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Martha Wilson, “Thump” (2016) (courtesy the artist and PPOW Gallery, via

As the art world continues to contend with the ghastly American political landscape, and as it confronts its own internal demons, I’ve been thinking a lot about the need for a historical view. Yes, President Trump may be unprecedented in many ways, but attacks on the NEA and questions of cross-cultural representation and appropriation are not. People within the art world have been fighting these battles for the past half century at least; we would do well to learn from them.

So, it seems timely that tomorrow night, April 26, performance artist and Franklin Furnace founder Martha Wilson will host an “activist history teach-in” at the 8th Floor. Wilson will anchor the event with a Donald Trump impersonation that she’s been honing — I’ve seen it twice; it’s unsettling — and has invited a slew of presenters to join her in discussing “the history of performance art as protest to consider which methods and strategies remain effective in today’s political climate.” They include Ann Agee, Rehan Ansari, Tomie Arai, and Betty Yu from the Chinatown Art Brigade; Alicia Grullón from Percent for Green; Amin Husain and Nitasha Dhillon from MTL Collective; Lise Soskolne from W.A.G.E., and many others. It should be illuminating and informative.

When: Wednesday, April 26, 6–9pm (free with RSVP:
Where: The 8th Floor (17 W 17th Street, Flatiron District, Manhattan)

More info here.

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Jillian Steinhauer

Jillian Steinhauer is a former senior editor of Hyperallergic. She writes largely about the intersection of art...