Open Engagement conference and The Black School @ New Museum

June 4, 2018nyc

There were two events which we missed due to the timing of our trip which we would like to highlight in the blog. First is the Open Engagement conference, held annually, but unfortunately the last one this year, held this year at the Queens Museum. It will resurface next year in an array of new formats.

From their website:

Open Engagement is an artist-led initiative committed to expanding the dialogue around and serving as a site of care for the field of socially engaged art. We highlight the work of transdisciplinary artists, activists, students, scholars, community members, and organizations working within the complex social issues and struggles of our time. Since 2007, OE has presented ten conferences in two countries and six cities, hosting over 1,800 presenters and over 7,000 attendees. In addition, OE managed a publishing arm, and assembled a national consortium of institutions, colleges, and funders all dedicated to supporting artists engaged in this necessary and critical work.

In 2019 Open Engagement is embarking on a research year to re-assess and evaluate the needs of the field. This will take the shape of a survey, residencies, retreats, and a series of public conversations across the US and beyond.


Students attending a Freedom School, Mississippi,1964. Photo: Ken Thompson

Then there is one exhibition we wish we could have seen in its full bloom at the New Museum, which opened just a couple of days after we left NYC. As IDA is also very interested in education and how to activate spaces of learning within art institutions, and also as autonomous spaces of engagement within our vision of decolonization of the art field in Sweden, (with diaspora cultures in mind).

We share the wonderful exhibition and project of The Black School x Kameelah Janan Rasheed.

From the website:

“The Black School (Joseph Cuillier and Shani Peters) and Kameelah Janan Rasheed will explore the pasts and futures of black critical pedagogies.

The Black School and Rasheed share a longstanding commitment to education and art-making practices, and an investment in surfacing the diverse histories of black social movements in the US. Within the Museum’s education department, they consider self- and community-determined knowledge production, learning, and dissemination in their many forms. Education is posited as a right and as a means to social justice—both of which have been challenged by legacies of slavery, Jim Crow segregation, and present-day systemic racism.

Looking to diverse examples of learning structures from throughout US history, the artists realize two unique environments for facilitated and self-directed learning. The Black School imagines a classroom for art-making workshops rooted in creative activist tactics. The environment they have built is inspired by the historic organizing of programs responsive to urgent and ongoing community-identified needs, such as Freedom Schools (free alternative schools for black youth that sprang out of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s) and the Black Panthers’ Liberation Schools. Meanwhile, Kameelah Janan Rasheed draws from the local histories of her hometown of East Palo Alto, CA, as well as those elsewhere in the US, to offer a hybrid resource room. Here, the artist presents an installation with text, objects, and video, as well as a library equipped with a Xerox machine for the public to use. The materials collected in the library represent Rasheed’s own research into black traditions of independent schools, publishing, and radical imagination. Working with the New Museum’s Teen Apprentice Program, the Black School and Rasheed will facilitate newly developed public and private workshops, programs, and classes for youth and adults throughout the residency.

Also check out the New Museum’s Summer R&D residency with the theme Social justice here.

Anna Boghiguian and Hiwa K @ New Museum

June 4, 2018nyc

Hiwa K – Blind as the Mother Tongue, exhibition shot from video installation.

Two of our favorites at the New Museum as well: Anna Boghiguian and Hiwa K.

We knew Anna Boghiguian’s since it was first shown in Stockholm at Index Foundation last year, but it was great to see her works in a larger space, very impactful and thought provoking narratives of coloniality and its aftermaths through paintings, installation and tens of sketches and collages in addition to her writings on the exhibition walls. The wall for Boghiguian is a sirface for writing while most of her works are presented in space, in The Loom of History we circulate amidst an ocean of narratives both big and small in the space controlled by the colored walls that function like a horizon line.



In the next room, a wonderful exhibition Blind as the Mother Tongue by Hiwa K (b. 1975, Kurdistan-Iraq), with careful and precisely placed videos, photographs, sculptures and wall pieces commenting on travel, migration, habitation and the political situation in Iraq, as well as dealing more abstractly with concepts of decoloniality using a precise conceptual vocabulary and extremely human at the same time. There is a critical sharpness and a warmth in K’s work which we enjoyed very much.

From the New Museum website:

“Blind as the Mother Tongue,” his first solo exhibition in the US, gathers a selection of works that address experiences of estrangement and alternative modes of seeing, learning, and remembering. The exhibition will include the artist’s recent video Pre-Image (Blind as the Mother Tongue) (2017), which debuted at documenta 14 in Athens and presents a powerful allegory for the experience of exile. The exhibition also includes several video works that take up the political histories and trauma specific to Sulaymaniyah, the artist’s hometown in Kurdish Iraq. For his New Museum exhibition, Hiwa K will debut a new sculpture that gives shape to his recent inquiries into early colonial encounters between the Inca and Spanish Empires, and reflects on misperception and misinterpretation in the circulation of culture.

The exhibition is curated by Natalie Bell, Associate Curator.”