Category Archives: Public Space and Politics

POST-PONED! Join Artists of the 99% for ARTIST BLOC Day at Occupy San Francisco

ARTISTS BLOC DAY
Sunday, November 20, 2011
12 – 5PM
Occupy San Francisco / Justin Herman Plaza

We are artists and art workers of the 99%. We are struggling to survive and sustain our creative practice in an economy that does not value us as workers, that privatizes cultural institutions and that continuously defunds art programs–from public education to government grants. We are putting our creative efforts towards this movement and considering our role in the fight for economic and social justice.

Join us for the Artists Bloc day at Occupy San Francisco for hands-on workshops, participatory projects, discussions and the distribution of our zine. The day will include screen-printing, crocheting and banner-making workshops, a speaker’s booth and conversations facilitated by local artists about arts funding, education and the systems of oppression that affect artists economic sustainability and more.

We will hear from art historian, Julia Bryan-WilsonJeff Chang, who, along with local artist–Favianna Rodriguez, organized Culture Strike in opposition to Arizona’s SB 1070 law, and artist, print-maker and political organizer Melanie Cervantes of Dignidad Rebelde.

This is a family friendly event an will include art-making workshops for kids.

Schedule

12:00: Welcome

12:15: Speaker’s Address, Julia Bryan-Wilson / Melanie Cervantes

1:00 – 5:00 : Ongoing Workshops : Crocheting, Banner-making, Screen-printing,Speaker’s Booth Video Interviews, Kid’s Zone

1:30 – 2:00 : Workshop : The Art State We’re In, Dialogues on Challenges of Living and Creating in the Bay Area and California. Facilitated by Paulina Nowicka

2:00 – 2:30 : Workshop : General Education about the Occupy Movement for Artists. What’s our place in this movement? What systems of oppression affect the 99%? Facilitated by Adrienne Skye Roberts

3:00 – 4:00 : Workshop : Pictures Make Change, Visual Brainstorming with the Beehive Design Collective. A collaborative drawing jam for artists to draw ourselves into the 99%. Facilitated by Zeph Fishlyn

4:15: Speaker’s Address, Jeff Chang

…and free give-aways of posters, zines, arm-bands and more!

Contact us: artistsofthe99percent@gmail.com, http://artistsof99percent.tumblr.com/ and on Facebook.

Artists of the 99%: A Call to Action

Over the past month I have witnessed and participated in the local contingent of now-global movement known as Occupy Wall Street/Occupy Together. The goal of this nonviolent movement, fueled by people in 1,497 cities throughout the world, is to challenge capitalism by protesting major banks, corporations, and the top 1% of people who benefit from our country’s current economic system. Through taking over public space, consensus-based general assemblies, demonstrations, direct actions, workshops, teach-ins, defense against police brutality and collaborations local with grassroots organizations and various unions, this movement is full of energy, complications, and has the potential to get people talking about systemic oppression and building together to create some real change.

As an artist and one of the 99%, I keep coming back to the questions: what is the place of artists in this movement and what can we learn here?

Consider this a call to action! Let’s talk about our role in this movement. How we are already making our voices heard and how can we put our creative efforts towards this movement? As the inequities of capitalism are exposed, how might we, as artists, reconsider our reliance upon this economic system? How is the financial sustainability and livelihood of artists in the Bay Area connected to larger movements for economic justice that have been fought here for years?

If you are a visual or other artist interested in engaging in conversation, action, and/or education around these issues and putting efforts towards building an artist contingent of the 99%, let’s talk! You can use the comment box below or email artistsofthe99percent@gmail.com

Philadelphia Research, Part 2: Sherman Labovitz

Sherman Labovitz is the only surviving defendant of the Philadelphia Smith Act, a former professor at the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, and author of the book, Being Red in Philadelphia, A Memoir of the McCarthy Act. He is helping me solve the mystery that is my grandfather and is illuminating for me the role of the Party in Philadelphia 56 years ago. This following quotation is excerpted from the statement Sherman prepared to deliver to Judge J. Cullen Ganey after the defendants were found guilty. Upon recommendation of the defense attorney’s, it was never given.

“I stand before you today because I am afraid. Afraid of war. Afraid that because of war I, my wife, my two sons, my mother and brohers and everyone I love dearly may die too soon. I stand before you today because this fear moved me again to speak to my neighbors who can halt the drive to atmoic destruction just as they helped to win the truce in Korea. I stand before you today because the real advocates of force and violence, the would-be war makers, who fear and hate the ability of my neighbors and others like them throughout this nation to impose their will, will today jail the advocates of peace…

…What have I done these past few years? My neighbors can tell you. That is, those who can speak freely, who do not fear for their jobs. Most, for the time being, watch these proceedings silently, confused. The politically ambitious prosecutors did not produce on of my neighbors to testify against me. Why not? These are the people with whom I live. These are the people with whose children I played. These are the people I have tried to influence. These are the people who know I am a communist. Some of my neighbors, I learned recently, addressed themselves to you, Your Honor. ‘Mr. Labovitz is a communist, but Mr. Labovitz is a good man,’ they said. I say to my neighbors and to you, Your Honor, I am a good man because I am a communist.”

In a conversation with Sherman over lunch this week, he described why he left the Party in 1957 and affirmed that despite the 56 years between the Smith Act trial and today, his politics haven’t changed. He said:

“I believe capitalism is an incurable sickness, in all of its manifestations. I continue to hope for a peaceful transition into a society that is concerned about the well-being of all its people and that shares resources in the world. In the late 1940s, during World War II and in the 1950s, despite the ugliness in the world, I believed that that society was just around the corner. I was optimistic that the world was changing and capitalism driven by profit and greed was dying.

I left the American Communist Party when I no longer felt that it could be the instrument to bring socialism to the United States. However, my politics remain the same today. The difference between 1953 and today is perhaps the existence–at least, in theory–of an alternative that we, as a people, can attach to and believe in.”

Where We Are Not Known, Queer Imagination and the Photograhy of Kirstyn Russell in Make/Shift, Issue 9

Kirstyn Russell’s photographs are haunting, beautiful and oftentimes, comical portraits of place framed through her queer lens. After working with Kirstyn on the exhibition Suggestions of A Life Being Lived, I felt compelled to spend more time with her project, “Where We Are Not Known.” In this ongoing project she photographs real and imagined queer spaces throughout the United States: gay bars tucked away in rural towns and businesses recontexualized as queer spaces.

Beginning with my own relationship to queer locations as a San Francisco Bay Area resident, I wrote a piece about Kirstyn’s work in which I discuss the imagination required of queer people who must so often create our own spaces and realities. This article was published in the most recent issue of Make/Shift: Feminisms in Motion. I am thrilled to be included in this publication with a roster of contributors whose work I respect and admire. Check out Issue 9 at your nearest independent bookstore or buy it online! And check out Kirstyn’s work here.

Image: Dyke Photography: Flint, Michigan, 2006

Art 148: The Intimate Body / The Public Body

I will be teaching an undergraduate sculpture class at UC Santa Cruz during the Winter 2011 quarter entitled, “The Intimate Body / The Public Body.” Below is the course description.

This course will consider the body as it exists within both an intimate and public sphere. Students will engage in a series of formal and conceptual projects that address topics such as body memory, anatomy, vulnerability, racial and gender identity, queerness, body technologies and how the body relates to and effect its environment. Through a series of presentations, readings, research, and studio work, students will be exposed to feminist and queer theories, contemporary art practices and histories related to sculpture and the body. Assignments will encourage an experimentation with materials, performance and collaboration

Image credit: Regina Jose Galindo, Saqueo. Photography by Marion Garcia.