“Poetry is the way we give name to the nameless so it can be thought,” writes Audrey Lorde, deftly outlining the power of art to envision personal and political possibilities. For millennia, art has been used politically as an affective means to critique the world as it is, and also to imagine the world as it could be. In this talk, Stephen Duncombe, co-director of the Center for Artistic Activism and Professor of Media and Culture at NYU will explore some of the ways that art – and artful forms of activism — have been used for such political purposes. Examples will be drawn from the early Soviet Avant-Garde, the US Civil Rights Movement, and contemporary examples of artistic activism across the globe.
Stephen Duncombe’s interests lie in media and cultural studies. He teaches and writes on the history of mass and alternative media and the intersection of culture and politics. He is the author of Dream: Re-Imagining Progressive Politics in an Age of Fantasy (The New Press, 2007) and Notes From Underground: Zines and the Politics of Underground Culture (Verso, 1997). He is editor of the Cultural Resistance Reader (Verso, 2002), co-editor, along with Maxwell Tremblay, of White Riot: Punk Rock and the Politics of Race (Verso, 2011), and writes on the intersection of culture and politics for a range of scholarly and popular publications. Duncombe is also the creator of Open Utopia, an open-access, open-source, web-based edition of Thomas More’s Utopia. Duncombe is co-founder and co-director of the Center for Artistic Activism, a research and training institute that helps activists to create more like artists and artists to strategize more like activists.
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