Hello everyone, welcome to the Art of the MOOC, Merging Public Art and Experimental Education. My name is Pedro Lasch. >> And I'm Nato Thompson. >> Today's module will focus on what we're calling broadly social movements. But it's how social movements have related, in the last few decades, to what some people call socially engaged art, or social practice, relational aesthetics, and many other things, participatory art. And one thing, specifically, we wanted to do in this module, is look at the social movements as a source of inspiration for artists. >> Yep. >> But also how artists have influenced those social movements, right? We're talking about the AIDS movement, queer movements, Zapatsimo, feminism, all kinds of international movements who have been intensely cultural and are known for it, but who also try to transform political realities. >> And just to say, one of the important things to bear in mind is, it's a common trap to put art over here and activists over here. But it's in both our experiences, and historically too, that there's a lot of fluidity between this. Literally, the same people are part of both camps. And so it's actually misleading to think of them as separate categories. And we're going to, as opposed to talk about the efficacy, whether or not this practice worked or not, we really want to focus on the ways in which these forms have manifest in contemporary or public practice, or social movements themselves. >> And one of the things in addition to that fluidity, one of the things that artists and activists have always shared is this idea of the urgency of doing something, right? We love theory, we love reading, we love thinking, but we also do things. We want to make stuff, we want to transform stuff. So activists have that urgency, and artists do, too. And that's why they often overlap, right? >> I mean, that's what I like about art. Because it's always kind of a philosophy of doing, in a way. because you put it out there and it's doing, as opposed to, no offense, but it's different than a book. >> Yeah, and doing, even in a book, you could, say, write. You could focus on the writing, the act of writing. So the way we wanted to organize this vast material we have today is through those very acts. Each one of our organizing categories is an act. And those acts are also supposed to inspire you as you do your own projects. Because remember, this MOOC isn't just about studying and understanding the history and the survey part, but also making your own, transforming your own lives, your own social settings, and so on. And so we hope that these doings, these acts, will inspire you, too. So we're talking about different types of actions that have been essential to social organizing and social movements in the last few decades. Organizing itself being the first one we'll cover, but also listening, dancing, partying. There's so many we could cover, joking including as one other one we'll talk about. >> Good, I love to joke. >> So Nato, what about organizing? What does that make you think about? >> Well, so certainly one of the key things, I mean, it's just to say, it's often said that organizing artists is like trying to herd cats. But that said, there is a history of artists organizing together to produce some sort of social result. And that kind of organizing, you could think in the kind of political spectrum, organized labor, trade unions, a way in which people get together and the collective is stronger than the individual voice. And in the arts, there are certainly examples of that. >> Correct, let's go look at our first case study. So a really important aspect for me about organizing, and how artists play within these social movements, and how social movements have inspired artists, is that we often have to confront the very unsexy part of everyday social movements, right? As younger people, but also as artists, we often want to do something flashy, something that everybody wants to look at, etc. But organizing, right, this first activity, often involves doing things like cleaning, like setting up the tables, literally tabling. Doing things that are everyday acts, that are unspectacular in nature. In fact, they tend to become invisible, right? But those are precisely the parts that often get erased from the history, not only of art, and even within social practice, but also of the social movements themselves. It is not by chance that in a lot of history, those are the parts that have been performed by women and other groups that are kind of in the lower kind of hierarchies of the social movements themselves, right? So it's in this re-vision, for example, of the Black Power movement, that we're starting to understand the role that women played in the organization. Women have, for example, in US history, but in many other places, have been the core organizers. They bring people together, etc. Of course, that changes over time. Fortunately, that role has been distributed more evenly these days. But it's that role of organizing that, for example, with the Teatro Campesino, I find incredibly powerful. The Teatro Campesino, for a few decades already, they still exist, has been staging these plays that are about the daily lives of farmers. But they were officially started as the theatrical wing of the Farm Labor Organization, basically the farmers' union. And so this is one aspect of, when artists really care about organizing, they often end up becoming part of the very social organizations that they're trying to help. An example that is perhaps less formal, but as important, is within also, there's farm labor, but there's also undocumented labor, not just of Hispanics, but people from all across the world. And not just in the US, but in many other places, right? In the case of the immigrant rallies in 2006, which were the most massive rallies since the Civil Rights Movement, it was actually the DJs. DJs to me are artists, right, and so are MCs. And in the case of the Hispanic community, they are often called sonideros. And the sonideros, both party sonideros like in Chicago, in LA, in New York, but also radio DJs, were actually the most important organizers of that movement. It was through their voice and through their communication structures that people got to the rallies. >> Another example, hi there. >> Hey. >> Is the Art Workers' Coalition from January, 1969. And it's funny, because we're actually shooting this from the East Village in New York City. But a lot of the art organizing actually happened in this neighborhood. And it was in reaction to basically the kind of lack of diversity at the Museum of Modern Art, and it was artists organizing. And it was, this is during the period of the Vietnam War, where there was also a great amount of interest in getting the museums to be accountable to the radical situation that was happening around the world. So one of the things they organized was this kind of sit-in at the museum, where they demanded not only more representation of people of color and of women, but also managed to get a free day at the museum. Which funny enough, has been re-branded as Target free day, I believe. >> Yeah, yep. >> But it was originally won by Art Workers' Coalition, January 1969. And they also had this kind of poster campaign that was basically bringing awareness to the Vietnam War. There was one that you would be familiar with that said, question, And babies? And the answer, And babies. Which is a famous project commenting on the My Lai Massacre famous photograph. >> Yeah, and often part of organizing has been also protesting, right? >> Yeah. >> But your Target example is a fantastic one to show how very few people, if anyone, would think that Target is involved in labor organizing, right? So there is something about these cultural practices of organizing, and accomplishing things that then get co-opted or rebranded, that we should recognize as part of the history of these social movements, but also the history of these experimental practices, right, within art. One important thing to highlight as we transition from organizing to protesting is the different nature, but they're related, relationship between sustained organizing, right? Social movements that have lasted decades, and things that are a reaction or a response to a very specific, urgent situation, right? Of course, it's hard to pick them apart at times. For example, I think Black Lives Matter, the movement that has been around already for a couple of years, but that is in response to basically police killing so many African-American young men, mostly. But basically, the case of violence in African-American communities, perpetrated against them. This movement, of course, you could say, is part of civil rights, it has lasted ever since slavery. But Black Lives Matter is a response, and actually goes with a specific medium of its time. It started as a hashtag, as a Twitter action, right? And that's how it took off, and that's why it's become, now it has chapters in many countries, all kinds of cities in the US. And so this is a good example of the response, as well as the sustained part of organizing, right? In, for example, Mexico, Javier Sicilia, a really important poet, part of the Bohemian avant-garde, but also someone whose son got killed in the violence related to the drug trade, has been very, he's been leading these caravans. Where literally hundreds of cars get together in highly public spaces and go through them to express their anger, but also their mourning and their resistance against the so-called war on drugs, which has only brought more violence to so many communities across Mexico, but also the US. >> And we can also say, just simply like when Occupy Wall Street moved through New York City, and I imagine when the Arab Spring moved through Cairo, that it galvanizes or radicalizes a kind of political art community. And so these protest movements often also have an energy that changes the terms of the debate. And many of you who've experience that would know that. And for those of you that haven't, look forward to it. Because there are these kind of historic moments in arts communities where a lot comes together, and they change the tenor and tone of art. >> And thus far, our two actions have been positive in nature, right? Even if they're rebelling against something, they're positive, it's organizing, it's protesting, right? >> Yeah. >> People associate that with positive movements, something that brings people together. >> Yeah.