday, December 18th, Occupy Providence will stage a one day event at Roger Williams Park to celebrate Roger William's legacy of freedom of speech seen in the new light of the OWS movement. Former Providence mayor Buddy Cianci will be speaking along with Occupy Providence people. I will head up there with the Aaron Burr Society to offer some perspectives from OWS New York.
Party for 25th Anniversary of M/E/A/N/I/N/G
Since 1986, Susan Bee and Mira Schor have published M/E/A/N/I/N/G - an anthology of artist's writings, theory, and criticism. I was asked to write a piece for the 25th Anniversary here: http://writing.upenn.edu/epc/meaning/05/meaning-online-5.html#fischer
Below is information about the party.
The 25th Anniversary issue is available online and as a PDF, and coming soon to Kindle.
Occupy Printed Matter
Printed Matter is pleased to announce a collaboration with Occupy Wall Street, coordinated by the OWS Occupennial and a team of occupant artists. Through November 26th the Printed Matter storefront window will feature Occupy Printed Matter, a rotating installation of work created by artists participating in the #OccupyWallStreet arts and culture working group, the inaugural artist action from that committee. The political, social and cultural impact of OWS and the broader Occupy movement has already been widely felt; it is our hope that providing a modest outlet in Chelsea will serve both as an expression of solidarity with the movement and an opportunity to extend its reach into new communities.http://www.printedmatter.org/news/news.cfm?article_id=871
Zen Monster on the No-Eyes Viewing Wall
Zen Monster 3 Lunch at the No-Eyes Viewing Wall
Barbara Henning, Lewis Warsh, Edgar Oliver, Kimberly Lyons,
music by adam bernstein
the launch event at the brooklyn zen center, 505 Carroll Street, on friday night nov. 4 for zen monster magazine marks our 3rd issue-- an unusually strong and clear statement of buddhist, non-buddhist, and trans-buddhist art, poetry, and subversive political statement -- our strongest endorsement yet of gary snyder's landmark essay "Buddhism and the Coming Revolution," which we printed in ZM#1 back in 2008. our zen buddhist praxis here in brooklyn and n.j. is edgy, overtly political, and aesthetically liberated from any particular form or artistic ideology. we back the Occupy Wall Street movement 100%; our art editor noah fischer has been in Zuccotti Park since day one, even demonstrating as an artist there on wall street before day one with a small group dressed up as currency, as money, and he is there today and every day.
we are a tri-coastal community of poets, writers, artists, thinkers, activists, and people committed to the middle class, to working people, to the 99%. in terms of buddhism, roughly 50% of our authors & artists, in any one issue, are overtly buddhist practitioners -- the rest are our secular friends, cohorts, intellectuals, artists, fellow travelers, etc., who do not object to our existential religious ideals -- and that is what zen monster is: a space for writers and artists, edited by buddhists, but with clarity acknowledging intellectual, artistic, and political freedom from any ecclesiastical framework or supervision whatsoever. given history, we know this is important.
thank you, and please join us on Nov. 4, 6 - 9 p.m. refreshments will be served. and we will 'just honor everything,' as Philip Whalen once advised.
zen monster #3 includes:
Summer of Change: Distribution of 10,000 Lincoln Pennies
"Today, September 22nd, 2011 is the last day of Summer. And tomorrow is the beginning of the Fall...of the Empire of Greed. These coins, though insignificant in value, are the seeds of change for a new nation built on equality and justice" With these words, spoken before the New York Stock Exchange, the seven performances of the Summer of Change conclude. We distributed each American numismatic currency from the dollar to the penny at the feet of the Gods of Wall Street in a bid to break through the mythology of Free Markets. Today we marched from Liberty Park, currently occupied as a democratic "Free Zone" in the mode of Tahrir Square (Egypt) and Puerta del Sol(Spain) to Wall Street- scattering the seeds of change as we walked. video coming soon!
Summer of Change@ #occupywallstreet
Saturday September 17, 2011 a peaceful movement inspired by Tahrir Square in Egypt, Puerta del Sol in Madrid, and the worldwide rage against an out-of-control financial system blossomed in New York City just as the Summer of Change turns to Fall. Protesters who had hoped to occupy Wall Street were not suprised to find the pedestrian mall completely shut down by the NYPD. However, The protest went on anyway in other locations of the Financial District and it continues as of this writing. The Summer of Change project is taking part in what we hope will be a beautiful new mass-performance of freedom and economic empowerment. (FDR is interviewed in the video at 1:35).Check out this photo of FDR smoking his kazoo in the Gothamist:
Summer of Change: Distribution of 2000 Jefferson Nickels
Midnight on Wall Street. Alexander Hamilton appears on a red carpet, saunters past the Stock Exchange, and approaches the Federal Building steps. In the center of the square is a cardboard box inhabited by The Common Man. "Who is here that distrurbs my slumber?" "It is I who have some to see/if there is anything I can do for thee..."And thus ensues a performance in rhyme, a modern day Faust which, like Goethe's great story, tells the tale of ambition, wealth, and ultimately, folly, and chilling horror. This is the fifth disribution of money to Wall Street and as in the other performances, the visage of the coin embodied, Thomas Jefferson, appears in his silver numismatic mask, shining in the streetlights of midnight Wall Street, to ring in the shower of 2000 nickels.
Summer of Change: Distribution of 1000 Roosevelt Dimes
At high noon September 13, a man rolls onto Wall Street in a wheelchair, dismounts, and painfully makes his way up the steps of the Federal Building to speak to the American people: "It is high time we speak frankly/ Of the current crisis threatening our Democracy/ The very state of the world today is a summons for us to stand together/ And to Act against injustice/ For this very spot, my friends/Is the site of a heinous crime..." What heinous crime was committed on Wall Street? Come to the performance to find out! You'll meet the Common Man and hear of his anger, hopes, and dreams for the future. And, of course, this will be followed by the usual showering of coins on Wall Street that you have come to know as the Summer of Change. Please join us for the fourth performance of the Summer of Change: the Distribution of 1000 Dimes. ..."progressive government by its very terms, must be a living and growing thing, that the battle for it is never ending and that if we let up for one single moment or one single year, not merely do we stand still but we fall back in the march of civilization." --FDR
Summer of Change: Distribution of Washington Quarters
High Noon on Thursday, the Father of our Nation shall dialog with the Common Man on the Federal Hall Steps of Wall Street. They will then distribute 400 US Quarter-Dollars to the Commonwealth for the latest numismatic offering of the Summer of Change. This is a joint venture of Noah Fischer and the Aaron Burr Society.www.SummerofChange.netPlease consider donating to this cause on Kickstarter. We guarantee that every penny you give will find its way to Wall Street! (You also have a chance to get your money back at the performance, but you must compete for it!http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/154809305/summer-of-change?ref=live
Summer of Change: Distribution of Kennedy Half-Dollars
July 15th, Please Join us on Wall Street at 4:00 PM for the second event in the Summer of Change: A distribution of 200 50-cent pieces. At 4:30 we will march in procession to the Irish Hunger Memorial (map) where Ed Kimball will screen archival 8mm footage on JFK (whose visage adorns the 50-cent piece).The whole event runs from 4-7 PM.This performance is dedicated to the memory of Maria Soledad Loya 1940-2011
"An American Revolution" to be printed in Zen Monster 3
Panel Discussion on Temporary Public Art
PROVIDENCE – Tape Art, by artist Michael Townsend and friends, will create a unique large-scale temporary art installation in the entire Bank of America City Center as part of the Celebrate Providence 375 Years city-wide activities. Using only colored drawing tape, this 14,000 square foot drawing will take approximately three weeks to take form by the artists, and will culminate in a party on June 30th where attendees can remove the drawing by working together to lift up all the tape.
The concept for the large Tape Art drawing in Greater Kennedy Plaza will be rooted in the arrival of Roger Williams to Rhode Island. The image will depict Roger Williams landing on the shores of Providence and then expand to 14,000 square feet - exploring his legacy through the themes of Hope, Freedom, Roots and Ingenuity. “We are thrilled to have such a large surface to draw on,” said artist Michael Townsend. “And through this work, we hope to help share the city's incredible history, lore and ideals with all.”
Join us for related fun events throughout the month - and especially Thursday, June 23rd when we will host an entertaining Panel Discussion!
Light refreshments, and a musical performance by TRUA kick off the evening. And then at 6pm we will dive into questions like:
What is the value of temporary public art work vs. “permanent” public art work? How can the ephemeral have a powerful impact on a community? Why does public art matter? Does public art belong to the public?
Summer of Change Opening Event
For the first event, which falls on the Summer Sostice, we will be handing out silver dollars and greenbacks on wall street. Please visit "Summer of Change" under "projects' to learn more.
A Lively Experiment at Roger Williams National Memorial
A Lively Experiment an art installation in Roger Williams National Memorial which will be part of Providence’s 375th Celebration,. A Lively Experiment aims to connect Providence residents to each other and to the city’s history through creative garden design..
The installation will take the form of a parabolic curve seamlessly integrated into the park’s landscape, echoing the existing successful design . When we posted an online comment blog (www.alivelyexperiment.net) , most park visitors wrote that they enjoy the park as it is – describing Roger Williams National Memorial as safe and tranquil. In keeping with the overall approval of the park, we decided to adopt the existing language (the park’s grass, flowers and sloped landscape) into our design.
The grassy arc and the flowers planted on it serve, on one hand, to celebrate the park as an inner city oasis. The sculpture’s position at the edge of the park, would also function to attract new visitors. People driving down North Main Street may be intrigued by the sculpture and pull over to take a look. One of the commenters online described RWNM as a “hidden gem.” We hope that A Lively Experiment will introduce more people to the park, allowing the space to grow as a community hub.
From a distance A Lively Experiment extends upwards towards the sky in a graceful arc, but when people interact with the piece at close proximity they will also see the chalkboard paneling on the sides of the structure. On each panel we will pose a question such as “Where is your favorite place to go in Providence?” or “How would you describe the city?” Visitors will be able to easily respond to these prompts with the chalk provided.
The prompts will encourage positive reflection on Providence, but may also raise some important issues that Providence faces. Rob Goldman, an educator in South Providence, described one of the main issues he sees with the city: the socioeconomic divisions. He told us, “I rarely see people from my side of town here [in the park].” The chalkboard panels are meant to encourage dialog about class divisions in Public Space.
A Lively Experiment will represent a unification of the divided territories of Providence through an assembly of plants. We plan to purchase flowers from a wide range of shops and locations and we will identify where the flowers came from on small tags in the sculpture. Likewise we will reach out to a diverse range of neighborhoods to take part in the late May opening celebration describing the project and giving directions (in multiple languages).
The Lively Experiment is, in a literal sense, a living piece of artwork that celebrates the park along with attracting new visitors. It is also lively in the interactions it will foster. In a way, the work will become a forum in which the community can exalt in their shared love for the city and exchange ideas for improving it.
Sweetcake Enso at the Garrison Institute
curated by Catherine Speath
Across religious traditions the circle has often served as a symbol of unity and spiritual wholeness. Indeed today for some in the spiritual community there is an idealization of evolutionary consciousness, to the extent that absolutely everything from the smallest particle to the furthest reaches of the universe might become as though a single living mind. And yet the circle also serves symbolically as zero, providing a fundamental counterpoint to any such idealized notions of fullness and wholeness. How might the circle continue to be an adequate expression of spiritual life?
Without arriving upon any one answer, Sweetcake Enso is an exhibit that shows the work of Buddhist practitioners who are drawn to the circle as a form. It is in the diversity of expressions and the timeliness of provisional views that the circle reveals aspects of our spiritual conditions.
Sweetcake Enso is named for the tradition of one-stroke brush painting in monastic Japanese Zen Buddhism, in which the Enso symbolizes the meeting of form and formlessness. The spontaneity of one brush stroke is palpably sensed in time. It is both the expression of an individual, to the extent that connoisseurs are able to tell one artist’s Enso from another, and the sense of that individual as composed of fleeting moments, however solid in presentness at each stroke of the brush.
Max Gimblett’s Moon Enso is in this sense a traditional Enso painting. The title, Moon Enso, stems from the practice of categorizing Enso with regard to meaning, and the quality of absorption that the artist would like one to become involved in. Painter and Zen Master Shibiyama explained that an Enso without an accompanying text was like a flat beer, to view it as a pure abstraction was then to miss its true effervescence. Accompanied by words these circles are not as abstract as they appear, and the category of the Sweetcake Enso, of which one might take a bite, is particularly related to everyday life.
Noah Fischer, Untitled Coin, vacuum-formed plastic, copper leaf, 20", 2011
Some of the artists in this exhibit reach for the content of daily life more than others. Noah Fischer’s vacuformed coin enso reflects upon the coin as a sign for sheer emptiness in exchange value, and for a self draped in its purchase, always compounded at once by desire and obsolescence. The word LIBERTY is declarative, but in this form it appears as though hovering in the present from a bygone era.
Gregg Hill, Enso for Thay, paint on steel, 22" diameter x 4", 2010
Gregg Hill’s Enso for Thay is a smashed oil drum. Industrial 55 gallon drums are visible everywhere on the planet, rusty reminders of the global dependence on oil. In Gregg Hill’s work this heavy object is transformed in the shift from the horizontal field of distribution and conflict to the vertical field of painting, losing its uniform weight in gravity to become a lighter erotic object imbued with a sense of loss.
Karen Schiff, Grate Weight, graphite on paper, 80x42", 2006-2011
Karen Schiff’s Grate Weight is a rubbing from a tree grate in the sidewalk – the tree has died and been removed, leaving blank paper encircled at the center. The artist explains that Grate Weight expresses the weight of love, of respectfully tending to the world in its varying conditions.
Arlene Shechet, Site Circling, hand made Abaca paper, 34x34 framed, 1997
Arlene Shechet’s Site Circling is a stencil print – paper is pressed to paper as skin to skin. In Tibetan Buddhism votive stupas are often made to be placed nearby a pilgrimage stupa, a large round structure housing a sacred relic. Clay is pressed into a mold, and this tsa tsa is then pressed to the earth. Stupas are believed to generate a cosmic energy radiating from their centers, like a stone thrown into water. Here the architectural footprint is oriented vertically, depicting the iris of an eye as much as a blueprint plan.
Suzy Sureck, Chance Operation, sumi ink and dye on mylar, 18x18" framed, 2010
Suzy Sureck’s Chance Operations are characterized by a slower openness towards her medium than the traditional Enso painting. The viewer’s absorption in her work is not directed by gesture so much as how pigment takes hold in the process of alchemy.Paper holds the ring of water which in turn receives colored ink, and the artist’s hand leaves the picture, now a field of delicate local incidents that exceed human will.
Ross Bleckner, Four Locations, from the Meditation series, Color spitbite aquatint with chine colle, Somerset white paper, Image size 30" x 22", Paper size 39" x 30", Edition of 50.
Finally, Ross Bleckner’s Four Locations is a print from his Meditation Series. At the center is the trunk of the Bodhi tree, surrounded by radiating leaves. In the ‘80s Ross Bleckner’s work was understood to be ironic, an expression of postmodern simulacra – the copy of a copy for which there is no origin. But painter and critic Peter Halley, who most strongly advocated for this understanding of Bleckner’s work, could in the same breath also write that Bleckner’s paintings are an uplifting response to nuclear energy as the superhuman code to knowledge. Referring to the light in Bleckner’s paintings, Halley wrote: “His work conveys a mood of questioning in the wake of this troubled history, and a realization, relatively novel in Western civilization, that knowledge may be doubt and that doubt may be light – that the reality of disillusionment may also offer the possibility of transcendence.”*