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Yearly Archives: 2013

Activist Art: Does it Work? | open!

Stephen Duncombe and I published a column called “Activist Art: Does it Work?” for Open! Magazine.

It begins like this:

Activist Art: Does it Work?

The first rule of guer­illa war­fare is to know the ter­rain and use it to your ad­vant­age. The to­po­graphy on which the act­iv­ist fights may no longer be the moun­tains of the Si­erra Maes­tra or the jungles of Vi­et­nam, but the les­son still ap­plies. Today, the polit­ical land­scape is one of signs and sym­bols, story and spec­tacle. Re­spond­ing to this new ter­rain, there has been an up­surge in the use of cre­at­ive, artistic, and cul­tural strategies as a tool for so­cial change. This prac­tice goes by many names: polit­ical art, act­iv­ist art, in­ter­ven­tion­ist art, so­cially en­gaged art, and so­cial prac­tice art. No mat­ter the de­scrip­tion, artists are using their aes­thetic train­ing and skill to wage battles for so­cial change. Yet as prac­ti­tion­ers and train­ers in these forms of artistic act­iv­ism, we are haunted by the ques­tion: Does it work?

Read the rest: Activist Art: Does it Work? | open!.

For Pakistani Artists, an Exercise in Creative Activism

For Pakistani Artists, an Exercise in Creative Activism

Midway through a workshop on creative activism the morning of November 22, a group of Pakistani visual artists visiting NYU got some surprising news: Jay-Z had heard they were in the States, and had requested that they perform with him in a music video, as backup singers.

Stephen Duncombe, the Gallatin associate professor who was leading the workshop with conceptual artist Steve Lambert, produced a blank sheet of paper. “You’ll all need to write down your shirt sizes,” he deadpanned, “so you can be fitted for costumes.”

Lambert squinted at a message on his cell phone as he rattled off some logistics. The shoot was to take place that afternoon. In Maryland. On a boat.

read the rest: For Pakistani Artists, an Exercise in Creative Activism.

SUNY Purchase Faculty Colloquium

On October 30, 2013 Professor Stephen Flusburg and I presented at the SUNY Purchase faculty colloquium. Flusburg is a cognitive psychologist and I knew I would be presenting after him, so I tried to build on some of those ideas. If you’re up for it, you can rewind back to see his presentation.

Stephen Flusberg, Assistant Professor of Psychology “Thinking about Thinking about Thinking”

Steve Lambert, Assistant Professor of New Media “Creative Disruption for the Common Good”

I start at about 41 minutes in.

Keynote at HOMEWORK II: LONG FORMS / SHORT UTOPIAS Conference November 8-10, 2013

Announcing HOMEWORK II: LONG FORMS / SHORT UTOPIAS Conference November 8-10, 2013 : Broken City Lab

I’ll be giving a keynote at the Broken City Festival this weekend. Here’s some info from their site:

We’re very pleased to announce Homework II: Long Forms / Short Utopias, a three-day conference and collaboratively-written publication that will aim to unfold the ways in which we construct, articulate, and practice ideas of micro-utopias, pop-up ideals, collaboration, and long-term social engagement in Ontario, across Canada, and abroad.

The conference will build on our previous conference, Homework: Infrastructures & Collaboration in Social Practices, in bringing together multidisciplinary artists and creative practitioners enacting and articulating the complexities of working in practices driven by curiosities about utopian collaboration, community, infrastructures, locality, and long-form social practice. With support from the Ontario Arts Council and Ontario Trillium Foundation, we’re looking to build an event that can frame a discussion on socially-engaged practices that span disciplines, with a particular focus on emerging practitioners.

Homework II will run November 8-10, 2013 in Windsor, Ontario at Art Gallery of Windsor and CIVIC Space.

Our featured keynote speakers this year will be Jeanne van Heeswijk (Rotterdam), Darren O’Donnell (Toronto), and Steve Lambert (New York). In addition to our keynotes, we’ve also invited a series of curatorial partners to develop panels that tackle the conference themes. And, to top it all off, everyone who attends will be co-authors of a book that captures the ideas and conversations from this year’s conference through a series of interviews with presenters, attendees, and organizers alongside collected materials from our 2011 conference.

For more information, please email

via Announcing HOMEWORK II: LONG FORMS / SHORT UTOPIAS Conference November 8-10, 2013 : Broken City Lab.

We’ll Make Out Better Than Okay in Kansas City, MO

We’ll Make Out Better Than Okay
opening Oct. 25
The Charlotte Street Foundation’s la Esquina Gallery
Kansas City, MO.

Featured artists: David O. Alekhuogie (New Haven, CT), Jennifer Boe (Kansas City, MO), Andrea Bowers (Los Angeles, CA), Candy Chang (New Orleans, LA), Blake Fall-Conroy (Ithaca, NY), Theaster Gates (Chicago, IL), Honey Pot Performance (Chicago, IL), Steve Lambert (New York, NY), Persia ft. Daddies Plastik (San Francisco, CA), William Powhida (New York, NY), Public Media Institute (Chicago, IL), Alex Schaefer (Los Angeles, CA), Mike Simi (Chicago, IL), Brittany Southworth-LaFlamme (Chicago, IL), Stephanie Syjuco (San Francisco, CA), Cassie Thornton (San Francisco, CA), and Daniel Tucker (Chicago, IL).

Charlotte Street Foundation is pleased to present We’ll Make Out Better Than Okay, an exhibition of contemporary artworks that address everyday and street-level concerns of the economic recession (unemployment, debt, corporate greed, minimum wage rates, and more) with playfulness, aplomb, and an often bleak sense of humor. Financial lack, foreclosed property, exploitative labor policy, and high-priced healthcare are just a handful of the economic realities producing absurdist dilemmas for individuals and communities across the nation. Curated by 2013-14 Charlotte Street Foundation Curator-in- Residence Danny Orendorff and featuring over 15 internationally exhibiting American artists working in medium non-specific manners, this exhibition confronts such realities and absurdities with headstrong wit and hilarious outrage.