“What is revolutionary art today?" This is the question asked of those who attend The Artists’ Congress, an interdisciplinary public forum bringing together artists, scholars, and activists to address contemporary issues of art and social change. Organized in conjunction with the Block Museum’s current exhibition The Left Front: Radical Art in the “Red Decade,” 1929–1940 the Artists’ Congress will take place Saturday, May 17, from 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. at the Barber Theater and Block Museum at Northwestern University.
The Congress’ presentations include:
•John Murphy, co-curator of The Left Front, on the political context and aesthetic controversies that gave rise to the American Artists’ Congress;
•Scholar Christina Kiaer on the historic Artists’ Union in Russia;
•Artist Paul Durica on representing labor history in his Pocket Guide To Hell series of tours and reenactments;
•Artist and critic Eric Triantafillou on his experience as the art director for SEIU’s “Take Back Chicago” campaign during the Occupy protests in Fall 2012;
•Community and political organizer Don Washington’s Mayoral Tutorial “What Do You Know About the Mayor's Agenda?”;
•Curator and scholar Romi Crawford on the Speakers’ Corner and speech acts in Chicago;
•Performance artist Baraka de Soleil on resistance as physical force in a culminating performance;
•Musical interludes curated by scholar and critic Michael Kramer
The event features a public forum facilitated by artist/educators Anthony Romero and Nicole Garneau. addressing critical issues:
•the productive function of history beyond nostalgia
•emerging and perennial forms of propaganda and tactical media
•the “social engagement” of today’s pluralized politics rather than the monolithic issue of fascism that artists addressed in the 1930s
The Congress is one of a series of ongoing programs hosted by the Block Museum to explore the role of the museum as a convener for interdisciplinary dialogue and as a crossroads for campus and community.