Students Celebrate Occupy Art

The alcohol was provided at Bring Your Own (BYO): Voices of the Contemporary’s discussion about the role of art in the Occupy movement at the Sert Seminar Space on Tuesday.

More than fifty college and community members delved into the open bar and Thai food at the “Unstable Art” discussion as they were greeted by the event’s facilitators—a various collection of Graduate School of Design students and artists.

“We really wanted to foster discussion about the involvement of art in the Occupy movement,” History of Art and Architecture graduate student Claire R. Grace said. “This evening is for open-form discussions, so that the conversation can form organically, much like the organizational structure of the Occupy movement.”

The participants were broken up into several discussion groups and asked to come up with keywords or questions about the relationship between art and the Occupy movement before joining together to reflect in a larger dialogue.

“I am an artist and care deeply about both Occupy and politics,” choreographer for the In Noon Migratory Dance Collective Katherine Anderson said. “I want to use art to make political change, but I am unclear as to whether art can actually change the world politically, which is why I came here today.”

Anderson said that she has been interpreting Lawrence Lessig’s theory on campaign finance reform through dance. She was inspired to create more political choreography after seeing that provocative art pieces came out of the Occupy movement, some even by highly recognizable artists.

Some participants shared their thoughts about authorship and collectivity in art, focusing on the distinctive leaderless politics of the Occupy movement.

“I see artists as having the capacity to amplify the meaning of Occupy through direct action or installations or performance,” local artist Lissy Romanow said. “However, the idea of the ‘author’ is changing...[now] social change is the ‘art’ and the ‘author’ is the movement itself.”

Alex J. Altman, an active participant in Occupy Boston, added that this “authorlessness” is one of the most important aspect of Occupy.

“You see a wealth of artistic talent responsible for the Occupy movement, [and] yet nobody is asking for any credit. Our government could learn a lot from this,” he said.

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