On September 22nd, 2015 the Young Members Committee of the National Arts Club hosted a panel discussion focused on questioning the artist’s role in social protest. Moderated by Anniks Connor and organized by Active Ideas Productions, this panel featured artists and groups who have crossed the boundaries of politics to effect social change by using installation, painting, graffiti, and performance to create a conversation that extends beyond commercial gallery walls.
New media and the abundance of social networking channels provide artists and activists with a louder voice than ever before. Given the new worldwide audience the web has created, how do artists today relay a message of peaceful protest by using creation to cry out to a culture in need of change?
This panel touched on topics of the disenfranchised voice, public participation in artistic processes, and how those interested in creating a strategy of revolution can strengthen connections between activism and artistic production. The innovative tactics and new approaches found most effective in the myriad of imagery used by our panelists engaged the audience in a lively question and answer period centered on socio-political transformation and artistic dissent.
Franco-Moroccan artist Mehdi-Georges Lahlou was born in Les Sables d’Olonne (France) in 1983. He lives and works between Brussels and Paris. Trained at the Regional School of Fine Arts in Nantes (ERBAN), he obtained his DNSEP in 2007 and an MFA from Sint-Joost Academy in Breda (Netherlands).
From 2014 to 2015 Mehdi-Georges Lahlou participated in the first edition of program ‘Les réalisateurs’ (post-graduate program in Art and Business), conceived and directed by artist Fabrice Hyber in partnership with the Audencia Nantes School of Management and the School of Fine Arts in Nantes Métropole (France).
His works have been the subject of several solo exhibitions : In Flanders Fields Museum in Yper (2015, Belgium), HAU Hebbel am Ufer in Berlin (2015, Germany); French Institut de Casablanca (2015, Morocco); CENTRALE for contemporary art (2014, Germany); Dix9 gallery - Hélène Lacharmoise, Paris (2010, 2012 and 2014, France), Catherine Ahnell Gallery, New York (2014, USA); Transit Gallery, Mechelen (2010 and 2013, Belgium); Paradise Gallery, Nantes (2014, France); art center Croxhapox, Ghent (2011, Belgium); Espacepointca gallery, Alma (2011, Canada); Kunstraum Richard Sorge, Berlin (2010, Germany).
Mehdi-Georges Lahlou’s work has been featured in numerous international exhibitions and institutions including the MMVI Mohammed VI Museum, Rabat (2014, Morocco); DAK’ART 2014, 11th Dakar Biennial (2014, Senegal); the Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris (France) for the exhibition ‘Le Maroc Contemporain’ (2014) and ‘The body discovered’ (2012); at Palazzo Bembo, Venice (2013, Italy) during ‘Personal structures’ (collateral event of the Biennale); at the Biennial Re-Orientation, the second Mediterranean Biennial of Israel, Sakhnin (2013, Israel); "Sint -Jan" at St. Bavo’s Cathedral in Ghent (2012, Belgium) at the invitation of Jan Hoet and Hans Martens.
Mehdi-Georges Lahlou will present his second New York solo exhibition called « I Do Not Have To Cross The See » at Merton D.Simpson Gallery, from October 3rd 2015.
Colin Miles Campbell, an accomplished entrepreneur, artist and community activist has worked as a concept designer for the past 18 years.
Campbell has conceived and executed hundreds of high profile projects for Fortune 500 companies and artists such as AC Giannini, Chanel, Clockwork Apple, Chautauqua Ballet, David Copperfield, ENK Shows, Eve Sussman, Jacobo Borges, Nevada Ballet & Theatre Company, NYFestivals, Peter Brandt, Safilo East & West, Shotgun Productions, TED, Topiary Productions, William Jefferson Clinton Urs Fischer and the Washington Ballet. He also founded ClearQuest Group - a Brooklyn-based tech company that designs and develops environmentally sustainable solutions for the consumer market.
Campbell and his co-founders Ricardo Carlota and Madison Bullard created Wikiburg, a social media platform designed to help citizens effect social change. Wikiburg’s mission is to provide individuals with the power to create, organize, and mobilize community causes into national movements with real-time engagement and visualization. The idea for Wikiburg was seeded through Save Domino, the grassroots campaign he led to keep Brooklyn’s iconic pre-war sugar refinery from high-rise condo development.
As part of this discussion, Colin Miles will elaborate on his experiences campaigning for social change, how the challenges of Save Domino set the stage for his current venture and reveal how the audience can expertly navigate Wikiburg’s platform to elevate their own ideas into workable plans for the benefit of their communities.
Alan Moore is an independent scholar. He works with the Squatting Europe research collective (SqEK), Interference Archive, Archivo 15M, ABC No Rio and the artists' group Colab.
Moore has written on artists’ groups, cultural geography and economy, and social movements. He worked with the artists’ groups Colab and helped start the cultural center ABC No Rio in New York City.
Alan W. Moore presently lives in Madrid, and is visiting New York City for the exhibition "Making Room: Cultural Production in Occupied Spaces" at ABC No Rio September 16 - October 15, 2015.
In 2013 Moore received an Andy Warhol Foundation Artswriter grant for a book on art and occupations. Moore’s book "Occupation Culture: Art & Squatting in the City from Below" has just been published by Minor Compositions/Autonomedia. This new book, tells the story of Moore's travels and visits, together with chapters of analysis which tell of the different movements and cultures which give rise to and reinforce squatting, mainly in Europe.
"Occupation Culture" comes out of years of close research on the movement of political squatting in Europe. Findings findings have been published annually in the anthology 'zine "House Magic", and the blog "Occupations & Properties" (occuprop.blogspot). Moore is a member of the SqEK research collective, whose members participated closely in the preparation of the "Making Room" anthology.
In addition, Moore has written Art Gangs: Protest and Counterculture in New York City (Autonomedia, 2011), and chapters for Julie Ault, Alternative Art NY; Blake Stimson & Gregory Sholette, Collectivism after Modernism; and Clayton Patterson, Resistance: A Political History
of the Lower East Side.
Daron Murphy is an American political activist and film composer and musician, based in Brooklyn, NY.
In 2011 Daron Murphy co-founded the artist-run media collective ART NOT WAR, and Laura personally wrote and directed over 40 ads and videos in 2012 alone. ART NOT WAR is a full service creative agency and production studio based in Brooklyn, NY, that specializes in creating unique cultural campaigns for social justice and progressive issues. ART NOT WAR’s mission is to beat back the forces of darkness with creativity, fierce intelligence, collaboration, consensus building, and love.
In addition to his work with Art Not War Murphy has composed musical scores for the feature-length documentary films, The End of America and MoveOn: The Movie. In 2007 he scored the short film, Raving, directed by Julia Stiles and starring Zooey Deschanel.
Murphy is also well known for his work as a guitarist and songwriter with the bluesy retro-soul rock group, The Little Death, whose members feature wife Laura Dawn and electronic music icon Moby. He toured Europe with Moby, as his guitar player, in 2005.
From 1992 until 1995, Murphy was the primary songwriter, singer, and guitarist (along with bass player Jonny Farrow and late drummer Chris Brown), for indie rock band Philco Bendyx.
In 1998, Murphy formed The Sixes, a short lived 60s garage-style dance/rock ensemble. In 2000, Murphy co-founded Rene Risque and the Art Lovers, with primary songwriter and vocalist Andy Boose—a cabaret/rock/disco project in which each member of the band assumed the identity of a sleazy eurotrash decadent. Murphy's assumed name in the group was Dolce Fino. Around the same time, Murphy was wed to singer and political activist Laura Dawn.