From the Battle of Seattle to Occupy Wall Street, Bolotnaya Square to Nuit debout, the Arab Spring, the Movement of the Squares, the Color Revolutions and the Umbrella Move-ment to the waves of protest sweeping the globe once more—Black Lives Matter and Belarus and Hong Kong—artists have played a conspicuous role in mobilizing popular dissent and resistance around the world. What is the nature of that role? How has it changed in the new millennium? What are the strategies and tactics of creative protest? How did they arise? What can artists bring to protest that others cannot? How does art activism relate to the vogue for “socially engaged art” in academe and the insular or market-driven institutions of the art world? How does current practice relate to previous eras of art and protest, the 1960s, the historical avant-garde?
Please join us this fall as we begin another season of interdisciplinary, cross-generational conversations with artists and scholars from around the globe. The Art & Protest Initiative is sponsored by Beinecke Rare Book Library, the Whitney Humanities Center, and the Postwar Culture Working Group. We invite students, faculty, artists, activists, and other interested individuals in local communities from Yale, New Haven, and around the world to participate in and shape this ongoing conversation.
Art and Protest
Art and Protest Events Fall 2021
Cyber Partisans: An Insider's Interview on Truth, Terror, and Technology in the Lukashenko Regime
Thursday, November 18, 2021 | 3pm EST
Organized by Gabriella Coleman (Harvard University), Marijeta Bozovic (Yale University), Benjamin Peters (University of Tulsa) and in collaboration with the Art & Protest Initiative at Yale University. Hacktivism is on the rise, and there's a new, notable crew on the block: the Cyber Partisans. Hailing from Belarus, this collective was chartered in 2020 to fight and expose the Lukashenko regime. First hacking a TV station to stream videos of police brutality, their tactics and interventions have become more diverse, sophisticated, and wide-ranging in 2021. Collaborating with former police officers and hacking into government databases, they've landed and analyzed troves of leaked data that showcase everything from alleged police informants' names to proof that the regime doctored Covid-19 death statistics to downplay the severity of the pandemic. To learn more about the group's operations and organization, along with their history, goals, and successes, please join us on Thursday, November 18, from 3-5 p.m. EST for an online event featuring the Cyber Partisans' spokesperson, Yuliana Shemetovets. She will join us live on video and communicate with several other members of the collective to answer questions from the event organizers and the audience.
Back to Belarus: The State of Art & Protest Today
Thursday, November 11, 2021 | 3pm EST
WITH ANTONINA STEBUR, OLIA SOSNOVSKAYA, DZINA ZHUK, NICOLAY SPESIVTSEV, AND OLGA KOPENKINA. MUCH HAS HAPPENED IN BELARUS since our first session of Art & Protest took us to Minsk in October 2020. Triggered by government attempts to falsify the results of the Presidential election and subsequent police brutality against protestors, mass demonstrations have revived a sense of national unity, emerging from a spontaneous, dynamic, sprawling, decentralized movement of solidarity in which protest-related art and imagery have played a prolific role. Everyday acts of resistance to the regime have brought rebellious citizens together with artists revolting against normative aesthetic roles, laying the ground for new forms of collective work. Curator Antonina Stebur, writer Olia Sosnovskaya, and artists Dzina Zhuk and Nicolay Spesivtsev of the eeefff collective will discuss the current state of affairs in a conversation led by New York-based curator and critic Olga Kopenkina.
The Poetical is Political: New Russian Feminist Poetry
Friday, October 29, 2021 | 3pm EST
GALINA RYMBU is a poet, activist, and founding co-editor of F pis’mo, the first-ever Russian magazine and platform dedicated to feminist and queer writing. Rymbu also edits Gryoza, a website for contemporary poetry. She is the co-founder and co-curator of the Arkadii Dragomoshchenko Prize for emerging Russian-language poets. In 2020, Rymbu edited F Letter: New Russian Feminist Poetry, a collection of poems by feminist and queer Russian-language poets. Life in Space, a collection of her poetry translated into English by Joan Brooks and others, was published by Ugly Duckling Presse in 2020. In this session of Art & Protest, Rymbu will read a selection of her poems from F Letter and lead us in a discussion on contemporary Russian feminist poetry and what it implications for feminist political action today.
Not White, Not Male, Not New York:
Art, Race, & Sexual Politics in Pittsburgh
Thursday, September 16, 2021 | 3pm EST
HILARY ROBINSON is Professor of Feminism, Art and Theory, and Director of the Centre for Doctoral Training: Feminism, Sexual Politics, and Visual Culture at Loughborough University, UK. From 2005 to 2012 she lived in Pittsburgh, where she served as Dean of the College of Fine Arts at Carnegie Mellon University and headed the Creative Enterprise project to retain artists in the post-industrial city. Although billed as “America’s most liveable city,” Pittsburgh in fact offers Black women a life expectancy that falls seven years short of white women, while artist communities of color have largely remained all but invisible. Seeking a more inclusive narrative of art and protest, Professor Robinson will discuss the embodied practice of women artists of color in Pittsburgh—Vanessa German, Alisha Wormsley, and the artists, musicians, and performers of the #notwhite collective. Her aim is to produce a legibility for the highly diverse work these women produce and to argue for an embodied practice of resistance.
Image: Alisha Wormsley, There Are Black People in the Future, Pittsburgh, 2018
Art and Protest Events Spring 2021
The Living Image: 50 Years Of Photography &
The Struggle For Social Justice In Italy
Thursday, May 20, 2021 | 3pm EST
TANO D’AMICO is one of the world’s best-known photographers of social movements. Since his work for the radical Italian newspaper Lotta Continua in the 1970s, Tano has fought to counter the mainstream media’s image of social movements by capturing the beauty and passion of the struggle for social justice on the part of workers, feminists, gay rights activists, Roma and Sinti, the anti-globalization movement, and many other causes. In this special session of Art & Protest, Tano will lead us in a conversation about the power and agency of photography—as a tool of criminalization, exclusion, and repression on the part of authorities as well as an active, constitutive force capable of intervening directly in social reality to shape the identify of social movements and ensure their ultimate vindication in the struggle for history and memory. At stake is the irruption of a new image, a new kind of subversive beauty, carried forward by the voices, gestures, desires, and actions of a new set of actors entering on the historical stage.
Art & Incarceration/Incarcerated Artists
Tuesday, May 4, 2021 | 3pm EST
WITH EMILE DEWEAVER, JANAYA PULLIAM, AND AIMEE WISSMAN. Amid growing calls for a transformation of our country’s justice system, artists directly impacted by the system are playing a crucial role in envisioning new practices of justice and community. Emile DeWeaver, Janaya Pulliam, and Aimee Wissman use artistic practice (across painting, writing, curating, and filmmaking) to activate the leadership of systems-impacted artists and generate critical conversations about the criminal legal system. DeWeaver is a writer, community organizer, and co-founder of Prison Renaissance, which works towards prison abolition by amplifying the voices of incarcerated artists, leaders, and scholars. Pulliam is an Art and Activism Fellow at the People’s Paper Co-Op, where she collaborates on paper works and visual art to support the liberation of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women. Wissman’s creative practice investigates the interconnected narratives of racism, sexism, mass incarceration, addiction, and homelessness.
London In The Age Of King Mob
Tuesday, April 20, 2021 | 3pm EST
DONALD NICHOLSON-SMITH is a literary translator, born in the UK but a longtime denizen of Brooklyn. In his youth he belonged to the Situationist International in Paris (1965-67), after which he helped found the London action group King Mob. Illustrating the adventurous life of King Mob as a force for critical agit-prop with examples of posters, graffiti, street theater, and the King Mob journal, Donald will discuss its many political, artistic, and literary antecedents (from Situationists to English Romantics, Dada and Surrealism to the Wobblies) as well as affinities with contemporaneous activists such as King Mob’s neighbors in London, the Black militants of Notting Hill Gate, and the infamous “street gang with an analysis" known as Up Against the Wall Motherfucker in New York.
Seriously Funny: Humor, Satire, & The Art Of Protest
Tuesday, March 16, 2021 | 3pm EST
STEPHEN DUNCOMBE is an author, professor and co-founder of the Center for Artistic Activism, where he has trained activists and artists around the world to be both more effective and affective in their protests. Even when protesting issues that are deadly serious, activists have long used humor to break down barriers and build affective solidarities with audiences, deploying critical satire to highlight the absurdity or brutality of the status quo. But humor can also have a prophetic function: demonstrating, through laughter and jubilation, what a better world might look like. Drawing on examples such as the American Indian occupation of Alcatraz, environmental protests in China, and escapades of the Yes Men, Stephen will lead us in a lively discussion of the seriously funny in art and protest.
Anthony Obayomi: Art, Storytelling & Protest In Nigeria
Thursday, February 18, 2021 | 3pm EST
ANTHONY OBAYOMI is a storyteller from Lagos, Nigeria who uses photography, filmmaking, and other storytelling techniques that combine art and technology in both traditional and experimental media. Obayomi portrays people, society, and culture with the aim of fostering tolerance, mitigating stereotypes, questioning traditional opinions, and addressing issues of social justice. He won the first edition of the LagosPhoto and National Geographic Portfolio Review prize, was selected to participate in the Electric South New Dimensions Lab, and has received the Taurus Prize for Visual Arts. Obayomi’s work has been shown at the National Geographic Storytellers Summit, BredaPhoto Festival, LagosPhoto Festival, Alliance Française de Lagos, danceGATHERING Lagos, the African Artists’ Foundation’s Maker Lab, and the Project Space in Johannesburg.
The Lakota Nation: Standing Rock & Beyond
Thursday, January 14, 2021 | 3pm EST
LEDGER ART is an act of cultural preservation and resistance that traces its origins to pictographic chronicles of Native Americans in the 19th century. Depicting important events in the community, these visual histories were originally painted on rock, hide, or fabric, but the tradition survived the decimation of the buffalo and the suppression of indigenous ways, as Plains artists turned to paper, filling ledger books brought by their settler colonialist oppressors with a history all their own. Revived with the Native American resistance movements of the 1970s, ledger art has again become a powerful medium blending resilience, creativity, and defiance, most notably in the recent protests at Standing Rock. Join us for a conversation with three Lakota masters who will talk about what making this art means to them today.
Art and Protest Events Fall 2020
A Life Practice: On Art, Protests, and Organizing
Thursday, December 17, 2020 | 3pm EST
SHELLYNE RODRIGUEZ is an artist, teacher, agitator and community organizer from the Bronx. These multiple roles have converged and have been in conflict in myriad ways throughout the years and have sown lessons as well as unanswered questions. Join us for a candid discussion of Shellyne’s experiences as a community organizer and an artist. Together we will look back at confrontations with the artworld and its complicity in real estate speculation, the citywide protests in 2019 known as FTP, which set the stage for the 2020 uprisings in New York
The Lausan Collective: Art & Protest in Hong Kong
Wednesday, November 18, 2020 | 6pm EST
LAUSAN COLLECTIVE is a group of writers, translators, artists, and organizers who are seeking to build transnational left solidarity and ways of life beyond the dictates of capitalism and the state by holding multiple imperialisms to account. Formed out of the Hong Kong protests in 2019, Lausan is interested in taking a long view of “art and protest” in association with and despite canonical anti-establishment movements. Dismantling the visuality and governmentality of colonial capital and multi-imperial domination demands a closer look at how anticolonial action, class struggle, international solidarity, and decolonial politics produce particular modes of seeing and making under escalating conditions of state violence. Are these forms, medias, and tactics of agitation simply reactions to and remnants of political transformation, and how might they themselves shape discrepant histories beyond the bounds of mainstream movements? Lausan believes a radical imagination of Hong Kong’s future must center cross-border solidarity based on class struggle, migrant justice, anti-racism, and feminism.
Victoria Lomasko: "A Trip To Minsk"
Thursday, November 5, 2020 | 3pm EST
Victoria Lomasko is an artist, journalist and writer who has described her preferred genre or medium less as documentary comics or graphic novellas than live “graphic reporting.” Born in Serpukhov, Russia, Lomasko graduated from the Moscow State University of Printing Arts with a specialty in in graphic art and book design. A fixture at Moscow's protests and political trials, Lomasko exposes the inequality and injustice at the heart of contemporary Russian society and gives voice to Russia's many voiceless citizens. Her portraits of sex workers, juvenile prisoners, queer performers, independent labor union organizers, and all manner of activists tell the stories of “other Russias”—as in the title of her award-winning book Other Russias (published in English translation by Thomas Campbell) in 2017. Lomasko has been recognized internationally as an original and major new voice of unofficial Russia. She joins us in the fall of 2020 after undertaking a particularly bold journey to Minsk to cover the Belarus protests from within. Some of her work from this most recent project can be found here: https://thenib.com/a-revolution-in-belarus/.