(Ai Weiwei "No Evil." Photographs of Ai Weiwei by Sharron Lovell, 2009)

“Your own acts tell the world who you are and what kind of society you think it should be.” from Weiwei-isms, edited by Larry Warsh


To step out of your comfort zone

on the seminar on creative activism in Turkey

Within the context of Filip Berte’s installation House of Eutopia DutchCulture  and the Treaty of Utrecht foundation organized a seminar on the character of Creative activism in Turkey. During the heyday of what has become known as the Gezi Park protests [which are still ongoing] old fashioned protest proved to have lost its effect. The battle fought by the “Chapullers” (the protesters’ alias) needed and still needs alternative and more disruptive ways of protesting. Creativity is an essential ingredient of their actions. Not only in Turkey, but also world-wide creative activism plays an increasingly important part, not least because of social media. We all know examples of these practices. DutchCulture and Treaty of Utrecht foundation invited five eloquent speakers to shed their light on this phenomenon. Their assignment: offer insights into social change, creative activism and the role of artists in protest.

Speakers Robin Celikates (Associate Professor of Political and Social Philosophy at the University of Amsterdam), Ipek Sur and Nancy Hoffman (7 Hills Foundation), Deniz Dirim (Mediamatic) Melih Gencboyaci (theatre maker) and Hüseyin Badili (singer) could all agree on the following:

  • What everybody can do is sharing concern, have public and private discussions. Those all count as starting points.
  • Let’s be a little less realistic and perhaps everybody should dare to be human a little more, to step out of your comfort zone.
  • Protests are always location bound, although they face global phenomena. Find your local reason to do something.

Read the full report here

Radical concept

Atmospheres of Protest Symposium

Popper Room, Central European University Budapest, May 2012

SPEAKERS: Noah Fischer and Maria Byck (Occupy Museums, New York), Matteo Pasquinelli and Wietske Maas (urbanibalists, Berlin and Amsterdam), Emma Dowling (theorist and activist, London), Gabriella Csoszó (photographer/artist, Budapest), Tomas Rafa (filmmaker/artist, Bratislava), Tamara Steger (researcher, CEU Budapest) and Maja and Reuben Fowkes (translocal.org).

The upsurge of popular movements from Egypt to Greece and Bucharest to New York has engendered an atmosphere of defiance and social creativity that has captured the global imagination. Beyond the ebb and flow of individual protest movements, this symposium asked whether global solidarity had really taken hold this time and considers the variety of ways in which contemporary art is embroiled through practices of dialogue and collaboration in the emergence of a common horizon and the imagining of a sustainable future. Providing a trans-disciplinary forum for discussion of the vital issues bridging the fields of art and environmental thought, the symposium sheded light on the understanding of the multifarious notion of sustainability, which appeared by turns as a radical concept in global ecological thinking, could be recruited as a corporate strategy for green capitalism, and may have acted as a spur to new forms of social activism.

see full video report here


The Anarchist Library

theanarchistlibrary.org is (despite its name) an archive focusing on anarchism, anarchist texts, and texts of interest for anarchists. Within the scope of our use of the term “anarchism” they have been quite broad, but broad does not mean infinite, and basically shrinks down to a set of ideas against the State and the capital. This immediately rules out the so-called “anarcho-capitalism”, “anarcho-nationalism” and similar crap.

Above: A public square is a political square; a random image from this large online archive.

The Agony of Power

-History that repeats itself turns to farce. But a farce that repeats itself ends up making a history.- from The Agony of Power. In these previously unpublished manuscripts written just before his death in 2007, Jean Baudrillard takes a last crack at the bewildering situation currently facing us as we exit the system of "domination" (based on alienation, revolt, revolution) and enter a world of generalized "hegemony" in which everyone becomes both hostage and accomplice of the global market.

Sensible Politics: The Visual Culture of Nongovernmental Activism considers the constitutive role played by aesthetic and performative techniques in the staging of claims by nongovernmental activists. Attending to political aesthetics means focusing not on a disembodied image that travels under the concept of art or visual culture, nor on a preformed domain of the political that seeks subsequent expression in media form. Instead, it requires bringing the two realms together into the same analytic frame. Drawing on the work of a diverse group of contributors, from art historians, anthropologists, and political theorists to artists, filmmakers, and architects, Sensible Politics situates aesthetic forms within broader activist contexts and networks of circulation and in so doing offers critical insight into the practices of mediation whereby the political becomes manifest.





Creative Activism Book Club Home

Creative Activism Book Club Home

Creative Activism Book Club Home

Recommanded to you by the Creative Activism bookclub:

A book club to discuss the reading list from the Center for Artistic Activism! "The Center for Artistic Activism is a place to explore, analyze, and strengthen connections between social activism and artistic practice. Our goal is to make more creative activists and more effective artists. "

The Politics of Aesthetics, by Jacques Ranciere. Useful discussion from a contemporary philosopher on the different ways that art can be political, from reflecting the world to rearranging our very sense of it.


Frieze Issue 149: Art and Activism

browse Frieze on activism here

Inside Frieze Issue 149:

Most debates tend to get tangled up with the word “activism” itself, which usually implies some kind of collective endeavour. But I like to think of it in a more expanded way; after all there are more ways of being active and socially engaged than organizing a meeting.’ –Jennifer Higgie


The AiR Collection - artist residencies + activism

The AiR Collection - artist residencies + activism

The Silent University - Silent Activism

a year-long residency at Tate

The Silent University is a knowledge exchange platform initiated by artist Ahmet Ögüt through a year-long residency at Tate in partnership with Delfina Foundation. It is led by a group of lecturers, consultants and research fellows. Each group is contributing to the programme in different ways which include course development, specific research on key themes as well as personal reflections on what it means to be a refugee and asylum seeker. This platform will be presented using the format of an academic program.

3 stories

Townhouse Art residency, 3 stories from 2004 to 2012

Image above:Tahrir Square located only a few hundered meter distance from Townhouse.

Three stories; one from Negar Azimi dating from 2004, one talk in 2011 on political revolutions and changes in the region, and one conversation in 2012 in how Townhouse is reacting to this by making their space available to communities with other needs and initiating projects that respond to the desire for reflection, discussion, and social responsibility.

2004: Art Scene Egypt

A brief background on Cairo's Townhouse Gallery amidst Egypt's burgeoning art sceney Negar Azimi

"Geographic location is central to the operation of Townhouse as a space. Situated at the junction of two lanes in the midst of the aforementioned auto-mechanics' district, the gallery is a small piece of an urban microenvironment. The gallery's relationship to the lane and its residents has engendered a near-anthropological approach to its operation."

read the full article here

2011: "We where shipping things into the square from the gallery..."

How artists and institutions in the Middle East are engaging and activating with their local communities in the context of recent political revolutions and changes in the region? Listen to the full talk here

With Negar Azimi, Senior Editor, Bidoun Projects (a not-for-profit publishing, curatorial, and educational initiative), and William Wells, Director, Townhouse Gallery of Contemporary Art, Cairo.

2012: Sarah Rifky in conversation with William Wells

for Spike Art Quarterly 2012

Since the Arab Spring, in Egypt, a classic programme of exhibitions has become irrelevant. Townhouse is reacting to this by making their space available to communities with other needs and initiating projects that respond to the desire for reflection, discussion, and social responsibility. Sarah Rifky talks with William Wells about the history of the Cairo-based gallery and residency program, which has recently become a foundation.

  • William Wells born in Canada, founded Townhouse Gallery in 1998, and has been director there ever since.
  • Sarah Rifky is a writer and curator. Rifky is director of CIRCA (Cairo International Resources Center for Art), and co-directs Beirut, a space for art in Cairo.
  • Read the full article here

"Nothing can be evaluated in isolation"

publication: art based research || research based art 10 residencies Middle East | Europe. 2011

page 20 and 21 of the book, Images and text by Caspar Hall

" Research is the systematic study and investigation of material to establish facts, in reality. Realism is not a style, it is the result of conscientious artistic and social engagement. The template for residency programmes is rarely open ended; life continues after the artist leaves. Nothing can be evaluated in isolation, context is crucial, the challenge is to occupy and inform the events after they have taken place.The Pied Piper of Hamelin is a folk tale, which has its origins in fourteenth century Germany, it is believed to refer to the spread of the Plague, which circulated via traffic with the East. Stories have invariably spread with global trade. Today, this tale is often performed in theatres at children’s schools in England. The story is widely known in Turkey where the title is ‘Fareli Köyün Kavalcisi’.

From 1991 to 2009 the district known as Sulukule which is an historic site in Istanbul, was destroyed to make way for an urban re-generation project implemented by the local mayor. The Roma community, which have lived there since Byzantine times, are shrouded in myths imposed on them from outside: rebellious outsider or romantic gypsy troubadour, thief or genius. After the demolition of their neighbourhood, the inhabitants were moved to a sector 42km away, but soon returned to the surrounding area. In February 2010, I adapted the story of The Pied Piper of Hamelin, and ran a short- film project with a group of children from the neighbourhood around Sulukule. It was filmed on the site where their homes had existed and the local area; its aim was to refer to the destruction of their homes, and endeavour to explore the subsequent changes to their circumstances. The story was given an optimistic interpretation, which contradicted prevailing opinions of how events had developed.

The project was a success and has evolved, so that there is now a framework in place for a film-school for the children in the community: predominantly Roma, but also Kurdish and Turkish.

The 'gypsies' now have the opportunity to confront the outside world by creating their own myths."

Caspar Hall

Reading Anarchism

  • 2013
  • series of 8 events in Amsterdam
  • library with over 2000 laser-printed articles and books
  • display furniture and library index

Reading Anarchism was initiated to celebrate the completion and first entire presentation of Yours in Solidarity, a film project that has the history of anarchism as its subject, and an online collection of anarchist writing - theanarchistlibrary.org - as one of its sources. Printed copies of all titles currently archived on that website were made available in an exhibition space, designed as a library reading room. Visitors could also produce copies of their favourite titles in the adjacent printing room free of charge. Nicoline van Harskamp invited people from different countries and professional fields to go through the collection and pick a single title from it. Two people were invited every week to present and read from their choice in the reading room, and subsequently host a discussion on it. The program for this ‘anarchism book club’ was announced week by week so that regular visitors were eventually able to present their choices as well.

Nicoline van Harskamp’s work investigates the relationship between politics and personalities, and speech as a political act. Her work questions issues of authority and power, and organized political systems. Yours in Solidarity focuses on the history and future of anarchism and revolves around the archived correspondence of the Dutch anarchist Karl Max Kreuger (1946-1999), now housed in the International Institute for Social History in Amsterdam. Kreuger maintained extensive correspondence with around 400 fellow anarchists worldwide.

Nicoline van Harskamp is currently artist in residence at the Kadist Art Foundation that encourages the contribution of the arts to society, collecting and producing contemporary artworks and conducting programs to promote the artist's role as cultural agent. Kadist's collections reflect the global scope of contemporary art, and its programs develop collaborations between Kadist's local contexts (Paris, San Francisco) and artists, curators and art institutions worldwide.

They are protesting!

Artist Lin Yilin challenged the legitimacy of barriers at Kadist Art Foundation

The mission of Kadist Art Foundation is to participate in the contribution of the arts to society, collecting and producing contemporary artworks and conducting programs to promote the artist's role as cultural agent. Kadist's collections reflect the global scope of contemporary art, and its programs develop collaborations between Kadist's local contexts (Paris, San Francisco) and artists, curators and art institutions worldwide.

Snow and sand erasing infrastructures

DAAR Residency

DAAR is an art and architecture collective and a residency programme based in Beit Sahour, Palestine. DAAR’s work combines discourse, spatial intervention, education, collective learning, public meetings and legal challenges. DAAR’s practice is centred on one of the most difficult dilemmas of political practice: how to act both propositionally and critically within an environment in which the political force field is so dramatically distorted. It proposes the subversion, reuse, profanation and recycling of the existing infrastructure of a colonial occupation. The DAAR residency is an opportunity for practitioners to gain intensive experience in practice lead research and spatial activism, within the conceptual frame of the studio, in one the world’s most charged conflict areas.

The 2nd International Festival of the ActivistArt

Festival MediaImpact / Moscow, 19th of October – 8th of November 2013

Image below is provided by the festival website: Kiss my Ba group (RU) Monstration. Novosibirsk. 2011. Photo-documentation by Anton Yunitsin. courtesy of the authors.

The project encompasses a variety of forms and communication strategies of art activism such as community-based art, ecology and cultural heritage, politics, tactical media, music of protest and environmental art. The festival program consists of art-residencies, workshops and presentations, discussions and debates, as well as exhibitions and public art actions. A series of art expeditions to small Russian towns is planned within the festival. Also the festival plans to publish a line of small DIY editions with texts and art works of the leading activists to distribute in Russian regions and also during Moscow events.

read more


the camera can become a weapon, or a defence tool


Irina Botea talks about her artistic residency in Barcelona, where she participated in the protest on 15 May. With relation to protests, where using the mobile phone camera is so obvious, she asks what kind of possibilities the mobile phone camera provides us. On one hand there is our obsession of recording images, but at the same time when we are recording images as the proofs, to defend ourselves, so the camera can become a weapon,or a defence tool. Beside that, she talks about workshop she lead together with artists Anita Serrano and Merce Ortega in Barcelona. It was focused on the interesting idea of how we can unmechanized ourselves.

Irina Botea (RO) - Art related to the protests from CIANT Prague on Vimeo.

Vendor Power

research-based activism and education as empowerment

In 2009, The Street Vendor Project created this issue of Making Policy Public to decode the rules and regulations for New York’s 10,000 street vendors so they can understand their rights and avoid unnecessary fines.The poster uses simple graphics and minimal text — in the five languages most commonly spoken among NYC’s vendors — to explain some of the most-often violated laws.

Making Policy Public: Vendor Power! Courtesy of Center for Urban Pedagogy. New American Approaches to Research and Education as Civic Activism; The Architecture Foundation, London

This project was also a public lecture series and complementary exhibition exploring critical and activist models of urban research and education, Critical Infrastructures presents the work of three American organizations—Archeworks, Artist Residency- the Center for Land Use Interpretation, and the Center for Urban Pedagogy—whose work engages directly with the economic, legal, and political forces shaping contemporary cities. The project offers a London audience a transatlantic perspective on how built environment practitioners and citizens can engage in forms of research-based activism and education as empowerment. The project brings these international perspectives to the UK at a critical moment of significant government divestment from both cultural programs and social services, in order to explore and provoke questions of how independent research and practice can address concerns previously underwritten by the state, in the face of increasing privatization and withdrawal from traditional civic roles. read more

Prepared: Strategies for Activists

A project by Chen Shaoxiong, William T. Kemper Foundation International Artist-in-Residence

This project and exhibition are supported by the William T. Kemper Foundation. The Spencer’s international residency series has also been supported by the Freeman Foundation and the Center for East Asian Studies, the University of Kansas.

Flux Factory

The Flux Factory residency is tailored to American and international artists of varying media and practices. They welcome cultural producers of all stripes, social activists, academics, and anyone who is creative, adventurous, and willing to come to New York City and allow experiences here to influence new bodies of work. We are especially keen on artists who have a socially collaborative art practice.


Now Running: The Design Studio for Social Intervention Community Labor United is excited to announce a new Boston-based fellowship and residency program for socially engaged artists .The Department of Public Imagination. This pilot year, which will run from September 2013 to April 2014. The cornerstone of the program will be an eight-month residency with a community-based organization, which will serve as the artist’s home base for the duration of the program. Working collaboratively with their group’s members and staff, each artist will be responsible for initiating a creative action team that will design and implement public projects to address the specific challenges and aspirations of their group’s community base.

Boston streets

the birth of a residency program for socially engaged artists

Some time ago, during the Summer 2008 Youth Activism Design Institute, ds4si worked with 12 youth interns to explore the potential for indirectly intervening in neighborhood violence using unexpected tools like play, spectacle, and delight. The interns designed large-scale adaptations of childhood street games like simon says, hopscotch, taps, and tug-of-war and invited other to play on trains, in crosswalks, on sidewalks. They invited an artist to support the interns in the planning and implementation of these games, with particular attention to the element of spectacle produced by their props and costuming.

Now, 5 years later the Design Studio for Social Intervention and Community Labor United are excited to announce an official new Boston-based fellowship and residency program for socially engaged artists – The Department of Public Imagination. For this pilot year, which is running from Sept. 2013 to April 2014, three artists where selected to participate in an interdisciplinary program that builds creative partnerships between artists and member-led community groups in the greater Boston area. The cornerstone of the program will be an eight-month residency with a community-based organization, which will serve as the artist’s home base for the duration of the program. Working collaboratively with their group’s members and staff, each artist will be responsible for initiating a creative action team that will design and implement public projects to address the specific challenges and aspirations of their group’s community base.

Beirut Film Station

The Goethe-Institut and Ashkal Alwan, a non-profit organisation based in Beirut, have announced an open call for applications to Beirut Film Station, a film residency in Beirut. The application is open to emerging filmmakers from the Middle East and North Africa, who must be between 20 and 35 years old and have prior professional experience. Beirut Film Station offers technical support for film projects, nurtures the developing professional careers of regional filmmakers, and provides opportunities for networking and exchange between filmmakers in the Middle East and Europe. The residency promises "an artistically inspiring atmosphere in the middle of Beirut, time and space to work on your project under stress-free conditions," in addition to technical equipment, accommodation, transport, and a monthly stipend, according to the official website.


Todd Lester discusses his new personal project, Lanchonete, and the status of contemporary artist residencies.

Todd is the founder of freeDimensional, an organization that supports activists and artists-in-distress by providing safe haven in artist residencies. Until just a few weeks ago, he was the Executive Director of Global Arts Corps, an organization that uses theatre to advance reconciliation in societies emerging from violent conflict, a job he just quit to dedicate himself entirely to the Lanchonete project.

Q: And in what way is Lanchonete going to be different from other residencies currently operating?

A: I give myself permission to be critical of the residency sector, because I love to work in it and I worked in it for a decade. I feel able to criticize it because I know it. There are many ways to do a residency, but what works best is to have a bilateral negotiation with the community. Because right now you can have a week-long residency in São Paulo, but it can be just tourism. I listen to a lot of smart older people, for example Jan Willem Schrofer, who ran the Rijksakademie for years, saying that those sorts of programs start to deteriorate the idea of “the residency.” We call everything residency. But for me it means something, it really means you are IN something, you are part of a community. Í’m going to be a guardian around the Lanchonete—not letting her being fetishized.

Read the full interview at BOMBLOG

Image above: Brian Fernandes-Halloran. Event-specific postcard asking evocative questions on personal taste and neighborhood change to festival-goers. Photo by Adriana Fernandes-Halloran.