Activism: Documents of Contemporary Art

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Past Event

This event was on Thu 2 Nov, 7pm

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Activism: Documents of Contemporary Art

£5 or £20.16 (includes book pre-order, with a 20% discount)

Join editors Afonso Dias Ramos and Tom Snow alongside special guests including Lina Khatib, Gavin Grindon and Mel Evans to unpack what activism means in the context of contemporary art today. 

Artists have consistently engaged in activist discourse, lending their skills to social movements, and regularly participating in civil and social rights campaigns while also boycotting cultural institutions and exerting significant pressure on them. From ACT UP and its affiliate groups since the dawn of the AIDS crisis to the counter-spectacle and street theatrics of the Arab Spring and Occupy, to ongoing protest movements such as Black Lives Matter, Rhodes Must Fall, and Decolonize This Place, activist aesthetics has proven increasingly difficult to define under traditional classifications. 

Ticket information
If you select the book pre-order option with your event ticket, your copy will be available for collection from the information desk on the evening.

About the speakers:

Tom Snow

Tom Snow is a Lecturer at the Sotheby’s Institute of Art. 

Afonso Dias Ramos

Afonso Dias Ramos is a Researcher at the Art History Institute (NOVA FCSH/IN2PAST) and a Guest Lecturer at NOVA FCSH.

Lina Khatib

Lina Khatib is Director of the SOAS Middle East Institute and Associate Fellow at Chatham House. Her work is firmly interdisciplinary, spanning international affairs, Middle East politics, and visual culture and communications.

Her books include Image Politics in the Middle East: The Role of the Visual in Political Struggle (2013) and she is a frequent writer and commentator on current affairs in the Middle East. Her music projects include co-founding and co-leading the World Metal Congress. She very occasionally creates screen-based art, more frequently designs and makes avant-garde headpieces, and has written a theatrical dark comedy about the Middle East.

Gavin Grindon

Gavin Grindon is senior lecturer in Art History and Curating at the University of Essex. He co-curated Disobedient Objects at the V&A; Cruel Designs at Dismaland; Werbepause: the Art of Subvertising at Kunstraum Kreuzberg; and The Museum of Neoliberalism in South London. He is currently writing a history of activist-art, and has published writing around that topic in Social TextThe Oxford Art JournalArt History and Third Text.

Mel Evans

Mel Evans is an artist and campaigner part of Liberate Tate. After six years making unsanctioned live art interventions in Tate galleries – which included live tattooing, assembling a 16.5 metre long wind turbine blade, and sleeping in the Turbine Hall overnight – Liberate Tate succeeded in ending BP sponsorship of Tate. Liberate Tate is an art collective that takes action, and its performance interventions have involved hundreds of people. Their work shows the power of art to make real change happen. Mel is also author of Artwash: Big Oil and the Arts (Pluto, 2015), which examines the function and impact of oil sponsorship, has chapters in The Routledge Handbook of Radical Politics (Routledge: 2019) and ArtWork: Art, Activism and Labour (Rowman and Littlefield: 2018), and is currently head of Climate at Greenpeace UK.