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.

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