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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 2021-2022

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Art in the Shadow of War in Ukraine with Vasyl Cherepanyn

Thursday, April 28, 2022 | 3pm EST

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VASYL CHEREPANYN is head of the Visual Culture Research Center, an institution based in Kyiv, Ukraine, and organizing the Kyiv Biennial. In this special session of Art & Protest, Cherepanyn will analyze the cultural and political context of Ukraine during the war, providing a snapshot of the field since the Maidan revolution followed by the Russian occupation of Crimea and Donbas in 2014 up to the current full-scale invasion of the country. The talk focuses on the functioning of art institutions under the conditions of war and occupation, connecting symbolic and real violence to their influence on cultural processes in Ukrainian society and beyond. Art has become a political subject, and this talk traces how artistic, academic, and political antagonisms have developed from the perspective of a civically engaged cultural institution.

Image: Davyd Chychkan, Lesya Ukrainka and Taras Shevchenko, Watercolor, Liner on Paper, A4 (2022).

Art, Rap, and Autonomous Revolution in Brazil
with Galo de Luta

Thursday, April 7, 2022 | 3pm EST

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PAULO ‘GALO’ LIMA is a radical militant and rapper who is mobilizing grassroots resistance on the outskirts of São Paulo today. Working with Revolução Periférica, he achieved national fame in July 2021, when he led protesters setting fire to a statue of Borba Gato, a notorious bandeirante who personified practices of enslavement, rape, and indigenous genocide in colonial Brazil. Jailed with his partner Géssica and Danilo ‘Biu’ Silva de Oliveira for the action, Galo took his visceral rhymes and dialogues from the street to his cellmates in prison, where he continued to educate and inspire the growing insurgency. Whether by voice or by fire, whether on the street or in prison, Revolução Periférica fuses revolutionary imagination and action to create a living community seeking to fight against precarity, to retake the perifery, and reclaim the history of its struggles, experiences, and territories. Joining us with Fabiana Gibim and Gustavo Racy of the radical art publishing enterprise Sobinfluencia, Galo de Briga will lead us in a conversation about rap, resistance, and autonomous revolution in this dynamic movement of the Global South.

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Whither Art Activism? History & Prospectus
with Kim Charnley and Gregory Sholette

Thursday, March 24, 2022 | 3pm EST

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What does the strange arc of art activism tell us about the prospects of progressive politics today? From the 1990s, when activism existed on the fringes of an expanding art world dominated by spectacular forms of ironic neo-pop; through the resurgence of radical imaginative resistance around the turn of the century, across wave after wave of new movements, insurgent politics, and “tactical media” in the crisis-ridden 2010s, art activism has brought us to the bizarre juncture of the present. It is a moment when the far Right is weaponizing social media using tactics straight out of the progressive playbook, when art collectives have gone mainstream, Ukrainian artists are welding minimalist looking anti-tank barricades, and the left liberal politics of art institutions—once the target of radical critique—are now under full-scale attack across the globe. Noted writers and critics Kim Charnley and Gregory Sholette will reflect on this perplexing situation and what the history and practice of art activism might tell us about the role of emancipatory art within it

Laura Raicovich, Culture Strike: Art and Museums in an Age of Protest

Thursday, February 24, 2022 | 3pm EST

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In the midst of an ongoing pandemic, what is the role of cultural organizations and art? How might they adapt and change to the demands of these times? Is it enough? Writer and curator, Laura Raicovich, will discuss her recent book, Culture Strike: Art and Museums in an Age of Protest (Verso 2021) providing her personal experiences as a former museum director, art worker, and committed seeker of equity. Having led the Queens Museum for three years during the precarious period of Trump's election and its aftermath, in addition to over 20 years of working with artists, Raicovich will delve into the structures that exist and how, in the context of ongoing, iterative institutional failures, people can remake and remodel cultural production, reality, and imagination collectively. The discussion will be lively and will invite participation.

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Sahraa Karimi: A Country Without Storytellers? Women, Film, and Resistance in Afghanistan

Thursday, February 17, 2022 | 3pm EST

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SAHRAA KARIMI is an Afghan filmmaker and former director of Afghan Film. Can you imagine a country without visual storytellers? Can you imagine films without actresses? Can you imagine a nation without cinema? In Afghanistan, where you can find unique stories in every corner of the daily lives of millions of people, with the return of the Taliban to power, storytelling in any format—and film in particular—has been forbidden. While many 21st-century filmmakers dream of making films in Marc, in Afghanistan they cannot even shoot a single frame. Karimi will tell us how Afghan filmmakers fight against these limitations; how they use cinematic platforms to tell the world untold stories of people in Afghanistan; and how—with the support of the world—they do not let the Taliban stop them from telling their stories

Art, Hope, Revolution

Thursday, February 3, 2022 | 3pm EST

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FOR MORE THAN THREE DECADES artist and activist Dread Scott has steadily created works that startle and provoke liberal sentiments, often targeting such hallowed subjects as the American Flag, or the US Constitution, and as early as the 1990s his art took critical aim at police corruption and state sponsored racism. And yet, throughout his career, Scott continues to inspire, educate us, always holding out hope that a truly emancipatory world is still possible, if only we are willing to struggle it into being. Scott will present an overview of his recent work, including the White Male for Sale NFT and Slave Rebellion Renactment and in conversation with Greg Sholette address what it means to believe in a revolutionary art practice, at a time of multiple crises and global defeat for progressive causes and the Left.

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Art, Protest, and Education in Hungary: The Radical Vision of FreeSzFE

Thursday, January 27, 2022 | 3pm EST

Recording Here

FreeSzFE SOCIETY is a vibrant artistic community born out of massive and unprecedented creative protests at the University of Theatre and Film of Budapest in 2020-2021. Standing up against Hungary’s nationalist-populist government when it seized control of their institution, faculty and students of the country’s most prestigious art school joined in a series of actions—from en masse resignations to occupation of the university buildings to creative protest events—that laid the foundations for a new and autonomous organization enjoying the support of art lovers and fans committed to democracy and the autonomy of higher education across Hungary. Film director Ildikó Enyedi, dramaturg and translator László Upor, and legal officer Nóra Ilona Aujeszky will join us for a lively conversation about the emerge, challenges, and current activities of this thriving experiment in art and protest, moderated

Art and Protest Events Fall 2021

Jacqueline de Jong: These are Still Situationist Times

Thursday, December 16, 2021| 3pm EST

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JACQUELINE DE JONG has been a strong and fiercely independent voice of resistance since the fiery debut of her Situationist Times in 1962. Joining us from her home in Amsterdam, Jacqueline will talk about the tense dynamics of art and protest in the 1960s, from the disputes with Debord that shaped first issue of The Situationist Times to her defiant posters for the Atelier Populaire during the Parisian uprisings of May 1968. From there she will turn to her latest work, including the long-delayed seventh number of the Situationist Times and her latest paintings, inspired by the immigration crisis in Europe, currently on display in the solo exhibition Borderlands at Ortuzar Projects in New York. We hope you will join us for this rare opportunity to reflect on the changing role of art in cultures of protest across two distinct historical eras. 

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Searching for a New Dress: War, Migration, & Traditional Craftwork in Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine

Thursday, December 9, 2021 | 3pm EST

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NOUR SHANTOUT is an artist and researcher whose work addresses themes including subjugated heritage, counter-memory, labor, and alienation from a post-colonial feminist perspective. Born in Damascus, Shantout studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Damascus, the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris, and the Akademie der bildenden Künste in Vienna, where she now lives and works. She will discuss her experiences during a recent research trip relating to her current project, “Searching for the New Dress.” Exploring the practice of traditional embroidery at Shatila, a Palestinian camp in Lebanon, the project traces of the Syrian Palestinian and Syrian women who took refuge there during the war in Syria. As she learns to design new motifs and stitching with techniques of Syrian embroidery, Shantout hopes to create a fabric capable of reflecting the social, political, economic, and demographic forces that have transformed the region since the revolution in Syria.

Cyber Partisans: An Insider's Interview on Truth, Terror, and Technology in the Lukashenko Regime

Thursday, November 18, 2021 | 3pm EST

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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. 

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Back to Belarus: The State of Art & Protest Today

Thursday, November 11, 2021 | 3pm EST

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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

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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.

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Not White, Not Male, Not New York:
Art, Race, & Sexual Politics in Pittsburgh

Thursday, September 16, 2021 | 3pm EST

Recording Here

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

Recording Here

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.

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Art & Incarceration/Incarcerated Artists

Tuesday, May 4, 2021 | 3pm EST

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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

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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.

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Seriously Funny: Humor, Satire, & The Art Of Protest

Tuesday, March 16, 2021 | 3pm EST

Recording Here

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

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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.

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The Lakota Nation: Standing Rock & Beyond

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.

Thursday, January 14, 2021 | 3pm EST

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Art and Protest Events Fall 2020

A Life Practice: On Art, Protests, and Organizing

Thursday, December 17, 2020 | 3pm EST

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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

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The Lausan Collective: Art & Protest in Hong Kong

Wednesday, November 18, 2020 | 6pm EST

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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

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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/.

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