2021 News From the Field
The Dancing Trees — Webinar on Art, Activism and Climate Changes
The Dancing Trees project aims to look for answers about what performing artists and citizens can do in response to one of the biggest crises we are facing today, the crisis of a healthy environment survival, whose direct result is the global climate change and one of the main causes of it — deforestation.
“Over 100 artists and activists from all over the globe are set to take part in the 4th International Human Rights Art Festival in New York City from Dec. 6-12 at Wild Project (195 E. 3rd St. in Manhattan). Set to coincide with International Human Rights Day which falls on Dec.10 every year, the Festival brings together artists with social and political leaders and the general public to imagine and implement a better, more caring world.”
ICAF 2023 is interested in arts projects and organisations that demonstrate an awareness of the power of community arts to affect, enrich and expose us to forms of positive change, and that use sound as an entry point into this creative journey. Beyond the open call (which closed on Nov. 28), ICAF is looking for content for the upcoming ICAF online platform, as well as to broaden its network of future friends and collaborators. Reach out to the festival at firstname.lastname@example.org with any projects and proposals.
Ubumuntu Festival's team is excited to announce that online applications for next year's Ubumuntu Festival in July 2021, which is themed "Rebirth; I can, I must, I will," will open soon. If you're an artist and want to participate in the 2021 festival, be sure to follow the festival on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and check out the website.
During the inaugural program of the INSPIRE (Inspirational Creative Practice: The Work of Artists after War and Violent Conflict) Seminar Series, Liberian singer, songwriter and anti-violence community activist Fatu Gayflor and Toni Shapiro-Phim of Brandeis University’s Program in Peacebuilding and the Arts discussed their collaboration on a documentary film, "Because of the War." Intrinsic to the conversation is the anti-violence work of Gayflor and her Liberian artist-colleagues during and following Liberia's years of civil strife — a model that integrates music and community-building in Liberia, at refugee settlements in other West African countries, and in the United States, Fatu Gayflor’s current home.
The Nobel Prize in Literature 2021 was awarded to Abdulrazak Gurnah, born in Zanzibar, "for his uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism and the fate of the refugee in the gulf between cultures and continents." According to critic Maya Jaggi, "Gurnah ...is a powerful and nuanced writer whose elliptical lyricism counters the silences and lies of imperial history imposed when he was a child in east Africa. His subtle oeuvre is as robust about the brutal flaws of the mercantile culture he left as the atrocities of British and German colonialism, not least during the first world war, and the ‘random acts of terror’ he experienced as a black person in Britain…"
Protection Network for Artists-at-Risk in Latin America and the Caribbean. PAR is a protection network for artists-at-risk in Latin America and the Caribbean, established with the aims to:
- Provide quick responses to artists and cultural professionals who, due to their work, face attacks or situations of risk in Latin America and the Caribbean;
- Support regional relocation processes in Latin America and the Caribbean;
- Make visible the challenges of defending freedom of artistic expression and the dangers and threats facing artists in the region; and
- Support joint actions at the national, regional and international levels that aim at having an impact both on international Human Rights bodies and national or regional bodies, where the rights of artists can be promoted and defended.
The Mellon Foundation profiles the dynamic work of the Alaska Native Heritage Center, which represents the state’s 11 major Native groups; highlights the growing momentum toward cultural repatriation in the digital space; and looks back at the robust programs dedicated to advancing the next generation of Native American cultural leaders at the Peabody Essex and Heard Museums.
In "A Broken House," directed by Jimmy Goldblum, Mohamad Hafez comes to the U.S. on a single-entry visa to study architecture, and, when he realizes that he can't return to his home country, he decides to conjure it in his art.
Research Project and Seminar Series: INSPIRE: Artistic Encounters in War and Violent Conflict
Inspirational Creative Practice: The Work of Artists after War and Violent Conflict (INSPIRE) is a research project that studies the role of artists and creative practice in and after violent conflict. The project is hosted by the Peace Research Institute in Oslo (PRIO) and connected to the PRIO Centre on Culture and Violent Conflict (CCC). Working with artists and activists in Myanmar and Sudan, and exiled artists in four European countries (France, the Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland), we explore what motivates those engaged in creative practice and how artistic expressions inspire others into action for social justice.
The INSPIRE research project platform was launched in the beginning of June this year and is at the core of our research project. It functions as a space for critical and creative reflection as well as a live archive of the project. As a multi-disciplinary team, and particularly through the virtual platform, we hope to engage across different disciplines and different geographies, sharing ideas, showing our processes and creating a space that invites collaboration and co-creation of knowledge on themes and topics related to art and artistic practices in the context of war, violent conflict and exile.
This autumn we will be organizing a seminar series, where invited researchers and artists will present their work and working methods. The seminar series will circulate around different themes such as ethics and research with artists; arts-based methods and collaborative research methods; researching art, artists, and conflict/war/post conflict; collaborative methods — researchers' and artists' perspectives; arts as transformation—in the context of violent conflict and war; and engaged scholarship. The seminars will happen online and take place monthly at 12-1 p.m. Wednesdays.
Visit the INSPIRE research platform for more information.
Call for Papers: Peace Review: A Journal of Social Justice
Under the guest editorship of Dr. Volker Boege, Senior Research Fellow at the Toda Peace Institute, and Dr. Ria Shibata, Research Fellow at the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Otago, "Peace Review: A Journal of Social Justice" invites articles for a special issue on Climate Change, Conflict and Peace. Climate change is one of the critical global challenges of our times with grave social, economic, political, cultural and environmental implications.
We welcome submissions for a special issue that explores the multidimensional and far-reaching challenges of climate change that include political, technical, material, emotional, psychological, cultural and spiritual issues that can generate ripe conditions for conflict. This issue seeks to address the linkages between the effects of climate change, conflict, security and peace. Both case-based empirical-analytical and theoretical-conceptual contributions are welcome. While we imagine the bulk of submissions will come from academics, we also encourage civil society actors and policy makers to contribute their insights based on their experiences.
Call for Papers: Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance
"Theatre and performance practitioners working with narratives by people impacted by political violence in transitional justice scenarios are faced with a fundamental challenge: how to ethically and aesthetically mediate a social process in which a group of people share their painful experiences and others (a public) listen to them in the context of a performance or a workshop? Listening, in the context of such a creative process, comes centre stage.
Listening is a crucial driver of transitional processes, both actual and artistic. (Sotelo Castro, 2019 and 2020, Borneman 2002, Aranguren 2017, Jelin 2007) Increasingly, creative teams are using oral history and other interviewing techniques to collaborate with participants and record their narratives as part of a research and creation process. Curated fragments of the recorded stories may later be delivered verbatim by performers or, at times, by the interviewees themselves. Other approaches to performing oral histories include Theatre of the Oppressed and Playback Theatre. Oral history, thus, “does not solely belong to historians or to a particular paradigm” (Field, 2008).
We embrace here an interdisciplinary understanding of oral history that positions creative and production teams, performers and audiences alike as listeners and witnesses of performances in which narratives told in the context of an interview are told again (Pollock, 1990) for an audience. At stake in such work are unresolved, often very complex social questions put forward by living people around justice and injustice, abuse of power, human rights violations, truth, needs of redress and healing, shattered trust, but also hope, community and peace-building."
See the full invitation for research papers and other contributions, including digital documentations, audio or photo essays, addressing a number of relevant questions, practices and concerns.
Podcast: " '¡' El Arte no Calla!" a new monthly Spanish-language podcast
"The podcast explores art, freedom of expression, and human rights in Latin America. In each episode, ARC's Latin America Representative Alessandro Zagato invites a different guest to help analyze the varying states of artistic freedom in Latin America and the violations that artists and activists are suffering in the region." Some recent episodes are
- Relocation of artists at risk in Latin America
- The Fight for Free Expression in Cuba with Julio Llópiz Casal
- Repression and Emancipatory Art in Guatemala
- Transgender Art and Censorship in Brazil with Renata Carvalho
"The climate for artists across South, Southeast and East Asia is increasingly hostile, with the global COVID-19 pandemic continuing to pose a serious threat to artistic freedom and the specter of censorship jeopardizing artists’ ability to work and speak out. In a new publication called Arresting Art: Repression, Censorship, and Artistic Freedom in Asia from PEN America's Artists at Risk Connection (ARC) — produced in partnership with the Mekong Cultural Hub (MCH) and the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) — artists across the Asian continent expressed serious fears, especially around digital security laws and nationalistic tendencies that threaten to impose a culture of conformity across one of the most vibrant, diverse regions for the arts in the world. Arresting Art presents the discussion and findings from a closed virtual workshop convened in December 2020."
"How should we approach intercultural relations in conditions of pandemic-induced uncertainty and instability? Between April and July 2021, our Alteration programme with the Ukrainian Institute and EU Delegation to Ukraine invited professionals from the cultural, creative and civic society sectors to explore this new normal for cultural relations."
Online Platform: PRAXISPACE — a virtual studio, library, and coffee shop in one
PRAXISPACE is an online platform for choreographers, artists and other makers, a space to share work and be seen. Become a member to access a monthly essay and score from Alexandra Beller, community board video and articles archive, dedicated profile pages, messaging, scores archive, free entry into praxischats, and a monthly live online meeting.
Podcast: The Activist Files Podcast
"This month, we are excited to cross-promote our 40th episode with 'The Artivists’ Room,' Donkeysaddle Projects’ podcast, which features conversations with artists, organizers, and activists, whose art serves as a tool for movement building. In this episode, our Advocacy Director Nadia Ben-Youssef sat down for an interview with Donkeysaddle Projects' podcast host, cultural organizer, artist, actor, and writer BK King. Nadia and BK talked about what it means to reconfigure advocacy work in this moment and how to push beyond reactive work to move activism to a place where we are demanding the world we want."
Episode 40: Radical freedom through art and activism with Nadia Ben-Youssef & BK King: The two artists answered the question, "What does freedom look like through art?’ by highlighting the importance of art in activism and discussing how creatives transform their radical imaginations to dream of a world where we are liberated. BK closes all of her episodes by asking, 'If you could talk with anyone in your room, who would it be?' Listen to this episode to find out Nadia’s answer."
"CRA and Eni present ‘Natural Capital,' one of the largest data visualizations ever produced. Set in Milan's historic botanical garden, the installation illustrates the role that plants play in absorbing emissions. It matches each tree species with a sphere showing how much CO2 trees can capture and store. The installation will be unveiled at the Milan Design Week in September 2021 as part of INTERNI’s 'Creative Connections’' exhibition."
"Co-created by visionaries who believe that the powerful transformative qualities of arts can be used for social impact, CAN is a platform that aims to enable, engage and empower individuals, organizations and communities through arts and unlikely alliances in order to generate meaningful change to shape a more humane future together."
A Call for Translations of a Summary of a United Nations Cultural Rights Report
In early 2021, the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights at the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR) produced a report on the devastating toll of the COVID-19 pandemic on culture and cultural rights. Indeed, the report identifies the pandemic as a "foundational challenge to all human rights." Below is the report's summary.
"COVID-19, culture and cultural rights Report of the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, Karima Bennoune"
The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic is a cataclysm for cultural rights, threatening a global "cultural catastrophe" with severe, long-lasting consequences for human rights if effective action is not taken immediately. In the present report, the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights surveys the negative impacts of COVID-19 on culture and cultural rights worldwide, and the positive potential of culture and cultural rights, and the right to science, to enhance rights-respecting solutions and build resilience. The report also contains relevant recommendations for action.
In March of this year, the Special Rapporteur spoke about the report during a webinar. At the end of the presentation, she invited listeners, who had asked how they could help, to contribute translations of the report's one-paragraph summary. The translators at the United Nations are preparing the official versions of the summary in the five other UN languages (French, Spanish, Russian, Arabic and Chinese). We're sharing a call for translations of it in additional languages. The OHCHR will make sure to have them published on their website for the benefit of all. If you are interested in providing a translation, please send a note to Toni Shapiro-Phim by May 7.
You can read the full report on the impact of COVID-19 on cultural rights and learn more about the role of cultural rights in various global crises on the page dedicated to this issue.
All the episodes of the "Unspeakable Depths" podcast offer insights into extraordinary efforts at the nexus of creativity and peacebuilding. Episode 2 features an interview with Cyprus-based Dr. Ellada Evangelou, artistic director of the Buffer Fringe Performing Arts Festival and a member of IMPACT's Leadership Circle. Erin Villaronga Mulligan, the creator of this podcast series, spoke with Dr. Evangelou in March 2021. Listen to Dr. Evangelou's stories about her theater and other artistic work for conflict transformation in Cyprus and beyond. In the other episodes we hear from Ketty Anyeko of Uganda, currently a Ph.D candidate in Canada, whose work has focused on gender, transitional justice and peacebuilding, and Kim Berman, professor of visual arts and co-founder of a community arts center in South Africa. Mulligan provides links to transcripts of the interviews, as well as to additional related resources.
International Community Arts Festival (ICAF) held its first virtual festival MINI ICAF in February 2021. Tim Prentki and Salvo Pitruzzella facilitated a virtual conversation on empathy, art and community with a diverse international group. Watch the recorded Zoom conversation in two parts: Part 1 and Part 2.
Follow ICAF's Eugene var Erven's blog on empathy:
- Empathy and Community Arts (1): Intro & notes on The Empathic Brain
- Empathy and Community Arts (2): notes on The War for Kindness
Covering a body of work that spans almost five decades and locations from war zones to great cities, this anthology takes the reader on a journey from the earliest days of Playback Theatre to the present day, and includes several essays written specifically for this collection.
Artsakh: Cultural Heritage Under Threat (Hyperallergic)
This edition of Hyperallergic explores the realities facing the monuments, churches, and landmarks currently threatened in post-war Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh), while considering the complexities that are often overlooked in such contested areas of the world.
"Bob Leonard's story is a crisscross of dialogue and music, lights and dancing, serendipity and surprise. It is bound up with the layers of people and narratives that form the creative community fabric he's fostered and served through his work In the theater of change."
A Handbook for Artists Facing Persecution (Hyperallergic)
PEN America has released a critical guide for artists at risk, created with input from persecuted creators around the world.
"Coexistence in the Aftermath of Mass Violence" demonstrates how imagination, empathy and resilience contribute to the processes of social repair after ethnic and political violence. Adding to the literature on transitional justice, peacebuilding, and the anthropology of violence and social repair, the authors show how these conceptual pathways — imagination, empathy and resilience — enhance recovery, coexistence and sustainable peace. Some of the chapters focus explicitly on the arts, ritual and women's narratives.
Coexistence (or reconciliation) is the underlying goal or condition desired after mass violence, enabling survivors to move forward with their lives. Imagination allows these survivors (victims, perpetrators, bystanders) to draw guidance and inspiration from their social and cultural imaginaries, to develop empathy, and to envision a future of peace and coexistence. Resilience emerges through periods of violence and its aftermaths through acts of survival, compassion, modes of rebuilding social worlds, and the establishment of a peaceful society. Focusing on society at the grass roots level, the authors discuss the myriad and little-understood processes of social repair that allow ruptured societies and communities to move toward a peaceful and stable future.
The volume also illustrates some of the ways in which imagination, empathy, and resilience may contribute to the prevention of future violence. The authors conclude with a number of practical and policy recommendations. The cases include examples from Cambodia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somaliland, Columbia, the Southern Cone, Iraq, and Bosnia. Edited by Eve M. Zucker, Lecturer in the Department of Anthropology at Yale University (USA) and Laura McGrew, practitioner and researcher who completed her PhD in peace studies at Coventry University (UK).
" 'Forces of Art' is a wide ranging series of investigations into diverse cultural organisations and projects around the world. Independent teams of researchers apply a variety of methodologies to examine the ways in which art and culture have been operational in empowering people, communities and societies in their own social contexts."
- Watch the book launch
- Listen to the Podcast Stance Takes: Forces of Art in Colombia, Syria, Kyrgyzstan, Uganda and Kenya
New Article: Postcolonial Cultural Management (Arts Management Quarterly)
"Coloniality — or colonial thinking — is still prevalent in most parts of the world and most aspects of life, even in arts and culture. Professionals in the sector may not think of themselves as biased, but postcolonial studies prove them wrong. This issue of Arts Management Quarterly presents first approaches to decolonize arts and cultural management."
"We are extremely happy to include in this volume experts and/or activists from music sociology, inclusive education, peace studies, transformative leadership, ethnomusicology, community music, spirituality and post-war reconstruction. The keywords found in this volume cover debates about identity and peacebuilding, notions of space, inclusion, sound communities and transitional justice."
"Reel Change: The Fund for Diversity in Film Scoring" is a five-year grant and mentorship program for film composers of diverse ethnicities, gender identities, sexual orientation, socio-economic status and abilities that are historically underrepresented in film composition. The fund assists U.S.-based projects currently in production/post-production where additional support and/or mentoring would be beneficial to film composers who are at a pivotal point in their career in which the project will help them break through to the next stage of their profession."
"Explore the most significant achievements of a very special 2020 in Crear Vale La Pena, Argentina. Creative activities migrated 100% to virtuality! We carried out workshops for head teachers, teachers, students, artists, health workers, social workers, community leaders, private companies. We reached 5,560 young people and adults and through our teachers training program to more than 20,000 beneficiaries with our creative-playful didactic approach! We exhibited in 19 national and international conferences."
The CAS Arts and International Cooperation in partnership with artasfoundation brings together artists and members of internationally cooperating organizations from the Global South and North. What they share is an interest in the potential of the arts to support processes of social transformations and peacebuilding and an engagement for fair and sensitive international collaboration. Through a study-trip with field visits, they gain insight into actual art projects in fragile contexts and reflect upon them on the basis of tools and concepts from current literature. They conclude with a mentored diploma thesis that relates to an individual project or work-context.
"In a time of conflict and darkness in her home in Aleppo, Syria, one young woman kept her camera rolling — while falling in love, getting married, having a baby and saying goodbye as her city crumbled. The award-winning documentary unfolds as a love letter from filmmaker and young mother Waad al-Kateab to her daughter — Sama."
Stand | Votki | Ayaklan |Debout (Collectif Medz Bazar)
A new song (in Armenian, Turkish, Persian, English and French) from Collectif Medz Bazar calling for peace following the recent 44-day war in Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh).
Haitian Artists Auction Paintings and Host a Storytelling Event for Post-Earthquake Relief
In September, the Haitian Artist Assembly of Massachusetts (USA) and the 2021 Mass Haitian Relief Task Force collaborated on an art auction and virtual storytelling gathering, proceeds of which went to inaccessible towns in the rural areas of Haiti where aid continues to be needed. Local (U.S.-based) Haitian artists donated their work. Organizer Charlot Lucian offered hopes "that we can bring the youth into this particular form of cultural event, storytelling, to connect with Haiti and to learn about Haiti through a different lens," noting that “some of the storytellers were able to draw stories out of the images they saw, so there will be some sense of traveling mentally through the paintings. It will bring back powerful stories and powerful solidarity,"
An openly gay Haitian-Canadian DJ and producer, Kaytranada has built up a critically acclaimed discography of hip-hop-tinged dance music which wrestles with the intersectionality of queerness and Blackness. He has won two Grammy Awards and has collaborated and toured with artists such as Pharrell Williams, Kali Uchis and Madonna.
Roudy Azor is a Port-au-Prince-based artist who specializes in the beadwork style of drapo Vodou, which was pioneered by his mentor Myrlande Constant and focuses on creating new interpretations of Vodou deities.
A New York-based Haitian diaspora artist, Jean-Louis’ photography deals with themes of history, high fantasy, and Afro-Futurism, inspecting the relationship between Blackness and European ideals of colonialism and beauty.
Also New York-based, Charlot's photojournalism and artistic works toy with ideas of intersectional identity, pulling apart race, nationality, gender and spirituality to analyze the position of Black women in globalized society.
Alexandra Antoine is a diasporic multimedia artist based in Chicago who specializes in collage. Her work covers the breadth of the Haitian and wider African diasporas, thinking about how food, labor, and culture intersect in the portrayal of certain individuals.
A Boston-based female rapper, Dutch ReBelle explores her Haitian-Dominican heritage throughout her multiple projects, and has received multiple Boston-area music awards for her efforts.
A vital name in the literature of the Haitian diaspora and multi-time award winner, Edwidge Danticat plays around with themes of state control, national identity, Black womanhood and maternity, and the politics of migration.
Not only is Valerie Noisette an accomplished visual artist in her own right, but she has also dedicated much of her time organizing and uplifting contemporary Haitian artists. Her group Kolektif 509 has created a platform for over 85 Haitian artists, and has organized over 30 exhibitions.
Anderson Saint-Pierre was born in Haiti and moved to Florida after spending two years homeless following Hurricane Hanna, which ravaged the island. Self-taught, his canvas prints reflect the contradictions of Blackness, Haitian identity, and celebrity in the American lens.
SAMDI is a Haitian abstract painter whose work focuses on Haitian history and self-discovery in an anti-Black world.
In the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Dodard started the program Plas Timoun, which serves as an artistic outlet for Haitian children to process their trauma following the disaster.
This article features a rather stunning painting by Marcelin which she created as response to returning home to Port-au-Prince a month after the 2010 earthquake.
"The Afghanistan National Institute of Music became a symbol of the country’s changing identity."
"After the group was ousted, music and music education thrived in the country; now that they're back, will they still?"
Shamsia Hassani "is turning her emotions into art and has published a series of heartbreaking images on her social media."
"On-the-ground sources say no looting has taken place yet — but they don't necessarily trust the Taliban’s assurances."
"Hashimi spoke to PEN America about the tragic events unfolding in Afghanistan, how readers and writers can support one another, and the prospects for women's rights in the country moving forward."
"PEN America is calling for urgent protections to writers, journalists, and other creatives in Afghanistan following the government's collapse.
"For Afghan artist Omaid Sharifi, and for many others living through the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, the future is uncertain."
"Particularly threatened by the Taliban, some artists are trying to destroy all proof of their work. Others are creating last pieces as a form of resistance."
United Nations Office of the Commissioner of Human Rights
"The Afghan American Artists and Writers Association has supported calls for the United States government to keep its embassy in the capital open 'at all costs' to protect refugees."
"On streets, with digital tools, through photographs, on canvases — Afghan women artists over the last two decades were beginning to find compensation for all the opportunities of expression they lost during the Taliban’s rule between 1996 and 2001. Dreams took flight into the horizons of possibility, of equality. Only to be shattered again."
Additional Resources and Calls for Action
- Artists at Risk Connection (find help)
- Humanitarian Crisis in Afghanistan: (Women's Refugee Commission) Read their one-page fact sheet on immediate actions for the Biden administration and world leaders.
- Futures Without Violence: Presenting numerous ways to donate to or volunteer for evacuation, relief and resettlement efforts. (Read to the end of the page.) Dr. Jessica Litwak, Team Leader for the Artists & Human Rights Initiative for Theatre Without Borders, on behalf of AHRDO, the Afghanistan Human Rights and Democracy Organization, Kabul, has shared the following extensive listings of information and sources of support and action.
For People in the U.S.
"For many within the AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) community, the recent spike in racially motivated attacks against Asians in the United States has been alarming and disturbing, but comes as little surprise. U.S. history demonstrates that time and time again, Asians have consistently been used as scapegoats, from the whitewashing of railroad construction to Japanese internment to the murder of Vincent Chin to the 'China virus' — all the while being labeled the 'model minority.' AAPI artists have long been at the forefront of highlighting and unpacking this often invisibilized reality.
"Newly spurred to action to combat bias, they generate subway posters, leverage social media, stage Zoom webinars. 'Our community couldn't take being invisible any longer,' one artist says."
"Artist Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya's colorful cover for [an] issue of Time magazine honors the six Asian women killed in Atlanta. With Softness and Power (2020) features a woman surrounded by chrysanthemums and peonies, which symbolize beauty and resilience, and was adapted from a series Phingbodhipakkiya created for the NYC Commission on Human Rights."
"Korean American artist Jiha Moon stages 'Out Loud' with Atlanta Contemporary to give a voice to Asian women artists."
"Eight Asian artists and art professionals drafted an open letter addressed to Artforum. Published on 1 April, the letter called on the publication to end its 'silence' on the Stop Asian Hate movement and provide a direct response to the rise in anti-Asian abuse and violence."
"This July, UN Women — the branch of the United Nations dedicated to gender equality and women's empowerment — is holding "A Force for Change — UN Women: Benefit Auction 2021." The online auction, which opened exclusively on Artsy and runs through July 30, will benefit UN Women's Black Women Programme, which will support a number of Black women–led organizations across the globe."
On an episode of "The Path Forward," panelists from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago's conference series on anti-racism explore how art and design organizations can become more equitable and inclusive.
"This is why today, on the anniversary of George Floyd's death, I wanted to write about the power of visual storytelling and how this medium has the ability to change the world. We can all appreciate the power of images, especially visual art. Images move people, promote ideas and provide windows into different worlds. Images shape our history — and our perception of it."
Pitroda Art presents Movement: Art for Social Change, the annual juried exhibition that celebrates artists as champions of positive social change. Having started at the site of the iconic "Black Lives Matter" mural in Washington D.C. on May 13, 14 artworks by 15 international artists, selected by a renowned jury, were showcased in five different U.S. cities throughout May and June.
"Visions of Equity is a special project conceived and curated by TIME's BIPOC staff, featuring stories about the fight for racial justice and ways to build a better world. Those of us leading the project were blown away when we saw 'God Bless the Child.' Casteel's mother named the painting after the Billie Holiday song. Casteel said she particularly loved rendering the hair. 'It feels familiar,' she says. 'I see myself represented in this work.' "
An acclaimed art museum in Portland, Oregon (USA) evaluates its history as a museum established in the late-19th century's "Gilded Age," a time of colonialism and imperialism. According to chief curator Brian Frisso, the museum must look critically at the ways it acquired art and how it relates to justice and equity, as well as which kinds of artists are represented in its exhibitions—which like much of the western art world privileges white European and traditional forms of expression.
Visual Arts of Maharashtra: Artists of the Bombay School and Art Institutions (Late 18th to Early 21st Century) has been released in an English translation. "Mumbai has four languages with four language theatres..., Marathi and Gujarati speakers watch English and Hindi theatre. But Marathi and Gujarati theatre is not watched by people outside those linguistic groups. When scholars ask me what they can read on Marathi theatre I have to say to them there is much, but it's all in Marathi to which you don't have access. This is how our languages keep us apart."
Herstory's new Parallel Peace Project sees Israeli, Palestinian and Northern Irish peace activists take part in the project which expresses experiences of conflict and injustice, as well as dreams for peace. It included shows in Dublin, Belfast and Jerusalem as symbols of hope and solidarity.
"The conflict is the latest eruption of violence in the region. But some Palestinians say this time feels different."
"As tensions between Israel and Palestine continue to escalate, artists are banding together to support victims of the conflict. Their projects have taken the form of print sales, Instagram Live sessions, and even NFTs, often with the focus on Palestine."
"When political identity is under threat, culture becomes a resistance tool in the face of attempts to obliterate, annihilate and exclude. Resistance is a form of memory in exchange for forgetting. A stateless person would consider writing or art a home to dwell in."
Many of the individual initiatives or art projects mentioned below were identified by students in Brandeis University's Confronting Gender-Based Violence course, including Lauren Formanski, Iku Tsujihiro, Joanna Xiong, Emma Xu and Carol Xu.
Lockdowns the world over, meant to curb the spread of COVID-19, have resulted in a dramatic rise in intimate partner violence. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women, calls this a "shadow pandemic," impacting populations from Australia to Cyprus, Zimbabwe to Argentina, the United States to Singapore, and everywhere in between. Within a month of the World Health Organization's declaration of a pandemic in March 2020, people working to combat intimate partner violence noted alarming trends: In some places, calls to organizations and hotlines rose astronomically; in others, many fewer requests or pleas for help came in than normal, most likely because individuals were trapped with their abusers and couldn't reach out safely.
Those who identify as women are most, though not solely, at risk to suffer gender-based violence (GBV). UN Women reports that one in three women worldwide has suffered gender-based violence, even before the pandemic. Intimate partner — or domestic — abuse (whether physical, emotional, financial or other) is a form of GBV, inflicted by a current or former intimate partner or spouse, most often at home, away from the public eye. Research shows that intimate partner violence increases during times and situations of crisis. International, national and local efforts to counter the 2020-21 surge of intimate partner violence include remarkably creative initiatives. A United Nations Population Fund partnership with the Thimphu City Bus Services in Bhutan, for example, trains bus conductors and drivers, as well as taxi drivers, "to carry out advocacy on... GBV prevention in public transport services." The program was instituted after Bhutan's queen, Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen Jetsun Pema Wangchuck, expressed alarm at "the number of domestic violence and abuse cases reported during the first COVID-19 lockdown in August 2020."
With food markets and pharmacies being kept open when many other businesses have been shut down, a program in France places pop-up counseling centers in grocery stores for those experiencing intimate partner violence while another, started in Spain's Canary Islands by the Institute for Equality, "Mascarilla-19 (Mask-19)," offers people the option to ask for a Mask-19 in a pharmacy. This is a code signaling an appeal for help. The pharmacist then connects the person to support services. And in Japan, the government made it possible for individuals to pick up their personal pandemic-related government-issued checks, meant to alleviate economic hardship, rather than have them mailed to their homes, if their partners would block their access to their own money. However, applicants were required to show proof that they already had moved out of the home where the abuse was happening.
These and other initiatives, including the myriad digital apps that have been developed or re-worked to assist those trapped in dangerous circumstances, also involve risks to the individuals reaching out for help, no matter what mitigation steps are taken by program coordinators or other participants. The crisis calls for diligence in understanding the layered complexity of the violence, and of possible responses.
Artists, too, have been addressing the current emergency, by increasing public knowledge, and attempting to shift attitudes and behavior. Senegalese visual artist Diart presented an exhibition of paintings at House of Urban Culture in Dakar to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (November 25). Each piece is based on her personal experience of intimate partner violence. In a statement, she declares it her "duty to raise awareness" through her paintings, "and to denounce," while also aiming to de-stigmatize women's sharing of their experiences of intimate partner violence.
In the UK, the ART/DATA/HEALTH research project at University of Brighton, which links the arts with concerns about health and wellbeing, commissioned Anna Dumitriu to create an installation focused on COVID-19 and its relationship to intimate partner violence. Dumitriu collaborated with an intimate partner abuse charity, RISE, in designing a sculptural installation giving (online) viewers the chance to deal on a profound level with the illogic of home being both shelter and safe haven from disease, and, for some, at some moments, its opposite, and with similar issues related to what is public and what is private. Entitled "Shielding," the exhibition features tiny reconstructions of beds from temporary hospitals constructed in the early days of the pandemic.
"Argue with Me" is Russian artist Katrin Nenasheva's contribution. Seated in a St. Petersburg courtyard at a table topped with a vase of flowers, and wearing a white wedding dress, Nenasheva, in May of 2020, provided survivors of intimate partner and other violence with information about local support services, and opened up a space for abusers to ponder their actions and alternatives through her performance. Passers-by were invited to have a seat and converse with the artist, sometimes engaging in craft-making activities as they spoke. Acknowledging that she is not a trained therapist, she started dialogues, and pointed people to resources for follow-up, aiming to bring invisibilized violence into the open so that it can be addressed.
And, though not explicitly related to the pandemic, Chinese pop star Tan Weiwei's Xiaojuan (alias) / Jane Doe | 谭维维 - 小娟（化名, released in December 2020 recounts documented brazen and horrific ways in which intimate partners have abused or murdered their wives or sweethearts. By the end of the song, when performed live, Tan Weiwei and the other women who have joined her on stage proclaim they will no longer be known by aliases, and will not stay silent.
Amabie is the name of a nineteenth century Japanese mythological spirit associated with refuge from epidemics. Images of her are popping up across Japan and around the world, ranging from hand-drawn works from amatuer artists to amulets placed on storefronts to ward off illness. "It makes sense, then, that it has resurfaced during the global COVID-19 pandemic, only this time on social media. Illustrations of Amabie are circulating on Twitter and Instagram under the hashtags #amabie and #アマビエ; artists around the world are drawing and sharing Amabie in hopes of repelling disease, or at the very least honing their talents and finding community while social distancing."
"This is the 196th installment of a series in which artists send in a photo and a description of their workspace. In light of COVID-19, we've asked participants to reflect on how the pandemic has impacted their studio space and/or if their work process has changed while quarantining. Want to take part? Please submit your studio! Just check out the submission guidelines."
Chinese artist Yang Qian worked as a volunteer delivering vital supplies to hospitals and residents during the city's 76-day pandemic lockdown last year. Now, she is using her art work to ensure that history is not forgotten. She uses dots of black ink to recreate a detailed aerial view of Wuhan, China. The work is painstakingly precise, where each dot honors individual residents of Wuhan who survived the pandemic. The work is an expression of their unity in pulling through the crisis, as well as unseen pain.
After conducting its annual peacebuilding ceremony last year as a virtual event during the beginning of the pandemic, two joint Palestinian-Israeli NGOs, Combatants for Peace and the Parents Circle Families Forum, hosted the Joint Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day Ceremony this April in Tel Aviv and Beit Jala. The hybrid event reached over 280,000 viewers throughout Israel, Palestine and the world. Here's the full bilingual Arabic-Hebrew ceremony (with English sub-titles), with moving testimonies and calls for shared humanity by bereaved family members, former combat soldiers, along with musical performances and protest theatre.
Artist Marcos Lutyens, with participation of dozens of community members, made more than 4,600 handmade felt roses to honor COVID-19 deaths in Orange County, California (USA). The handmade roses are currently on exhibition at Christ Cathedral, Orange County, and will become part of a larger display in Washington, D.C., at the National COVID Memorial Day event in March 2022. The delicately handcrafted and individually specific works of memorialization recall the Names Project AIDS Memorial Quilt–which was also on display for national mourning in Washington.
"By conventional measures, religion took a big hit during the pandemic. Houses of worship were shuttered. Major holidays like Easter, Passover and Eid al-Fitr were observed on the calendar but without the ordinary group celebrations. And major rituals like baptisms, funerals, and weddings took place via Zoom. But the spirit blows where it will, giving form to the void, and during extraordinary times like this one, it can give new meaning, depth, and understanding to what religion is, or could be."
This bill exceeds the respective $75 million allocated to the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities in the Trump administration's 2020 CARES Act.
"Working collaboratively with Team Halo, we are offering $100,000 in awards to artists to help us build a campaign to get the world #Vaccinated. We invite your artwork to help get the world #Vaccinated! These symbols will stand long after the virus is gone as a testament to our resilience. Please join us in this historic moment by submitting!" Deadline: May 10.
"Wanda Nanibush, an Anishinaabe curator at the Art Gallery of Ontario, says the pandemic has reinforced the importance of Indigenous art. 'I think it's interesting that everyone is at home and everyone is isolated, and they immediately turn to art,' she says. 'And I think that's because art is a place we can get out of ourselves and beyond ourselves. Art has always been seen as part of healing. I wouldn't say it can heal a pandemic — that's impossible. That's an actual physical thing. But it can heal some of the trauma of living through one.'"
"Valerie Kabov, the director of First Floor Gallery in Harare, puts her faith in the region's long-running resilience in the face of adversity. 'Galleries in most African countries operate in conditions that require flexibility and adaptability to unpredictable conditions and crises,' she says. Plus, the ongoing global reckoning with the Black Lives Matter movement could also translate into more spaces being created for under-represented artists, she says, which would set a course for success long beyond the immediate concerns of the pandemic."
This essay explores the abundance of art flourishing as a therapeutic antidote to the COVID-19 pandemic and panic arising across the world. Specifically, I discuss how the act of viewing, making and sharing music, street art, paintings, graphic art, cinema and digital videos can serve as a therapeutic vehicle for empowerment, solidarity and collective action as most human beings strive to adopt practices of extreme social distancing as the recommended community mitigation strategy to help save lives before a vaccine is developed. This essay explores how therapeutic art-making can promote physical, mental, and social health at a time in history when all of these are under threat by COVID-19. I root these claims in theoretical literature from art therapy, as well as in inspiring and heart-warming examples of the beautiful coronavirus art that has already begun to fill our digital landscape with motivation, resiliency, and hope, though the crisis is still in its early stages.
"We've made it through the terrible pandemic winter and are emerging into a strange new world that is very much changed after a full year under the shadow of the coronavirus. In the art industry, normality is still far in the distance, but we've learned a whole slew of lessons that have perhaps made us better adapted for the future ahead."