Saturday, October 13, 2012

Framing Creative Time

I'm exhausted but feel good at the end of the Creative Time Summit, which presented many terrific artists and their ideas, from whom I learned a lot. Part of what exhausted me, however, was a contretemps over an Egyptian artist who made a melodramatic protest against Israel that colored most of the first day by refusing the invitation to appear, at the last moment. One reason I feel good is time well-spent with people, including organizers Nato Thompson & Anne Pasternak about the boycott issue. As far as the boycotters, honestly, I  think Egyptian artists have enuf fish to fry in Egypt. I've written about it on my FB page and will only add here that I think, when critical political issues aren't adequately framed, they become a dominance free-for-all, serving only individualistic interests.

I also think this question of who or what takes dominance goes to the heart of what has precipitated our present environmental crisis. When we privilege anthropocentrism, we are presuming human dominance. When our (mine also) point of view is stubbornly selfish/ close-minded/ nationalistic/ anthropocentric, we (I am) are doomed to fail, regardless of the "justice" of our (my) point of view.

In this case, the case for "Confronting Inequity," the conference subtitle, in my opinion, was not adequately framed over the boycott. I don't accept Israeli policies wholesale, for example, on the settlements, but think serious issues deserve seriously framed discussions of the issues and policies, separated from the peoples. In their defense, CT said they were blind-sided.

More on the conference and the boycott is on Mira Schor's blog:

I'd rather play a good game of chess than deal with artists boycotting each other. Art politics and chess are both based on surprise but chess, generally has better framing.

Friendly adversaries playing chess in Washington Square Park.

The following are some of my notes from the first day of the conference (with my comments in ital.):

Nato Thompson & Anne Pasternak introducing: Art & social change- talking vs. doing @ Zucotti (Nato) and Arab Spring; artists that pulled out of CT to boycott Israeli because Israeli Center for Digital Art in Holon, Israel, had been a screening partner.

Pablo Helguera: songs about immigration, humour. Asked for volunteers for role playing &gave out dollar bills to reapportion: "The Dictator Game." Then the Ultimatum" game. Another song, "This little angel has died ..." asking questions- art about the thing, art. Everyone is an artist is condescending. Who are the winners & losers? Why should I give the public what they want? 3rd song, a la Woody Guthrie: "Deportee ... they are just deportees (killed in plane crash)" ... (their bodies/lives) scattered like dry leaves on (our) fields."

Martha Rosler: capitalism, neo-liberalism & class, 1973 "Garage Sale,"(I recall going to one of her garage sales in 1977? in Solana Beach, CA) to address relationships with things, shame of what we discard, gender, as an indicator of economic instability- art as one more system, negotiation for value, parsing 1 project for a Marxist critique, change over time. Relaxed about tech troubles, narratives. Attacked by Marcuse & Sandi Dijkstra for inappropriate art

(Note: I also recall many long arguments I had with Marcuse & my then street theatre group, the American Ritual Theatre about what is revolutionary art)

Hegel vs analysis. Owning material & means, friendships. Marx on the fetishism of the object @ the center of art world? (legitimizing) shopping. Meta-monumental labor & work in walls made of money. What is the social value of art, production?

(Note to self re: 1968 Alejandro Jodorowski on the only acceptable residue of performance should be the changed psyche that has framed all my work since)

Malkia Cyril: Center for Media Justice. Racial wealth gap. Consciousness created from ‘us’ but wealth concentrated w/ corporations (1%) 100 million people no access to media. Media action grass roots action. Prison as arts & culture issue. “Bank vs America.” ‘when I came out as a teenager, my Mom told me we had to go on the talkshow circuit.’

LAPD, John Malpedes: biggest recovery group program anywhere (homeless in LA). Parades & stories. LACAN not allowing homeless people to lie down on the street.

Joia Mukherjee: Medical- no sustainability without art. “Partners in health” began in Haiti re: hydroelectric dam displacing people from their land. Missions as dignification of social & economic rights: FOOD, WATER, SANITATION vs sentimental idealization compared to another beauty? Haiti hospital mural  “every person is a person.” Beauty in ugliness of oppressive disease rooted in lack of dignity. Diseases of impoverishment. AIDS as a disease of oppression. Migration as part of that oppression. Treatment as a basic right& became part of recovery. They are we.

Skart: 50 person choir for Yugoslavia political songs in refugee camps to give joy to Serbia. “Backward” poem for conservative institutions. Women in Black against church involvement in public life: poem- story- song about, "a tree that grew in locksmith’s shop with no concept of birds or the sky"- Very Moving!!!

Taring Padi: about landslide in Indonesia caused by fracking “give us back our land," May 29,2006 hot sludge buried rice fields, in river, 30 villages, 60, 000 people displaced, forced migration. People left behind their history, lost their cultural cohesion. Art focus on retrieving cultural memory, “Reflections in the Mud” to fight for their rights. Using art to confront critics creating alternative livelihood: giant banners & puppets to express grief & pain during carnival. (Weird sound to tell presenters their time was up from musicians) Way to express frustration & anger & community. Still waiting for compensation.

Suzanne Lacy & Jodi Evans (Code Pink): (Jodi began with statement in support of the boycott about Israel persecuting Palestine, which I found very jolting but was thankfully much briefer than some subsequent statements by other artists). Rape addressed @ Nuremburg, Rosa Parks & rape, Jim Crow, “he offered me a drink of whiskey.” Bangladesh rapes- still no prosecutions. Susan Griffin, ramparts, rape as the all-American crime, “Ablutions” (the seminal work on rape that Suzanne, myself, Judy Chicago & Sandi Orgel did in 1972.) , “3 Weeks in May,” Leslie Labowitz & Women’s Building to raise awareness. Rape as tool of war- Balkan war on 60, 000 Muslim women. Rape as crime against humanity as genocide. Congo despite  peacekeepers- sexualized violence, Eve Ensler, Egyptian sexualized violence in Tahrir Square. LACE changes since 1974- prominent map if incidence of rape w/ 50 events, men deeply involved. Focused on schools where rape has increased. Used social bloggers. Shame has NOT changed. Women under siege. 1 in 3 raped in US military. Syrian rapes: 92% by Govt. officials. Obtrusive guitar sound calling them to conclusion. “Why don’t you (Republicans) spend your time ending rape vs defining rape.”

Break: lobby visits with Mary Miss, Lillian Ball, Martha Rosler, Mira Schor, Carol Stakenas, Linda Weintraub, Suzaan Boettger, etc., where it was mentioned that Suzanne had referenced me for "Ablutions." Lillian thought she’d seen me in Suzanne's slide, bathing naked in one of the tubs we had set up. I corrected her that that was not me. In a similar conversation, walking with Martha and Suzanne a little later, we clarified to Martha that none of the creators had been naked- a deliberate decision about power & vulnerability )

Tidal Journal: Occupy theory & strategies on Palestine. Boycotting Israeli Digital Art from occupied Palestine. Call for boycott against Israelis & divestment (BDS: please boycott my country & those who are profiting). Arab Israeli normalization & institutional violence @ expense of indigenous population (implication that Israeli Jews are not indigenous, solidarity with American Indians, etc). debt governments responsive to global capital not people. Strike debt. The debt resistors <>.

Note: Tying Jews & $: sad old story. As I blogged on FB later, where would these people be if they boycotted the tech & medical advances which have come from Israel?

Rabih Mroue: the Syrian protestors are recording their own death. How make the victim visible? (powerful film) Victim reflected in sniper’s eyes over & over in pixellated focus Complexity between warmaking & picture making. Put the other hors de champs by killing him. Real event Syria 2011. Reenacted 2012.

A.L. Steiner: in transparent plastic suit over ‘naked’ body suit. Pussy Riot films. “Patriarchy is a pyramid scheme.” Moving screaming “music.”

Leonidas Martin: Spanish revolution. World Bank & IMF 10, 000 arrived to tour Borsa de Barcelona, chanting, “you will not have a home in your whole fucking life.” “It’s too weird (for the Guinness Book of Word Records).” Constructed more houses than France & Germany combined during boom. Not a crisis but a fraud: 424,465 billion bank bail out. “Transform your anger into fun.”

Tom Finkelpearl: Put the RMutt urinal back in the bathroom. Immigrant movement (Roosevelt Ave). Socially collaborative art. Co-operative vs adversarial activism, SDS, Saul Lewinsky & “Revelry for Radicals,” Radical Women- Carol Hanish (sp.?), Zap Action, Mierle Ukeles, SNCC, The Diggers “live as tho the revolution was already won.” Abbie Hoffman dropping & burning dollars @ Stock Exchange, Act Up, Yoke Ono’s “Cut Piece,” Kaprow, Suzanne Lacy, Beuys, Rick Lowe @ SHAPE, People’s Front for the Liberation of Judea. Re: boycott cancellations (Mosireen) if not here, where? When? What are the practical implications of taking this action? John Dewey.

(My note re: thoughts on art & artists re: society, comparing Biden as chessmaster anticipating Ryan’s next move in debate; me often quoting from one of the IPCC members on climate change, 'look out for where the hockey puck will be vs following the puck')

Fernando Garcia-Dory: Paris Commune. Spectacle & narration of success. Community artists as contradiction: individual vs the commons. Self as renegade. Environment as a thing that requires remedy & sales. Not narrow, technical solutions myth & religion. Walking from Brussels to Berlin with flock of sheep, stopping to make actions in each village. Shepherds as curated vision. Soul + matter, thing & symbol, GMOs, Goats. Organizing. Silent wars. Campo adentro. Shit is very important: rural Spain- traditional music & new tech. Welcome to Majorca.

Slavoj Zizek: things are going pretty bad. There will be crisis. Does the global left know what it wants? Difficult to imagine change? Moralism= don’t know what they want. Liberal capitalism. Accepted vs the system. Chinese prohibited alternate realities & time travel narratives. Can imagine end of life but not socialism. (Why) are we blind, unjust?

A few closing thoughts:

In one of today's workshops, with Steve Lambert, Steve commented twice, that we're going to die, so we need to choose what we're going to do with our time.

As I was walking home tonight, I saw the sign for the passing of Rev. Moody, a man whose time was well and generously spent, framed by the deaths of servicemen in our wars. Now that's what I call well-framed.

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