Performing Change. Panels series documentation. 2013
Saturday October 19th 2013. At EYEBEAM, Chelsea. New York City. 

Live lectures and discussions on:
- Ontologies of Media Art Intervention

- The Art of Performing Political Innovation

- Performing Alternative Art Economies

- Tactical Fiction for Alternative Realities

Featuring speakers: Vito Acconci, Wafaa Bilal, Stephen Duncombe, Peter Macapia, Carne Ross, George E. Sánchez, Denisse Andrade Arévalo, Mark Amerika, Marisa Jahn, Lina Srivastava, Laurel Ptak, Carlo Zanni, Jose Serrano-McClain.
Curated and organized by Paolo Cirio.

The panels are intended to inspire alternative aesthetics, interventionist tactics and economic models for critical art practices. In a time in which the conventional economic, social and culture values are in crisis, there is a need for new strategies and points of reference in art and politics, while diversifying resources for living and producing meaningfully. The act of searching for alternatives becomes a performative process through setting experimental forms of engagement and production in today’s ever-expanding complexity. Performing reconfigurations of agents, agendas and visions in art means taking risks, pushing the boundaries of art forms and disobeying norms, therefore staging cultural shifts that elicit change as the basis of art itself.

Ontologies of Media Art Interventions - [ Video recording ]
Speakers: Vito Acconci, Stephen Duncombe, Wafaa Bilal. Moderator: Peter Macapia.

The talk will consider the practice of media art interventions through the lens of performance art – examining a number of Vito Acconci’s projects and The First Work of Media Art in 1968, which was an art performance consisting of pure information staged in the mass media. Wafaa Bilal’s provocative performances with new media will make the case for today’s expanded notions of space, body and audience, as flows of informational entities orchestrated over digital networks still affect physicality. Stephen Duncombe will present others form of performative media interventions for socially engaged art that he studied and fostered for decades. Artist, scholar and curator Peter Macapia will facilitate a discussion among the speakers to define informational bodies and arenas through post-structuralist theories.

The Art of Performing Political Innovation - [ Video recording ]
Speakers: Carne Ross, George E. Sánchez, Denisse Andrade Arévalo.

The talk will examine forms of political innovation as a potential art form. During accelerated ideological and economic crises, society still possesses powerful tools and knowledge that can be applied towards radical social change as never before. Today, reinventing social structures is a crucial creative challenge, which is a process of experimentation dedicated to a renewed political project. Carne Ross will discuss a form of participatory radical democracy through decentralized leadership and alternative banking. Performer George Emilio Sánchez will present projects that engage with participatory budgeting and learning through performances as a means to foster social engagement. Curator Denisse A. Arévalo will talk about art practices that, from a critical standpoint, evoke collectivity and suggest an engagement with - directly or indirectly - oppositional movements.

Performing Alternative Art Economies - [ Video recording ]
Speakers: Laurel Ptak, Jose Serrano-McClain of Trust Art, Carlo Zanni.

The talk will look at cases of alternative economic models for contemporary art. In a time of high speculation in the secondary art market and with a shortage of funding for young artists, new models are emerging that challenge the notion of consuming and collecting art. Laurel Ptak will present ideas regarding mutual aid for art labor and critique of art economies, while Jose Serrano-McClain will introduce a new platform for sharing resources and means of production among artists. Carlo Zanni will present his project to experiment new distribution models for media art and to share revenues on the sale of artworks among the artists involved in the platform.

Tactical Fiction for Alternative Realities - [ Video recording ]
Speakers: Lina Srivastava, Marisa Jahn, Mark Amerika.

The talk will explore the potential of inventive forms of storytelling to penetrate and change reality. Captivating plots and characters who perform via pervasive media can actively engage the public in alternative scenarios that inform, educate and inspire. Lina Srivastava will introduce Transmedia Activism in order to design social change through storytelling in NYC. Mark Amerika, a pioneer of interactive fiction, will explain the critical qualities of mediated realities and his recent transmedia fiction within the art world and its fads. Writer and artist Marisa Jahn will tell the story of the living legend of El Bibliobandido, which was produced in a region of Honduras with an 80% illiteracy rate.

Bios speakers:

Ontologies of Media Art Interventions

Vito Acconci’s design & architecture comes from another direction, from backgrounds of writing & art. His poems in the late 60’s treated language as matter (words to look at rather than through) & the page as a field to travel over; his performances in the early 70’s helped shift art from object to interaction; later in the 70’s, his installations turned museums & galleries into interactions between spaces & people; in the early 80’s, his architectural-units were meant to be transformed by users. Most of his early work incorporated subversive social comment. His performance and video work was marked heavily by confrontation and Situationism. By the late 80’s his work crossed over & he formed Acconci Studio, a design firm that mixes poetry & geometry, computer-scripting & sentence-structure, narrative & biology, chemistry & social-science. The Studio uses computers to give form to thinking; they use forms to find ideas. They make not nodes so much as circulation-routes, they design time as much as space. His work has been shown and collected by the major art museums worldwide.

Wafaa Bilal is Iraqi-born artist and Associate Arts Professor at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, is known internationally for his on-line performative and interactive works provoking dialogue about international politics and internal dynamics. For his 2010-2011 project, the 3rdi, Bilal had a camera surgically implanted on the back of his head to spontaneously transmit images to the web 24 hours a day. Bilal’s 2007 installation, Domestic Tension, also addressed the Iraq war. Bilal spent a month in a Chicago gallery with a paintball gun that people could shoot at him over the internet. The Chicago Tribune called it “one of the sharpest works of political art to be seen in a long time” and named him 2008 Artist of the Year. Bilal suffered repression under Saddam Hussein’s regime and fled Iraq in 1991 during the first Gulf War and spent two years in refugee camps in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. His work can be found in the permanent collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA; Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, IL; MALTAF: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha, Qatar; amongst others.

Stephen Duncombe is an Associate Professor at the Gallatin School and the Department of Media, Culture and Communications of New York University where he teaches the history and politics of media and culture. He is the author of Dream: Re-Imagining Progressive Politics in an Age of Fantasy and Notes From Underground: Zines and the Politics of Underground Culture amongst other books. He is a life-long political activist, co-founding a community based advocacy group in the Lower East Side of Manhattan and working as an organizer for the NYC chapter of the international direct action group, Reclaim the Streets. In 2009 he was a Research Associate at the Eyebeam where he helped organize The College of Tactical Culture. With funding from the Open Societies Foundations he co-created the School for Creative Activism in 2011, and is presently co-director of the Center for Artistic Activism. Duncombe is currently a Senior Research Fellow of Theatrum Mundi, an international consortium of artists, designers and scholars.

Peter Macapia is an architectural designer and artist, founder of labDORA, and adjunct assistant professor at Pratt. He focuses on advanced computational design and the politics of urban space. He has taught at Columbia University and Sci-Arc, as well as ESA Paris, TUS Tokyo, and TU Delft. His work is collected by such institutions as FRAC Orleans and published in Architectural Record, Log, Domus, A+U, and PinUp. He is currently preparing exhibitions in Guadalajara Mexico on immigration and space and Zagreb Croatia on economies of borrowing and robbing space. He is completing a book on the history of force in the work of Foucault and Deleuze. Macapia studied at RISD and Harvard, and received his PhD from Columbia.

Tactical Fiction for Alternative Realities

Mark Amerika is a pioneer of net art and hypertext fiction since 1992. His work has been exhibited internationally at venues such as the Whitney Biennial of American Art, the Denver Art Museum, the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, and the Walker Art Center. In 2009-2010, The National Museum of Contemporary Art in Athens, Greece, hosted Amerika’s comprehensive retrospective exhibition entitled UNREALTIME. He is the author of many books including remixthebook (University of Minnesota Press, 2011) and his collection of artist writings entitlesd META/DATA: A Digital Poetics (The MIT Press, 2007). Amerika is a Professor of Art and Art History at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Marisa Jahn is an artist, writer, and activist of Chinese and Ecuadorian descent. Jahn is the Executive Director of REV- (as in to rev an engine), a nonprofit studio whose public art projects combine creativity, bold ideas, and sound research to address critical  issues. REV- is a women and minority-led team of artists, techies, media makers, low-wage workers, immigrants, and teens seeking to impact the immediate and long-term. A 2013 Open Doc Lab Fellow at MIT and former MIT graduate, Jahn’s work has been presented at venues such as The White House, Studio Museum of Harlem, Museum of Modern Art, Walker Art Center; received grants and awards such as Tribeca Film Institute’s New Media Fund, Rockefeller Cultural Innovation Fund; and received reviews in media such as ArtForum, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC, and more.

Lina Srivastava is a social innovation strategist, working at the intersection of social impact, transmedia storytelling, and design. Lina has been involved in social engagement campaigns for several documentaries, including Oscar- winning Born into Brothels, Emmy-nominated The Devil Came on Horseback, Oscar-winning Inocente, and Sundance-award winning Who Is Dayani Cristal?. The former Executive Director of Kids with Cameras, and the Association of Video and Filmmakers, Lina has taught design and social entrepreneurship at Parsons, The New School of Design, and is on faculty in the Masters of Fine Arts Program in Design and Social Innovation at the School of Visual Arts.

The Art of Performing Political Innovation

Carne Ross is a writer and political activist. A former British U.N. diplomat who resigned over the Iraq war, Carne founded and now leads Independent Diplomat, an expert team of former diplomats which advises democratic but marginalized governments and political groups so that their views are heard internationally. His recent book, The Leaderless Revolution, analyzes the current failure of governments and alternative forms of political organization, including anarchism. Carne has also been heavily involved in an Occupy Wall Street initiative to offer a new kind of banking – The Occupy Money Cooperative.

George Emilio Sanchez is a writer, performance artist and educator. For the past six years he has directed Henispheric Institute's Emergenyc program that aims to explore the intersection between arts and activism. Since 2011 he has worked with New York City Council Member Brad Lander's Participatory Budget Committee as a delegate and facilitator. He is the chairperson of the Performing and Creative Arts Department The City University of New York/College of Staten Island.  He is currently collaborating with Patricia Hoffbauer on her piece, "Para-Dice" which will premiere at St. Mark's Church and Danspace in November. His most recent solo performance, "Buried Up To My Neck While Thinking Outside The Box" will be presented at the Bronx Museum of the Arts in fall 2014.

Denisse Andrade Arévalo is an activist, and an independent curator currently pursuing a PhD in Geography at the Graduate Center, CUNY. She also teaches at Hunter College. In 2012 Denisse co-curated the exhibition Creative Destruction at The Kitchen in NYC, regarding the economic recession and related global outcries.

Performing alternative art economies

Laurel Ptak employs curatorial, artistic and pedagogical modes to critically attend to social and political dimensions of contemporary art and technology. Based in New York City, she is currently a fellow at Eyebeam, teaches in the Art, Media and Technology department at The New School and together with artist Marysia Lewandowska is co-editor of the recent book Undoing Property? which explores artistic practices in relationship to immaterial production, political economy and the commons, published by Sternberg Press in 2013.

Jose Serrano-McClain is an organizer and artist interested in the economics of the creative spirit. He started his career as an economic analyst at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. In 2009 he co-founded Trust Art ( to experiment with economic models for public and socially-engaged artistic practice. In 2010, he joined the Queens Museum of Art in a unique role that reports to both the curatorial and community engagement departments of the museum, identifying opportunities for commissioned artist projects to make meaningful connections with community organizations in Corona. Through the museum, he is also one of the lead visionaries of Social Practice Queens, a partnership with Queens College to develop an MFA concentration in Social Practice. Jose has presented at the TED Conference in California, the Feast Conference in New York, and the Open Engagement conference in Portland. Jose graduated with a BA from the University of Pennsylvania in 2001, where studied literature, theater, politics, philosophy, economics. Jose has done graduate work in architecture at Columbia University and is currently completing his MFA in Social Practice at Queens College.

Carlo Zanni is an Italian new media artist. Since the early 2000’s his practice involves the use of Internet data to create time based social consciousness experiences investigating our life. Carlo Zanni has shown worldwide in galleries and museums including: Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; New Museum, New York; Tent, Rotterdam; MAXXI, Rome; P.S.1, New York; Borusan Center, Istanbul; ACAF Space, Alexandria; PERFORMA 09, NY; ICA, London; Science Museum, London.


Curator's bio:

Paolo Cirio is a media artist known for his controversial and innovative artworks. Cirio explores the idea of information’s power through rearrangements of flows and structures of social, legal and economic networks. His artworks unsettled Facebook, VISA, Amazon, Google, Cayman Islands and NATO, among others. He won several awards such as Ars Electronica, Transmediale, Eyebeam fellowship among others and his projects are often covered by global media such as CNN, La Fox, Toronto Standard, The Age, Der Spiegel, Libération, Apple Daily HK, among many others. Cirio artworks has been presented in major art institutions such as at Museum of Contemporary Art Museum of Sydney and Denver, 2013; Museum of Modern Art, Rio de Janeiro, 2012; Wywyższeni National Museum, Warsaw, 2012, SMAK, Ghent, 2010; National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens, 2009; Courtauld Institute, London, 2009; PAN, Naples, 2008; MoCA, Taipei, 2007; Sydney Biennial, 2007; NTT ICC, 2006 Tokyo; among others.

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