Fall 2019: Art, Activism, and the Pursuit of a Better Life
Recently there has been a surge in art of dissent as creators and performers respond to the uptick of injustice, inequality, and authoritarianism around the world. In the wake of the Gezi Taksim protests, public performance and graffiti art exploded throughout Instanbul; Syrian artists have been documenting their pain and satirizing Assad’s brutal regime through digital art, posters, and graffiti since 2011; in Russia, Pussy Riot staged unsanctioned guerrilla concerts against the authoritarian practices of the Vladimir Putin; in China, Ai Weiwei and Jacob Applebaum stuffed panda bears with shredded NSA documents and embedded micro chips containing sensitive information, distributing some to institutions where they could be safely guarded as art objects. Adding urgency to this trend, the Trump administration’s recent travel ban prompted MOMA to rehang part of its permanent collection with work by artists from the seven targeted nations. Following a fractious election year and in the face of an uncertain political/social future, it seems protest has again been mobilized, and with it the art of activism, as gestures of aesthetic resistance are endowed with a renewed sense of energy and purpose.
This edition of Interdisciplinary Humanities will explore the complex terrain of artistic dissent and activism as both a contemporary practice and a tradition. How is artistic dissent visualized, enacted, performed, disseminated? In what ways have artists responded–in various cultural contexts and from various subject positions–to authoritarianism, income inequality, environmental, racial and sexual injustice? How do artists, curators, and academics situate themselves within broader movements of dissent, activism and culture at large? How do modern strategies of dissent replicate, or diverge from, earlier approaches to artistic resistance? And ultimately, how effective is artistic dissent? We invite scholars, artists and activists to contribute papers that relate to these or related questions in the areas of art, activism and dissent. Inquiries and submissions should be sent to Wendy Chase at firstname.lastname@example.org and Elijah Pritchett at email@example.com.