Malkia Cyril (lives and works in Oakland, CA) grew up believing that “everyone deserves a public voice.” Inspired by her mother’s work editing the Black Panther’s newspaper in Brooklyn, New York, Cyril recognized the power of media in forming and disseminating public opinion. Ever since, she has dedicated her life to providing all communities with the tools to harness the power of the media to ensure their voices are heard. Malkia Cyril is the founder and Executive director of the Center for Media Justice (CMJ), a media policy and strategy hub based in Oakland, California, which works to amplify the voice of grassroots social justice organizations across the United States. Since the CMJ’s founding in 2002, the organization has been involved with helping numerous organizations develop communications strategies to support social justice. Although Malkia spends “an inordinate amount of time writing fiction and poetry,” she has also found the time to publish her work advocating for media justice in the New York Times, Politico, the Huffington Post, Essence Magazine, the Village Voice, the Advocate and the San Francisco Chronicle.
As an artist, professor, activist, and “expert joke teller,” Leonidas Martin has invigorated the wave of Spanish protests beginning in 2011 known as M15. When not teaching new media and political art at the University of Barcelona, writing about art and cultural politics for online and print media, or directing and producing documentaries, Martin organizes social actions with the Barcelona-based artist collective “Enmedio” (which translates to “among” in English). One such action, which showcases the group’s trademark combination of interventionist tactics and politically engaged artistic practice, is Evictions Are Not Numbers, They Are Faces and Eyes (2012). For this action, which took place on the one-year anniversary of the first M15 protests, members of Enmedio pasted portraits of evicted Spaniards onto the storefront windows of banks around the country. The large photographs put faces to the names of those that the banks would not or could not support, frankly embodying the consequences of the financial crisis.
One week after Barack Obama was elected the 44th president of the United States in November 2008, 1.2 million people were handed a New York Times Special Edition on the streets of New York declaring: “IRAQ WAR ENDS.” Though a near perfect rendition of the newspaper, the edition was postdated July 4th, 2009. The replica of the “paper of record”—created by Lambert in collaboration with Andy Bichlbaum of the Yes Men, 30 writers, 50 advisors and 1,000 volunteer distributors—was comprised of fourteen “best case scenario” news stories. In addition to his witty investigations of contemporary consumer-driven culture, Lambert is the founder of three organizations: the Center for Artistic Activism, the Budget Gallery and the Anti-Advertising Agency. His practice includes drawing, performance, video, public and internet art, along with collaborations with the Yes Men, CODEPINK, Packard Jennings, and the Eyebeam Art and Technology Center’s OpenLab. Lambert, who is a Senior Fellow at Eyebeam, is also the recipient of awards from Prix Arts Electronica, Turbulence, the Creative Work Fund, Rhizome/The New Museum and the California Arts Council.
L.A.P.D. (Los Angeles Poverty Department) | Creative Time Summit Presenter | October 12 | Skirball Center, NYC
Founded in 1985 in Los Angeles, CA
Represented by John Malpede
Imagine being told that your state of poverty was permanent and that you would not be able to rise out of homelessness regardless of your effort. In 1985, John Malpede decided to effect change in the perception of Los Angeles’ Skid Row by founding the Los Angeles Poverty Department. Composed primarily of homeless and formerly homeless people, LAPD creates performances that connect the lived experiences of its members to the social forces that shape the lives and communities of people living in poverty. LAPD encourages citizens to take ownership of their neighborhood’s narrative through performative practice, with the aim of giving the arts a place in social policy. Furthermore, these performances offer an alternative to the common perception of inhabitants of Skid Row. LAPD believes in the possibility for mobility of the Skid Row population, resisting traditional and limiting labels like “homeless” or “crack addict,” and placing emphasis on the community’s possibility for growth. Under Malpede’s leadership, the LAPD has created residency programs in various communities internationally.
Artist, educator, writer, and civil servant Suzanne Lacy has brought together each of her skill sets into an art practice that examines, exposes and ultimately seeks to rectify urban social issues. The Crystal Quilt (1987) brought together 430 women over the age of 60 to perform live on public television in an hour-long tableau during which they exchanged thoughts on aging. The collaborative aspect of The Crystal Quilt, combined with the breadth of its scale, is a common thread throughout Lacy’s diverse oeuvre of work. This year, Lacy reprised her seminal project Three Weeks in May (1977) in the form of Three Weeks in January as part of an effort to reassess violence against women 40 years after the anti-rape movement in Los Angeles first began. The recent incarnation of the project was installed at the Deaton Auditorium, across from the Los Angeles Police Department headquarters. On a large city map in the auditorium, Lacy marked reported instances of rape in large, red letters following the receipt of each day’s police report. The project was revolutionary for employing social media platforms, which enabled residents from all corners of the city to participate. Lacy continues her work as a leading artist and activist with co-presenter Jodie Evans in the One Billion Women Rising movement (See “Jodie Evans.”) Lacy has published more than forty articles, and her work has been referenced in art anthologies and international news broadcasts worldwide.
From the streets of Pittsburgh to the basements of Portland, Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative spreads radical political activism via a range of media, including printmaking, large-scale sculptural installations, and street graffiti. Initially founded in 1998 by designer, artist, activist and archivist Josh MacPhee as an online distributor for his graphic works, Justseeds now includes 26 artists from across North America. Working with likeminded grassroots organizations that advocate for similar social change, the cooperative harnesses the creative work of individuals to inspire collective action. Campaigns such as Chemicals Will Make Our Lives Better highlight MacPhee’s trademark print style, combining eye-catching images and vibrant colors with textual declarations of protest. In addition to his work with Justseeds, MacPhee is a member of the Occuprint collective and a co-founder of the Interference Archive, an online archive that collects socially engaged artistic works. He is the author of Stencil Pirates: A Global Study of the Street Stencil, co-author of Signs of Change: Social Movement Cultures 1960s to Now, and co-editor of Signal: A Journal of International Political Graphics and Culture. His work as a curator includes Paper Politics, which has been on tour since 2004, and the 2001 campaign The Department of Space and Land Reclamation with Creative Time’s Chief Curator Nato Thompson.
On November 17, 2002, a group of over 10,000 people initiated a four-day vigil outside of the White House to challenge the allotment of our financial resources to support United States and global military efforts instead of repurposing the funding towards healthcare, education and green jobs. The vigil marked the first assembly of CODEPINK, a female dominated “grassroots movement for peace and justice.” Political activist, writer, documentary film producer, and CODEPINK co-founder, Jodie Evans was one of many women arrested for bringing the discussion to the steps of the White House. In addition to her groundbreaking political work, both with CODEPINK and within government, Evans has published two books, Stop the Next War Now (2005) and Twilight of Empire (2004) and has produced two films, including the Oscar nominated The Most Dangerous Man in America (2010), which chronicles the undisclosed military history of the U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Her next project in collaboration with Valentine’s Day, One Billion Women Rising, will take place on February 14, 2013. This global strike will demand an end to the abuse of over 1 billion women worldwide.
Lives and works between Kassel, Germany; New York, NY; and Rome, Italy
After serving as Senior Curator at MoMA P.S. 1, where she initiated the first edition of Greater New York in 2000, Christov-Bakargiev returned to her hometown of Turin, Italy to act as Chief Curator of the Castelli di Rivoli Museum for Contemporary Art. In 2008, Christov-Bakargiev was the Artistic Director of the Sydney Biennale before serving as Artistic Director for this year’s dOCUMENTA (13) exhibition. Stemming from Christov-Bakargiev’s interest and academic background in the nexus of historical avant-gardes and contemporary art, dOCUMENTA (13) aimed to be a “holistic” analysis of the present day. Believing that dOCUMENTA is more a “state of mind” than an international art exhibition, she worked to craft an experience that both acknowledged and enhanced the overlap between political, cultural, scientific and artistic spheres. Christov-Bakargiev acknowledged Occupy protestors on Kassel’s Frierichsplatz as “artists of the dOCUMENTA” and thus sanctioned the Occupiers’ presence publicly, which she felt enacted “the possibility of re-inventing the use of public space” and embodied the idea of collective thinking. Christov-Bakargiev has also authored publications that focus specifically on the Italian Arte Povera movement, the South African artist William Kentridge, and the Canadian artist Janet Cardiff.
Operating seven days a week in the center of Pittsburgh, Conflict Kitchen is a take-out restaurant that exclusively serves cuisine from countries with which the United States is in conflict. Every six months, the take-out style storefront rotates to highlight a different country. Each iteration of the restaurant is augmented by events, performances, and discussions that seek to expand public engagement with the culture, politics, and issues at stake within the focus country. These events have included live international Skype dinner parties between residents of Pittsburgh and young professionals in Tehran, Iran, documentary filmmakers in Kabul, Afghanistan, and community radio activists in Caracas, Venezuela. The restaurant is a site of ever-changing ethnic diversity in the post-industrial city of Pittsburgh and has presented the only Iranian, Afghan, Venezuelan, and Cuban restaurants the city has ever hosted. Conflict Kitchen is a project created and directed by artists Jon Rubin and Dawn Weleski, with culinary direction by Chef Robert Sayre.
On January 25, 2011, an 18-day long uprising began in Egypt. As protesters took to the streets, their cell phones became a form of security. Protesters became journalists—tweeting, photographing and sharing the violations committed against them with the world. This influx of citizen reporters passionate about uncovering the atrocities they had experienced inspired the formation of Mosireen. The group, whose name is a play on the words meaning “Egyptians” and “determinism,” is based in a nonprofit media center in downtown Cairo and seeks to nurture the skills of self-taught journalists by promoting their work and encouraging the creation of a journalistic network that openly shares footage. By organizing screenings of footage collected in Tahrir Square, Mosireen allows participants to relive the nation’s most violent protests through their own eyes with a collective sense of accomplishment.
The founding members of the artist collective Oda Projesi, Özge Açıkkol, Güneş Savaş, and Seçil Yersel, don’t operate in a traditional studio or gallery setting. Instead, their work centers on activating and actualizing communal spaces. Oda Projesi, which translates to “Room Project” in Turkish, literalizes urban space into a “hybrid language,” describing how we shape, and are shaped by, our surroundings. From 2000 till 2005, the collective turned their apartment in Galata, an increasingly gentrified neighborhood in Istanbul, into a multi-purpose non-profit public space. The apartment quickly became a gathering place for other artists, architects, musicians, scholars and–most importantly–for their neighbors. The group directly engages their local community to collaboratively “animate” the social dynamics inherent in urban spaces, as evidenced by their project working with local children in 2000, A Day in the Room. Artist Nadi Güler with the members of Oda Projesi assisted the children in creating paintings on the canvas’s of a well-known contemporary Turkish artist Komet, which were then paraded through the city, exhibited and finally sold to fund the young artists’ educations. Described as relational, communalist and situationist, Oda Projesi’s work draws attention to the social implications of space. Currently, Oda Projesi is mobile and continues to raise questions on space and place creating relationship models by using different mediums like radio stations, books, postcards, newspapers or giving form to different meeting points.
Otolith Group (Founded in 2002 in London, England) | Creative Time Summit Presenter | October 12 | Skirball Center, NYC
An otolith is one of the calcium carbonate microcrystals within the inner ear of some vertebrates that sense motion and support balance. Kodwo Eshun and Anjalika Sagar appropriated this obscure word as the name for their UK-based art collective, founded in 2002. The Otolith Group’s work pushes the boundaries of the moving image, transforming films into essays, “aural and sonic investigations” and science fiction experiments. Defying the traditional logic of time and space, The Radiant (2012), which premiered at dOCUMENTA (13), investigates the destructive powers of nuclear energy—from the initial promise of clean energy to the destruction of villages by radiation contamination, as seen following the 2011 earthquake off the coast of Japan. In addition to their research-based projects, the Otolith Group has curated a number of exhibitions worldwide, and has organized international conferences, workshops and lectures. In 2010, the Otolith Group became the first collective to be nominated for the Turner Prize for their work on the Otolith trilogy.
On a trip to India at the age of eight, Dr. Joia Mukherjee found herself outraged by the state of poverty she observed. She decided then that she would dedicate her life to combating inequity and injustice. The subsequent breadth of her influence has touched every corner of the globe, including Haiti, Rwanda, Lesotho, Mexico, Russia, and the United States. After Dr. Mukherjee completed her residency in Infectious Disease, Internal Medicine, and Pediatrics at the Massachusetts General Hospital, she went on to receive a masters degree from the Harvard School of Public Health. Dr. Mukherjee’s work has focused on cholera, tuberculosis and, in particular, AIDS. In 1995, after antiretroviral therapy had proven its ability to impede the progress of AIDS and HIV, Dr. Mukaherjee found that the therapy was not available to the world’s most impoverished populations. Once her efforts to find likeminded organizations focused on diminishing health care disparities were frustrated, Dr. Mukaherjee came into contact with Partners in Health. Because of her work with the organization, nearly six million people today are on antiretroviral therapy—for free. Dr. Mukherjee has served as the Chief Medical Director of Partners in Health since 2001 where she has helped the organization realize and advance its founding belief in health as a basic human right. She is also an Associate Professor with Harvard Medical School and the Division of Global Health Equity at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital. In between these ventures, Dr. Mukherjee consults for the World Health Organization on disease prevention, vaccination and treatment in developing countries and has spoken at many universities and major medical conferences internationally.