Strike Art: Contemporary Art and the Post-Occupy Condition


Yates McKee, Nina Felshin, Amin Husain, Victoria Sobel


Conversation Documentation
Wednesday, June 29, 2016, 7pm

Artists Space Books & Talks
55 Walker Street

In Strike Art: Contemporary Art and the Post-Occupy Condition (Verso, 2016), Yates McKee shows that during the five years since Occupy Wall Street—a period that has also witnessed the upsurge of the black liberation movement, climate justice mobilizations, the struggles of workers, debtors, students, tenants, and more—artists have increasingly embedded their practice in expanded fields of political organizing. While much such work has taken place outside the art system, in many cases it has also involved doubling back upon art institutions themselves as arenas of action in ways exceed the traditions of Institutional Critique, including the work of groups such as The Natural History Museum; Free Cooper Union; the Global Ultra Luxury Faction, known for its actions at the Guggenheim; and the recent intervention of the Decolonial Cultural Front at the Brooklyn Museum. In such work, creative direct action is coupled with long term movement-building work in which the reclaiming of certain artistic infrastructures proceeds alongside the cultivation of new political formations that far exceed the domain of art per se.

This conversation takes the release of Strike Art as the occasion to address the following proposition: If we are seeing a move from Institutional Critique to institutional liberation (the latter being an admittedly multivalent term) it is imperative that an ethos of decolonization be developed in the process—one that draws links between struggles against displacement, dispossession and white supremacy from the occupied Lenape territory of Manhattan itself, to the frontiers of real estate speculation in New York such as Chinatown and Bushwick, and the ongoing colonization of Palestine.

Yates McKee is an art historian whose work has appeared in venues including October, Grey Room, Oxford Art Journal, e-flux Journal, Texte zur Kunst, South Atlantic Quarterly, and The Nation.

Nina Felshin is an independent curator, writer, and activist. She is the editor of But Is It Art?: The Spirit of Art as Activism and her past exhibitions include Black and Blue: Examining Police Violence; Disasters of War: From Goya to Golub; Global Warning: Artists and Climate Change. Earlier this year, she edited the fake New York Times, produced by Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), which parodied the paper's skewed Israel-Palestine coverage. Her critique of the Brooklyn Museum's "This Place" exhibition appeared last month in Hyperallergic: http://hyperallergic.com/298529/a-photo-exhibition-about-israel-and-the-west-bank-that-chooses-sides/.

Amin Husain is an artist and organizer with groups including MTL, Global Ultra Luxury Faction, Decolonial Cultural Front, and Direct Action Front For Palestine. With Nitasha Dhillon, he is currently completing On This Land (onthislandfilm.wordpress.com), a film about the Palestinian struggle.

Victoria Sobel is an artist and one of the many founders of Free Cooper Union. She is currently a fellow at the Vera List Center for Art and Politics at The New School, where she is exploring alternative models of student governance, transparency, and accountability. She writes, "I want to sit down in the street, you don't let me sit down in the street."