Delivering Art In The Empire

Cuban artist Reynier Leyva Novo weighted history

By Hiroyuk Hamada for Counterpunch. It’s been over a couple of decades since I left the DC area. For the bulk of the time, I was like a soldier whose sole mission was the exploration of visual expression. I literally woke up with art and went to bed with art. But at some point, perhaps, my skill in finding connections among visual elements, in finding a profound perspective, started to show me a wider reality beyond the framework of commodification, consumption, hierarchy of financial power and capitalism. I am an artist who believes that the power of art can connect us to a larger framework of humanity spreading beyond the corporatism, colonialism and militarism of the empire. I believe art can capture the rare moment of our consciousness, seamlessly merging with the eternity of time and space as a part of the universe itself. For me, museums that house the epiphany of humanistic expressions are sanctuaries of our consciousness; they are that of shrines and churches for the believers; they are that of sacred grounds for those who seek humanity in our connections to nature and earth. Art can give us humility to be human, as well as courage to be human. The unfortunate attempts to replace our sanctuary of consciousness with a subserviency to the neo-feudal hierarchy of money and violence must be renounced in the strongest terms.

Caged: Life. Beyond. Bars.

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By Staff of Caged – Chris Hedges has taught in America’s most elite universities, including Princeton, Columbia, and New York University. It was a class at a Maximum Security Prison, however, where he found “more brilliance, literacy, passion, wisdom and integrity… than in any other classroom…” In Hedges’ class, 28 men collaboratively wrote a play in which the drama of their lives, so often portrayed by others, is finally told in their own words. Inspired by their exceptional talent, Hedges promised that he’d share their voices with the world and—somehow, someday—mount the play. Now, over three years later, Hedges, along with, Boris Franklin, the only writer who has been released from prison to date, are planning to premiere “CAGED” at The Passage Theatre in Trenton, NJ, during their Spring 2018 season.

Radical Art, Sweet Potatoes & Mainstream Parades

Art Killing Apathy/ Eleanor Goldfield

By Eleanor Goldfied for Occupy – The People’s Climate March was this past weekend and roughly 200,000 people descended on Washington, DC to walk along Pennsylvania Ave, past the White House and up to the Washington Monument where speakers and musicians worked the crowd in a festival like setting. And while the energy brought in particular by indigenous and frontline communities was powerful, the march felt very much like a parade and as Dissentralized Organizer Jimmy Betts put it exemplified the “messterpiece of NGO-dom.” While the Climate March garnered most if not all the media attention, the day before, activists picketed and protested outside of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission – calling for an end to the blanket rubber stamping of dirty energy projects including the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Even further outside the media gaze was the Uptown Art House, a flat structure community art space where indigenous, borderlands undocumented, black, white and everyone beyond and in between gathered together to create art and share ideas and inspiration. This compilation serves as a platform for the people involved in the building of movements, in fighting the frontline battles and in walking the walk.

Artivism, Creativity And Political Change In Spain

Members of No Somos Delito (We Are Not a Crime) staging a street performance with placards that read: “fear”, “impotence”, “repression”, “justice”.
(Doris Gutiérrez)

By Esther Ortiz for Equal TImes – “With the 15M movement the need arose to develop innovative ways of protesting and fighting in order to rally indignant citizens who were not activists, people who were ready to take to the streets but not in the traditional way. That is when the collective imagination emerged to mobilise them,” recalls Mónica Hidalgo, spokesperson for No Somos Delito, literally ‘We Are Not Crime’ in English. This citizens’ platform bringing together over 100 collectives came into being in 2012 in response to the first draft of the Penal Code reform, immediately followed by the Ley de Seguridad Ciudadana (Public Safety Law), both of which came into effect in July 2015.

Dario Fo: Ideas That Outrage

Dario Fo.

By Colin Revolting for Red Wedge – Dario Fo, who died this past week, was a great playwright of the years of unrest and rebellion in the 1960s and ’70s. His plays such as Accidental Death of an Anarchist and Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay! were hilariously cutting critiques of life under capitalism as it went into crisis. His style of theatre was like a Brecht play performed by the Marx Brothers in the age of TV. They even became long running hits in London’s West End.

Art And Revolution: Black Power At 1969 Pan-African Cultural Festival

Anti-imperialism march on African Liberation Day, in Washington, DC, in a photo taken in May of 1974. (Photo: Risasi Zachariah Dais)

By Kathleen Neal Cleaver for The New Press – 1969. Algiers. The spectacular panorama of the first Pan-African Cultural Festival transformed the North African capital basking in the July sun. Musicians, dancers, horsemen, poets and painters, writers, filmmakers, scholars, and political leaders filled the city’s hotels. Southern African freedom fighters and veteran guerillas from Angola, Mozambique, and Guinea-Bissau at war with the Portuguese joined the colorful delegations arriving from all over the vast continent.

Protest And Survive: Reclaiming William Morris From Britain’s Nuclear Fleet

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By David Mabb for Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists – The HMS Courageous is a 285-foot, nuclear-powered submarine that saw service in the British Royal Navy for about two decades starting in the early 1970s. Decommissioned in 1992 after, among other things, participating in the Falklands War of 1982, it now resides at the Devonport naval dockyard in Plymouth, on the southwest coast of England, where visitors can tour its inner workings free of charge—provided they book in advance and bring their passports for “security” purposes.

Using Public Art To Narrow The Gaps

Artist Francisco Letelier with students from the Latin American Youth Center in front of mural at American University, Washington, D.C.

By Staff of Inequality.org – On September 21, 1976, agents of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet carried out a brutal assassination in the heart of the U.S. capital. Orlando Letelier, a vocal Pinochet critic and leading thinker on global economic inequality, was killed in the attack, along with Ronni Karpen Moffitt, a 25-year-old American colleague of Letelier’s at the Institute for Policy Studies. Forty years later, this tragic event continues to stoke the flames of activism for social and economic justice around the world. One of the people who picked up the torch is Orlando’s son Francisco Letelier.

The Zapatista’s CompArte Art Festival In Images

Mexican artist David Arias Dijard creates wooden action figures depicting folk heroes, such as deceased EZLN fighter Comandanta Ramona (L), Mexican 20th Century revolutionary Emiliano Zapata (C) and EZLN spokesperson Subcomandante Marcos (R). © Ryan Mallett-Outtrim

By Ryan Mallett-Outtrim for New Internationalist – Over a thousand artists gathered in San Cristobal, Chiapas in July to attend the alternative art festival, CompArte for Humanity. Supported by the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), the festival drew 1,445 artists from 45 different countries and from every continent. The aim of the festival was to promote art as a way to create dialogue across social movements, and as a form of social and political expression. Over the course of the week long festival, from 23 to 30 July, dozens of artists spoke out about the political, social and cultural messages of their art.

Who Uses Puppets For Political Protest? Meet Elliot Crown

The 'Fossil Fool' at the People's Climate March
(image by Roland Marconi)   DMCA

By Joan Brunwasser for Open Ed News – I make highly theatrical puppets, employing familiar cultural icons, to spread progressive ideas in the mainstream and alternative press. It’s a formula. Since any artwork is open to interpretation, mainstream corporate media images can often SHOW what they will not, literally, SAY. I call it the “art loophole.” And I think most journalists privately lean left and are glad to publish a progressive image if given the chance. I operate in that space.

The Artists And Activists Who’ve Aimed At The Roots Of Injustice

#IdleNoMore protest on Parliament Hill, Ottawa, 2012 (photo by Andre Forget, QMI Agency, reproduced with permission from publisher)

By Alexis Clements for Hyperallergic – A few years ago I was covering a panel discussion for Hyperallergic featuring members of Gran Fury, an ACT UP affinity group focused primarily on producing what group members themselves called “propaganda” against a government hellbent on isolating, vilifying, and smugly looking on as tens of thousands of their citizens died of AIDS. There were a number of young people in the audience at the event and more than once the hand of one of these audience members rose to ask how they could do something similar — how they could employ similar tactics and ideas in political struggles happening today.

Why Climate Change Needs 60,000 Artists To Tell Its Story

Screen shot of Marina Zurkow’s computer-driven animation Mesocosm (Wink, Texas)

By Elizabeth Boulton for The Conversation – In 2013, one of the world’s leading public relations experts, Bob Pickard, cried out to the climate world: “mobilise us!” In a frustrated op-ed, he listed 20 key problems with climate communication. One of them was “story fatigue”: bland stories with “highly repetitive and stale” themes. Climate information is still often confusing, unengaging and absent from the wider public discourse.

Threats Of Criminal Charges Don't Deter Macedonia's ‘Colorful Revolutionaries'

Protesters painting the Alexander the Great monument using toy water guns. Photo by Vančo Džambaski, CC BY-NC-SA.

By Filip Stojanovski for Global Voices – Protesters of the ‘Colorful Revolution’ in Macedonia claim they won’t be intimidated by the police announcement that they would press criminal charges against the bravest among them. The anti-corruption protests, while non-violent, are far from passive, and include marches, performances, and throwing paint at objects that symbolize the impunity and poor governance of the regime. According to experts, the charges are illegal from several points of view.

In Whitney Exhibit, Poitras Explores The Art Of Surveillance

This image released by the Whitney Museum of American Art shows a pigmented inkjet print on aluminum by Laura Poitras, titled, "ANARCHIST: Data Feed with Doppler Tracks from a Satellite (Intercepted May 27, 2009), 2016," part of a solo exhibition titled, "Astro Noise," showing at the Whitney Museum of American Art through May 1. (Laura Poitras/Whitney Museum of American Art via AP)

By Jocelyn Noveck for Associated Press – NEW YORK (AP) — Here’s a question you’ve likely never asked yourself: Can covert surveillance be beautiful? But you might be asking it as you stroll through “Astro Noise,” journalist and filmmaker Laura Poitras’ exhibit at the Whitney Museum of American Art, in which images stemming from mass government surveillance are, in a number of cases, physically striking. Take, for example, the patterns of bright greens, blues and oranges adorning the wall as one enters the exhibit.

Criteria Of Negro Art

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By W.E.B. DuBois for Red Wedge Magazine – “Black Art Matters.” If there were a way to sum up the thrust of this essay in one very brief sentence then that would be it. W.E.B. DuBois is one of those thinkers who needs very little introduction: lifelong socialist and Black liberationist, founder of the N.A.A.C.P., author of what is still to this day one of the definitive books on Black Reconstruction in the south. What is often overlooked is how central art was to DuBois’ ideas about Black freedom in the United States.