Artists and Global Citizenship: a Pilot ArtsLink Assembly produced by CEC ArtsLink, New York City

Artists and Global Citizenship: a Pilot ArtsLink Assembly produced by CEC ArtsLink, New York City


(greeting in the Lenape language) – How are you all today? – [Audience] Good, good. – I’m Hadrien Coumans.
(flute music) This is Brent Michael Davids. We are co directors of Lenape Center. Lenape Center is a indigenous nonprofit which was formed here in Manhattan, or mannahatta, mannahattan,
which translates as, a place where we gather the wood to make the boughs. It also translates as, the island. This homeland that we welcome you to today is geologically 1.3 billion years old and so in honoring all the life that has ever walked, that has ever lived, that has ever died on it and through it, we
understand and we honor all of our relations. And in this way, we welcome you today as relations, as relatives. The original people, the Lenape, have been here for a very long time in a homeland which begins in the south in the state of Delaware, west into Eastern Pennsylvania, north to the Catskills, east into a sliver of Connecticut and a bit of Long Island as well, and all of New York City. And so in recognizing this homeland, we want to honor the people, honor the original people, the Lenape, known as the grandfathers
and the peacemakers. (singing in an indigenous language) Brent Michael Davids. (audience applauding) Welcome. (speaking in an indigenous language) Thank you. (audience applauding) – Thank you, Hadrien and Brent. I’m Simon Dove, I’m
director of CEC ArtsLink, and I’m happy to see
you all assembled here, or assembling probably is a better word, as people come in still. Two practical announcements. First is that given the, the gorgeous snowstorm we had yesterday, Simon Brault could not get
his flight from Ottawa, so he’s gonna be Skyping in instead. But given the vagaries
of travel in Canada, he was in Montreal for the flight and his train back to Ottawa
this morning is also cancelled. So he’s currently on a train. So that adds to the
drama of this afternoon. But the plan is to Skype
with him after the break. So essentially, what is in your program, we’ll just move 20 minutes
earlier up to the break and then we’ll take the
break, set up the Skype, we’ll have Simon on Skype and then we’ll go straight into the foundation’s panel conversation. So I just want to welcome you to, just to say, for us this
is a really important way in which we as CEC ArtsLink engage with what we are both thinking of doing, but also with the artists
we’re working with and how we begin to frame and
develop the kind of work that we feel we need to be
doing to support artists, both to help us all imagine and build the world as it
needs to be, as it can be, and we wanted to bring people together to really share both approaches, ideas, and I hope in an inspiring
and informative way that starts to enable
conversations to happen. So this is really a pilot. We’re seeing if this feeds your work as much as it feeds ours, and I’m keen that you communicate with me by phone, in meetings. My email is in the program book. Let me know what we
could be doing next year. We hope this could be an annual event. But I’m keen it can feed your work and support the artists that we work with both across the United States
but also internationally. So please be in touch
with me and let me know how better we can make this for next year. You should know, given the, the tight timeframe for
everyone’s presentations, we’ve asked people really
to stick to their time. There won’t be introductions
from me for everyone. The slides will tell you who’s speaking and in theory, what
they’re speaking about. We have a little musical
cue, so if you start to hear a beeping sound
(beeping) which may, may, yeah that.
(beeping) If you start to hear that
when you’re speaking, you know you have a minute left and this music will
slowly build up to a point where even if you’re still
speaking, no one will hear you. So it really gives you a very
clear sense of your time. And I’ll be at the
front waving signs, too. So let’s hope we run to time. We have a short break, which
if you need to take some air, please do, but it will only be 20 minutes. So please be back promptly
for the Skype session. Welcome, let’s assemble. (audience applauding) – Good afternoon.
– Hi. – I’m a visual artist, Asel Kadyrkhanova, and I’m also a PhD researcher
at the University of Leeds. And today with Inga Lace, a curator, we will speak about diaspora. And, yeah. Diaspora is an interesting phenomenon. The word diaspora comes
from the Greek words dee-ah-speh-roh, which means to disperse
or to scatter across and basically it means a
community of people who were, who has dispersed or were displaced from their place of origin, most often because of traumatic event. And to be considered a diaspora, there shouldn’t be just a, just a mere physical dispersion to be considered a diaspora. People have to have or maintain a specific form of memory
of their place of origin, the place that becomes a point
of their cultural identity. And in my research, I
look at the questions of memory and trauma in
post-Soviet societies. In particular, I look at how traces of historical
trauma persist in time and how we might inherit the past that we did not live through. This is why, among other things, I became interested in diaspora. And I’m interested to research how memory and cultural identity persists
throughout generations and with people’s relocations, or in other words, in space and time. And it’s important to remember that it’s not just people who move around. Dispersions also means dispersions of cultural values, languages, personal memories and personal traumas. This is my work called,
A Brick to the World, that I made a couple of years ago for an artist residency in Kazakhstan. And this is installation I work with three alphabets
of the Kazakh language. And I used the alphabets to address the issue of cultural identity. In the 20th century under the Soviet rule Kazakh-koffavit was changed twice. First, the traditional Arabic alphabet was replaced by the Latin alphabet, and then in the late ’30s, it was replaced by Cyrillic. And at the moment, we
use Cyrillic letters. And what is interesting,
it might sound abstract, but what’s interesting,
it was also the way the time of the wave of
migration from Kazakhstan. People were trying to escape, to escape starvation and
political oppression, and later these people formed
a Kazakh diasporic route. And what I find fascinating that Kazakh diaspora in different countries use different alphabets. For example, people in China, Afghanistan, and Iran use Arabic letters and people in Turkey, Germany, England, or USA use Latin letters. So they cannot kind of
communicate with each other in written language, although they speak, we
speak the same language. And in this work, I use three, three alphabets which
I put on the cubes that appropriate the design of
educational kits for children. And on each side of the
cube, there is a letter, the same letter, but in,
in a different alphabet. By walking past this installation, the viewer changes the angle and each time, they read
it in a different alphabet, but they never get the full view. It’s always a fragmented view. So with this fragmented view, you cannot really grasp the entire phrase. And I would like to refer
to the fragmentation of collective memory with
many gaps and silences. So yeah, in this, with this installation, I would like to raise a question. How everyone is a brick to the world and it’s, on the other hand, it’s a solid brick of identity but, on the other hand, it is kind of a brick that can be moved and make
new towers of meaning. Thank you. – Thank you, Assel. So can we have the other image? Yes. So I will continue to speak
about diaspora a little bit through the lens of the project called Portable Landscapes
that I did with my colleagues and that is still ongoing, actually. And you can see an image
here from the project when it was exhibited in Riga at the Latvia National Art Museum. And so in a way, the
idea of the project was to work with Latvian artists in exile, mostly the post-Second World War ones, and contemporary artists, and, so we did this research because like, really after the Second World War, there was massive waves of Latvian people that ended up in many
different places in the world. And so since there was a Soviet Union, there was no place to kind of come back. So this diaspora and exile scene, they really kind of
existed parallelly, right? And we were thinking
like, how do we kind of reintroduce it to the
local scene in Latvia, but also how do we speak about that in New York, in Berlin, in Paris, like in the places where
they actually lived and what does that mean? And so the project started. And one thing that I would like to raise with this presentation
is sort of the curatorial and institutional
responsibility that we have, especially we felt that we have it in relation to European refugee crisis. So there was this moment
of crisis and it went on and we thought, so what can
we do as an institution? And for us, it seemed
that we need to talk about the exile or migration of
the past, because in Latvia the attitudes were very
like sort of racist and when the European Union
division happened in 2015, that, oh we need to
take like 700 refugees, just like 700, from all
these like that are flowing, you know? And it created like an
incredible kind of wave of racism and political rallies. So, we were like, how
do we speak about that with the Latvian audience? And that’s why for us,
that was this one reason why it was very important
to speak about diaspora and say like, well listen, but you know, like not that far ago, so many people were sort of accepted
in many different places like Latvian people. So we should also think
about migration today, that later it will create
like a shared history. Yeah so, and that shared present should be maybe more different than, you know, like surrounded by hostility. Yeah, and the picture basically shows this one Latvian artist who lived in US And her name is Daina Dagnija. And it’s interesting that in her work, she worked, she made these three paintings like the ones with refugees and the one with this woman in the ’70s while living in America. And you could kind of see
these two things, you know, like one is really, she
reflects on the Vietnam refugees because she is like a
perceptive, you know? Like, she sees what’s
happening in the world and in US at the time. And the other one is her
family sort of arriving in US So she already did that in the ’70s, this kind of reflective work. And that woman, it’s more like about the role of women in America, you know, in relation to consumer
culture and all these things. So that’s one of those that’s
a historical work, and, so if I still have time, I would like to just read the quote that was very
inspiring for the project. And so basically… It’s from the catalog that we did. So basically, migration
resulting from climate change is particularly topical nowadays, and it will be
more and more of that, yeah, if not from wars, then you know, from the climate change, because many territories
will be completely underwater or become uninhabitable because of the higher temperatures. So raising numbers of unregistered people may also pose a serious
threat to democracy and currently existing structures of political representation. And so the philosopher Thomas Nail offers an interesting way
of looking at the situation. He suggests reviewing both history and the current political situation from the point of view
of movement, migration, and the migrant instead of
that of a static citizen. So Nail calls his theory kinopolitics and it’s a reference to
social kinetics or movement. And so rather than taking
the frequency of notion of the citizen as his point of departure, he proposes beginning
with migration flows, looking at the ways in
which migrants travel to become citizens and to form countries and paying attention to how they often present an opposing force and an alternative to
existing state structures. From a political point of
view, a migration theory that takes movement as
its prime consideration might be more inclusive than the one which prioritizes the citizenship. And yeah, so. In a way, while it seems like a riddle or like a weird utopia that we could look at the world like this, I think it’s a, yeah, it’s a great way to
finish the presentation. Thank you. (audience laughing)
(beeping) (audience applauding) Thank you. – [Laurel] Hello
everyone, I’m Laurel Ptak, the director and curator of Art in General here in New York City. – Hi, I’m Michal Novotny
and I’m the director of Centre for Contemporary Art in Prague. – I want to say quick
thanks to CEC ArtsLink to Simon and Maxim especially
for organizing us here today, and for also allowing Art in General to host an amazing fellow
this year, thank you for that. And I’m here speaking with a
former CEC ArtsLink fellow, Michal, who I have had the
pleasure of working with for the last five years in
different ways to bring artists from across Eastern and
Central Europe to New York. And I had the pleasure of just opening an exhibition
last night at Art in General that was guest-curated by
Michal, called School of Pain. The show is up until January 26th. I encourage you to come
by and have a look. In brief, the show looks at
different ways to think about economies of desire in
relationship to the work of some very interesting
artists, and Michal, maybe you could say a few more
words about the exhibition. – Maybe I could just
invite you on Saturday for us creating a performance
that will be between, between 4:00 and 6:00 in the afternoon, where Mark Ther, who is a Czech artist, will screen a selection of his movies from the last 15 years. The deal was two very different
but somehow connected topic of his queer identity and
stories of the Sudeten German. It’s about the Czech German that were expelled from
the country in 1945 because before the Second World War, 50% of the citizens of Czech
Republic were actually Germans and it’s still a very taboos topic and there will be also a DTM and I am doing a kind
of singing performance that also deals with his
complicated cosmopolitan identities. He is half Sri Lankan-half-Indian,
but grew up in the UK and the United States and
also in Warsaw in Poland. So this will be ’til 6:00. – So I couldn’t help but
want to ask some impossible, unanswerable questions in eight minutes and knowing Michal to
also be a complex thinker, I thought he would be up for the task. But really, I guess the very
subject of global citizenship, really, and you know, the work
that we do institutionally at Art in General in an
international context has me thinking a lot
about the kind of climate of the world in which
we’re working right now. And in a cultural
moment, when we’re seeing such a disturbing rise in nationalism here and in many other parts of the world, I’m thinking a lot about,
you know, what is art’s role? How can art work to counter or undo such extremism? And I thought Michal would
be an excellent person to talk about this with because actually in your broader career and also, in the kind of grouping of artists and even some of the themes
of the works in the show that’s up now at Art in General, I think you’ve done a really exemplary job of working together with local regional and international contexts and scales in your curatorial work
over the last many years, and I was wondering how
you think about this, and you know, how can we maybe think about the local, the regional,
or the international as ways to kind of counter
ideas of nationalism? – Maybe I can. So of course, it’s a difficult question. But I somehow wish that the
global kind of citizenship would work and that we
could all be humans. This is a big topic in the
philosophy that I studied where the people somehow never accepted the post-colonial and post-human studies idea that unfortunately
we cannot be all humans because there have been so much put down that we need to first undo somehow that. So the question is how to deal with it. I mean, I think that
maybe the answer is always to kind of try to consider full scale. But so, when I’m for
example doing the program FUTURA Centre for
Contemporary Art in Prague, when I arrived there, it was mainly a international art center. So in the context of the first
decades of the millennium, it was very important to bring international artists to Prague. But when I arrived, I also
understood and at the time still many directors of art institutions were publicly claiming that they are considering their program, like if it will be
anywhere else in the world, like that they would do the
program, wherever they would be, which is impossible, you know, we are always in a
certain place in the world and this place has a meaning. So I try to add of
course many local artists that I think would need some
help to be exhibited there. But I think at least our
institution should work as a certain bridge, so they
should bring people there and also help other people
to live on this bridge. And they should somehow
work with this from a certain point that needs to be built. So they also need the
international acclaim, but they also need a local acclaim. And what is mainly my technique is that I’m trying to smuggle people somewhere. I’m trying to smuggle people
in the local discourse, I’m trying to smuggle people
in the international discourse. I’m trying to hide them
in some trendy ways that they could be helping them to go up or the same to come to Prague. And the same, I’m trying to
play maybe with the public that comes in the garden of FUTURA of those two public sculptures that I do not find very extraordinary what comes to the artistic quality, but they bring a lot of white public. And then we kind of
testing this white public in exposing them to maybe
something what English over here to some problems that they
didn’t really come to deal with, because they just came to take a selfie with those sculptures. But I think that this
exposure, anyway, works. – And maybe this is, you
know, more deep question that I would love to continue to think together with many people in the room and who are presenting later today about. But I think, you know, for me,
thinking about this question, how can contemporary
art negotiate identity when on the one hand it’s something that is extremely tied
to cultural belonging and geographical context
in really meaningful ways? But also to think about maybe, what are the ideological structures that underpin much arts funding? Because we see those
structures as often legally, politically and economically
being quite bound to the logic of the nation-state. So how can we kind of maneuver and work between those poles and terrain to think about what does it mean to undo or counter nationalism? – There is usually two
approaches in the public funding and I’m running a
situation that only runs on very different kind of public funding. At the beginning, it was
maybe the passport, right? The foundations usually
support only the artists who hold the right passport. Over the years and also by pushing of me and other directors, we
more came to the agreement that it’s more the place of residency. So for example, now Czech
artists can be supported, or let’s say artists can be supported by the Czech cultural institution, even though they do not
have the right passport, if they reside and work there. But I mean, this in a way
is also complicated, right? This is just another way of exclusion. So what I am also very often
questioning in my practice and maybe coming back to the
kind of upheaval of nationalism in also the region where I come from, the central is Europe is experiencing a big wave of nationalism. And I think that this grows from the fact that we have all kind
of big inferiority complex. That in some ways, we
need a sense of belonging. And maybe also the art
has pushed it away a lot from the discourse that it has. So one of the thing that
I’m most questioning, how art could create
this sense of belonging? And therefore I think that institutions that receive public funding should maybe be concerned
not so much of course with who they doing, but
if it’s really meaningful. Because also, often the kind
of the culture in Prague has policy that for example, residencies have been so much time used, can be used well also
despite the original fact that it is supposed to promote
a certain nation culture. In Europe, this is omnipresent. And of course, the developed countries have much more money
for the cultural polity, that Institute is a very strong funder, Prabhavati, other funders. But it doesn’t mean
that what the result is, is actually bad. So we are somehow still of course bound in the national state, which kind of collapse
with the global world. But we don’t really know
and I do not have the answer how to really overcome that, except in some kind of
positive sense of belonging, some kind of positive sense of patriotism, because we do need also this patriotism, otherwise it may strike back as a, as the kind of hardcore edge nationalism. I guess we’re, we have one minute? Maybe then I would ask
you the same question. How do you conceive your program being one of the few
nonprofit institutions in such a difficult space like New York is also concerning to the
question that you asked me? – Yeah, I guess Art in General has had a really long-standing relationship to working with international artists and it’s an institution that
was founded in the early 1980s, founded by artists and
I think was very early to think a lot about what would it mean to bring artists from all
different parts of the world to a place like New York and to do that with a very interesting
(beeping) like paying attention to geopolitics. So I think for me, maybe in brief, listening to the noise
(beeping) that is gonna drown me out any minute now, I just think one has to be really careful in thinking complexly about these things and to realize that we are, you know, we are bound inside a much larger system. Thank you so much.
– Yes! (audience applauding) (upbeat music) – Good afternoon, and thank you again to ArtsLink for inviting me. I sense a conspiracy in putting me up next after these speakers
talk about nation-state. I represent the Department of State, otherwise known as whatever
it is known as in your heads, but we’re not all evil. So I represent the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. And we’ll just play a, the slideshow, we’ll just, is scenes from engagements that we
have sponsored recently. The Bureau of Educational
and Cultural Affairs is home to The Arts Envoy program, as well as other cultural programs, was not a very large annual budget, but roughly hovering at about
10 million dollars a year. And our goal, our primary goal is to put
American artists overseas in meaningful interactions
with foreign audiences to advance foreign service,
foreign policy priorities. And while that advancement
of foreign policy priorities is our mission, we do
find that artists are both uniquely open to
interactions with foreign publics and also incredibly selfish,
so when they come back, they just take this
experience and run with it, which is fantastic for us. 60 years ago next year, Dave Brubeck came back from
State Department-sponsored trip and wrote some music. And next year, we hope to send
his children back to Moscow to play that music and
other music that he wrote. So we have a very long history. We recognize that art and artists go where no diplomat shall tread. Sometimes, they go where they find conversations where governments cannot
talk to each other just yet. And they have profound impact
on people that they encounter. We also believe it is
important to maintain international exposure
for American artists and we are proud to
contribute to domestic economy by supporting our artists
and hopefully inspiring them to make new records, new paintings, new theatrical productions,
whatever it may be. All the trips are inspiring and meaningful to
those who participate in them. And I can say that bravely because we’ve run alumni surveys and that’s what people tell us. The appetite for
participation is more than what we can handle, which is great news. We… Also believe that the reason art has this unique power is because we always put artists in meaningful interactions
with foreign audiences. These are workshops or collaborations that they participate in. And the experience of making art is a uniquely democratizing experience. It is an experience of individual agency where the individual
participating in the making of art is uniquely responsible for the outcome, the accomplishment, or
the failure that results. And that experience of
exercising one’s agency may not be available to them
in other spheres of their life, depending on what kind
of society they live in. So art is not endowed
to disenfranchisement, and thus sows the seeds of
a more equitable society. I think we also know, and to comment on what
Michal said, is that art also creates empathy whether it’s through observing
characters in a story that a person witnesses or in
a conversation with an artist or in the process of making
art together, an individual experiences the world through
the eyes of another individual which is the definition of
developing relation and empathy. And this, we believe, is the antidote to radicalization and violent, other violent ideologies that are based on dehumanizing the other. So every day of the year,
somewhere around the world, there are two artists funded
by the state department, rather two events funded
by the state department engaging foreign audiences. We would like that to be three. Probably blow up our team. But we would like that to happen. We support several
programs that I will name just so you can search
for them or Google them. Our flagship program is Arts Envoy and it has a short turnaround time from the first sort of idea of, we would like X to travel
to country Y and do this, to the person being on the
plane, takes four to six weeks. We also have American Music Abroad which presents Americana
bands to audiences overseas. The application process is now open. We sponsor Next Level residencies. These are collaborative
residencies for beat makers, hip hop musicians, dancers,
and graffiti artists, all of those in a group with local, with local folks who do the same art. We sponsor Center Stage, which brings foreign
artists to United States, as well as the full residency at the Iowa International Writing Program, which is also very long running program with a lot of alumni. We operate in over 160 countries, and all of that with
a fairly small budget. I will leave my business cards with Simon. We’re very happy to be
part of this landscape and hope to continue
doing what we’re doing. (audience applauding) – A politician, an elected official, may be that, but may not
be necessarily a leader. A doctor may be your doctor, but may not be your healer. And today, we have the luxury of time and space with one another, and yet we
may only have 12 years before Mother Earth may have
irreversible, it already has, but damage that we may not be
able to ever counterbalance. So we pose a couple of challenges today to all of you and to all of us
when we meet again next year. Identify courage, courage that is in your own work in your colleagues, in
your spheres of influence, in your creativity of those who are not part of compartments, categories, elections, for those who
are fearless and courageous because we only have a dozen years left and it is those people who may lead us. – I’m a new part of the Lenape Center. I was just brought in board
as a co-director recently and one of the things I’ve been
thinking about in that role, I mean, I’m a long time
musician and a composer, but, climate change, I’m
feeling the same urgency about climate change and for myself, one of the challenges is to, you know, what can I do as a music composer, using my voice in music? But I started thinking
about something else, too. Like I mean… I’ve done what I can do individually. Like I have, all the
lights in my house are LED. I recently installed, everything
in the house is electric, so I’ve installed, you
know, solar voltaic. So I’m running my entire studio
and my house off the Sun. So I’m not, I’m off the grid in Wisconsin. Wisconsin uses 100% coal burning for electricity and the thing I noticed personally about having solar power now in my house is that I never paid attention
to the electricity before. I would leave a light on or
leave my computer running. And now I know if I do that,
I could run out of power. I have batteries, you know,
but I’m paying more attention to what something uses,
like my refrigerator, how much energy is my refrigerator using? And sometimes I hear it kick in and I run into the other room and
I’m looking at my panel, like how much has it gone up? And so I’m much more conscious of what’s going on in my own house. But I’m thinking, I want my entire, I live on an Indian Reservation, I want my entire Indian
Reservation to go off-grid. So how do we do that? You know, I’m the first
solar-powered building on the entire reservation. And you know, and I’m thinking what, you know, what are we waiting for? So there’s a kind of an urgency there. And the other thing I noticed is that I haven’t been
paying attention to it. So I’m thinking now that the, one of the ways to do that would be sort of through immersion. It’s almost like, you know how people
learn languages, right? People learn Ojibwe and they
want to revitalize Ojibwe, so they take classes and summer
classes in Ojibwe language. But to really do it well, we
call it immersion training. So you’re learning language like Ojibwe, but you’re learning math in Ojibwe, you’re learning geography in Ojibwe, so everything’s in Ojibwe. And I’m thinking for me as an artist, that’s where my mind needs to go. Just like I wasn’t thinking
about the electricity before in my house, everything,
in my art projects, my musical life, and I think
it applies for everything. So if you’re in sports, the question is, what does sports have to
do with climate change? If you’re cooking and, and you’re an architect,
what is architecture, what’s the connection to climate change? And to start to think about
climate change as immersion in all of the different
aspects that we do. So I don’t know, I mean for me, that’s like what my goal is to think how, this is something we’re
living with now forever, for the rest of our lives. It’s not ever going to
go away in our lifetime. So what do we do with it? And start to think, not
to push it way over here with science, or weather, or… We have to create jobs first, we have to think about that first, and so we shove it way over there. But no, the solution is to bring it in, put
it into everything else so that we sort of are
living and breathing climate change awareness and how do we, you know,
live with it all the time, more like a friend in our life, like this problem of climate change. So I don’t know. That’s just my personal
story as a composer, and now part of this Lenape Center which I just say is a
wonderful organization. There are four co-directors
now, a founding executive director and then four of us, so we’re like the Fab Four in Lenape Center, and
all of us are different and we’re, we have different
strengths and weaknesses and it’s exciting to see what we’re doing. But our goal is to bring the Lenape people back into the city, of course, Manhattan was not sold
for $24 worth of beads. There was no sale at
all, the land was stolen and we were all driven away. So we had also a Lenape diaspora. So one of the arts problems
for us is arts and culture is to bring people back into the city, which is what we’re trying to do, and you know, struggling
to create ourselves. Think of all these issues as well, with the arts that we have going on and I’m very grateful to be
a part of that organization. Climate change. (audience applauding) So I was just waiting for
the music to start so we can. – So it’s a two-part challenge. Identify courage and figure out immersion that we immerse ourselves and everyone else around us into it, being one motion all of
it, everything that we are, and everything that we do,
that’s our way forward. (speaking in a foreign language) (audience applauding) – [Sebastien] Hi, everyone. My name is Sebastien Sanz de Santamaria, former co-founder of Residency Unlimited. – [Ashley] And I’m Ashley
Tucker, I’m the program director at Artistic Freedom Initiative. – The title’s missing. So today we’re going to talk to you about a residency program for at-risk artists. It’s titled the New York City
Artists Safe Haven Prototype. The prototype supports artists who are persecuted for their work, threatened on the basis of their political or religious affiliations, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity, or has been forcibly displaced, needs a respite from dangerous situations, or from countries experiencing active violent conflict or oppression. The concept was workshopped back in 2011 when Residency Unlimited
created a panel discussion on artists residencies in conflict areas in partnership with Goethe-Institut and was subsequently workshopped at the Collaboration Laboratory
on Wasan Island in Canada in its partnership with freeDimensional, some of you may know
freeDimensional as a 10-year project activating at-risk,
supporting at-risk artists through the artist, International
Artist Residence network. And from that, the idea came that while it’s complex and energy-consuming and difficult to support,
to get artists out of danger once they are out and in
places like New York City, they’re left to the challenges, that is, being here with little access to community or resources. And so the premise is that
like-minded organizations and institutions and initiatives which share resources
together in support of artists who are here temporarily or permanently depending on their situation. And so basically, short-term, long-term and providing resources
like psychosocial resources, legal, housing, employment, education, professional development. As a side, as my side
from Residency Unlimited, which some of you know
supports visual artists within the residency context, that organization would extend
its professional development to a visual artist at-risk. And this was in 2012. So seven years later, the
challenges that happened back then that took so long for
the program to take form was basically what everyone
deals with in the city, and that’s housing. So it took a while to get to it. – So now we’re gonna get to it. I’m gonna talk to you a little bit about through how this coalition came together and what each one of these
partner organizations represents within the coalition. It really started, as I’ve
said, with the housing. Westbeth, some of you may
know Westbeth Artist community over in the West Village of Manhattan. It’s been around for a long
time, very much an institution. They approached Todd Lester, formerly of freeDimensional
now of ArtistSafety.net, with the idea in mind that they had a little
bit of surplus housing and they wanted to utilize
that for the purposes of helping in some way with the, the Syrian refugee crisis. And in speaking with Todd, he kind of steered them in the direction of looking at at-risk artists as a really interesting and important way that they could contribute
this surplus housing. At-risk artists may need a
shorter term housing period than perhaps a refugee
might need, for example. So it seemed like this was a smart way for Westbeth to utilize this resource. Some of the other
resources that were missing in the development of this
program were legal services, for example, for talking about artists who are coming from other countries. Certainly, if there are
no immigration attorneys who can help them with the
legal work that they need to be able to stay and work
and continue to create art, then again it’s not possible. So Todd and ArtistSafety.net were really called upon to
be sort of the masterminds behind developing the strategy
and capacity building. They began to identify
some various partners that they could bring on board who would really sort
of complete the picture and fill in the gaps that
had existed since 2012, as Seb mentioned. So the first organization is the one that I’m the program director of, Artistic Freedom Initiative. We, our mission is essentially as immigration and human rights attorneys to provide pro bono
immigration representation to artists under threat. So in addition to that, we also facilitate resettlement assistance that
looks like matching artists with residency programs, grant,
fellowship opportunities, emergency funds, things of that nature. And this residency program is a part of that resettlement
assistance that we offer. Lastly, we also partner with arts and cultural organizations, museums, galleries, curators,
to put on exhibitions, performances, any, and
create these platforms and opportunities for artists
to showcase their work. So our contribution to
the coalition is primarily providing the legal services
that these artists need in order to be able to stay and work. The Westbeth, of course, providing that critical piece of the puzzle. They’ve offered us, at this
point we have two active units and we are hoping to extend that up to six over the course of a few years. It’s, this is a look inside actually the first studio
that they offered us. I’m very proud to say that
I went shopping at IKEA and got all the furniture for
this and built it all myself including a bed frame,
pretty impressive, right? So not only do we offer legal services, but IKEA construction
services as well. (laughs) We have a second unit that’s active now and I’ll talk about that in a minute. – [Sebastien] And so
then Residency Unlimited provides the artistic support. Residency Unlimited started in 2009 as a sort of alternative format to the centralized studio structures, like studio programs,
that exist in the city. And the program really sort of is in tune with the concept of the partnership, that
is that Residency Unlimited is, has an event space, but essentially it works in a
horizontal decentralized way, and it really thrives by
creating relationships and partnerships with other organizations and other institutions whether it’s to levy a
gallery or studio space or help an artist ride
a horse down Broadway. I did that once. And yeah, so it’s really, it provides the resources
that a visual artist would need to nurture
its, his or her practice. And then, ArtistSafety.net
really is sort of the resting place for the original freeDimensional and
Critical Resistance fund, which started almost now 15 years ago. Todd Lester, the founder,
started with freeDimensional, and then, and then essentially really plays a role as the glue for all the coalition
partners for this prototype, and also, provides sort of expertise on intake and experience
on the complexities of identifying and
activating artists at-risk. – [Ashley] PEN America’s
Artists at Risk Connection is a relatively new program, though PEN America has been
around for a long time. They work, they are a free
expression advocacy organization, essentially working with writers at-risk. So the second unit that’s
currently active at the Westbeth is managed by PEN and
Artists at Risk Connection in conjunction with Fordham University, who has made space for a writer at-risk to do a teaching fellowship
at Fordham University. So we have a visual
artist in the first unit and a writer in the second unit. These are our artists. Hadi Nasiri was our very first
artist in the first unit. He’s from Iran visual
artist multidisciplinary, though also interested in film. The second artist here, Kanchana, she’s the writer at-risk that I mentioned. She’s in the second unit. Hadi completed his year-long
fellowship residency at the Westbeth with us in
the summer, this past summer. And he’s since been replaced by our second visual artist in residence, Rashwan Abdelbaki, who is from Syria. He is a painter and printmaker and we’re very excited to share that he will be on exhibit in
December at the Queens Museum. We’re opening a show there for a month and he will have his
beautiful paintings there. So come and see him and meet him. – [Sebastien] And then,
the project is supported by the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation, the Art and Social Justice Grant that we got funded for this year, and we’re actively awaiting
the answer for next year. And then, upcoming, Ashley.
(beeping) – [Ashley] So this is what’s in store. We’re hoping to expand the
project to up to six units so we can provide for more artists. We are working on a
guide to safety hosting that’s New York City specific and that can be replicated
to other cities. And in conjunction with that, we want to do some workshops
and training for folks who are interested in trying
to do something similar. And there’s our new
website, so check it out. – Thank you. (audience applauding) (upbeat music) – [Leyya] Hi there, I’m Leyya. I’m just getting Mike on the phone here. This is how we do. – Hello?
– Hey Mike, I’m gonna have you on
speakerphone, join us. Okay, so. My name is Leyya Tawil. I’m an artist and a curator. And on the phone we have Mike Khoury, who is my collaborator, and
also a artist and curator. Mike, do you want to say hi? – [Mike] Hello, hello. – Cool, can you guys hear that? – [Mike] Yeah, I can hear you. – Okay, can you hear him? Cool, sort of, Mike, okay. So I think what we’re
gonna start with actually before I launch into kind of a description of Arab Experimentalism, which is what Mike and
I will be discussing, I just wanted you to
glimpse our work together. We’ve been working
together since 2006, and, this is our sort of, like I would say touchstone
work called Atlas, which premiered at New
York Live Arts in 2016 and has had some international touring, which has been very interesting. So, let’s just play them a few, like less than a minute
of it so you get to see what we do. Yeah, anywhere’s fine. Okay, volume? Yeah. Sound. (dramatic violin music) I’m just gonna leave that
playing while we talk, so. Right, you get the idea. (laughing) So, they’re just watching
me roll over and over again. Mike, just FYI. So, Mike and I operate in a field called Arab Experimentalism. What we’re, what the two of
us are mostly articulating with our work is live art practices. So obviously, there’s a whole
kind of intersectional field into like visual arts and written
work and this whole thing. But we’re gonna just talk about the body and sound and space and time. So Arab experimentalism can be defined multiple ways. I’m gonna define it as
a field that narrates and accumulates regional
and diasporic realities and futures through
transgressive arts practices. How’s that? Let’s see, one of the main tenets of, of Mike and I’s work and sort of the, sort of
the ethos of experimentalism from an Arab perspective
particularly as Arab Americans, as Mike and I both are, is the premise of, we own our narrative. So the idea that we own our narrative and we own our references is
almost of utmost priority, because of the way that
our culture is narrated over and over again for us,
and usually mis-narrated for us by people not from the community. So this idea that we can narrate ourselves is really important. I think that a lot of, I think that actually works
hand-in-hand with a lot of arts that are situated in
diasporic communities, as was discussed earlier. So we’ve kind of layered up a discussion really beautifully today
already about diaspora and narration and identity, and
also, safety and visibility. So I think I’ll, I think I’ll start actually
by asking Mike a question. And then, we can bounce around a bit. So Mike, since they’re watching Atlas, I thought that it might
be interesting to discuss how Atlas sits when it’s
performed in the United States versus how it’s performed,
when it’s performed abroad? And sort of the, also maybe address the visibility of this like
new, like a new Arab voice that we talk about a lot? – [Mike] Yeah, I think
the work can be read in different ways, depending
on where we performed it. Leyya and I have performed this work domestically here in the US, we’ve performed it in New York, we’ve performed it in San Francisco, we’ve also performed in
Berlin and Beirut, and it, it gets read differently, depending on where we’re performing it. When we performed it in Berlin,
it was very well-received and it was a largely, it was a sort of a
Palestinian Festival of Arts in the Diaspora, so it’s
very much fit in with, with the context of what
was taking place there. In Beirut, there’s a lot of politics at play and it’s a very avant-garde community in which we performed it, so it got read and you had a different way there. And then, in the United States, it gets read even more so differently, well-received, but some people try to, I think, take some time as some of the audience
tries to takes some time or curators for that matter too of, to reconcile how it fits in with their narrative or their notion of what it means to be an Arab artist. And I think sometimes it might be the case that people are looking,
when they hear the word Arab, you know, they also might
identify with a little bit more traditional, or expect
to see something like that. And although there are elements of Arab arts and culture in
that tradition in the work, they might not be overt
elements to people. And so, there’s the reconciliation process that people may or may
not have to go through to understand how it fits in with it. But that kind of goes back
to what Leyya was saying about Arab experimentalism
and that it’s very important for us to control that narrative. And you know, be able to
demonstrate the connection of how it fits in the ancient history. – Thank you, Mike, yes.
– Sure. – So this, this idea of also
that was discussed earlier, inherency, and inherited information, and the idea that, you
know, Mike and I both being sort of first,
second-generation Americans. He’s Palestinian, I’m
Palestinian and Syrian. That we have this
information in our bodies that doesn’t necessarily
need to be legible on stage. And that, I think, is key to the practice. So the inherent knowledge that we have, whether we experienced it
firsthand or ancestrally, is resonant in our body. And so, just placing the body and whatever else we need
to say with it onstage redefines that the Arab body, also defines Arab-ness in a
way that does not have to, we don’t have, we don’t take on the burden of explaining that to a
willing or not willing public. We just jump ahead to knowing it and then, moving into the work itself. I think it’s interesting to state that the work, by its very existence
of Arab experimentalists, even just by its existence actually challenges the narrative or can offer new representations to the conversation without having to, just in its existence and in
the naming of the context. And that’s a really, thing that, that’s a thing that I think is getting more visibility. I feel like there’s a lot more attention and subtlety in Arab representations
on stage these days, just of recent, and we
can see that also in like visibility and recent funding. So Mike just received a
Knight Arts award in Detroit, which is a prestigious grant that not only was Mike
one of the grantees, but of the 25 grantees, I think there were five Knight Arts-funded projects that were related to
(beeping) Arab experimentalism, and five out of 25, and this was a coup, I think. I’m sorry, this is very exciting,
to see it come into play. So Mike, I’m sorry we didn’t
get to hear from you again, but we’re getting the tone
that our minutes are over. – Okay.
(beeping) – So, thank you.
(upbeat music) – Thanks, everybody.
(audience applauding) (upbeat music) – [Bozhena] Hello, my name
is Bozhena Zakaliuzhna. – [Viacheslav] Hi, my name is Viacheslav. – So my name again. I’m coming from Ukraine from Lviv. I’m director of Jam Factory Art Center. Connecting these words, factory and art, means
that I’m dealing with transformation of industrial buildings. And I’m in charge of creating a new industrial space, a new art center in
former industrial space. Reusage of buildings is relatively new topic, especially in Ukraine. It has no more than 10 years. The approach to transformation instead of demolishing building has a lot of purpose there. So, it is known that… That reusing buildings brings new values like environmental, social, and economic. So, and as well we connect
to the history, to the past, by creating new values. I will tell you a little
bit about the place and a space, which I’m dealing with. In the city, a more than 800,000 inhabitants in the northern part of the city, there are a lot of industrial spaces. In the city that is
known being a cultural, that has a lot of culture, but rather traditional
culture, there is no space for contemporary art. The building that you can see in the image has quite an old history. It is known as the Jam Factory Art Center, but people forgot about this building that actually, originally in 19th century, it used to be Jewish distillery factory. The building as you can see in this looks beautiful, but in a
way, it is falling apart. Most of the property in Ukraine is private. In 2008, this building been purchased by a local businessman. But due to economic crisis, after 2008, it was really hard to
deal with the property. And an owner allowed our organization to come there and create art. It was a space of freedom
to create contemporary art and bring something to the city. So as you can see, a lot
of international artists really from different countries that bordering Ukraine came and had contemporary art works there. So in 2014, one part of the group of people that approached the building and starting thinking, what
we can do with the building? And that we know that we need a space for contemporary art in our city. And we created a plan, what
we want this building to be. So we analyzed actually the neighborhood and we saw that a lot of what
kind of problems are there and what actually we dream about. In 2015, a person that, a Swiss, that has one organization that exists more than 10 years in the city actually purchased the
building and offered… Purchased the building with the intention of creating the art center there. And I was invited to work with, help in their cultural enterprises. So later on, two years, we’ve been working on the transformation of that building into an art center,
contemporary art center in Lviv. So as you might see in the building, this is the architectural project. All the complex of buildings are going to be transformed into
a contemporary art center that deals with different forms of art, music, theater, and visual art. So this will be the
biggest space in our city for contemporary art. Last year, we have
started, not, due to the complex of process that we had to pass to transform the building, we have started using some buildings around for programming. And we started to deal
mainly with Ukrainian artists and had some programming. Right now, we are about
to start the renovation. And the Contemporary Art Center will be open in a
beginning of 2021, in Lviv. So, and as I mentioned the purpose is to deal with various forms
of contemporary art and to connect and present Ukrainian artists
as well artists worldwide and present them in our city. So I pass to Viacheslav. – Okay, thank you. Hi, my name is Viacheslav Ivaschenko. I’m from Krasnoyarsk,
which is city in Siberia. I’d like to talk about the project, two projects, the most
personally well (stammering). Oh my god, the first, first. (audience laughing) First one was ark, Archstoyanie. Archstoyanie is a very interesting event, which has kind of
finished just in history. I also want to talk about recycle art, how it affected my coratorial approach. – [Man] Sorry for
interrupting, Viacheslav. – Yeah?
– You can advance the slides. That’s why this thing here. – [Viacheslav] I thought
this was microphone, actually.
– No no, no no no. – [Viacheslav] Okay. (laughing) All right. So the story behind the
event is kind of interesting. 2006, some of the woods
around the village, which is in 200 kilometers from Moscow, which is approximately
130 miles, quite far, were affected by Colorado potato beetle. So about up to 35% of
woods were destroyed. And an artist, an architect,
Nikolai Polisskii, who owned a house there, came up with an idea of making
a sculpture of the woods, and all nine remaining
residents were involved. So some of the objects were created and, it attracted a lot of interest. People traveled, the local residents even had a chance to
travel internationally. And so, next year a lot of architects, local and international,
wanted to participate. So you can see their place. Nikola-Lenivets village also has kind of historical
significance to Russian history. And slowly, like they started building projects out of the woods that remained from this
Colorado beetle epidemi. And then, so mostly recycled
materials have been used there. Slowly, projects started growing and up to the year 2011. When I joined, it become kind of a very large event of the more than 10,000 people visiting. In 2013, I came back to my hometown Krasnoyarsk, thinking that I can bring
some of the experience that I gained in Archstoyanie, back home. We organized an open call of, between architects
and architectural students and artists for recycle art objects, which we received a lot of applications, which we installed in few locations. In Creston Aires downtown,
in the university campus, and Youth Center. We mostly use pallets in our first event. That’s actually our second event. Pallets, tires, anything
that we could scavenge, because we had, we were self-funded, so we didn’t get any
money from the government and we had very kind of limited support from the foundations. After the presentation of our festival, which happened in
one of the youth centers, which was visited by mayor of the city, next morning some of the
objects went missing. (beeping) Which we saw as a good sign. (audience laughing) Of greater involvement of people. So in our next event, we, should I stop? – Are they done?
– Okay, okay. That’s our next event, okay? That’s, student and local residents got involved.
(upbeat music) I mean, as far as we can. So some of the objects were
able to survive the winter. Okay. And tragic of gallery, our last
project this year in Moscow. So some of the landscape,
famous landscapes further made by Russian artists, work by our artists.
(music drowning out speaker) Okay, thank you. (upbeat music)
(audience applauding) – So, thank you, everyone. We’ll take our break
now just for 15 minutes, if that’s okay, be back at 3:45 for Simon Brault, we hope, live by Skype, thank you. Hi everyone, if we can reassemble. Simon is in his office. He’s on Skype and ready to talk to us. So in a moment, once everyone’s in, it will be Simon Brault. We don’t have his slides,
but he’s happy to, to front his talk to us. So here he is, Simon, welcome. – Thank you. (speaking in a foreign language) – So… So we’re ready?
– Yes, let’s. – Okay.
– Let’s begin. – Okay, first I really want to
say that I’m absolutely sorry that I was not able to
find a flight for New York. Yesterday night, there was a big snowstorm in LaGuardia and in Montreal. And I had this very surrealistic moment after being four hours on
the tarmac in Montreal, we had to go back, you
know, I had to go back home and I went through the American Customs. And the, the man asked me, so
why, what are you doing? Why did you want to go to the US? And I said to talk of culture. And he looked at me and said, why? (audience laughing) I said, because that’s my, that’s my job. And he said, so are you paid for that? And I said so. So it was an interesting
moment about going to the US to talk about culture. So I just want to start by saying that by giving some context about the situation of the Canada Council for
the Arts right now in Canada. We are in a, as you know,
we are an arts funder. So our mission has been
for the more than 60 years to champions the art
and to support the art to make sure that as many Canadian could enjoy the benefit of the arts. Three years, two years ago, we had the, three years ago, we had a new
government elected in Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and during the election
campaign, part of his platform was that if elected they would double the, budget for the Canada Council for the Arts. This is a situation that is absolutely so
far unique in the world. We saw over the last few years a slight decline in terms
of public, for the art and I would argue that the
model of an Arts Council or an organization like the
National Endowment for the Arts in the US for instance, is a model that is being marginalized since many
years in many many countries and government different directions being, because they are convinced that investment for the arts, if
they make any investment, should generate more economic wealth and therefore should be tightly controlled by them, by the bureaucrats
or the politicians. So the model of an arm’s-length agency making decisions about funding the arts with certain independence
from the government and being in fact quite free in a way it makes its decision is, I would say, less and
less popular across the world. But in Canada, our government
made that very bold, double our, over five years, and it is, at the same, it’s, so, so in 2021, the Canada Council will
enjoy an annual budget 360 million dollars, which is quite a
significant amount of money for a federal funder. But for us, what is
really important right now is that we realize that, I mean it’s good to have more result but at the same time, it’s
a huge responsibility, because the last thing
in the world we could do is to try, is to do more of same. The last thing in the world we would do would be to just distribute that money to the existing clients
of the Canada Council even if they are insisting a lot that they have a lot of needs. We realize that, we need to make sure that our investments are transformative and in fact, are bringing new powerful voices in the cultural landscape and that we will deal with issues around cultural rights,
cultural democratization and the impact of arts on the daily life of citizens and all that in a way, both innovative and noticeable for our fellow citizens including for, for our government. So the Canada Council
over the last few years have been through an
immense transformation, a radical transformation, and to just give you an idea
of the scope of that formation, I arrived at this as a CEO four years ago and one of the first thing
I said when I arrived was that there was a need to recreate, to modify the way we do fund the arts and we went from 150 program roughly that were devoted to support every possible artistic discipline with the ultimate goal of maintaining what we considered to
be a healthy ecosystem. So we went from 150
programs, now six programs. So it means that the vast majority of the staff of the council is occupying new jobs now,
working in different teams and we reinvented completely
the Canada Council with the idea that we
should have a clearer idea of what are the desired
outcomes of our investment that we should have capacity
to act in a strategic way as opposed to only reactive that we would invest 25% of all the new money that the Canada Council is
receiving over five years for applicants who never got a grant from the Canada Council so far, that we would explore new territories in terms of like the digital that we would triple our investment for supporting indigenous
artists in our country, moving us from a very Eurocentric way of
supporting indigenous art to support, artists on their own term. So recognizing self-determination and sovereignty of the first peoples of our land and their choices to express themselves and to conduct their artistic activity and obviously, we also said that international would become more and more prominent in terms of our work preoccupation as an Arts Council and not only, and certainly not in a way that, that is one way, so not only in terms of trying to make sure
that Canadian artists will present more their work on the stage but also that we would
have a reciprocal approach and that we would really try to build sustained relationships with
different nations in the world through exchanges with their artists and their artistic companies. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been traveling a lot,
which is, a lot outside Canada and to engage in discussions with France, UK, Mexico, and to, to try to explain, you know, what will be the terms of
engagements that we’re proposing for the future on the international stage. And it’s also kind of enough said of a big initiative we
took last May in Ottawa when we organized the first
Americas Cultural Summit, and we invited nearly 200 artists and thinkers and professionals of the art
sector, politicians, diplomats, from 34 countries of the Americas to discuss how we could have more, on this continent in terms to advance and to
give more space for arts and culture our respective country, but also in the way we deal or we exchange between our countries. What is very fascinating
right now is that no matter, you know, who you talk
with and no matter where, which country you are trying
to have the discussion about the future of the arts, you realize that the major challenges that are confronting
various cities and countries are similar and are also
deeply interconnected. It’s clear that the issues
of social isolation, that identity-based clashes, and ultimately a growing
deficit of social cohesion are as a matter of concern
everywhere in the world. This manifests in different
ways at different levels from the rise of populism and nativism in the political sphere right down to racist comments in everyday conversations
at the street level. These challenges have been, I would say, exacerbated by system that prescribed more and more power
behaviors, be it political, economic, nationalistic, organizational, and perhaps about, about
algorithm-driven platforms. In this context, decision-making
at the highest levels had been plagued with polymit, poly, polemical struggles that place winning an ideological battle over finding real solutions
for the good of everyone. This has led to a general sense of disempowerment, resentment, and anger, and widely-felt anxiety about
what the future might hold, and this sense of disempowerment
is only perpetuated as people seek out solutions to the various problems of our world, only to discover that the
existing resources fall short. But in this quest for viable solution to create happier, healthier, more secure, and more prosperous societies, however the arts are often overlooked. This is in my opinion an irony to this, because the arts
have the incredible capacity to bring diverse people together, to foster communication among them, and encourage their collective exploration of ideas and human experiences, rather than offering prospective
or reactive solutions. When I speak about the power of the arts, I, of how the arts community in Canada came together recently to welcome the over 4,000 refugees who arrived in recent years from Syria. And in December 2015, so three years ago, the Canada Council for the Arts partner with the private company,
Sun Life Financial, and put out a call to offer support to arts organizations that wished to provide
free access to refugees to a performance, an exhibition or an arts event in their communities, And we had dozens and dozens of organizations across
Canada who responded. One of these was the
Vancouver’s on the Wesco Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival which is a not-for-profit
professional, festival that present its play every
summer on the waterfront of Vancouver in Vanier Park. In the summer of 2016 Bard on the Beach prepared to welcome an audience of Syrian refugees, recent refugees, to a production of The
Merry Wives of Windsor. Before the performance, they prepared a plot
summary written in Arabic to make it easier for the
Syrian families to understand. They also sought advice from the refugee service
organization that accompanied the Syrians, Immigrant
Services Society of BC, and their response was generous. The organization
pre-arranged the connection between the festival, the refugees and sent members of the organization to the
performance so that the refugees would recognize a few familiar
faces in the audience. During intermission,
members of the audience went out of their way to
welcome the newcomers, speaking to them and
meeting their children. The Syrian families loved the experience. For most of them, it was unlike anything they’d ever seen before. This initiative, and I could
give many, many examples, exemplifies the great potentiality of arts to play a role in building
greater social cohesion through, of course, it true, of true, though of course, required
a timely coordinate respond from several players, including arts organizations
across our country, not-for-profit in the immigration sector, a private financial
organization, and so on. But this kind of coordinated activity that is not easy at first, but I think it can
demonstrate a leadership in responding to emerging
issues in our world and I’m confident that it will
become a more fluid process as more and more people look
to us to forge the path. But I must say that when I
announced that initiative with the Syrian refugees,
it was a big surprise both for my staff and for
the artistic community. A Canada Council, a granting agency, would care about an issue like that. And my response was that
if we don’t care about what concerns our fellow citizens, if we don’t show that we can
partner with other people to address each, challenges that important and we only
focus on, you know, what, on the arts and saying how great it is, we miss the opportunity to be part of conversations
that are meaningful, and in return, we miss the opportunity to demonstrate how relevant the work we do is for people in their daily life. Of course, if we want to play a stronger leadership role in it, in the emerging issues
of our, in our world, we need to think very carefully about how the arts reflect
the diversity of our world. And I’m thinking of an important
idea that was introduced. I just mentioned the summit
that we had last May. During one of the panel, there was a studies academic
name Elisa Chandler, and she noted how there
is a lot of discussion in the art sector right now around the occlusion
of marginalized people, but that if they are being included, those marginalized
voices, into institutions or practices that continue to be racist, colonial, elitist, or other
exclusionary practices, then progress is not truly made. She spoke, Elisa, about
how she was inspired by the efforts of
indigenous artists and arts, and arts organizations in our country in advocating to the mainstream, whether it be arts funders, leaders in the arts organizations, producers or presenters, of the importance to move beyond inclusion and make space for others to lead the way. Indeed at the Canada Council, we continue to engage in important conversation, for how we can make space
for marginalized groups to lead the way in the arts
including indigenous artists, as well as those from diverse background or the, disability communities. Similarly, we look for ways
to encourage the arts sector an art sector that reflects
gender parity more and more. But while I’m both proud and excited about the work being undertaken in Canada to make space for indigenous and other historically
marginalized artists, I don’t want to give the false impression that the divides between peoples in Canada have been entirely
healed through the Arts. It’s not the case, it will take time. Notably, our country continues to engage in a broad conversation
about cultural appropriation largely in connection to
indigenous representations in the performing arts. The Canada Council for the
Arts is committed to respecting and honoring the right of First Nations, Inuit and Metis people of our
land, to cultural sovereignty. At the same time, there
had been much confusion in the wider vector ecology
about what this means. Artists in the mainstream
expressed concern about their freedom of artistic expression. There’s a discussion right
now happening in Canada on how you respect the sovereignty for instance of indigenous people and how you respect the
need for artistic freedom. And it’s sometime a
very complex discussion, a very challenging discussion, because a lot of artists, white artists, have a definition of
what artistic freedom is that is very, very close to
the perpetuation of privilege. And that conversation that, that is growing in importance
in Canada will not stop, because not only the indigenous artists, but artists from different backgrounds, different minorities in our country are now saying more and more loudly that if we want a vibrant
art scene, that art scene needs to present and represent and not acknowledge differences that are, that exist in the real world, and need to give space for
people to tell their own story, stories on their own terms, as opposed to being
presented through the lens of a way of doing arts
that is very Eurocentric, that is very traditional, or that is very, in fact, the perspective
of dominant people about everybody else. Having said this, it
is important, I think, that the art should
not be instrumentalized by those of us funding, producing, or presenting artistic work. Artists need independence
to explore the issues and ideas that matter to them. Instead, I guess the point for all of us as funders, programmers, or presenters is to provide, with the
support and the space they need to auto, autonomously
direct these conversations. We do however have an
important role to play in advocating to leaders in
the act within the art sector and in the other sectors about the power and the responsibility of the arts. The very great French writer Victor Hugo used to repeat that everything that grows, grows with, one doesn’t go without the other. So we think that discussion about art has to be more and more a discussion about values,
about public values, about, and disconnecting the discussion between arts and the
discussion around public values is very very dangerous,
because it will only perpetuate the gap between the arts sector
and the rest of the society, a gap that never stopped to grow, the last, over the last 50
years, certainly in our country. So it’s very clear that we need to, for us, that
we need to kind of reframe the discussion about the
importance of the art in society. And this is why when we organized that Summit of the Americas last May, we invited the UN Special
Rapporteur Kadima DeNeul and she made, she was the opening speaker, and she made a speech
defining cultural rights as human rights. So, explaining that those
rights, those cultural rights are not disconnected of the human rights and they have the same importance and they carry for the people
believe in those rights the same responsibility of integrity, of authenticity, of soul. And she was saying that
the human rights agenda is an example of where we
might bring the art sector more strongly to the table, and that there are many, many more areas that we need to consider. I think that as we
uncover new opportunities, we will be surprised that we
did not think of them sooner. The arts belong in almost any conversation that has to do with making our society more cohesive, more inclusive. I just want to finish by saying that it is imperative that
those of us in the arts, that we work together above and beyond the borders that divide us. We may be smaller player in
our respective countries, but together across the world, we are critical mass that
can get the attention of key decisions makers in our countries and around the world. This was the idea behind
the Americas cultural Summit where we brought those delegates coming from all these different countries and together we drafted a call to action with a view to first promote value of arts and culture in public life. Second, advance the
idea of cultural rights, foster inclusive societies, embrace exchanges between peoples American, Americas region, acknowledge the rights
of indigenous people. And finally, cultivate diversity
of cultural expressions. In an era of strengthening
borders, truncated borders, increased nationalism and isolationism, this collective statement signals the unique position of the arts. We’re ready to work together
above and beyond our borders to have a real impact on the world and it is an affirming optimistic way of looking at the world today. And why shouldn’t we take this approach? All of us already have
a deep understanding of the power of the arts, I think. Now is the moment for us
to unite in a commitment to unleash this power throughout
our respective society and around the world. And this is why we believe
in networks like ArtsLink and other networks that
we’re very active in. And we believe that all
those, are important, because more than ever, the like-minded people can
really make a difference, if they come with ideas that
are bold, that are strong, and if we spend more time
to discuss those ideas with the people outside of our sector. So this is my communication for today. I thank you very much. (audience applauding) – Simon, thank you so much. We hope you can come to New York soon. We need your perception
and powerful advocacy here. Please come soon. – I hope the same, and
I’m committed to do it. I think again, the fact that we are in this very, very unique position of having the trust of our government and having more resources
than ever, I think for us, it’s a complete moment
of reinvention and maybe, we have something to, to communicate about the
importance of that reinvention. And the need for not repeating
over and over this ideas and the same words and the same recipes. – Exactly.
– And we’re looking for more exchanges with
everybody around the world to understand their context and see how we come with plans and ideas that will really lead the future. – Simone, thank you so much. (speaking in a foreign language) (audience applauding) – I’m going to stand
at the podium to start. (speaking faintly off mic) Thank you. Yes, hello everybody. I am going to set my
stopwatch for 40 minutes instead of 50 minutes, so
we are a go at 40 minutes. My name is Cathy Edwards,
I am the director of the New England
Foundation for the Arts, which is headquartered in
Boston, works in New England, around the country and internationally. Thank you, Simon, for the invitation to join you here today. Thank you for all of you. It’s been an incredibly
inspiring day and so fantastic to hear from some of the current
ArtsLink fellows as well. I’ll be candid, I accepted
this invitation in part, because early in my career, I had some amazingly deeply
influential opportunities as a result of ArtsLink and that was the opportunity to host three different ArtsLink fellows when I was at Dance Theater Workshop. I learned so much from those individuals and I think I also learned,
honestly, how to be a host and in an international
context, truly of reciprocity. So I owe a lot to the program and it’s a way to pay it
forward just a tiny bit. I’m excited to moderate a discussion of four brilliant women. Their bios are in your program, but super briefly, I’m gonna give you like one sentence on each of them. And I’m going, well, no
I’m gonna go in order of where they’re sitting. We have Zeyba Rahman, a
Senior Program Officer for the Building Bridges Program of the Doris Duke
Foundation for Islamic art, who also has a storied
career as a producer of complex arts initiatives and projects both in the US and internationally. Next to Zeyba, Michelle Coffey. Michelle is the Director
of the Lambent Foundation and an experienced philanthropist who has focused on a number of arenas including health and
justice and human rights as well as arts and culture. Next to Michelle is Rashida Bumbray who’s a senior program
manager of the arts exchange, the Open Society Foundations Global Arts for Social Justice initiative. I am a dance lover first and foremost, so I’m also going to share that she’s an accomplished
choreographer as well as curator. And next to Rashida, Barbara Lanciers, who might need no introduction here, the director of the Trust
for Mutual Understanding, a longtime supporter of
international exchange related to the arts and to the environment and a theater artist in her own right. We’re here today to share
with you our experience working as funders with an
international commitment. What are the principles of our work? Why do we engage actively
with international work? Zeyba said to me last week when we were on a planning phone call, the why of this work is clear. It’s the how of this work
that keeps us up at night, which I think is really true. And we certainly just heard
a really beautiful statement from Simon Brault about the
why of international exchange. From my own perspective at NEFA, we invest in international
collaboration and understanding, because it is so closely connected to, it is the same as our belief in equity and access to
culture for all people, and it is really at the
heart of our core values that artists and cultural production are essential to a
thriving and open society. We also invest as art, in artists and cultural workers as leaders and like all humans, they benefit from the
learning new perspective and relationships they develop when they engage in global conversations. And as others have said
so eloquently today, artists are leaders
who contribute uniquely to building cultural citizenship, sharing and exchanging stories, building participation and inclusion, connecting us to being more
human and more innovative. At NEFA this year, we’ve just supported five months of
international US residencies for artistic ensembles
from Ukraine and Egypt under the auspices of
the Center Stage program. I’m so glad Nina showed a few photographs in her presentation. This is a program that we produce with support from the
US Department of State. So that’s it for my introduction,
and we are going to, as I said, we’ll shorten
this discussion a little bit. We have 35 minutes to
hear from our panelists. And I’m gonna start by
asking each of you to share maybe the most innovative
and exciting project that you are currently
working on in your portfolio, that gives you the most hope
in terms of what you’re doing in your international exchange work. And if you speak for five minutes each, I think that will give you enough time to not only share some specifics about this project and initiative, but to talk about why you designed it and what the outcomes
are that you hope to see. Zeyba, will you start us off? – Absolutely. I had a whole thing
written, but I’m going to nix that and just talk extemporaneously to tell you that the
Building Bridges Program, which is housed under the Doris
Duke Charitable Foundation is focused on supporting projects of
organizations here in the US. We’re a national funder
that build connections and understandings
between American Muslims and the broader non-Muslim community. So we may be the outlier
here in terms of actual work, but what our grantees do is actually engage artists that are
based internationally. So that’s us. I’m going to talk about
one particular grantee in Minneapolis called
the Cedar Cultural Center and the Cedar Cultural Center is a mid-sized concept
presenting organization that lives in the middle
of Little Mogadishu the Cedar Riverside
community, which is where the largest Somali diaspora
refugee community lives. And the Cedar decided that it was going to focus on Somali music, and center their project
of connecting, with, connecting the two communities,
Somali and non-Somali, in this area in this neighborhood. So they partnered with Augsburg College, which is a small private institution, and they began on the planning phase, but they realized very
quickly that they could find vocalists in the diaspora,
Somali vocalists, but they couldn’t find
practicing musicians, and the reason for that is
that with decades of civil war and the banning of music in Somalia, many of the musicians had
either abandoned their practice, or had been harassed or worse, and it just stopped. So the Cedar found that
they had this grant and they couldn’t proceed. So their academic partner Augsburg College you know their music professor, the head of the music
department decided that he was going to learn Somali music. And then, because it’s an oral tradition, that he was going to notate
it, and then teach it to a handful of students
at Augsburg College and join with some musicians
who had stopped their practice in the Cedar Riverside community and create a house band, the backing band. And then, and then they
would invite the vocalists from the diaspora, and
that’s how it started. And it became an
incredible project because a lot of the concerts were livestreamed into refugee camps around the world, where the Somali diaspora was clustered and it was really, I was very touched by
one of the presentations. One of the fellows, I think, fellows talked about fragmentation and trauma and collective memory and what these concerts did was really invite the diaspora to remind them of who they
are and to empower them. So I’m going to stop here. – [Cathy] Thank you. Michelle?
– Shall I jump next, great. Maybe I should provide
a little bit of context about Lambent Foundation. And then, I’ll speak about
what is exciting me now. So Lambent funds in three specific areas, New York, New Orleans, and Nairobi. New Orleans, New York,
because it’s our home. I work with one individual
donor, so there’s a lot more freedom and liberation and experimentation than with other funding institutions. So New York is our home. New Orleans, we wanted
to do a national work, but I didn’t want to build our plate, keep money within, inside the foundation. I always think you have to move money as fast as you can before we get caught. So we keep it really small. But we chose New Orleans for two reasons. Art and culture is infused
in the daily fabric, so there wasn’t any justification that we needed to do with others, and because there were very
few philanthropic dollars that go below the Mason-Dixon Line that acknowledges the South. And so, it was a political
statement for us with that. We were excited about the conversation, but we realized that
we couldn’t really have a national dialogue
without a global context. So that’s why we selected Nairobi. And one of the reasons for Nairobi is that the States has
a better understanding of a West African aesthetic signature, and not a lot from East Africa. And East Africa is so vibrant
in terms of an Indian, Arabic, and African connotation mixture. So that’s how we get to have fun. I’m excited. I’m totally moved every
day by our partners, but I’m excited by the
disruption of our own practice. So I’m gonna use this opportunity to actually talk about
philanthropic practice instead of some of our grantee partners, if you guys don’t mind, and we’re disrupting things a little bit. We are questioning that we don’t think money
is the most important thing, that we’re leaving so much on the table if we were only focusing
on the grant making. So spending much more time thinking about what influence might we
have with our sector, what are the relationships that we can illuminate and foster? And so, I think that’s why
I was invited on this panel. We really think about network
theory as our practice. So one of the things that we’ve done is increased the amount
of money that we give to core grantee partners
over more significant years and that we make this
general operating support and that we’ve done away
with proposals and reports and that we’re recognizing that this is actually a mutual agreement. And so, we’re spending a
lot more time thinking, in conversation with the
leadership of the organization, that includes board members, so that we collectively hold the intention of the four years of how
we’re working together. Yeah, so we’re, and this is
all being made up as we go. And so, we’re practicing this out. What excites me the most is a relationship with a philanthropic partner
from the Netherlands. So we have been intentional about a relationship with DOEN Foundation. And DOEN Foundation has
been a significant funder beyond, behind a network
called the Arts Collaboratory, which is about 32 arts-centered organizations
from the Global South. And the relationship
between Lambent and DOEN has allowed Lambent to peer in
almost like a fly-on-the-wall to see how a network
across multiple continents and different sizes
and different languages really build a collective community, with hopes that Lambent’s community, if we can organize it, and if we can organize, it can
stand alongside in solidarity and have some intersecting
touch points along the way. And what I’m appreciative
of the partnership with DOEN Foundation and
Lambent are just the values that we’re leading our work with. And so, this idea of mutual accountability between the funder and grantee partner and the different foundations, the two different foundations
that are coming together, the idea of solidarity, what
does solidarity look like with the philanthropic practice, that local relevance is
really critical and important. So the New York or US lens is not the only lens that
we are leading through. So how does one learn and listen better? Actually, I would say listen. And this idea of openness
and transparency, which is a challenging thing within philanthropy, especially when dealing with wealth, but we’re willing to try it. So I wanted to offer that as what is exciting me
without it looking egocentric. – So it’s really exciting
for me to be on this panel. One, because I’ve been
on the receiving end and when I worked at the kitchen, we got a grant from
the Lambent Foundation, so it’s just you know really thrilling as someone who’s potentially, you know, thinking about how to continue, to complicate your
relationship with philanthropy, but also I’m only three years in. So the Arts Exchange is a
relatively new initiative at the Open Society Foundations,
which historically has had quite a schizophrenic
relationship with arts in general. And I think, you know, that’s
sort of based on the fact that many people, you know, that the foundation was
founded by George Soros and founded, you know, really
thinking about how to avoid the world turning back
the way it has now, right, and sort of the linkage
between propaganda and fascism. So I think there’s been
a sort of anxiety around, you know, how do we support artists without sort of really
telling people what to think. And so, you know we’ve
had to complicate it, which is really simple for people who are immersed in the arts to sort of dispel that, but it’s been a little bit of a hurdle. So hopefully we’re beyond that moment now. But really, we exist to
actually support and encourage our colleagues who are
doing arts, who are doing social justice and human
rights philanthropy throughout many global contexts to include artists and arts organizations
in their strategies. So that is very much an internal project. But one of the things that
has been exciting about that is we actually do have
the opportunity to do some direct grant making
and that has materialized as the Soros Arts Fellowship, which this is the very first cohort of the Soros Arts Fellowship. They are about 10 months
into an 18-month fellowship, and it really was
developed through a posture of deep listening to artists
around many global contexts about what kind of support
would actually allow them to think deeply about their local context and it was really
developed around this idea of art public space and closing societies, and sort of, you know, what
are the various conditions that artists are working under and how can philanthropy
actually be supportive of that, and also, not be putting
them in further danger? So we have a group of eight artists. I’ll just sort of mention the
context that they’re working, Faustin Linyekula, who
you know has a history with many of us in New
York including Simon Dove is from the DRC, and we know him because he is sort of a choreographic
hero and superstar, especially in New York
in many European context, but you know, thinking about
what does it actually mean for him to have the
time, space, resources, to actually focus on a local project? And you know, many artists
as we know that are working in closing context or close context become the institution, right? And so, in the case of Faustin, he’s developed, you know, residency space. And the project that he’s
doing for the fellowship is really a film, it’s a citizen film about a man who was sort
of encouraged by two women in Kailesha, in his town,
to run for public office. And the reason they did that was really, because they wanted to get
one person out of poverty, not that they had a lot of confidence in what it would mean
for this person to be, you know, an elected official. So it really sort of talks
about the sort of crossroads of hope and despair in many ways, and sort of, you know, the other thing that’s really amazing
about his kind of practice is that he’s also teaching
people along the way, like I said, building an institution. And so, how do, you know, how do you create a
contemporary dance company? You teach people contemporary dance. So how do you make a film
in that kind of context? Teaching people filmmaking,
while he’s learning it himself. So that’s just one example. And we have four other fellows in Africa, Nana Oforiatta-Ayim in Ghana, Hassan Darsi and Laila Hida in Morocco. We have Guy Regis, Jr. in Haiti, Laurie Jo Reynolds in Chicago. I’m leaving people out, but anyway it’s a quite
diverse group of eight artists Khalid Albaih, who is a
Sudanese political cartoonist living in exile in Copenhagen. But really sort of thinking about how do we create a
network for those artists, and also support them? So they get an $80,000
fellowship over 18 months to make an ambitiously-scaled
public art project or a project that engages the public. And we thought about
this idea of public space really from the lens of
artists that we talked to in a gathering that we organized
called the OSF Arts Forum, which was in Morocco in 2017. It was around this concept of art, public space,
and closing societies. A lot of what we heard was really that safety and security was one
of the most important things that artists were concerned with. And so, within that, we
wanted to sort of explore, well, what does it mean to work in exile? What does it mean to have
an underground practice like the Belarus Free
Theater, for example? And what does it mean to,
you know, really need peers when you’re working in like
kind of deep isolation? And so, this fellowship
is really developed to sort of construct that kind of circle around a small group of
artists over 18 months. And then, as it grows
this year, the fellows will be focusing on art
migration and public space, that that community will continue to grow. So that’s the most exciting
thing that I’m working on. – Thank you. Something that I am hearing
a lot from all of you is listening and deep listening and that resonates with me, because the thing that
excites me the most about what I get to do at the Trust
for Mutual Understanding is listen to grantees. So, to give you just a little
bit of context of who we are, we’re a small, small,
but mighty foundation. We were started in 1985 by an anonymous member
of the Rockefeller family and we fund arts on
environmental exchanges in 30 countries that
encompass Central, Eastern, Southeastern Europe, Central Asia, the Baltic States, the Caucasus, Mongolia, Russia, and the United States. So we have a wide, wide geographic purview and something that is
collectively happening across the board. So I’ll talk about the
region, I’ll say the region, and what I’m talking about
are those parts of the world that I just mentioned,
that’s our geographic region. There’s a collective anxiety
that’s happening right now and it means that we have to do a lot of really deep listening and we have to, in many ways, be a thought
partner not a micromanager, but maybe a reflector back. So one way that we’ve
been deeply listening and trying to be responsive
to that listening is that particularly for
our grantees in the region the part of the world
that I’m talking about, you know, we only have four staff people. We only had three staff people and we cover such a huge
geographic territory that we felt like, you know, the three of us were on
airplanes all the time, which is, which is
wonderful and important, but we really felt like
we needed a presence closer to the part of
the world where we work. So we hired a regional representative and she’s now based in Berlin and we have a small office
for her in Berlin that we rent at the Aspen Institute Germany and they’ve become a very
great partner of ours and that’s been important for us, because we have access
also to their facilities, so we are able to convene in a way that we are being constantly asked to do, because we have the privilege of sitting in a place where we can see trends that are happening here
in the United States that are reflective of
trends that are happening in the part of the world where you work. And the grantees keep asking us, please, we want to talk to each other. You guys are nice as staff people, but we really want to be in
the room with each other, we really want to talk to each other. We’re all in similar situations now, and we need time and space to, to strategize and to
just be in solidarity. So that is something that is exciting. And also, just touch on a little bit, Michelle, what you were
saying is financial support is obviously really,
really, really important, but we’re also trying to
look at what are forms of non-financial support and
advocacy that we can provide? So one of those is new for us. It’s called Grantee Voices,
it’s a newsletter essentially, but it’s, we are sort of
obsessed with Baum magazine and the interview structure of Baum, so we ask grantees to
interview each other. And then, we transcribe
and edit those interviews and Ariola just participated
in one of those, that’s coming out soon, I promise. Yeah yeah, no, that’s fine. So that’s really about raising awareness and trying to to
introduce people and ideas and practices to a wider audience. And then, we’re also curating,
I guess is the right word. I don’t know. We’re having more public
events at our office. And that is you know, because
we grant making the arts in the environmental sphere, there’s so much intersection between those and we are trying to draw artists and environmentalists together
to learn across disciplines, and also, just to raise
awareness for people that are coming from really
difficult challenging situations and need a lifeline, and
networking is so important, so we’re trying to provide that sort of informal networking, too. – Thank you all, so
appreciate those answers. I’m gonna ask one question,
then if we have a few minutes, we’ll open it up to everyone. I was gonna ask you all
where you sort of thought some of the biggest
opportunities lay that maybe, you know, are sort of,
that any number of folks in this ecosystem could step into? And also, what you’ve thought
the biggest challenges were to working internationally right now. Some opportunities surfaced
just among you already, convening grantees, thinking about ways to provide critical non-financial support, and also, solidarity networks,
listening to grantees. But, throw some other
opportunities out there, and also, if each of you could share like this is the big risk slash challenge that keeps me, keeps me up at night? Zeyba, can we start with you again? – Biggest risk, I’ll start with that, is what has already been touched upon, which is physical risk,
does keep me up at night. I worry about grantees
doing this very brave work. I worry about my colleagues
at the foundation and the risk that I am opening them up to. I worry about scaling the projects, this wonderful work that our grantees do and putting at risk the
communities that they, that participate in the project. So I’m worried a lot, but, at the same time in this very risky, but rather
fluid era that we’re in, there’s also a great opportunity. And one of the things that we do, that we made a decision
to do in the program is to provide strategic
communication support by engaging a community, a communications company that actually is the consultant to each grantee for the life of the grant period. So it teaches strategic messaging, and it’s not just about
writing press, press releases, that they can do very well. But actually strategic messaging and ways in which to amplify their stories and to use the tools of larger networks to reach across the arts audience, the choir as it were. And another thing that we’re doing is that inspired by our grantees and the communication
support, the program itself, our staff of 1.7 people– – [Cathy] What’s a point-seven person? – It’s our program associate, who is split, yes, with another
department, she’s shared. That we have actually taken on the production,
with a production company, of two videos, two films, two short films that are shareable, and one of them, which is called, A Secret History of Muslims in America, is an animation and it’s going to premiere on a rather large platform
in early December. So this is not a boast, but
it’s actually to say that we’re finding subversive ways,
sort of ideas are like water, they just flow over constraints, which is the beauty of exchanges, right? And that indomitable human
spirit that will be subversive and just go around, or
over, under constraints. That we see ourselves as advocates for the work, for our grantees. Yes, we bring the funding piece, but we also bring our ideas and we use, we hope to use these videos as a way to really amplify
our grantees’ voices and their work and reach communities, especially in that purple zone. – Michelle.
– I’m not doing this. But I’m excited by this
moment of intersectionality. You know, we were fighting
for eight to 10 years, kind of building where we
could have the intersection of art and culture and justice issues and finally criminal justice reform, environment, thanks to
Tambu, reproductive rights. Everyone is now recognizing
the power and the necessity of artists and cultural
makers at the forefront alongside of organizers. So that’s my optimistic excitement. I’m fearful of the art
market and its consumption. I have no idea how to address
that, and I’m scared by the US lens and our limitations around race and gender normative realities and that dominating how we continue to engage in the
world, and it’s destructive. – Afraid of? I feel like it’s a little bit
of what you all both said. One, just continuing to
be in this market-driven, extractive way of interacting with artists and just on a personal level, two very good friends
of mine that are artists passed away in the past
week under 50 years old and I really attribute it to just, yeah, just like a Basquiat situation. You know, where like, how much more can we take from one person? And in order to engage and be successful, which they both were prolific, but what is, what is the
toll that that actually takes on humanity at large, really, you know, individuals, but also humanity? So really, really thinking about, how do we develop the different kind of relationship with cultural production that is also about surrounding
people with support, surrounding people with resources, and not just monetary resources, but also thinking about
them as full people. So I feel like that’s sort of core to why I even do this work, but it’s, you know, really, it makes me feel a shame to actually be a part of the art
world sometimes, you know? And so, I’m really thankful,
similar to what you’re saying, that we are coming around to
a different political reality and sometimes I say like maybe the silver lining of the
global rise of fascism is that we realize that all of us have to participate in freedom fighting, all of us have to participate
in sort of coming together on the sort of reality
of where we could go, which is why I think this kind
of exchange is so important. And we were able to bring
the Belarus Free Theatre to do a production in our office, which is appropriate because they’re always working in
garages and in, you know, these contexts where, you know, audiences can sort of
sneak in to see this work, but it really was about,
how do we have a moment of dystopic visioning to see
where we are going, right, so that we can be conscious
enough to either pump the brakes or get ahead of that and
really fight on behalf of freedom of expression, and
also, on behalf of artists who are doing this kind of brave work and who are putting themselves on the very front lines
of this kind of work. So I feel like I’m in this moment of both terror and inspiration. – Yeah, I think there’s
opportunity and disruption. I think that this global climate that we’re living in right now, we’re all, everything is so interconnected and there’s actually a time
and space to be disrupted. We’re all disrupted at the current moment, and it forces us to
reach out for each other, it forces us to work
collaboratively, I think more, listen more deeply. And to… You know, I think as
foundation staff people, we are disrupted from our usual
way of thinking about things and our boxes that we get in and our assumptions that we make. We have to think more flexibly. We have to think more, more fluidly. And I think for,
particularly for our grantees we’re seeing intersectionality
in the sense of, we’re seeing people
reach out for each other and talk to each other across disciplines, across geographic borders,
across cultural borders. There’s a, again, the word
solidarity keeps coming up, but there’s a solidarity there that is uniting people in a way that I, I have, I’ve been at the Trust for
Mutual Understanding 10 years and I haven’t seen it like this before. On the other hand, I haven’t
seen it like this before, and the thing that keeps me up at night, our faces, people’s faces, people’s stories, people
that I care about, people that I’ve known
for a very long time, this part of the world where we work at the Trust for Mutual
Understanding is very dear to me. I’m half Hungarian, my
family lives in Hungary. The situation there is
very, very difficult. So it’s not just my
family, it’s our grantees, it’s the staff, it’s my colleagues. Like you said, Zeyba, I worry
about them when they travel. I make them constantly check in with me when they’re traveling, I’m constantly checking in with them. So this is a really difficult time. And I think when you care
and are open-hearted, it’s gonna keep you up
at night, right now. – Simon, it’s 4:50, which is when we were
supposed to end, shall we? (Simon speaking faintly off mic) Okay, we’re gonna take some questions, and because our time is so short, and we’d love to get a few questions and just gonna ask you to try really hard to ask your question in
15 seconds, thank you. Yeah, raise your hand
if you have a question and we will take it. Shy, shy audience. We’ve answered all, yes. – Thank you. Maybe it’s not a question you
can actually answer right now, but how are you incorporating this reality that we have 12 years left in your work? – Yeah, can I jump for a sec? So the reality of the 12 years left is very prominent in our work, because we’re actually,
we’re making invite, we’re involved in
environmental grant making, so we actually, the field scientists that are out in the Arctic
and watching the ice melt are coming in and giving us reports and showing us photos
and showing us videos of what they’re seeing, so we are trying to balance our grant-making
in the sense of, for a long time, we’ve
been thinking about it. There’s the arts and
there’s the environment, and we’re trying not to
think about it that way so much anymore, and
for a long time it was, well 70% of our
grant-making is in the arts and 30% is in environment. And now it’s, okay well, 60-40 and we’re working toward 50-50, but really what we’re just
trying to work toward is, it’s not, I’m not, impact
is not the word, because we’re a foundation that doesn’t
believe in measuring impact, which I know is a pretty
rare thing, but urgency. Urgency and working and working together and working across
sectors to tell the story, because there’s so much
scientific data that we have, but those stories aren’t
being told in a way that’s motivating people,
particularly lawmakers. So that’s. – I would love to answer that. We’re working with the question and question was posed to us by our network theory coach, and he asked, what ancestor are we in training to be? And it really rocked us. And so, it’s forcing us to
think about our own selves, how we love, how we live, in our work, generations ahead and
define those characteristics and hone on those right now. And so yeah, I think it’s
important for all of us to think about what
are we in training for, what are the ancestral qualities that we are wanting to leave with our children and grandchildren. – I don’t think we can
end any better than that. So I’m gonna give you back your time. Or, do we have one more question, okay. – 15 seconds or less,
hi, I’m Claude Grunitzky. I’m the president of
the Watermill Foundation and the Watermill Center. We’ve had issues obviously of
artists who had visas denied. And so, do you find that these very important
foundations that you represent, you’re able to lobby the State
Department or the embassies or does it not affect anything ever? Because I saw Nina
Murray was here earlier. Yes, can you do, I mean, is it possible for you to have some sort of sway? – Anybody wanna take that? – I would like to to answer. I’d like to give you an example of what one of our grantees did. It’s Georgetown University and they had a project
with Syrian women refugees and they were opening that
season with this theater piece and they didn’t get their visas. So what they did is that they decided to Skype in the actors, the Syrian refugee ladies from Jordan from their refugee camp and have the audience in the theater. And so, they talked about the project and the difficulties and the challenges. And then, one of the ladies
asked why their visa was denied. And in the audience, I don’t know if you were
there that day, Nina, but in the audience was a State Department person representative, and the facilitator of the conversation turned to the State
Department rep and said, please go ahead and answer the question. And live, this person said
it was just a bad day. So. (laughs) That can be many things but, that was one kind of moment in which this Art Center, you know, actually turned a really you know impossible situation or, but basically not having the work open to a conversation, which got actually a lot more engagement, not just with the audience, but in terms of media and attention much more broadly in
different communities, beyond just the art space. – [Cathy] Taking my cue from
you, Simon, ’cause Nina, do you want to answer?
– Yeah. Into this crumb, which is also life, there’s no tougher job than answering consular questions on livestream. I applaud, it’s an avenue
group that found this solution. It is difficult to operate within the constraints
that the immigration law puts on us overseas. You are unlikely ever to get the answer about why something happened, because there is legal
protection for the adjudicator. The protection is there for their safety, and also, for the safety of the public. All that said, work with us early, get in touch with us. There’s my retired colleague
there in the audience as well. Especially if you’re working with people, with nations that, with states that are sort of in the public view, and in the political public view, get in touch with us early, get in touch with the
embassy, and have a plan B. And also, I know there is
an ongoing effort with NEA, so it is also important
to advocate domestically. This is another thing that we cannot do. We are an executive agency, in terms of managing immigration, and in that regard, we do not advocate for changes in policy. We implement the policy. We rely on you to tell our lawmakers what is necessary. So please do that. (audience laughing) (audience applauding) – Shall we? Thank you so much, this
was a fantastic discussion. And thanks to all of you,
you are so inspiring. Those we’ve heard from on
stage and just our friends and colleagues in the audience, thank you. (audience applauding) – Hello, my name is Anna
Dziapshipa, I’m from Georgia. And, Zoya? – Hi, I’m Zoya Falkova,
I’m from Kazakhstan. – And we have a opportunity
to speak about the archives actually, which is such a broad topic, but we will try to condense it somehow and make it personal. So to refer Ilya Kabakov
word about his work named The Man Who Never
Threw Anything Away. I’m the woman who never
throws anything away, so I’m a collector. So I would like to
refer to several images, which inspire my work, which inspired the work that
I’m doing with the archives. Did something happen to that? Yeah, so, I was referred with two images that were very important images to me. So the first one is destroyed archive in Abkhazia. And Abkhazia is a breakaway territory, which exists unrecognized state, which exists in neighboring Georgia and it was part of the Georgia and it was part of the Georgia for ages. About have the fall of the Soviet Union, Abkhazia decided to go
independent as well. And I’m partly from Abkhazia,
but living in Georgia. So somehow this image, the constructing, destroying the Abkhazia archive and leaving these people
without any collective memory somehow was really striking image for me, because it happened in 1992 and all this memory were lost,
was lost because of the war, and these people are left– (speaking faintly off mic) Okay. These people are left without any memory. So somehow this image
was very important image, because I never been to
Abkhazia after the war, like 25 years, but in 2013 I had opportunity to cross the border and go to my home and see the people there,
who are living there without any family albums, any personal histories,
any collective histories. So somehow it was inspiration for me to reconstruct the archive virtually. So my project was connected
to that destroyed archive and how it is possible, using new technologies and new media, to reconstruct that
destroyed collective memory. I try to find some different documents, visual forms of the archive, music, and put it online, so this is the, my possibility to support
part of my identity, to reconstruct their memories. Another image that I would like to refer is a film image from the
Jean Gabriel Periot film, Even if She Had Been a Criminal, which is another importance
of the archive nowadays. Actually it’s kind of a
personification of the history and how the history could be read in different side, how the history can have a different voice and second chance to read. So that image was very important, also. It refers to my works as well, somehow. And I tried to also use
the official archives and somehow personalize
that work, that archive, in my, in my work, in my
films and my projects. So I would say a word about
the future of the archives and I meant that
digitalization of the archives, it’s also very important, but that’s not also the safe place also to keep all these
memories and documents so, but it’s, a it’s a chance also to have that possibility to keep them, but to… Also to curate another time Ilya Kabakov’s words about the archives. I think it’s very important
thing about speaking about the future of the archives. It also continually generates something. This is where some kinds
of shoots come from, new projects, ideas, a
certain enthusiasm arises, hopes for the rebirth of something new. So I think the future use the archive can refer to that words. – Hi everyone, I’m Zoya
Falkova, from Kazakhstan. And I want to use the microphone time to thank everyone who made this possible, this program of CEC ArtsLink
that was amazing time. And I also will start, I
will also start with the… I will also start with
the damaged archives, but with the archives,
which were destroyed, not because of the war
or something like that, but because of ignorance and attempt to erase the history, just because. Nothing else comes up. So that is the images
from the film, the movie I found on the street
after they destroyed, I don’t know who, destroyed the Railways Museum
in Almaty, my hometown. And it’s been, this movie’s been about a couple of years on the street and it was damaged, but partly survived. And I scanned it frame by frame and I got this kind of images reminding you about Andy Warhol, and there are some
people, I don’t know who, I don’t know what kind of,
what kind of movie that was, but it looks like a river
of the time swallowing them. And therefore I consider that this is not the archive,
which fixing the time when this archive was made, but this is the archive, which includes the history
of the archive itself. So this is a double
narrative, the narrative of the Soviet time when
this documentary movie, it’s something about
the trains were created and plus the time when it was destroyed plus the attempts of the people who thrown all the archive of the museum just to the street. I think that this kind of
memory is also important and that’s how we can use it, reflect it, without adding nothing. Like, I added color here just because it needed for the exhibition. But this is original
color and nothing else. And this is already double
archived and the art, which created by all the circumstances. Or sometimes we need an
archive of something, which doesn’t exist. There is a needs or silence or kind of problem no one talks about. And as an artist, I’m using the post truth methodology, like the news propaganda,
et cetera, they’re using and I creating the fake archives. So this is the documentary
and of the meeting, which never existed, they said. We have the third of
the part of the country, which are not actually Kazakh, but all our government program, they are based on Kazakh
national traditions. And no one talks about more
than 100 nationalities else living in Kazakhstan, so. Oops. So that was a slogan, if
someone’s understand Russian, that sounds very funny,
it’s colonized, colonized, but have never colonized through. It’s on a gray, gray background and there’s three lights. And then the background,
you can see the cupola of the foundation of our president, which stays as a president for
more than 30 years already. So yeah, we have our Trump,
never knows when he quits. And he, once he said that we need, we have zero modern
museums in our country, in whole country. We have space launching station, but we don’t have an modern art museum. We have little section in National Museum, but this is kind of toothless one. And once our president said
what we need more museums and I created one. So I found this hut on abandoned area and I created the Museum of, of Modern Art Aidala, or no entry, so there is no entry, but you can see that the
shape is very modernistic, like this kind of window, this
shape, not this shitty one, but the shape could be like a brassiere, all this, this kind of shape
could be done by Miss Monroe, but it’s kind of, you
know, ready-made stuff. And I created that art, which fell down like less than in a week, it’s already didn’t exist, because it was falling down
together with the spray. Yeah, and there is no
entry, nothing is inside, but because we don’t have any space for, for real contemporary
art in the country, so. And this is a kind of archive, when you’re archiving the situation, when you making the fake
archive or fake archive, right? And I think that this
is, that’s all, yeah? That’s all, I didn’t, stop, okay. That’s my presentation. (laughing) Okay. (speaking in a foreign language) And so, we we can use this methodology, propaganda uses in art, and this is also very important
in archiving the moments, the speech which never happened. (beeping) And so, the destroyed archives is there, which happened and happened double and this has never happened,
but happened somehow, so. The music is merciless. (audience laughing) Sorry, it’s time. Thank you all, thank you very much. (audience applauding)
(upbeat music) – Hi, hi everyone. My name is Izabel Galliera
and I’m an art historian. So I teach and I research about Socially Engaged Art Practice,
delighted to be here. Thank you, Simon, for the kind invitation. So I’ll get right to it. I know we are very strict with time. So, Socially Engaged Art Practice and the institutions that support it have always been relevant, and especially now in the
era of the entropy scene, planetary environmental devastation, starvation, humiliation and inequity. A vivid image of the crisis of our time is the caravan currently on route from Honduras to the US border, which I’m sure that many of you have heard about in the news. It began on October 13 and is currently around, has
currently around 5,000 people, though it is really difficult
to know the exact number, and includes women, children,
traveling both by foot, and also, hitchhiking rides on trucks. Depending on where you
are getting your news, people in the caravan are
seen as fleeing poverty, gang violence, and persecution,
but on the other side, the caravan is also seen as an invasion, as President Trump called it. According to a Washington Post article, Trump also announced
that the US would send around 5,000 troops to
the border with Mexico to deal with the migrants whose arrival is rather
difficult to estimate. That caravan is outside the US, but there is currently one in the US, which is recently completing
the 12-week tour around the US and it’s a caravan of the
TPS Initiative for Justice that started in August. This caravan consisted,
consists over 50 TPS holders from countries such as
El Salvador, Honduras, Haiti, Nicaragua, Sudan, Nepal, Somalia, and it is at an attempt to save the temporary protected status program that protects over 450,000
people from deportation. Trump announced to terminate
this program next year as part of his ongoing attacks against immigrant communities. So while I was following
these caravans in the news, I was reminded of the work by Romanian artist Matei Bejenaru, Hungarian artist Miklos Erhardt, Scottish artist Dominic Hislop, and Spanish artist Santiago Sierra. I was reminded of all the pertinent social and political issues
that have been and are at the core of Socially
Engaged Art Practice. The global penchant toward
art, the social practice, has encompassed modes of art-making, theorized and discussed
internationally since the early ’90s as participatory, relational,
collaborative, dialogic, community-based, social,
political, conscious forms of public art. Key writers include
Suzanne Lacy, Grant Castor, Claire Bishop, Tom Finkelpearl, Nicolas Bourriaud, Miwon
Kwon, Shannon Jackson, Nato Thompson, and many others. Certainly, such practice
that conceives art as catalyst for change is not new. It has roots in early
forms of avant-garde art such as constructivism and the Bauhaus with their goal of marginal,
of merging art and life. For example in Russia,
especially during the peak years between 1917 and the early 1920s, avant-garde artists were
invited and supported by the newly-installed
Bolshevik political regime to take part in the transformation of a predominantly agrarian society into an industrialized socialist economy led by the proletariat. In the US, Socially Engaged Art is rooted in conceptualist work by artists such as Allan Kaprow. In the 1970s, feminist initiatives that made use of performance and pedagogy as we see in the Womanhouse led by Marianne Shapiro
and Judy Chicago in 1971. And then, in the 1970s and ’80s with the emergence of new genre public art in the work of Suzanne Lacy. And then, the work of Group
Material and Martha Rosler at the Dia Art Foundation,
which follows suit. Socially Engaged Art is also indebted to the Confrontational Approach Practice by institutional critique artists such as Andrea Frazier, Hans
Haacke, and Fred Wilson, to name just a few. So in my research and teaching, I use the notion of Socially
Engaged Art as an umbrella term to include self-organizing institutions, site-specific contemporary forms of art and exhibition-making that
unfold in public spaces, primarily urban, but also rural, over longer or shorter periods of time. Some art forms are participatory, meaning they can, they
can ultimately be realized only through the physical involvement albeit temporary of people. Other projects are collaborative,
meaning that they emerge from specific ways of working together among diverse individuals. Others combine board participatory and collaborative strategies. The participants and/or collaborators in these artistic practices vary from fellow artists,
curators, and critics to audience members, anonymous
passerby in public squares, and members of specific
marginalized communities such as immigrants. Some projects aim to create
harmonious collaborations. Others aim to be antagonistic
and confrontational. Nevertheless, these
projects are the result of complex negotiation dynamics unfolding among artists, curators,
and funding institutions. Despite their varied modes of critique and strategies of engagement, they all share a desire
to reclaim public life from current neoliberal ideologies in order to build inclusive public spheres as democratic forms within emerging or declining civil societies. Such goals are especially vital under the pervasive influence
of global neoliberalism, supported by increasingly
autocratic political regimes throughout the world. To quote historian Vijay Prashad, the monsters have returned, revived by political leaders worldwide, such as Trump, Erdogan,
Orban, Modi, Maduro. Our contemporary conditions governed by the global neoliberalism emphasis on individual libertarianism have continued to trigger
increasing worldwide gaps between the rich and the poor. Environmental degradation, communal and familiar separations, the wild craze for profit accumulation through the regulation and
outsourcing of production to third world countries around the globe in order to exploit low manufacturing cost are also staying by the precarious
conditions of the worker. This implies, for example,
short-term and/or part-time, just part-time jobs, health
and pension insecurity, long commutes and global migrations. Neoliberal forces therefore control and organize life through
various technologies of power, which Michel Foucault called biopower. There are at the core of global migrations of people determined to
relocate and escape poverty, gang violence, environmental devastation. So the migrants are the sacrifice for the failure and
successes of neoliberalism, understood as both an
ideological construction and an economical order. Immigration has always
been a controversial and divisive political issue. A number of contemporary
socially engaged artists have approached it in various ways. So I decided to highlight a few artists. It was a hard choice, or a difficult decision, and their works, because
of their particular ways in which they closely
worked with situations and institutions to
accomplish their project, and implicitly, because of
the questions they raise on the role of art institutions
in our times of crisis. When a black man is
involved in a dirty deed, the belief of the Italians
is that every black man is involved in a dirty deed. The police can come into the market and ask for your document or passport and you can be deported. What year do you think this was in? 2002, in Italy. And this is James, an immigrant
from Nigeria to Italy, describing in an interview with the artist Miklos
Erhardt and Dominic Hislop his experiences with
practices of racial profiling that associate race with criminality performed by the Turin police, who considered the open
market in Porta Palazzo one of the most difficult
zones in the city from a security standpoint. Particularly in the Italian context, markers of differential
ordering of immigrant groups had been based on a person’s
national affiliation, physical appearance, or
popular stereotypical notions produced and reproduced in the media or in discussions among Italians. As a result, Bangladeshi immigrants are seen as street vendors, African groups sell handbags, Romanian and Albanian men are viewed as untrustworthy and part of mafia. Writing in 2008, Flavia
Stanley argued that the differential treatment
of immigrant groups by Italian citizens was
motivated by a desire to protect their own European status from and against non-EU citizens. Such informal patterns
of everyday interactions have been regulated by
Italy’s institutionalized, restrictive, national
legislation on immigration, most vividly presented then
by the 2002 Bossi Fini law, Italy’s most highly restrictive reform since the fascist period. Such exclusionary
measures as those in Italy clearly support the
notion of fortress Europe, a term Chris Shore used to indicate the tightening of EU borders against immigrants in the early 2000s. And it was this fortress Europe that Erhardt and Hislop wanted
to challenge and subvert in their socially engaged
work called Re:route. It was created as part
of their participation in the BIG Torino International
Biennial of young artists. It presented the engagement of the artists with 28 recent immigrants
in the city of Turin he developed through a
collaborative process that included several meetings and extended over a
period of several months only in part funded by the
Biennial organizing institutions. So a bit about the process, the how. First, the artist identified participants by contacting a number
of local organizations. Then, beginning in December of 2001, they met with participants
who were invited to trace their own version of the city, a mental map based on their routes and effective responses
to specific urban places. The artist gave each participant a blank sheet of white paper
with only a dot in the center that symbolized Torino’s
Porta Nuova train station. the main entry point in the
city for all immigrants. An interview based on their hand-drawn mental
maps immediately followed, and the artist gave each
participant a camera in order for them to photograph
and illustrate the map with photos of the places. The artist entered in contact with 20 organizations in Turin, serving the needs of the
homeless and the immigrants. Once in Turin, the Biennial
office connected the artist with a public school where
immigrants learned Italian. Following this initial contact
in a rather organic way, the artists continue to establish contacts with local social workers, teachers, political activists,
culture organizations, and support groups for immigrants that were willing to recommend artists to potential participants. Engaging in a self-reflexive
production of space, Re:route became a
platform for articulating an inclusive form of citizenship based on complex relational processes where temporal and spatial differences were continually negotiated
between individuals. Through the collection of individual views where each of the
self-narrated oral histories became part of the community
of singular voices, the artist disrupted the exclusionary and essentialist approach
to immigrant populations. Similar to Erhardt than Hislop, but employing a different
collaborative strategy, Matei Bejenaru created
work that participate in the social political
debate on immigration that unfolded at the EU
level in the first decades following the fall of
the Berlin Wall in 1989. His two projects, Maersk Dubai in 2007 and Travel Guide conceived in 2005, illustrated the effects of what writer Subhabrata Bobby Banerjee called the power of necrocapitalism, which describes the ways
in which neoliberalism exercises its power of control by not only allowing and determining
people’s way of living, but also their modes of dying. In his video, Maersk
Dubai, Bejenaru narrates the 1996 tragic death of
three Romanian immigrants, thrown off board of a
Taiwanese transportation ship. At one-level the necrocapital is localized in the cumulative circumstances
encountered in their country that provoked the three young Romanians to attempt to cross the
Atlantic over to Canada by embarking illegally onboard the ship and hiding in air-sealed
shipping containers. At another level, necropolitical emerges in the unhesitant decision
of the ship captain to get rid of the bodies out of fear of losing his job upon public revelation of dead illegal immigrant
bodies on his ship. It is the very condition
of legality of living as a marginalized citizen, as an impoverished European
post-communist nation, restricted by a complex
web of legal requirements to travel or work in other countries, which contributes to an alienation of life and an acceleration of actual death. In 2008, Ian Bolivar spoke
of a European apartheid that exists simultaneously with the notion of European citizenship. It implies that immigrant
population on the EU territory coming most often from African countries and also Eastern Europe, are constituted as inferior
in rights and dignity, subject to violent forms
of security control and forced to live on the border, neither absolutely inside
nor totally outside. The generous Travel Guide
was conceived in 2005, before Romania joined the EU
(beeping) when its citizens were not able to travel to UK without visa.
(beeping) And because of that sound, I’m gonna skip over the Spanish artists and I’m gonna relay my conclusion. So even from these projects, socially engaged artists
seek to engender dialogue on pertinent social and political issues, and to try to foster
resilient communities. They focus on difference,
division, inequality in society. They raise questions on the relation between ethics and
aesthetics under all of art, the art institution and art
organization in our time. They are process, site and time-based, and often by the very
process of interaction negotiation with particular community this is what becomes the art medium. And by its very nature, such art forms are
hybrid, cross-disciplinary and in their aims, they
aim to bring forward the uncomfortable and neglected
issues of our society. There you go.
(upbeat music) (audience applauding) (upbeat music) – Good afternoon, my name is Guiomar Ochoa and I’m the international specialist at the National Endowment for the Arts. It’s a pleasure to be here today. My goal for today is to give
you a brief overview of the NEA and delve into our international
activities portfolio. As an executive agency, sorry. As an executive agency, the
president appoints a chairman and that person is
confirmed by the Senate. Mary Anne Carter has been
nominated by President Trump, which is a huge feat because he has called for our
elimination the last two years, and we’re awaiting for her confirmation. Our budget is appropriated by Congress and passed at 155 million
dollars for FY 18. Now I’d like to show you a brief
video on what the NEA does. – [Narrator] Industries contributing 4.3% to the nation’s GDP. That was 698 billion dollars in 2012. The National Endowment for the Arts is America’s chief funder
and supporter of the arts. As an independent federal agency, the NEA celebrates the
arts as a national priority critical to America’s future, and is investing in arts
education and local programs to empower students at all levels. More than anything, the arts provide a space for
us to create and express. Through grants given to thousands
of nonprofits each year, the NEA helps people in
communities across America experience the arts and
exercise their creativity, from visual arts to digital arts, opera to jazz, film to
literature, theatre to dance, to folk and traditional arts, healing arts to arts
education, music to design. The NEA supports a broad range of America’s artistic expression. Every dollar of funding the NEA awards is matched by up to seven
dollars of additional investment, and we’ve awarded over
five billion dollars through the years with
a historical commitment to keeping the arts a
vital part of our nation. Art helps us understand
and express the world, driving creativity and innovation, and NEA-funded programs
helped transform communities into lively, beautiful,
and resilient places with art at the center. We envision a nation where every American
benefits from the arts, and every community celebrates
its goals and achievements through the arts, strengthening
our creative capacity and America’s future. – Our office does not
fund projects directly, but rather we work in
partnership with others. Through cooperative
initiatives with other funders, the NEA brings the benefit
of international exchange to arts organizations, artists,
and audiences nationwide. My office increases a recognition of the excellence of US
arts around the world and broadens the scope of
experience of American artists, thereby enriching the art they create. Their partnerships with
other government agencies, such as the Department of
Education and Cultural Affairs, from the State Department,
and the private sector, the NEA fosters international
creative collaboration by strengthening residency programs of foreign artists in
communities across the country. So we work primarily with the US’s six regional arts organizations, of which Cathy Edwards
is the head of NEFA. So that’s, those are the, that’s the main group that we work with. And we give them grants so that they can grant
out other opportunities that we have for international artists. So in partnership with Mid
Atlantic Arts Foundation, which is in Baltimore, USArtists International
provides grants to performers in dance, music, and theater, invited to perform at significant
international festivals, and performing arts markets. Also in partnership with Mid
Atlantic Arts Foundation, Southern Exposure brings
exemplary contemporary and traditional performing
arts from Latin America to audiences across the United States. Performing Arts Discovery. We work with our regional
arts organizations to introduce presenters
to US performing artists, so it’s a reciprocal to
USArtists International, if you will. Luckily, Mary Anne is a big
advocate of international work. So we have a number of programs
looming in the near future. As the primary American members of IFACCA, the International
Federation of Arts Councils and Culture Agencies, the
NEA will be well-represented at the World Summit on Arts and Culture in Kuala Lumpur next March. The summit is expected
to attract arts leaders and key policymakers
from up to 80 countries, including many ministers of culture. Longtime partners, the
Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission and the NEA invite leading contemporary and traditional artists
from the United States to apply for a unique
collaborative artistic fellowship designed to highlight US-Japan
artistic collaboration during the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. The completed collaborative
artistic projects will be showcased in Tokyo during the Olympic Games
and/or Paralympic Games between July and September of 2020. We will select up to five
collaborative projects of US-Japan artists,
representative of diverse genres and regions of both countries. I’ll leave you with this
brief and moving video about the NEA and why we are
important to the United States. (inspirational music) – The NEA thought that art was important and developing new artists was important. – They love art and music
just as much as I did, and it was really cool knowing that group of people were
supporting me on that. – Doesn’t matter how great you are and what your abilities are, you need resources to do these things. – It’s never a bad thing to have arts. Never never never, don’t
let anybody tell you we don’t need that, uh uh,
uh uh, wrong, wrong, wrong. It’s important. – Human beings not only
define who they are, but who they want to be through the arts. – When an institution like
the NEA comes in and says, we get it, we believe this is important, and we’re gonna put our funding behind it. – The NEA comes in, helps organizations be
strong, be innovative, make the work that then
spreads through the country. – As an artist, it’s sort
of like the Holy Grail. We pray the NEA does not go away, otherwise we lose the support
we need to make our art. – It’s really important
that we let people realize how much the NEA has been the backbone, quietly, of major
institutions in the arts, of artists in the arts,
of public art projects. (inspirational music) – The NEA program made
a difference in my life by showing me the beauty
of being creative, the beauty of film. – I think it’s as essential as food, water, air. – A lot of people want
to do musical theater, but they don’t have it in their community. They don’t have anyone funding it, and just the fact that
it was there for me, that’s why I am where I am now. – What we’re attempting to do
to get through our daily lives and to get through all of the vicissitudes of what’s happening in
the world right now, it’s all expressed in the arts. – Thank you for, you know,
all the great programs and your dedication to arts in America. I can definitely say that
you’ve changed my life. – If everyone was involved in the arts, we would have such a better world. – NEA, all the way. – Support the National
Endowment for the Arts is all I have to say. (inspirational music) – We’re loyal to the idea that the NEA not only survive, but grow. – I make a reverence to the NEA. – [Guiomar] Thank you so much. (audience applauding) (speaking faintly off mic) Okay, here is the timer.
– Okay. Four, or five? Four, or five? Hi, my name is Karolina Halatek. I’m from Poland. I had the pleasure to be a resident artist at Laumeier Sculpture Park in Saint Louis. So I used my time for, to produce an art piece
actually during my time. So actually it was three weeks. So I would like to share with
you the results of my stay as an example of the thinking I’m having with, about the earth generally. So I created the site-specific piece, and just in the very beginning, I can tell you that Laumeier
Sculpture Park is free, so everyone can enter, and it’s a huge space, so a lot of people just,
you know, go for a weekend. A lot of families go,
you know, to spend time. There is a lot of public
that is not really relate, like doesn’t relate,
it’s not like a typical art public, like I’m using public. So I could pick up any space, any space in the park, and I could just create any kind of piece. So I like the shelters in the back of the, back of the park by the forest. And what I’ve done, I just
transformed the space. People who, from the community in
Saint Louis, from the area, knew that shelters as a
kind of stop for a picnic, or, you know, like just
having some sort of like a camp, like a campsite
for you, for teenagers. So what I’ve done, I build
the walls like translucent, I used translucent material, I build the walls and I used light and I put smoke, like fog, inside. I called the piece Cloud Square. And so, actually I just
wanted to let people in, like to create the sort of like heavenly kind of experience of sky. You know, that kind of
space where you can, where you can reflect, where you can, where you can take your
time and be contemplative. This is the shelter,
this is how it looked. So I created the frame. And I think this is the last image, yeah. So, let’s going back to the first one. What I decided to do is, people were queuing,
the line was very long, like for six hours, for six hours, and nearly six hours there was like, you know, tons of people. People had to be like,
crowd had to be controlled by like 10 people coming in. But what was important for me was the, the openness, that everyone
could access for free. I wanted to create this
space like a square, like a place of like everyone can meet, like you have in like downtown. I mean, in Europe you have the square where everyone gathers. So that’s why the piece
is called Cloud Square. So I wanted to create a place where kind of everyone is invited and it’s very, the space that is very free and kind of democratic in
a way in the character. So, and also brings people together, so they have an experience, like a collective experience. And this in a very short moment,
let’s say in some minutes, they could be together and
they can interact together. So they could, I don’t
know, ask to take a picture, you know, they could
interact with each other within that area. So they, in fact, they
could maybe you know, become like friends, with neighbors, or, you know, there was a possibility, space for interaction. But we’ve been very particular experience, which was abstract and, and reflective. So that immersion that
came out before as a topic. It’s like I wanted to
immerse people in the moment when people can actually like reset, or they can have time for themselves. They have a time to enjoy the life or they can just stop being worried. And I think that all
this critical thinking and discussion that we have
needs some kind of a proposal, So it’s very good to point out, you know, that they could have a critical view, but then the proposal that
you were also asking was the, was the solution, was the
propose, what can you propose, is, I think, that kind of art, or this kind of art piece or this kind of art pieces
that makes it possible. – Thank you. Thank you, Karolina, thanks, everybody. I’m happy actually to
speak after your work, because when you showed me this images, the things that first occurred to me was the transparency that you used by building a frame and a context and the possibility for the viewers to be in the same moment inside and to experience themselves and the outside at the same time. And these characteristics
remind me as well of the practice of my work
as a curator and writer and the work related to my
institution back in Albania, Tirana Art Lab Center for Contemporary Art which I have established in 2010, and I’ve been directing for eight years. So we are an engaged institution working with Albanian artists
and building a dialogue with international and regional artists. And what is important for us is to create not only to figure out what we want to do, but even how we want to do it, how do we want to construct
our work as institution, and how do we do our work
as curators and producers. And some of the
characteristic that have been very important for our
work in the last four years have been the idea of
working with a concept of inside out, downside up and transparency and polyphony. So, bringing different voices together. And we try to do this in all our events and this allows us to, let’s say, to work with this
concept in different layers, because sometimes, I think it’s not enough if we do this only in
the exhibition space, because exhibition space
can, in curatorial practice, can sometimes be practice
of exclusion and selection, instead of being a process
of inclusion and opening up. So I just want to show an example
of how actually I do this. So I was in Portland at the Portland Institute
for Contemporary Art. And I spent there five weeks and it took me a while
to understand where I was and what the context was. I was so far away from home from Albania. It was nine hours of time difference. So I used the experience that I had there and this time to reflect about my work. So I put together a project that this is the space of Portland
Institute of Contemporary Art, one of the annexes, and the
program that I put together was called 9 Hours Away. So this is the first layer
where I start with my work and I brought together, I wanted to show the
work of European artists that have been working
with in the last years who are engaged and whose
works reflect indirectly and a little bit distantly to the social and political problems in the US. So there were, this was the
space with three screens where I showed in the middle work from Russian collective Chto Delat, then work from the
creation artist Damir Ocko, and the work of Albanian
artist Silva Agostini, and it was important for me
that the videos change place, because I’m trying to work
as well with place and time. And what I did as well, and this is as well way how I curate and another aspect that I
try to introduce in curating is bringing different elements together. The installation that you see behind is part of some details of the work of the American artist Abigail DeVille, who just had an opening at PICA and her exhibition is
actually outside of the space, but some of the elements
of her installation that she didn’t use were there, so I actually included them in my show just to continue a
dialogue that was there, and of course to bring back the viewer and the mind to the space. So the three first film was shown. And then, the fourth moment, the light went on and you
could see this installation. And then, together with local curator and (beeping) art historian,
(beeping) we recorded a poetical,
philosophical conversation about my experience there
and her experience there, and we included that as well in the work. So the project was a 90-minute
piece involving space, time and different realities
and putting them together. (upbeat music) Thank you. (audience applauding)
(upbeat music) – Hi, I don’t have any images and we can’t go on the website. So if you want to get on your gizmos and go to a couple of sites here, please go ahead and do that. artspacesanctuary.org
and sanctuarycaravan.org. I’m not sure what I’m doing here exactly, but I’ll do what I do and I hope that it falls somewhere. I found that Art Space
Sanctuary a few years ago, and you’ll see that on the website. I suspect it’s a project
that’s trying to get art spaces at different levels
to sort of take on practice, sanctuary-like practices,
declare themselves sanctuaries and stand up in this moment where migration is an important part of the way that our current arrangements
are being challenged, our arrangements on a
state and nation level around borders, on all kinds of levels. All right, you know this. I work closely with the
New Sanctuary Coalition in New York City. I’ll say a little bit about that. And as well as this
sanctuary campus movement. And Karen Coney who is sitting over there with the Vera List Center
is part of that group at the New School, and
then, at NYU Columbia, et cetera, et cetera. And it’s also weird to
be here in this building, in what my other friend
who’s sitting there, Sandra, called a fortress not
a sanctuary, and to be, you know, to be part of
this real estate company called Columbia University that has, that has
displaced so many people right around here in this corner and has done exactly
the opposite of anything that a sanctuary practice
would actually encourage, right, displacing people
and breaking up communities and not being in solidarity
and so on and so forth. So with that irony in mind, we’ll be here talking about sanctuary. So, if I’m talking about sanctuary, I think I’ll set up the stage a little bit by saying what sanctuary is. I think people know pieces
of it and not all of it. I’m already hearing the music coming, so I’ll rush through my words. Sanctuary is essentially,
it started as a Christian, you know, as a Christian
policy in the Christian Church, where people could go inside, and in a way hide from the law, or to say that, you know,
your law is not my law, that there is a higher law and people who were
charged with various things by the state, say the Romans,
would go into the church, and say, you know, I’m immune here. So that practice continued, but it got taken up in the ’80s by a number of pastors along the border who were giving refuge to people who were fleeing US-sponsored
wars in Central America, right, and were getting
then kicked back out by what was then the INS. And so, they were saying with
this doesn’t sound right, you know, we’re making them plea and then were not letting them come in. Sanctuary people were in there. In 2007, and that took its course. In 2007, it got revived nationally including with the New
Sanctuary Coalition here, but with important changes,
one, it was immigrant-led. It was led by the affected populations. Secondly, it had an expanded
notion of sanctuary, which means that it took that idea, the concept of this protected space where you could be immune
from the earthly law, the unjust law, the law
of those people who are, you know, causing oppression
by wielding the law, et cetera, right, so creating that space, but in fact taking it
outside of the church. So we do accompaniments by
walking, going with people, undocumented and precariously documented, to official check-ins at ICE, at courts, et cetera, et cetera, right, to create kind of a citizen shield. We do things like that. And one of the projects is to create sanctuary spaces in neighborhoods, so that slowly between
businesses, art spaces, any kind of space, homes, et cetera, you can build out sanctuary
as a practice, right, as a practice of openness,
as a practice of welcoming, as a practice also that
criticizes all the machinery that creates these conditions
right, which includes petty policing and racist
regimes that create the kinds of displacement and the kinds of mass incarceration
policies that we’ve seen. It includes working gangs, gentrification. So all of these things,
that’s what we kind of call expanded sanctuary, right,
because we understand that immigration isn’t just
this little discrete box filled with immigrants only, right. It is, as I said, something
that is a process of movement that’s challenging all
these kinds of arrangements and all the regimes that are
trying to contain the movement. So if you want to, you have
to move with the movement to see, to have a vision of
what to do in the future. So expanded sanctuary does all that. And we also do transnational sanctuary. Had a conference, Karen
was involved in that too, where we’re thinking about a whole network of shelters from South
America, Central America, all the way up here, down over to Canada. So bunch of activists and
scholars and so on were invited. So it’s in that kind of context and I’m probably missing
stuff, we can talk about it, that I have kind of kept on saying, make sanctuary, not art. And by that I mean, you know, if you think about the
stuff that I just said about what sanctuary is
and what kind of space you might be entering in when
you enter a sanctuary space, and then, think about what kind of space you might be entering when you enter, I mean to choose the worst of the worst, but to when you enter MoMA, right, when you enter an art world space, right, what is that, what is
the political ecology, what is the moral
economy of the art world? Now, of course it’s expensive, of course it’s very different, and there’s diverse and
there’s cultural organizations all the way up to the other side. Nevertheless there is something like an art world moral economy, an
art world political ecology. And just to quickly cite
a couple of what I think, you know, the way I think
about it a little bit is this, that if you think about, I mean you know, there’s a lot of foundations
and other people here with big money backers behind them right, but that’s essentially the ecology that I want to just point to a little bit, if you have somebody like Leon Black as a chair of the board of MoMA, who has made a lot of
his fortune, and I’m not, you know, this is a caricature
in a sense, and it’s not, because all the boards
are filled with versions of Leon Black, right, who’s made his, who’s made his money sitting next to, holding hands with the
Kushners and the Trumps, making Manhattan a real estate
adventure, again creating displacement, et cetera, et
cetera, et cetera, right. And so, that person who is also then on the board of a bunch of other companies whose board members are also on the board of a bunch of other
foundations like the Barysh, so you have this level of, I don’t know, network, right, of
these financial workers. Now what else do these
financial workers do? They were hedge, lot of
them are hedge fund managers who themselves or their
partners are on the board. They invest in companies like Rio Tinto. This is the case with somebody
on the Baryshnikov Center. Rio Tinto has not opened up. It’s a mining company extractivism. It’s a company who has never had a place that has been
opened up without protest, without labor issues, without displacement of
indigenous populations, and without major pollution. And that becomes the source of, the major source of money that
feeds one of the hedge funds, that feeds the Baryshnikov Center. What do those policies do? They displace people and
migrant starts moving, right? So it’s a whole cycle,
that’s what I mean by the political ecology of the art world. And I think until we also
tackle that part of it, right, that displaces people, brings people all the
way here unprotected, we’re not gonna have the
full on sanctuary space and the sanctuary policies, that at least I would like
to see and advocate for. So one of the things I
encourage people to do is not just have diversity and
safety policies and so on, all that is great and good
and we want to push more, but also to look at the board,
look at the investments, look at what all that
stuff is also producing, the things that we claim to not like. Okay, that’s it. (audience applauding) Just say one more thing. Sanctuary Caravan, the
New Sanctuary Coalition, an amazing organization here is putting together a caravan
of supporters to meet. We’re in touch with the refugee
caravan that’s coming up. In fact, many of them have
already arrived in Tijuana, they’re moving to the Tijuana border. They’re slowly already getting there. We’re putting together, look
it up, newsanctuarycaravan.org, a team of people, large, as
many, a thousands of people who are gonna go down
there to do various things, including processing claims, accompanying across back and forth, but also witnessing, because there’s been a promise of violence and we know that one of the things that, one of the only things,
that this administration has delivered on, is
their promise of violence. We see it in Pittsburgh,
we see it in Kentucky, we see it everywhere, so that’s
part of what we want to do, meet there, witness, sign up. There’s ways to do that on the website. (audience applauding) – [Simon] Guess we have to wait for Noor. She’s in the building,
but she is just arrived. On her way. I see her entering. So we’ll switch Noor with Priit. We’ll come back tomorrow.
– Okay, great. So I have to push which one? – This is toilets.
– This one? – Yes.
– Okay. I need to, one minute. Hello, thank you, CEC ArtsLink and Simon
and Maxim for inviting me. So I have nothing to do
this year with the ArtsLink. I thought– – You did one year with the ArtsLink– – Yeah, sure. Yeah, I did. And actually, I think one
of the reasons why I’m here is that I have done ArtsLink twice. I’m from Estonia, running I’m the Artistic Director
of Baltoscandal Festival, but that’s not my main job. That’s more, the foreigners now I do. Actually, I’m running space theater performing arts center, very small though, but very
active, Kanuti Gildi SAAL. And… Let’s see. First time I came here
with ArtsLink was 1995. This is how New York looked like 1995. It’s almost looks the same. Contemporary art was in a
front line also back then. This is the cover of The New Yorker. The artist is Anita Kunz. As you see, not much have changed. Also, you’ll recognize the place. It’s photographer Tom O’Connor. And so, this all was in ’90… 1995. You can just imagine what a person coming from, from a Soviet, Soviet-ruled country and not so a third country like, let’s say, there are many
countries who are so attuned, but where the Soviet time ended just some years ago before it. It ended ’91, so it only
took four years after that when I came here. And why I came here was that in 1992, we started to work in Estonia in Tallinn with the idea that contemporary dance, contemporary dance especially,
was sort of non-existing, non-existing art form in Soviet time. If somebody would call even ’91 or ’92 to the
Minister of Culture in Estonia and asked something
about contemporary dance or modern dance, back then it
was called more modern dance, then the answer would be that
we don’t have modern dance. So, we started with a couple of friends to organize a thing called
dance information center in Estonia in ’92. And the main, and really the main idea was to just spread information about it. ’92, no internet, yeah, fax. Fax was the communication, and phones. So the only idea was that
really to get context to that somebody would send
you a dance magazine from different countries and you could pick up from there something and then translate it and put, make your own sort of fliers
or some kind of things. Very soon we after that, we started to do, organize workshops for the, for the dancers, because the
country was full of dancers. They were all folk, ballet, and so on so, but not obviously, not
modern or contemporary. In ’92, something has started to change, because Tallinn is only
86 kilometers away from Helsinki Finland, and there the local TV
started to show performances. I don’t know, by Alvin
Ailey, Morris Bizshar, and so on, and so on. So some people already started to know what is it. I was chosen, I don’t know why, to be the ArtsLink fellow
and come here to New York to be in residency, organizing residency, because by no means I’m a
choreographer or dancer. I was just interested
and very fascinated about the new, for me, the
new and very progressive art form as modern or
contemporary dance back then was. I was hosted here in New York
by American Dance Festival and legendary Charles
and Stephanie Reinhart, and those who know them obviously also understand that I got, I got free tickets to
absolutely everything. But what was going on,
all sold out performances, everything, everything, because I had so, so good friends, I got everywhere, in everywhere. So imagine then that you
are here in New York, where artists like, I
don’t know, Mark Dendy, Elizabeth Streb, Porter, Merce Cunningham, Yoshikazu Mera, Martha
Graham, were actually, they were not just history,
but they were part of it. And so, a guy from, no, I don’t know, black-and-white, or maybe better to say red and white world coming here and understanding that the world around us is so much varied. There can be so many different versions of expressing yourself throughout that, and most importantly for me, that the measure of
artistic quality is not skillfulness or trained body, we’re talking still about
dance, but your message and the way you have originally chosen the way to express
your message in the measure, is the measure for an artist. And today, or, to this day, I have mainly after
that worked with artists who have that message to deliver, not the truth, but an idea, a new way of shedding light to the world. I could not have discovered that without this first experience in America, the idea of how colorful the world actually is. This is also part when we
started our projects then back in Estonia, we open Kanuti
Gildi SAAL, which is the, which, this is how it looks like outside. It’s an old, very old building in the very, very center of old
town Thailand medieval town. This was established in a way that we knew that this
place, this building is free. There was nobody. There were some homeless people
living on the third floor making open fire in the winter,
because it gets very cold. So we understood that
there is a possibility to start to use the building. Actually what really happened was that, back then, the community of modern dance or contemporary dance, all 20 people came together and we,
we had to decide like, okay, are we taking it? There is no money. But we… The city said that they
could give us the building, but no money involved. And after three, four hour discussion, we decided that, okay, we will do it. And that’s how it
started, now 19 years ago. Now it looks, inside it looks like, like this at the moment. And from the beginning,
everything was done by volunteers, volunteers meaning either
dancers, choreographers, or dance students. And by this day, all, for example, the front
door ticket, everything, this is done by the,
(beeping) by volunteers.
(beeping) Oh, fortunately my time is over. Very quickly, very quickly show you a couple of other pictures. This is the same looking
for the special performance. As you see, it has turned into a slide. And as many people here today
(upbeat music) talked about the responsibility. I have one, one very short story to tell you about responsibility. Two weeks ago, a state theater, a theater which is supported 100% by the state ensemble theater in Estonia called Theatre NO99, which is the most-touring, internationally, most-touring
theater in Estonia. And the idea of the theater
was to do 99 premieres and then end. Two weeks ago, when they
had 30 more premieres to do, in 14 years, they had existed
to do the 70 productions, they decided to stop, to give
money back to the government to give the building and the
theater space back to the, to the government and say, next guys can do it, what they want. We don’t have any more ideas. This is the responsibility
of art, thank you. (upbeat music) – Hi everyone, my name is Noor Zafar and I’m an attorney with the ACLU. Part of my work at the ACLU is, I work in the National Security Project, and in that project, what we do is challenge abusive government policies in the national security space, challenge abusive immigration and criminal law policies as well. I want to thank Simon and ArtsLink for putting together this program and for inviting me to
give a short presentation. So what I want to do in my talk is build upon this concept of solidarity, but I want to look at it from
a slightly different angle. You know, because in my work, what we see a lot is that different government policies
that are discriminatory and abusive actions by the
state are often interconnected, and we see this repeatedly, right? A policy can be enacted as
a national security measure, but it ends up having negative impacts and discriminatory impacts on
certain groups of immigrants. So that highlights for me, that highlights for me the fact that
it’s all the more important for our resistance to these policies to be similarly collaborative
and intersectional, because you know they, because these policies
themselves are interconnected, therefore the resistance to
them must take into account the intersectional
nature of these policies. And I want to use the
example of the Muslim ban to further highlight and
elucidate this point. So when the Muslim ban was enacted, the underlying or the primary
rationale for the ban was, the Trump administration
basically said that the president has unchecked
power as an executive, to exclude anyone he wants, based on, for national security reasons, right? That was the underpinning
rationale of the ban, is that the executive, he has been given this
power to unilaterally decide who can and cannot come into this country, and if the president unilaterally decides that a group of people pose some sort of national security threat, that he has the power to exclude them. This rationale was upheld and endorsed when the Supreme Court allowed
the ban to stay in place. So in doing so, you know, if you read through the Court’s opinion, a big part of the argument
that the plaintiffs made was that you have to look at
the president’s statements. You have to look at the
statements that his deputies and other people in the
administration made. And if you do that, it’s
fairly clear that this policy is not based on national
security, but that this policy is a xenophobic,
Islamophobic racist policy that pretty much enacts the xenophobia that Trump kind of rode
on during his campaign and into his presidential tenure. The Court ignored all that,
saying that’s irrelevant, and instead basically agreed
with the Trump administration in saying that the President
does have unlimited power and if he says, national
security, then that means that national security is
actually what’s at issue, and that can be used to
exclude groups of people and that can be used to enact a discriminatory
immigration policy. So now fast-forwarding
to a couple months later, I’m sure many of you read
about this last week, the president enacted
a ban, an asylum ban, that essentially prevents
people, individuals, migrating from Central American countries from receiving asylum. And it’s interesting,
because if you look at, so this ban was also enacted via a presidential proclamation,
unilateral executive order, and if you look at the
text of this proclamation, it relies on the very same authority that underpinned the Muslim ban, namely that the president
has unchecked executive power and that if he says a group of people pose a national security threat, that those individuals can be excluded, because he has the power to do that. So I mean, what this connection
between the Muslim ban and this new asylum ban shows is that policies and rationales and
reasonings that are used in one realm to exclude
one group of people, if those are sanctioned by the courts, which you know, which the Muslim ban was, they will very quickly and
can very easily be used to target a completely
different group of people under a very similar rationale. And you know, we know, and
anyone who kind of looks at President Trump’s comments
and takes them at face value, knows that both the Muslim ban and all the rhetoric preceding it, and this asylum ban and
the rhetoric preceding it is grounded in racism and
it’s grounded in xenophobia. But the court, but the Supreme Court when it refused to look at all that essentially sanctioned the
use of national security as a sort of pretext
to allow the president, to allow the executive to discriminate. So that just shows some
interesting connections between, you know, policy that was
designed to exclude Muslims and then, a policy that
is designed to exclude Latino refugees and migrants. And the parallels don’t stop there. I think they go a little bit further. So this, you know, I
spoke about how kind of in the domestic realm and the
realm of domestic policy, domestic law, there’s
these interconnections between national security and immigration that extends to the global space as well, because if, in both the
Central American countries from where these migrants are coming and in the Middle Eastern countries or primarily Middle Eastern countries from which Muslims have been excluded, the US has a pretty long
history of imperialism and war making and military
intervention, right? And it’s not, it’s not a coincidence that the US has been involved
in very negative ways in both parts of these worlds and created the conditions
from which people are fleeing. And then, when those people are trying to flee those conditions and
seek refuge in this country, we’re turning around and excluding them. So, you know, an example. In Guatemala, the US, and
this is like, you know, history that throughout
the ’80s repeated itself in various Central American countries, in Guatemala, in El Salvador,
in Honduras, in Nicaragua, in all these countries, the US
supported right-wing regimes that were brutally oppressive
towards their people, and it supported military
coups that created, you know, decades of violence, which is, or the effects of which
we’re seeing to this day and the effects of which are precisely what people are fleeing from. So the US is not some
kind of innocent bystander when it comes to people all the sudden showing up at its borders. Like, there’s a history and
a global history to this that we have to recognize. And I think in order to have
policies, immigration policies, that are moral, that are compassionate, we really have to understand
history in a way that I think oftentimes in this
country, we try to ignore, We have a very short-sighted view of. Similarly, in the Middle East, the same story repeats itself, maybe on a little bit
more of a recent timeline. You know, when the US invaded Iraq, it destabilized that region
and created conditions that led to the rise of ISIS, which is now destabilizing Syria, which is where a lot of
these refugees and immigrants that we have banned are coming from. The US is complicit in the
Saudi-led war in Yemen, which has created one of the
worst humanitarian crises of our lifetimes. And we’ve always had kind of like tension with Iran, ever since we supported a coup that overthrew their democratically-elected
prime minister, and that’s just been an ongoing source of really brutal economic
and foreign policies towards that country. So I think, just pointing
out these intersections in both the domestic space and globally, to me highlights two points, right? The first is that these links between the Muslim ban and the asylum ban and the links between these
bans and US foreign policy emphasizes the fact that our
resistance to these policies has to be intersectional and
we have to understand that, you know, one law or one group of policies that’s used to target one group of people can easily be used to target
a different group of people and that we’ve seen through
the Muslim and asylum bans. At the same time, our
resistance to these policies also has to take into account
a sort of global understanding of the issue in a global
framework, because oftentimes policies that are enacted here in the US have global repercussions
and people across the world feel repercussions of things that we, that we allow our lawmakers to sanction. So I think those are just
two important principles to keep in mind when thinking about, how do we kind of continue to resist abusive and discriminatory state policies? And then, just one last point about the usefulness of courts. I think when the Muslim, when the Supreme Court
upheld the Muslim ban, it was a pretty disheartening
moment for a lot of lawyers, because just by virtue of our profession, we put a lot of faith in the courts and I think that highlighted
for a lot of folks that while maybe the courts can continue to be one avenue of redress, that they should not be the
exclusive avenue of redress. And the real organizing
and the real resistance and the real change happens
when people organize and people get together and
people change the narratives and change the stories
that we tell about others, because the courts never lead change. They always follow change. And I think we, you know, we
as people and we as communities and we as people of conscience
have to create the change and change the narrative
so that the courts and the legal system can then follow. Thank you. (audience applauding)
(beeping) (upbeat music) – [Simon] This is you can advance. – Okay. Hi everyone. Thank you to CEC ArtsLink
and Art in General for supporting me during this residency. Our theme of reflection is transformation and I decided to talk about it to reflect a bit about it
through my own practice, which looks at the way
in which neoliberalism shifts the way we relate to one another and how we perceive
different understandings of temporality and spatiality. And one of them is this
possibility where time is money, which, in which time gets
quantified and monetized, and you’d say, you know,
this is like daily saying, that I even see on the
subways in New York. But also what it’s interesting for me is that this is a saying
that has been coined in Renaissance by Leon Battista Alberti. So in a book he wrote,
I Libri Della Famiglia, where he was trying to talk
about money and household and education and marriage. Then from time, I was thinking about space and how also space gets
compressed physically, but then also gets expanded
digitally and virtually, and at the same time, it gets removed from
ourselves and disembodied, and we have this relation with space, which filtered through new
technologies becomes abstracted in a way that I’m still
trying to understand. Maybe related to this is also that the boundaries
between leisure and labor are getting more and more blurred. And then, like the term job
is replaced to occupation. And then, thinking like what that implies in terms of performing constantly, of constantly producing creative content, of constantly being present in a way that also changes
the way we interact. So in my work, I’m also trying to perform in different places, and as Barbara were
saying earlier about this, maybe like this changes in
temporality and spaciality and socio-economic context also allow for a place of disruption where we can rethink the way we are, normalize our condition or performing a collective choreography. So I’m thinking a lot
about this in my works. And these are some examples of places where I did some performances. This is the studio at Art in General, so it’s just now during the residency. Yeah, like all this spaces that allow me to think of this relation between choreography as an artistic practice and social choreographies that we can encounter in public spaces. And yeah, how we can just think
about relations differently. I will move now, I will pass to Filip. – Thank you, Raluca. So, hi everyone, my name is
Filip and I’m from Serbia. And I’m gonna talk about
transformations on more of like a private level, because
before I even know anything about sexuality or gender,
I was often told that I’m maybe too girly or not
masculine enough for a boy in terms of Serbian standards. So I often use transformation to kind of blend in and kind
of not be seen that often in my natural kind of state
like how I usually behave. But one thing that was always
there was creating characters and characters like these and, but through time as I started to like learn more about myself and as I started to
explore my queer identity, I started to use my own body
to present these characters and kind of, I got into makeup
and costumes, et cetera. So… I started to, yeah, I use my
own body for transformation and even though I still use like pencils, brushes,
paint and everything, I always come back to
acting it out with myself and taking photos myself. What I feel about
transformation in my case is that it’s a liberation
of my creativity, because I feel like in that way, I can express like every
idea I have in my mind and kind of like express each
and every interest of mine of painting or like now,
even physical expression, but what I also found
out about transformation, in my case, is that is a
healing process for me, because during the time
when I would sit down and put on makeup and kind
of like shift to this, this character that I’m gonna act out later in front of the camera, I kind of always lose a part
of myself and kind of go away from the everyday kind
of struggle or problem and through the time,
by the time I finish up my photo shoots and stuff, I would feel like completely exhausted, like an athlete, kind of
exhausted, but fulfilled. And I could kind of come back to my everyday issues and struggles. So it kind of helps me
to both express myself and kind of get away from
what I’m used to hearing. And through time I also realized that this kind of expression was actually even more appreciated by others, actually people who care
about me in general, but I got to connect with
more people through this. So I realized that this
kind of transformation is something that enriches my life and it should not be hidden, not, shouldn’t remain hidden. But also I wanted to
mention that the four photos that I showed you today
are actually four photos that were published either online or like were used for
Fashion Week in Serbia, because they were all collaboration
with fashion designers. And I feel like, in a
sense, by being out there both in like social media and maybe like something more commercial, I feel like I’m kind of transforming also like the scene of Serbian view at like different kind of beauty, because maybe fashion
is like a way to do it, but I feel like I reach out to people who wouldn’t actually maybe
be interested in such things and I feel like I explore
more beauties of fashion in Serbia by doing so. Yeah, but this is a part
of my queer expression. And I hope you all signed up so we can continue on
conversation upstairs. But I want to finish by
thanking everyone for coming and by inviting my
fellows to join me here. (audience applauding) So we’re gonna move to the 8th floor. Hope you will join us so we
can share more of our artwork and we can have a deeper conversation about everything we do, thank you. (audience applauding) (laughing)

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