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.
directory - Theatrical / Symbolic Action
The Surveillance Camera Players are not a professional theater troupe, nor are they producers of or actors in television shows; they are just a bunch of average Joes and Josephines who appreciate how boring it must be for law enforcement officers to watch the video images constantly being displayed on the closed-circuit television surveillance systems that perpetually monitor our behavior and appearances all over the city. The only time the officers have any fun watching these monitors is when something illegal is going on. But the crime rate is down and the subways – the metro transportation systems – (which are filled with surveillance cameras) are the safest they have been in thirty years.
Social and political issues are the main themes of SOSka projects that often place the group in between artistic and activist gestures. At the center of SOSka’s work there is a statement that the processes and problems of the contemporary art system are strongly connected with social environment and political context. SOSka explores problems of the binary nature of neoliberalism taking the example of relations between society and art: poverty of the people and the commercialization of art objects; street protests and the attractiveness of contemporary art exhibitions.
Since 2004 Kiss my Ba (Artem Loskutov (1986) and Maria Kiseleva (1991)) organizes and documents so-called monstrations – collective acts, one could say happenings (without a pre-prepared script), mass acts of art in the form of demonstrations with slogans invented by participants. The banners used in these events are on the whole absurd and apolitical. By challenging and updating “serious” political demonstrations, monstrations are a clear protest against the absence of public politics in Russia; they do not merely highlight the limits of civil liberties, but also broaden them, in this way becoming a school of solidarity, creative activity, and civil freedom. The first monstration took place on May 1, 2004, in Novosibirsk, and since then has been organized every year.
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.
Disappointed by the lack of resonance to demonstrations of the open alliance Art Workers Coalition (AWC), Jon Hendricks and Jean Toche founded their own initiative within the New York art scene in 1969: the Guerrilla Art Action Group (GAAG). The artists’ critique focused on the U.S. military intervention in Vietnam, domestic policies that suppressed minorities, and the art establishment, which was controlled by political and economic interests. GAAG’s goal was to force institutions, politicians, and celebrities to take a moral stand on U.S. politics, through provocative actions, interventions, letters, posters, and theater projects.
Floating Lab Collective designs participatory research projects that explore the frontiers of individual agency and collective empowerment. Experimenting with the aesthetics of direct action, FLC crafts open-ended public projects that engage specific localities and identities, using visual arts, performance, new media, and publications to question the assumptions of global economy, political power, and social mobility and inclusion. FLC’s artists develop projects collaboratively with community members.
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.
Etcétera... Needs no definition... Just imagine what comes after... Etcétera... is the word that shatters language. Etcétera... closes and opens all speech. Etcétera... is in every language. As such, it’s an ally anywhere in the world. Etcétera... is the present. Its members are without number. Etcétera... is singular and plural, feminine and masculine. Etcétera... adds, subtracts, divides, and multiplies.
BaixoCentro is a collaborative, horizontal, independent, and auto-managed street festival conducted by an open network of producers interested in reframing this region of São Paulo downtown area around the Minhocão viaduct or “Big Worm.” With the slogan “The streets are made for dancing,” BaixoCentro seeks to encourage the appropriation of public space by people and make them interact on a daily basis in a more humane way. It is a movement of civil occupation that wants to crack, hack, and play in the streets. There is no institution behind it: neither companies, NGOs, or the government. Funding is also collective and associative via crowdfunding online platforms, such as Kickstarter, and other independent fundraising options (such as auctions, raffles, and donations).