Visual Activism

Overview

Visual Activism, a symposium exploring the relationship between visual culture and activist practices, was presented by the International Association for Visual Culture in collaboration with SFMOMA at the Brava Theater on March 14-15, 2014. .

From left to right: Occupy Oakland, November 2, 2011; photo: Salvador Ingram; Carlos Motta, Deviations to Love # 7, 2013; courtesy Galeria Filomena Soares, Lisbon; Instituto de Visión, Bogotá; Y Gallery, New York; Zanele Muholi; Courtesy the artist and Stevenson, Cape Town and Johannesburg; Carmen Papalia, The Blind Field Shuttle, 2012; photo Jordan Reznick

Art can take the form of political and social activism, and activism often takes on specific, and sometimes surprising, visual forms. How is our broader visual culture shaped by activist practices that circulate in public space? How can we better understand forms of communication that take place under threat of war, revolution, or repression? What strategies can be deployed to transform our engagement with the built environment and broader ecologies? How do embedded social hegemonies, such as racism, figure in the larger efforts to engage with activism visually?

Scholars, artists, and activists address these and related questions in a series of presentations, performances, and interactive projects.

This symposium is presented by the International Association for Visual Culture in collaboration with SFMOMA, and is convened by Julia Bryan-Wilson, associate professor of modern and contemporary art, UC Berkeley; Jennifer A. González, associate professor of history of art and visual culture, contemporary art, race and representation, UC Santa Cruz; and Dominic Willsdon, Leanne and George Roberts Curator of Education and Public Programs, SFMOMA.

For further information about the International Association for Visual Culture, please visit iavc.org.uk.

Visual Activism was followed on Sunday, March 16, by Bearing Witness, a one-day symposium that explores the political and social significance of the rapid and fundamental changes in the field of contemporary photography.

Schedule

Friday, March 14

9:00 – 9:30 a.m.
Registration

9:30 – 10:00 a.m.
Introduction

  • Julia Bryan-Wilson, associate professor of modern and contemporary art, UC Berkeley
  • Jennifer A. González, associate professor of history of art and visual culture, UC Santa Cruz
  • Dominic Willsdon, Leanne and George Roberts Curator of Education and Public Programs, SFMOMA

10:00 – 11:30 a.m
Environment, Justice, Inequity

Moderator: Julie Sze, director of American studies, UC Davis

  • Nathalie Mba Bikoro, artist
  • Mel Chin, artist
  • Veejayant Dash, artist
  • Michael Gerace, architect and curator, ReLocate Project
  • Tracy Perkins, Ph.D. candidate, UC Santa Cruz
  • Sofia Varino, artist and curator
  • Syd London, photographer

11:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
Keynote: Carlos Motta, artist

1:30 – 3:00 p.m.
Queer Tactics

Moderator: Macarena Gomez-Barris, associate professor of American studies and ethnicity, USC Dornsife

  • Jaime Cortez and Pato Hebert, author and editor, Sexile
  • Avram Finkelstein and Robert Vazquez-Pacheco, artists and activists, Gran Fury Collective
  • Gayatri Gopinath, associate professor of social and cultural analysis, New York University
  • Video by Mlondi Zondi, artist, UC Irvine

3:20 – 5:15 p.m.
Networked Activism

Moderator: Karl Mendonca, filmmaker and new media artist, UC Santa Cruz

  • Elisa Adami, cofounder, Mnemoscape
  • Robin Oppenheimer, lecturer, University of Washington
  • Lisa Parks, professor of film and media studies, UC Santa Barbara
  • Jerome Reyes, artist, Stanford University
  • Nine Yamamoto-Masson, artist and scholar, University of Amsterdam
  • Srinivas Aditya Mopidevi, curator and scholar, Jawaharlal Nehru Univeristy, India

5:30 – 7:00 p.m.
Clinics and Projects (parallel sessions)

Anti-Eviction Mapping, Galeria de la Raza

  • Erin McElroy, artist and activist

Blind Field Shuttle, 24th Street corridor

  • Carmen Papalia, artist

Futurefarmers: R.U.R., Brava Theater main stage

  • Amy Franceschini, Michael Swaine, and Bochay Drum, artists

Gran Fury: Collective Cultural Production, Brava Theater rehearsal room

  • Avram Finkelstein and Robert Vazquez, Gran Fury members

Militant Research Collective, J Rusten Furniture Studio

  • Natalie Bookchin, faculty in photography and media, CalArts
    Alexandra Juhasz, professor of media studies, Pitzer College
    Nicholas Mirzoeff, professor of media, culture and communication, New York University
    Joan Saab, associate professor of art history and visual and cultural studies and chair of the Department of Art and Art History, University of Rochester

Radical Colophon, Will Brown Gallery

  • Anna Moreno, artist

Utopian Dialogues, Adobe Books, 3130 24th Street

  • Organized by students in the graduate seminar Acting Out: The Politics of Performance, in the Visual and Critical Studies Program at California College of the Arts (instructor: Jordana Moore Saggese, PhD)

7:00 p.m.
Performance: Inhabitant
Ntsoana Contemporary Dance Theatre

8:00 p.m.
End of day

Saturday, March 15

9:00 – 9:30 a.m.
Registration

9:30 – 10:00 a.m.
Preamble

  • Shannon Jackson, director of the Arts Research Center and professor of rhetoric and theater, dance and performance studies, UC Berkeley
  • Tina Takemoto, associate professor of fine arts and visual and critical studies, California College of the Arts

10:00 – 11:30 a.m.
Conflict Zones

Moderator: Deena Chalabi, associate curator of public practice, SFMOMA

  • Claudia Bernardi, visual artist and educator
  • Sabine Bitter, Jeff Derksen, and Helmut Weber, cofounders, Urban Subjects
  • Cheyenne Epps and Kyle Lane-McKinley, multimedia artists
  • Emily Jacir, artist
  • Amy Lyford, professor of art history and the visual arts, Occidental College
  • Krista Lynes, assistant professor and Canada Research Chair in feminist media studies, Concordia University

11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Keynote: Trinh T. Minh-ha, professor of gender and women’s studies and rhetoric and vice chair for research in gender and women’s studies, UC Berkeley

1:30 – 2:30 p.m.
International Association for Visual Culture (IAVC) Annual General Meeting

  • Marquard Smith, research leader and head of doctoral studies, School of Humanities, Royal College of Art, London
  • Ines Dussel, researcher and professor at the Departmento de Investigaciones Educativas del CINVESTAV-IPN, Mexico
  • Lanfranco Aceti, artist and curator

2:30 – 4:00 p.m.
Displacement

Moderator: Boreth Ly, assistant professor of Southeast Asian art history and visual culture, UC Santa Cruz

  • Natalie Bookchin, artist
  • Michelle Dizon, co-chair of the Visual Art Program, Vermont College of Fine Arts
  • Terry Kurgan, artist

4:30 – 5:00 p.m.
Discussion: Teddy Cruz and Favianna Rodriguez

  • Teddy Cruz, co-director of the Blum Cross-Border Initiative and professor of public culture and urbanism, UC San Diego
  • Favianna Rodriguez, artist and cultural organizer
  • Dominic Willsdon, Leanne and George Roberts Curator of Education and Public Programs, SFMOMA

5:00 – 5:45 p.m.
Keynote: Zanele Muholi, photographer and visual activist

6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Reception

7:00 p.m.
Encore Performance: Inhabitant, Ntsoana Contemporary Dance Theatre

Selected Presentations