Art at its best can make a viewer feel or think. Technology and digital culture are helping to broaden art’s reach. That’s helping push the very old idea of art as protest into new arenas. Here are examples of just such work.
Locally based art news blog Hyperallergic ran an event last week in collaboration with the Brooklyn Museum called “Crossing Brooklyn ArtTalks: Performance & Activism.” Hrag Vartanian, editor-in-chief of the site and cofounder, moderated a panel of five artists whose work includes a performance element. The event took place at Bushwick’s Livestream Public.
Most of the work discussed was analog, but here are a few tech notes from the event, which may be enough to entice you to check out the whole conversation on Livestream, through the video below.
- Vartanian opened with a history of performance art which went back all the way to just before World War I, with the Futurists. In the 1990s, he pointed out an art project, Cyber Barrio, by Guillermo Gómez-Peña, which used the internet to engage with its audience by asking them to fill out a webform.
- Amin Husain described his combination of art and activism, much of which involves inviting others through his networks to come into spaces — like his controversial ‘occupation’ of the Guggenheim — by infiltrating them with small pieces of a larger work (such as thousands of fake dollar bills).
- Husain collaborated with other members of the Gulf Ultra Luxury Faction to rebrand spaces with The Illuminator, a powerful light projector that can create light graffiti. For example, he branded the Guggenheim with a giant 1 percent symbol as a way of showing how corporate he believes it has become. In each of the pieces he discussed, Husain highlighted the importance of documentation (mostly meaning photos).
- One live performance by Dread Scott ended up drawing a couple hundred Bed-Stuy high school students who understood immediately what his piece was saying. He called the work “On The Impossibility of Freedom In A Country Founded on Slavery and Genocide.” Performed in Dumbo, he allowed himself to be shot with a firehose and did his best to stand up to it for as long as he could.
Watch the complete discussion below.
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