A Blade of Grass and the New Museum co-present three online discussions with artists and activists engaged in collective social change, international self-governance, and democratic movements. As communities around the world grapple with state failures during the global pandemic, this series leans into what has been done to create more equitable, empathetic, and humane systems of governance to model better futures that might emerge from the chaos. Each discussion will be framed around an article from A Blade of Grass Magazine’s spring issue, guest edited by Laura Raicovich. Attendees will be provided with articles in advance to inform them of the topics at hand, and join the authors, The New Museum’s Andrew An Westover, Keith Haring Director of Education and Public Engagement, A Blade of Grass’s Prerana Reddy, Director of Programs, and special guests invited to broaden the dialogue and address the current moment.
These events are free and will be held via Zoom. Register below to receive your event link.
In this conversation artist Jonas Staal, whose magazine contribution offers a rationale for artists’ role in creating new models for radical democracy, will speak with Laura Raicovich, Interim Director of the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art. Staal’s reasoning underlies his New World Summit (2012-ongoing) and New World Academy (2013-16) projects, both of which are multi-year and multi-location events that allowed stateless/blacklisted groups to assemble publicly via an artwork-as-parliament. Out of this came long-term collaborations with the Rojava Revolution, in which Staal was invited to design one of their physical parliaments. The conversation will conclude with explorations of current projects, such as Training for the Future (2018-ongoing) and a legal campaign titled Collectivize Facebook (2020-ongoing). Rather than a return to normal, how might our current situation compel the creation of more inclusive institutions?
Photo: Democratic Federation of North-Syria and Studio Jonas Staal, New World Embassy: Rojava (2016) in Oslo City Hall. Photo: Istvan Virag. Produced by Oslo Architecture Triennale: After Belonging / URO-KORO, Norway
How can relations of care transform debt? To reconceptualize debt, this conversation will feature filmmakers and organizers Astra Taylor and Laura Hanna of Debt Collective; artist Constantina Zavitsanos, whose multi-media work investigates the material re/production of debt, dependency, and means beyond measure; and moderator Andrew An Westover, Keith Haring Director of Education and Public Engagement at the New Museum. After each panelist introduces their work, the speakers will explore the nature of debt and its forms in the U.S. and will consider how care can reframe what debt is and how it functions. The panelists will especially attend to the ways creative practices are currently expanding transactional frameworks to elevate policies that value greater safety and care for the most vulnerable, an especially urgent question before and during the current pandemic and economic crisis.
Photo: Constantina Zavitsanos, Sweepstakes, 2015. VISA cards loaded with funds from a class action lawsuit settlement against the NYPD, 2004-2014 (paid 2015); dimensions variable, installation on ADA access desk in the New Museum entrance lobby, May to September, 2015 One card was offered to the public daily in increments of $25, $50, $100, $500. An additional card was offered Thursday evenings for up to $1000. Courtesy the artist.
Prerana Reddy, Director of Programs at A Blade of Grass, will moderate a conversation on mutual aid networks as alternatives when state response is insufficient. Jorge Díaz Ortiz, a Puerto Rican artist and member of collectives Papel Machete and AgitArte, will lift up peoples’ responses to Hurricane Maria and recent earthquakes, as well as how self-organized groups are activating during the Covid-19 pandemic. Jose Romero and Harmony Phoenix, members of Southerners on New Ground (SONG), will describe how they build and maintain a Southern LGBTQ infrastructure for organizers in the face of rural isolation, right-wing religio-political infrastructure, racism, environmental degradation, hyperincarceration, and economic oppression. The panelists will also discuss how cultural organizing methodologies are central to their work with communities who live under multiple axes of oppression and the advancement of campaigns that center around ending money bail and pre-trial detention and melting ICE in the South. They will also share a new collaboration between Papel Machete and SONG that envisions a bold abolitionist future.
Photo: Occupy Boston action, collaboration between AgitArte and City Life / Vida Urbana, 2011. Courtesy AgitArte