If you haven’t stopped by Civic Space in a while, the last two weeks have consisted of a very substantial labour-inspired print exhibition featuring works from Justseeds Artist Cooperative and a residency with Justseeds member Mary Tremonte. Mary came to stay with us at the beginning of May, just in time to participate in the annual May Day Parade. Besides the public silkscreening event she held at the end of the parade, Mary also led a workshop on May 7th at Civic Space as part of National Youth Arts Week. Mary also coordinated a printmaking exhibition of Justseeds Artist Cooperative works, centered around the issue of labour rights and the ethics surrounding the employer/employee relationship. It was a fantastic showcase of Justseeds’ print works, and we highly recommend checking out the rest of them here.
The prints were mostly the same size, with a few being a bit smaller and some being in landscape format. Some were silkscreen and some were relief prints, and they represented a variety of styles.
Mary set up her DJ equipment amongst the exhibition with the bandanas printed during her residency adorning the DJ booth.
The combination of live music, large paper prints, and overhanging fabric prints activated the space in a marvelous way. Thank you to everyone who was able to come out; it really was a celebration.
Erica, a student completing an internship with us, made these delicious cookies for the dance party with a custom letter-punching kit.
DJ Mary Mack (Mary Tremonte) brought two turntables, a mixer, and a stack of her favorite records to spin during her dance party / closing reception. It was a blast and we hope we can work with Mary/Justseeds in some capacity again.
Lee Rodney teaches one of the best courses at the University of Windsor, Border Culture. I took the course in the fall of 2010 and wrote a book: The Creation of Place in Abandoned Railway Cuts in Windsor.
The book serves as documentation and comparative analysis of three specific forgotten spaces in downtown Windsor, Ontario, Canada. Each of these are former sites of railway lines that ran across the Detroit River into Michigan at the height of industrialization in the first quarter of the twentieth century, but are now closed up dead ends and dead zones, unlit at night and undetectable from street view due to their below street level geography.
These spaces have a transient quality, as people exist in them only while passing through, usually as quickly as they can in order to reach a safer location. The contents of this book are based on my own personal experience in and around these spaces as a young adult white female artist, including historical research on the areas as well as references from multiple disciplines including activism, art, urban planning, geography, design, visual culture, gender and feminist studies. The invisible borders embedded within the fabric of these hidden, forgotten underused and misused spaces is examined.
Over the course of the next month, I will be posting chapters of the book with images on a weekly basis. However, I would like to introduce the book by providing some info and context around what I was reading prior to and during the research phase of this project.
So, without further adieu, a few books that informed my book:
Continue reading “The Creation of Place in Abandoned Railway Cuts in Windsor: 1/4 Intro”
Stephen Surlin, a Windsor-based artist and musician (also known as DJ Furs), recently took some time aside from his busy life as a University of Windsor Fine Arts student to discuss his current exhibition Artist as Activist and how the works within it came to be. Surlin has worked with Broken City Lab on various projects and his solo work can be seen at the SoVA Projects Gallery at the University of Windsor this week until January 28. His closing reception is at 7pm on Friday, January 28 at the SoVA Projects Gallery.
The interview can be read after the page break.
Continue reading “Interview with the Artist: Stephen Surlin”
A great downloaded book/PDF is available over at Half Letter Press. A Users Guide to Demanding the Impossible by the Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination presents a very accessible and readable overview and introduction to the history of art+activism based practices.
Well worth the half-hour or so that it will take to read through it.
The ending, which will particularly resonate with Danielle, I’m sure:
Creative resistance is not simply about designing glitzy visual stunts that the media will pick up on, it’s a lot more than that, it’s about making things that work, fashioning situations that both disrupt the mechanisms of power and show us our own power, our own potential to connect and create. The beauty is in its efficient use, and nothing is more beautiful than winning.
via Half Letter Press
In an amazingly good interview, Daniel Fuller over at Art21‘s blog discusses projects, ideas, and philosophies of social / dialogical / relational art practice with Sam Gould of Red76.
Red76 has been organizing workshops, lectures and public dialogues in “non-hierarchical” settings since 2000, most recently working on the Pop-Up Book Academy, a school which materializes behind the mask of a temporary used book store. The school utilizes the printed form as a means of investigating social politics and its histories past and present. Much of their work has been involved in working with art spaces focused on alterative pedagogy.
Gould charts a brief history of this type of art practice, attributing the social practice and relational aesthetics trajectories that emerged in late 90s and into the 2000s to difficult economic times and political conditions (that is, the transition into Bush’s presidency). He also tackles the big question, “How is this art?” by attributing the classification of this type of practice as art in the art world (and that art world being defined by museums and galleries) to a kind of laziness by the artists working within it, which is to say that while some of the work presented in this context of social practice isn’t necessarily best suited for presentation in a gallery, it becomes a type of necessity to allow it to do just that.
In reflecting on the nature of this practice, often enacted through discussions, lectures, workshops, artist talks, seminars, Gould notes that critiques and arguments of their practice often fall into two categories: efficacy (activists), or sincerity (artists). These in particular seem to be somewhat familiar questions.
And, I had to include my favourite line of the whole interview: “You don’t need an object to make it [art]. Art is the space which we define for questioning. Objects, or the lack thereof, are placeholders for ideas and propositions.”
Again, it’s a great interview and I’ve only barely skimmed the surface in my quick recap here. It’s definitely worth reading if you’re even remotely interested in the intersection of art and activism.
Amy Franceschini of San Francisco, is a contemporary American artist and designer who’s practices span from drawing, painting, sculpture, design, net art, public art and gardening. She teaches media theory and practice courses at both Stanford University and San Francisco Art Institute.
In 1995, she founded Futurefarmers as a way to bring together multidisciplinary art practitioners to bring together new work. They are, “teachers, researchers, designers, gardeners, scientists, engineers, illustrators, people who know how to sew, pattern makers, cooks and bus drivers with a common interest in creating work that challenge current social, political and economic systems.” Amy Franceschini explains, “The name [Futurefarmers] is a product of my childhood,” explaining the influences of her father, a corporate farmer and owner of a pesticide company, and her mother, a New Age type devoted to the notion of organic farming.
Continue reading “Futurefarmers: Cultivating Consciousness Since 1995”
When I first saw this pop up on the interweb a couple days ago, I kind of dismissed it. I clearly hadn’t realized the scope of this project, and how exciting it really was. The fake New York Timespaper is dated July 4, 2009, and consists of numerous articles on a brighter future where big box stores are evicted, the focus is on building a sane economy, and a maximum wage law is passed in congress.
There were 1.2 million copies of the paper printed at 6 different printing presses then shipped out to thousands of volunteers who handed out the papers for free on the streets of New York and other cities across the US. Incredibly, the printing was financed through micro-donations from the web, not unlike those collected by Obama.
The spoof NY Times Website is well worth exploring, and the videos of the distribution are great. There’s also a blog post on the real NY Times that fill in some blanks on the background. The people behind the work include The Yes Men, Steve Lambert, and some NY Times employees.
T.S.A. Communication by Evan Roth is a 2009 Rhizome Member Selection Commission, in which Roth proposed to laser cut 8.5 x 11 inch pieces of stainless steel with messages directed at the T.S.A. to put in your suitcase for airport inspections. Roth writes, “T.S.A. Communication is a project that alters the airport security experience and allows the government to learn more about you then just what’s in your backpack … Change your role as air traveler from passive to active.”
Roth is also one of the masterminds behind F.A.T. Labs and Graffiti Research Lab.
In Melbourne, Australia, there is a “ton of land” sitting vacant, while many young people have no place to live. The Melbourne Revolutionary Craft Circle decided to comment on the situation by cross-stitching “I wanna live here” on the fence containing the land being hoarded by developers. They also planted some vegetable and flower seeds around the area and spent about 3 hours on this intervention.
Very poignant statement and addressing issues local to them = really, really good. Also, exciting to see a way to tackle the fence that doesn’t have to involve leaving plastic cups (biodegradable or not) or other refuse in a neighbourhood to make a point.
You’re probably wondering what’s going on in this picture. The band The Craft Economy has hit the streets with their own protest agaisnt bill C-61. From Boing Boing:
The disc, containing a demo of “Menergy,” a track off of the band’s upcoming record (due late August) isn’t simply Creative Commons licensed music like their previous hydro pole-only release, this time it’s a Bill C-61 protest too (see that little piece of paper sticking out of the back of the disc? Yeah, that’s the protest part). It reads, in part: This is far and beyond and more bizarre than the heavily criticized DMCA in the USA. Copyright should protect the rights of artists and producers of creative content, but it should not suppress creative and artistic expression. The Craft Economy has licensed our music, including this CD, using the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.5 license. This license gives you the freedom to share our music with your friends and enemies, and remix and use it in new and creative ways, provided you attribute the work back to us, and you don’t make money off our work. It’s fair for you and us. This is the way art should work.)
Totally intense. For more information on what Bill C- 61 click here. No seriously, C-61 is super ridiculous and way harder than the American version. Another reason to silence corporate lobbyists FROM ANOTHER COUNTRY WTF.
Actually, I was talking to a friend who was reading the article in depth and said that the majority government was looking at it with shifty eyes. I hope they see what we see.