Roosh never anticipated that I would be in a position to distribute my call for women widely enough for anyone in the areas he had most frequently practiced his craft i. Many mainstream news publications and individuals with large audiences began to write about the project and my call traveled widely, ending up on websites like The Hairpin, Jezebel, The New Republic, Hyperallergic and more. Due to his self-aggrandized and ultimately self-fulfilling public figure status, it did not initially occur to me that he would engage with me or my project.
Multiple Authors on May 12, at Specifically, people that share some thread of a common interest — in art, in art-as-doing-something-which-is-not-just-art, in art as a collective, community-oriented practice which often involves critical components of difference, privilege, access, inclusion and equity and who like to get together in panel form to speak on behalf of a practice.
This form, aptly suited for professionals and those in their orbit, is the conference — most recently Open Engagement Appropriately, the struggle continues as to who controls the narrative.
By professing openness as a founding principle 1as a conference Open Engagement both represents where practitioners think the field is headed, by virtue of what they apply to talk about, and also an evolving lens through which we can sense what the organizing body sees as pressing.
Both shifting geography and institutional context add an extra layer to its proceedings — how does city identity mark the practice? What relationships do these institutions have to their communities in order to fully represent the breadth of local activity?
These questions necessarily come attached to controversy. Furthermore, many of those in her community, who had been doing likeminded work in Oakland for decades, were unaware that this nationwide conference, with seemingly much overlap, was taking place in their city. When organizations like Open Engagement, who may have the best intentions in mind to support and make room for artists and communities who are working towards a more just world, work through questions around representation, the allocation of resources, institutional demands, privilege, accessibility, and dismantling white supremacy, still somehow see this work as being separate from or outside of the superstructures which allow it to exist, there is a problem.
Museums and institutional spaces are complicated and certainly not to be shunned outright. Oppressive regimes are replicated in the conference format precisely because the conference as a form necessarily relies on representation as a linchpin of dialogue.
Representation that most often takes the form of one to two hour long panels couched in identitarian terms that, due to time constraints, audience investment, and the pressure placed on panelists by competing panels to narrativize their work and experience in a compelling and coherent way.
As a result of these obstructions the very identities that the conference intends to care for cannot express themselves or their projects in their full lived complexity.
What do institutional perspectives, grassroots activists, and contemporary artists hold in common, if anything? And what is the place of art in all of this?
Is the conference form the problem or is it that conferences like these cannot decide if they are privileging art or social justice? Though this problem is not subject to Open Engagement alone. As one of the founders and organizers of Hand-in-Glovea conference centered on arts organizing, Abby and many others involved have also struggled with form, audience, and shared values.
Reflections on the Experience of Race at Hand-in-Gloveeven with those intentions, artists and communities of color were spoken of as non-present third parties, despite being present, resulting in the erasure of those in the room who live in complex identities and reenacting how their experiences are codified by others daily.
Because even if a conference is organized within an alternative space by a local group of arts organizers in deep conversation with many across different communities, it can still read externally as the same as what happens at the museum or other institutions because the forms of representation reflect structural principles that are at play outside the conference room.
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