How can artists, activists, designers and other creative minds take a stand and be heard in these days and age of ecological crisis, unfettered intolerance, and growing economic inequalities? Can their work and efforts have a significant impact on the way society thinks and functions? How much responsibility does an artist bear? Is it enough to just ’spark a debate’ and hope other people will do the rest?
/ Live Online class begins 9. May, ends 30. May
/ Every Tuesday, 7pm-9pm, GMT +1
/ 20 participants accepted
The ambition of the course is to help participants understand the mechanisms of activist art and provide an overview of the most inspiring and thought-provoking actions of politically-minded creative practioners. The sessions will also be designed to leave space for debates and reflection over contentious and ambiguous questions relevant to contemporary society.
The USS Iowa firing during target exercises near Vieques, Puerto Rico, 1984. Photo: Phan J. Alan Elliott
Each week, the first half of the course will look at a particular political, cultural, technological or ethical theme that is the source of growing concern in society. Namely: the anthropocene, the persistence of colonialism, the rise of intelligent machines, the new forms of life engineered in laboratories.
Each theme will be illustrated by artworks and public actions that have engaged successfully (and also not successfully because we can always learn from our mistakes) with the topic examined. These case studies will be mostly contemporary, with several incursions into historical precedents: anti-slavery activism in the 19th century, social upheaval in Ancient Greece, liberation struggles in the 60s and 70s, etc.
The other half of the course will explore strategies, tools, and ideas to keep in mind no matter what the topic of the week will be.
Each week, an assignment will invite participants to reflect on an ambiguous issue and to articulate an opinion based on their position or inability to take a clear position.
United Farm Workers, Boycott Non-Union Lettuce, 1970s
Who is this course for?
Politically-minded artists, designers and makers who believe that their ideas, concerns and beliefs should be heard outside of the usual white walls of cultural institutions. Activists looking for inventive strategies to get their message across. And pretty much anyone worried about the state of the world.
Lisa Ma, Joystick Factory
Part 1: From Tintin to Trump Footprints of colonialism.
Part 2: The Tools. The books, online resources, venues and other allies of socially-engaged practices.
Debate of the week.
Part 1: The Anthropocene Western ideas of ‘progress’ versus Planet Earth.
Part 2: Instrumentalization, Misinterpretation and Other Pitfalls Because sometimes the most cunning plan can go wrong.Debate of the week.
Part 1: Automation Robots ‘stealing’ our jobs and getting not only more intelligent but also possibly more creative than us.
Part 2: The Others Fashion, product design, craft and other disciplines that are critical and successfully embed struggles and political action into their making and modes of distribution.Debate of the week.
Part 1: Chimera and Bacteria GMOs and dodos. New fears and challenges raised by technologies that affect our understanding of what nature is.
Part 2: Where to Find Your Audience The subway, the supermarket, the internet, etc. Even museums and traditional cultural institutions can be hijacked successfully.
Debate of the week.
Régine Debatty is a writer, curator, critic, and founder of http://we-make-money-not-art.com/, a blog which received 2 Webby awards and recently received an honorary mention at the START Prize, a competition which acknowledges "innovative projects at the interface of science, technology and art".
Régine writes and lectures internationally about the way in which artists, hackers, and designers use technology as a medium for critical discussion. She also created A.I.L. (Artists in Laboratories), a weekly radio program about the connections between art and science for Resonance104.4fm in London (2012–14), and is the co-author of the “sprint book” New Art/Science Affinities, published by Carnegie Mellon University.