Engaging Artists: The Artist as Activist

Posted on Monday, July 28th, 2014

Our final speaker session on July 17th was a great introduction to the work of socially engaged practices within the arts. We were informed of the work of artists/activists Jordan Seiler and Caroline Woolard, as well as Paula Z. Segal, who as an attorney works within the public space, often collaborating with artists.

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Jordan Seiler (founder of Public Ad Campaign) is an advocate for a more democratic use of our shared public spaces by questioning outdoor advertising, and creating new avenues for public communication.Jordan Seiler’s work re-shapes the public space by replacing illegal advertising with art. Jordan has led initiatives to remove. Jordan has now taken his work on the streets of New York and combined it with technology “NO AD” is a great urban public arts project by Jordan Seiler and the team at Re+Public. “NO AD” is an app that changes subway advertisements into a curated art exhibition when the user directs their phone’s camera over the advertisement.

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Caroline Woolard spoke about her work with the Exchange Cafe at MoMA. The Exchange Cafe presented an experiential archive of artwork that is based on the act of reciprocity and exchange by developing cooperative, alternative, and non-market economies. The Exchange Cafe featured dairy from activist organizers Milk Not Jails, tea from Feral Trade Courier, and honey from population control researchers at BeeSpace.Caroline talked about creating alternate economies and venues for the exchange of goods and services. She also gave an informative talk about labor for all artists and activists.

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Paula is an attorney and educator who lives and works in Brooklyn. She is also the founder, Executive Director and Legal Director for NYC Community Land Access Programs of 596 Acres, a non-profit organization that supports transformation of vacant public land into sustainable community institutions. Paula spoke about how 596 Acres has been mapping out vacant public space throughout the city and supporting the public’s reaction to reclaim this space for community gardens, art installations, and meeting places.

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