Art Making Change: Syllabus and Discussions
May 1, 2014
Art transforms hearts, minds, and social movements. This class explores history around movement art. Art is used for social movements: from posters to protest signs, t-shirts to buttons, book covers to zine art. What are the overarching principles that tie this art together? Examining recurrent themes, production methods, and makers of political art helps us understand the ways images and messages play roles in social movement strategies and resistance cultures.
In this four-week class we’ll:
– work with with materials on-site at the Interference Archive to follow your own art-research path on one image, group, or icon,
– learn about types of art and organizations that make “political art”,
– engage in discussions about the creation and dissemination of political art and visual culture,
– and as a class co-create a digital collection of images, increasing movement documentation.
CLASS MEETINGS: 7-9pm, April 28, May 5, May 12, May 19 at Interference Archive
LISTSRV: firstname.lastname@example.org || https://groups.google.com/d/forum/artmakingchange1
Week 1 [discussed in class]: POLITICAL ART / WHAT IS AN ARCHIVE / WHAT IS THIS COMMUNITY ARCHIVE?
- “Free spaces” in collective action, FRANCESCA POLLETTA
“Counterhegemonic frames come not from a disembodied oppositional consciousness or pipeline to an extra-systemic emancipatory truth, but from long-standing community institutions.”
After-class discussion question: Why does it or doesn’t it matter what kind of space politicized art is in? Does being archived change the nature of the things in the archive? Does the kind of archive actually matter?
Read for Week 2: WHAT FRAMEWORKS DICTATE ARCHIVAL COLLECTING? WHO’s MAKING THIS AND WHY? WHY IS THIS WORK HERE?
- “The Activism Files” By Maya Lau, N.Y. Times July, 2013 — about the Interference Archive
- “The social nature of political art: context and community”, in Social Anarchist Aesthetics in an Age of Fragmentation, Neala Schleuning, 2013. pp 236-249. [and anything else you’d like to read in that book] http://www.minorcompositions.info/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/artpolitik-web.pdf
- Cook, Terry. “Archives as Media of Communication”
“Archivists need, Taylor concluded, to “work to ensure that those who draw sustenance and insight from archives feed on a balanced diet of media and are aware of the effects.” Media of recording and communication are not “passive wrappings, but active processes,” which rendered the context of records as important as their content.”
- Check out Beautiful Trouble, A Toolbox for Revolution: www.beautifultrouble.org
After-class discussion question: Art-making communities and Infrastructures of Resonance + your first stab at selecting something to work on in this class.
Read for Week 3: SELECTING, FOCUSING, COLLECTING DATA: Metadata, Copyleft, Producing knowledge & WRITING ABOUT POLITICAL ART, TALKING ABOUT MOVEMENTS
- Interference Archive cataloger how-to wiki: https://catalog.interferencearchive.org/issues/wiki/CA-Process-for-IAcatalogers — since this is where we’ll be documenting our work, try to get through this if possible.
- “Contributions to a Visual Culture Glossary” and whatever else interests you in: 31 Readings on Art, Activism & Participation [in the month of January]: An Art & Activism Reader: http://www.wearethethinktank.org/2007/02/reader-volume-i/ [I like Participatory Art by Suzana Milevska for the concepts, though it’s a bit off-topic]
- “What is CopyLeft”, http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/
After-class discussion question: What are you writing on? Share a draft.
For Week 4:
- Work on a draft of your research / write-up item. Focus on both writing about what you know about the thing[s] for a description as well as gathering metadata about them.
After-class discussion question: After documenting the piece you did, has your perception changed about art? About archives?
EXAMPLES OF COMMUNITY ARCHIVES
“All of Us or None of Us Archive.” Oakland Museum, gift of Michael Rossman.
Radical Archives of Philadelphia:
Lesbian Herstory Archives:
Riot Girl Collection:
Puerto Rican Diaspora Archives:
Queer Zine Archive Project
Women’s Zine Library @ Barnard, NYC
Political Zine Library @ ABC No Rio, NYC
Carol Queen archive & library @ Center for Sex & Culture, SF
Black Community Archive, London 
Working Class Movement Library, London 
GENERAL READINGS — feel free to add your own in the comments!
Dark Matter: Art and Politics in the age of Enterprise Culture
Sholette, Gregory, 2011.
A Guidebook of Alternative Nows, ed. Amber Hickey
Community Archives Development Group (CADG) (2006) The impact of community archives.
“Whose memories, whose archives? Independent community archives, autonomy and the mainstream” Andrew Flinn, Mary Stevens, Elizabeth Shepherd
Cook, Terry. “Archives as Media of Communication”
“Towards a Radical Archive: De Balie’s Eric Kluitenberg.”
Institute of Network Cultures Weblog. Currie, Morgan. Posted September 9, 2010.
“The Activism Files” By Maya Lau, N.Y. Times July, 2013
Free Culture: The Nature and Future of Creativity
Lessig, Lawrence. (2005)
New York: Penguin (http://www.free-culture.cc/)
Cambridge MA: MIT Press
Suber, Peter. (2012) (http://mitpress.mit.edu/books/open-access)
ALT-AC or NONINSTITUTIONAL LEARNING
“How Many Artists Are There?”
Princeton University’s Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies
“Archival Theory and Digital Historiography: Selection, Search, and Metadata as Archival
Processes for Assessing Historical Contextualization”
Joshua Sternfeld. American Archivist, Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Gilliland, Anne. “Neutrality, Social Justice and the Obligations of Archival Educators and
Education in the Twenty-first Century,” Archival Science 11 nos. 3-4 (2011): 193-209.
COPYRIGHT/COPYLEFT & PUBLIC KNOWLEDGE
Anderson, Jane. (Colonial) Archives and (Copyright) Law
Nomorepotlucks no.4. 2010.
Digital Library Of The Commons Repository
What is CopyLeft