Postcards from the Revolutionary Pleshka is a collaboration between Yevgeniy Fiks and Moscow’s contemporary lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) activists of Rainbow Association. In April 2013, Fiks invited contemporary LGBT activists from Moscow to write “messages into the past” on the back of old postcards and to tell a real or imaginary Soviet-era gay person about the conditions and activism of present-day Moscow’s LGBT community.
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Disappeared in America was a project of the Visible Collective, a group of thirteen members founded by Naeem Mohaiemen. It investigated the countless people, who – mostly migrants living in precarious circumstances – were arrested after September 11, 2001, and as they often were not registered anywhere, simply disappeared from view. The group built a database where the names and data of missing persons could be registered, and created an interactive map charting all the cases. Publications, videos, as well as many artworks, citing names, biographies, and displaying photographs sought to draw attention to this problem, and in galleries and in public spaces the texts of laws and documentations were exhibited to raise public awareness.
There is probably no other artist who has delved so deeply into the subject of the borders between the rich countries of the North and the poorer ones of the South as Ursula Biemann. Her special interest is gender relations. The video essay Performing the Border from 1999, which is about the Mexico–USA border between Ciudad Juárez and El Paso in Texas, was the starting point for further research on global sex trafficking. For an exhibition at the Generali Foundation in Vienna 2003, Biemann and the anthropologist Angela Sanders contributed the video essay Europlex, which is about women who cross over the border into the Spanish enclave of Ceuta in Morocco.
Activist art has come to signify a particular emphasis on appropriated aesthetic forms whose political content does the work of both cultural analysis and cultural action. The art collaboration Ultra-red proposes a political-aesthetic project that reverses this model. If we understand organizing as the formal practices that build relationships out of which people compose an analysis and strategic actions, how might art contribute to and challenge those very processes? How might those processes already constitute aesthetic forms? In the worlds of sound art and modern electronic music, Ultra-red pursues a fragile but dynamic exchange between art and political organizing.
Lily Yeh, who was born in China 1941 and has lived in the USA since 1960, started The Village of Arts and Humanities in Philadelphia in 1986, a not-for-profit initiative to revitalize neighbourhoods through art, and since then she has worked as an artist. In 2004, she founded the Barefoot Artists and also the two-part Rwanda Healing Project: of the transformation of the Rigerero Survivors Village, erected 1997/1998 for survivors of the genocide and combining three neighbouring villages, and the construction of a memorial. 100 families with 190 children lived in the village. Six teachers were trained to paint houses with the kids.
In John Goba’s life, there is a gross discrepancy between the original motivation of his artistic activities and the international reception of his work.
If politics were to come back, it could only be from its savage and disreputable fringe. Then, a muffled rumor shall arise whence that roar is heard: “We are scum! We are barbarian!” (Alain Brossat)
The aftermath of the civil war in Angola, which lasted for decades and was finally ended in 2002, was devastating: almost a third of the country’s population were refugees within their own country, many had little or no access to basic medical care and clean drinking water. Child soldiers and girls forced into marriage, landmines and a vast number of war-disabled people characterized this traumatized country.
Manifesto: The place of the artist is on the side of the weak. Weakness makes a person human, and it is by overcoming weakness that heroes are born. We do not extol weakness, but rather appeal to kindheartedness and humanity. The time has come to return compassion to art! Compassion is an understanding of the weakness of others and a joint victory over that weakness. You cannot call it sentimentality. It is Freedom standing on the barricade with bared breast, defending the child in each of us! You say that art is only for the very smart, that it’s an intellectual game? That there is no place left for true impact, that strong emotions belong exclusively to Hollywood? It’s not true! Because in that case, art would be meaningless, cold, incapable of extending a helping hand.
Adrian Piper is a conceptual artist, philosopher, and author whose work has focused on (gender) identity, racism, and xenophobia. In 1970, she became “politicized” as a result of the U.S. invasion of Cambodia, the growth of the women’s movement, and the student protests against the war. In her Catalysis series, Adrian Piper physically transformed herself into an odd or repulsive person and went out in public in New York to experience the frequently disdainful responses of others. For Catalysis I (1970), she soaked a set of clothing in a mixture of vinegar, eggs, milk, and cod-liver oil for a week, then wore it on the train during evening rush hour.