Zones of Emergency: Artistic Interventions – Creative Responses to Conflict & Crisis

Zones of Emergency: Artistic Interventions – Creative Responses to Conflict & Crisis

School of Architecture + Planning at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

September 22, 2011
Zones of Emergency: Artistic Interventions – Creative Responses to Conflict & Crisis

MIT program in art, culture and technology
School of Architecture & Planning
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Mondays 7–9 PM
Bartos Theater
20 Ames St., Cambridge, MA, USA
Free and open to the public.
[email protected]

The Zones of Emergency: Artistic Interventions – Creative Responses to Con­flict & Crisis Fall 2011 lecture series investigates initiatives and modes of in­tervention in contested spaces, zones of conflict, or areas affected by environ­mental disasters. The intention is to explore whether artistic interventions can transform, disrupt or subvert current environmental, urban, political and social conditions in critical ways. A crucial question is how can such interventions propose ideas, while at the same time respecting the local history and culture.


September 26, 2011
Tess Thackara, Director, Survival International (USA)
Popularizing the Fight for Indigenous Rights: How Using Films and Images Can Shift Public Opinion and Change history
Respondent: Ute Meta Bauer, ACT Associate Professor, MIT (USA)
This lecture explores the work and methodology of human rights group Sur­vival International, with a particular focus on the group’s efforts to generate a groundswell of support for tribal people all over the world. Using Survival films and campaigns as case studies, the lecture will focus on the need to popularize the narrative surrounding indigenous land rights.


Survival International: 


October 3, 2011
Jack Persekian, Curator (Jerusalem)
In the Meantime
Respondent: Nitin Sawhney, Assistant Professor, The New School (USA)
In 1992 Jack Persekian founded Anadiel Gallery, the first and only indepen­dent gallery for Palestinian artists in Jerusalem. Persekian later founded the Al-Ma’mal Foundation to continue the gallery’s mission and to further promote, instigate, and disseminate the production of art in Palestine. In his talk, Perseki­an will share his experience—the challenges and the outcomes—of creating a space for Palestinian artists in Jerusalem. Have the methods for working in contested spaces, such as Israel, changed over the years? Does art have the potential to engage a zone of conflict in a different way than politics?


Al-Ma’mal Foundation: 


October 17, 2011
Joichi Ito, Director, MIT Media Lab (USA)
Enabling Emergent Voices and Expression Through Technology
Respondent: TBA


Moore’s law and the Internet have dramatically reduced the cost of producing and distributing information. This has greatly lowered the cost of collaboration and has empowered a qualitatively different “public” to think, express, and act without, or in spite of, central authority. These changes and advances in technology enabled interventions such as low-cost video cameras in the case of WITNESS; blogs (Global Voices); or open hardware and software used to build, distribute, collect and visualize data from geiger counters (Safecast). Ito will discuss how these trends relate to media, citizenship, academics, and conflicts.


October 31, 2011
Lucy Walker, Filmmaker (UK)
99 Is Not 100 – Documenting the Transformative Power of Art, or the Art of Transformative Documentary
Respondent: Claude Grunitzky, Chairman, TRUE, Sloan Fellow, MIT (USA)


How do we observe or quantify the impact of an artistic intervention or the im­pact of a documentary film? Lucy Walker will be reflecting on the experience of making and showing the film Waste Land, a documentary about artist Vik Muniz’s collaboration with the self-designated recyclables materials pickers of Jardim Gramacho, the largest landfill in the world. The film has won over thirty international awards and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Docu­mentary.


November 07, 2011
Stella Mcgregor, Director, Urbano Project (USA)
Ploughshares From Swords – Social Sculpture and Cultural Agency
Respondent: Gediminas Urbonas, ACT Associate Professor, MIT (USA)


How does creative activism contribute to society? How do we moderate cri­ses through individual and collective art practice? How do we reconcile the arts, activism, and pedagogy? Stella McGregor, Founder and Director of Ur­bano Project, will share her experience of working with inner city youth and introduce projects such as Violence Transformed, and Pedro Reyes’ Palas por Pistolas.


Urbano Project: 


November 14, 2011
James Wescoat, Aga Khan Professor
& Shun Kanda, Senior Lecturer, MIT (USA)
MIT Japan 3/11 Initiative
Respondent: Jegan Vincent de Paul, ACT Lecturer, MIT (USA)


In the aftermath of the disaster suffered in Japan, MIT launched the MIT Ja­pan 3/11 Initiative, a multi-year collaborative project focused on disaster-resilient planning, design and reconstruction. Back from the first MIT Japan 3/11 work­shop which took place this summer, Shun Kanda and Jim Wescoat will discuss the process and challenges in planning and implementing alternative strategies for disaster-preparedness.


MIT Japan 3/11 Initiative: 


November 21, 2011
Amar Kanwar, Filmmaker & Artist (India)
Respondent: Bish Sanyal, Ford International Professor of Urban
Development & Planning, MIT (USA)


Indian artist and well-known filmmaker Amar Kanwar creates documentary-based multi-channel installations that deal with the politics of power, violence, sexuality, and justice. In The Torn First Pages, Kanwar unfolds the struggle for democracy in Myanmar. The eight-channel video piece The Lightning Testimonies reflects upon a history of conflict in the Indian subcontinent through the experiences of sexual violence against women during and after the 1947 partition. Kanwar’s work has been shown in museums across the globe, and he received numerous awards for his works and humanitarian engagement.


Fall 2011 Special Programs


Joan Jonas: My New Theater: Reading Dante III
Exhibition // September 14–October 31, 2011
MIT Medial Lab Complex, 75 Amherst St., Cambridge, MA, USA


Marianne Amacher Tribute
Panel Discussion & Concert // October 22, 2011
ACT Cube, 20 Ames St., Cambridge, MA, USA


Centerbeam Documentary, 1977
Screening & Panel Discussion // November 10, 2011
MIT Medial Lab Complex, 75 Amherst St., Cambridge, MA, USA


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September 22, 2011

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