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Building a Museum of Activism

You can put many things in a museum — paintings, sculptures, skeletons, interactive displays illustrating mathematical concepts — but what about activism? How do you exhibit it while also keeping it, or insisting that it is still, alive?

Those are questions facing Bill Di Paola and Laurie Mittelmann, the founders of the Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space (MoRUS), which opened quietly last winter in the East Village.

Posted inArt

Revisiting the Radical Energy of 1968

Currently on view at the Oakland Museum of California is The 1968 Exhibit, which focuses on the culture of that unforgettable year. Organized by the Minnesota History Center, the Atlanta History Center, the Chicago History Museum, and the Oakland Museum, this expansive show explores the tumultuous year whose highlights include human space travel, the assassinations of both Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy, the rise of the Black Panthers, the Beatles, and hippie culture, the first wide use of plastics, and many other things.

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The Power of Mobile Guerrilla Light Projections

It all started last fall, with the bat signal seen round the world. On the November 17 Day of Action, a group of Occupy Wall Street activists projected a series of phrases and statements onto the Verizon building near the Brooklyn Bridge. “99% … Look around, you are part of a global uprising,” the statement read in part, the words silently imprinting themselves onto a symbol of corporate power and from there onto viewers’ minds. It felt like an exciting, game-changing moment. Plus, this was something OWS-related that the media could easily latch onto, an image! The story went viral.

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Hell Hath No Fury Like a Pandemic Scorned

The slogan “Silence=Death” remains one of the most recognizable images from the art produced during the AIDS crisis in America. Created by the activist art collective Gran Fury, it complemented a movement of creativity that held social change as its core. Now, over 30 years since the term “AIDS” was first recognized, the collective’s retrospective Gran Fury: Read My Lips at NYU captivates this tumultuous time in American history and shows us that, perhaps, we haven’t progressed much.

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AIDS, Art and Activism: Remembering Gran Fury

Long before Facebook and Twitter made getting a message out to a mass audience as simple as a couple of clicks, the art/activist collective known as Gran Fury used a heady combination of bold graphic design, guerrilla dissemination tactics, and art institutional support to communicate the urgency of the AIDS epidemic in light of disastrous government and political inaction.