Artists Without a Cause

A recent protest in Spain used the eerie feeling of holograms to their advantage in a new and interesting political move which caught worldwide attention. Using holograms usually seems bizarre and a little scary to me, like when Tupac was brought back to life or Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, delivered a speech through a 10 foot tall hologram projection of himself. Having the body seem so tangible when it’s really not freaks me out.

Despite this, the use of holograms in this situation worked well for the political cause because of the dramatic message it sent to people across the globe. Protests in Spain have been common since the fall of the country’s economy. As a way to contain the dissidence, a new law, ironically named the Citizen Safety law, was passed in March 2015.

photo of the holograms protesting via @nosomosdelito

photo of the holograms protesting via @nosomosdelito

No Somos Delitos (We Are Not A Crime) has been organizing against the Citizen Safety Law.  The law makes not registering protests, assembling in protest, videotaping and taking photographs of or insulting the police illegal, resulting in arrest or extreme fines up to €600,000. A smaller group inside of No Somos Delitos, called Holograms for Freedom organized the hologram protest. The Citizen Safety Law was passed in March and will go into effect in July if the European Union does not intervene. It is being called the “gag law” because of the constraints it is putting on citizens. The law does not make holographic protest illegal, which left this as the last option for those seeking resistance.

Protesters left videos or audio on the organizations website over the two week before the protest. The result was 18,000 visual people who were then converted into holograms and protested outside of the Spanish parliament building in Madrid, allowing people from all over the world to take part in the protest.

Carlos Escaño, the spokesperson for No Somos Delito, said that “It’s about art, about going to a place beyond discourse. It’s about touching emotion,”. Although this new form of protesting is interesting and exciting on one hand, Escaño has said that he hopes it will be the first and last, because of the terrifying constraints which resulted in the need for this type of protest.

I think the use of art for political purposes is extremely powerful and can more clearly get a message across because it shows the creative and innovative side of resistance. Protests against this law have been happening for months now, but this new tactic caught the attention of mass media around the world and gave activists the needed attention. The innovative use of art helped push the message of the activists forward into the spotlight. Some have claimed it shows defeat and that other options of protest should be further explored. I don’t think exploring this new form of protest shows defeat at all. Those organizing it were balancing how to get the most attention while working with the real implication if this law is passed in July. They were able to (kind of) bring together people from all over the world.

Continually re-examining the past helps us imagine alternative possibilities for the present and future. SAVVY Contemporary‘s art exhibition,“Wir Sind Alle Berliner 1884-2014” curated by Simon Njami did just this. The show was open from November 2014 to February 2015, in commemoration of the 130 years since the Berlin-Congo Conference. By bringing together artists from many different locations all working with topics of colonialism, the exhibition showed it is necessary to re-visit our colonial histories through different narratives to understand modern day issues and activism.

Bonaventure Soh Benjeng Ndikung © Claudia Peppel – ICI Berlin 2015

There is very little institutional support going towards telling colonial histories which, I found out through SAVVY Co-founder Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung, made it difficult to fund the exhibition. Despite this, thousands of people came through the space over the months it was open, showing that there is great public interest in examining colonial past and presents even if institutions aren’t ready to accept this.

Each weekend members of SAVVY offered tours to the public to explain who the artists were and some history behind the work being shown. These tours were key in bridging a conversation to the public, they were accessible and informative. The variety of art shown gave multiple visual interpretations of breaking down colonial histories and having a guide through this was very helpful. The art provided questions without needing immediate answers or understanding. This made it possible for people coming from any background to take part in the tours, ask questions and learn.

Filipa César, The Embassy (2011), courtesy Christina Guerra Contemporary

Filipa César, The Embassy (2011), courtesy Christina Guerra Contemporary

One of my favorite pieces was Filipa César’s video piece, The Embassy (2011), because of it’s simple camera shot mixed with a layered narrative. The film shows a pair of hands flipping through a photo album filled with black and white images from the 1940s – 1950s in Guinea-Bissau. The hands belong to Armando Lona, a Guinean journalist and activist. This piece is especially gripping because we hear Lona’s perspective on these images which represent direct debris of colonialism. Having grown up in Guinea-Bissau, he carefully explains the photographs, and his experience of them. The images show the effects of colonization through monuments, sites and buildings. Lona makes a point to show that what is not documented in the photo album is art from the Guinean culture. What is not represented in the photo album shows how colonialisms erasure of art affects understandings of history today.

At points it seemed the choice of who to include in the show became too wide. Cyrill Lachauer’s piece, Horses, Manillas and the Smallpox Blankets, caught my attention because of the connection to the history and present experiences of colonialism in the United States. The piece referenced the history of Lord Jeffrey Amherst, who gave out blankets with smallpox to Native Americans to kill them. The piece was a woolen blanket set on the ground with some branding marks of horseshoes, it is one in a series of work he has about Native American history and ritual.

I was confused about why this German man is making work about the history and experience of Native Americans. After researching him, his only connection to Native Americans seems to be through ethnographic research. There are certainly Native American artists grappling with their history in their work so it seems strange that they chose to show Lachauer. It seemed like they wanted to include a symbol of colonialism from the United States in the show but this choice fell short.

At the end of February a series of lectures was held at the ICI Berlin, bringing together scholars and artists to talk about work around colonialism happening in academia. The weekend of lectures was very important because the tour and time at the exhibition didn’t provide the space to get into in-depth discussions. For example, why it was very odd to have a white German man represent the genocide of Native Americans.

However, multiple times throughout the weekend the artists on the panels were placed last to speak and barely got a chance to say much. This created a disconnected between the exhibition and the lectures. The pieces included in the show could have been focused on a bit more in the lectures to bridge these two worlds of academia and art.  At times the panel felt exclusive because of the vocabulary used. Despite this, the conference was very powerful because of the many different geographic locations and ideas which were brought together.

Simon Njami © Claudia Peppel - ICI Berlin 2015

Simon Njami © Claudia Peppel – ICI Berlin 2015

It seems important to appreciate the two spaces for the different opportunities they provided. The art was accessible and informative to a wide range of people. The lecture series was more exclusive but equally important as it brought together scholars and creators from very disparate geographic locations and gave time to dive very deeply into how people across disciplines are thinking about colonial past and presents.

Artists Without A Cause is researching and looking at artistic representations of political and social issues. I recently visited Eine Einsellung Zur Arbeit (Labor in a Single Shot), on exhibition at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt until 6 April 2015, which uses video to look at how labor differs throughout the world.

Coming into the gallery for the show, visitors see dozens of people, sitting comfortably or lying on the ground in a dark room,  staring up at fifteen scattered screens, each facing a different direction, and each showing different looped two minute clips of uninterrupted labor for one country.

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The project was created by Antje Ehmann and Harun Farocki, who held workshops in 15 cities around the world where they gave participants strict guidelines for making the shorts.

One short follows a man in Jerusalem, Israel kneading bread. Another shows a girl in Boston, USA typing an essay about Square-Dancing on her computer. Another depicts a German man biking through the city. Some have sound, most do not. The people in the room roam around from screen to screen or sit patiently watching each two minute clip from each respective country.

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The form of video gives us the rare opportunity to watch these different forms of labor and compare and contrast them. When standing up in the room a viewer can watch several screens at a time, allowing visitors to quickly see that labor means different things in different places.

The clips don’t last long enough to get a sense of knowing any of the people very well, but watching a moment of their daily lives so close up becomes very personal, almost voyeuristic. The difference between what is being shown on the screens as well as the comfort of hanging out, lying down, and relaxing as we watch people in the videos perform all types of labor is an ironic part of the show.

The piece was inspired by The Lumiére Brother’s film, “Workers Leaving the Lumiére Factory” (1895), which portrays women and men leaving their separate doors at the end of their day. Floods of people exit, some running, as if too much time has already been lost. However, there are stark contrasts in the takeaway viewers get in Labor in a Single Shot and the Lumiére Brother’s film.

The Lumiére Brother’s depict workers as more than just their jobs. Workers are humanized by showing their urgency of leaving the work place and the transition into their real lives. Labor in a Single Shot implies that work and production has become so varied and consuming today that in many ways we are almost constantly working. Perhaps this is an element of intentional irony.

In the end, the viewer is left with many questions: What can labor be? Where does labor stop? And how do our understandings and standards for labor vary from context to context. The format of close shot, short films was essential to creating an artificially personal connection to the people on the screens.

My name is Anastatia Spicer, I’m currently studying in Berlin and am hopping aboard the AWAC team during my time here. I’ll be blogging for the next few months focusing on events and talks primarily in Berlin that cross section both art and politics. Additionally, I will post updates on the projects we’re working on here at AWAC!

Anastatia Spicer

I understand art as vehicle providing unique platforms for presenting questions and the tenacious conversations that eventually take place. I’m interested in creating work which engages and builds community and is focused more on inciting experiences with those around you rather than object production. I’m currently drawn to fiber sculptures, drawing, and performance as mediums of my own artistic practice. If you’d like to see some of my work,  you can find it here.

I grew up between Massachusetts, USA and South-West England. I study a mixture of art, history and social justice organizing at Hampshire College in Western Massachusetts and am currently on exchange at the Freie Universität in Berlin.

I’m looking forward to being in conversation with you, so if you have comments/feedback or just want to say hi, catch me at anastatia@artistswac.org

Artists Without A Cause e.V (AWAC) is a Berlin-based, internationally active nonprofit. We strive to create a symbiotic relationship between politically/socially oriented artists and activists/organizations who are championing a cause. AWAC connects artists working in a contextual, process-based manner with the organizations and activists who are building the knowledge bases essential for their production and expression of their work. We are currently seeking a part-time unpaid intern to join our organization.

We are searching for a proactive, well organized and detail-oriented person who is enthusiastic about our organization and what we are trying to do. You need to have experience with Google drive, shared task management applications like Asana and excellent verbal and written communication skills. Familiarity with WordPress and/or design or video are pluses.

Your range of responsibilities may include:

  • Research and prepare documentation of past, current and future projects
  • Produce web, newsletter and social media content
  • Assistant project and event management
  • Grant research and fundraising planning (if your fundraising efforts are successful, compensation is a possibility)
  • General Admin work
  • Anything else you’re interested in learning about or that utilizes your skills

Application Process:
The winter internship program will run for 3-6 months. We’d love for you to be available for 10-15 hours per week. Remote applicants need to have a few hours during work days that coincide with normal working hours GMT+1.

This internship is unpaid but we’ll happily feed you lunch if you work out of our Berlin office. Students looking to obtain college credit are encouraged to apply.

Please send us an email explaining interest and availability (days and times) along with an attached resume, short writing sample (1-3 pages) and anything else relevant to your interest or skills to hello@artistswac.org.

Application Deadline: 15 December 2014

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We are excited to share with you another wonderful update from this summer’s AWAC workshops at the 2014 Open Knowledge Festival! The recordings made in Juliani and Valsero’s workshop, Packaging Your Music, Mobilizing the Public: Collaborative Music Production for Everyone, are finally available for your listening pleasure!

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In the workshop, participants were asked to distill their various messages into catchy, easy to understand text. They were then given the opportunity to record their ideas, which were subsequently mixed by Juliani into the track featured below:

Please feel free to share the track widely – and if you participated in the workshop and would like your credits added to the track, drop us a line at hello@artistswac.org! We’d love to hear from you.

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All photos courtesy of the AWAC Twitter

Juliani, one of the amazing musicians we had the joy of working with during OKFestival, is looking to give back to Nairobi’s community and foster the development of local musicians, artists and entrepreneurs.

His new project, Dandora: The Hip Hop City, will create a space for young people to develop their artistic talents and earn a living, while additionally providing a platform for discussing local issues and supporting key messages in regards to health, education and the environment. They’ve already secured a location and are looking for funds to get the space up and running – go and donate today!

Don’t take our word for it though, listen to Juliani talk about his philosophy and why this work is important.

The talent is already there and Juliani and his team are the perfect group to foster these new voices and help bring up the next generation of socially and politically engaged artists. We can’t wait to be introduced to the new crop of AWAC artists!

Go now and support Dandora: The Hip Hop City!

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The 2014 Open Knowledge Festival has ended, and AWAC is happy to report that our workshops and events were a great success! From political speech karaoke to participatory, crowd-sourced graffiti and hip-hop message building, from creative data analysis and finding art in numbers to brainstorming attention-grabbing pranks for important causes, our events got festival participants moving, talking, singing, painting, laughing, and making connections.

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We were impressed by OKFest participants’ willingness to jump right in and take part in our workshops in an in-depth way – it was interesting to see, for example, people taking Peng! Collective’s tactics and running with them to devise their own subversive acts, such as creating a fake campaign glorifying poverty and homelessness in South Africa to draw attention to the issue. Likewise, seeing workshoppers learning how to distill their various complex ideas into a spray tag or song lyric with in the Juliani/Valsero and Spray Uzi sessions was inspiring. Politaoke got people thinking (and laughing) about the premise behind political speech making, and Josh and Ingrid showed that data cannot tell a story on its own – it is the responsibility of the individual to pull out the stories hiding in sets of information.

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In addition to our scheduled roster of OKFest events, we facilitated outreach projects within the Berlin arts community, including a collaborative graffiti wall at the Youth Center in Tempelhofer Feld with Kenyan Spray Uzi Crew and the German crew Ghetto Pimps, and a guest appearance of Juliani and Valsero at The SWAG’s weekly hip hop jam night at Badehaus. It was exciting to see our artists forging connections with their peers in Berlin, and the work that came out of this meeting of the minds speaks for itself – check out Bankslave’s contribution to the wall that Spray Uzi and Ghetto Pimps created together:

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Many, many special thanks to Sasha Kinney, Jean Brice, Jens Nikolas, Morana Miljanovich, Kaustubh Srikanth, Making All Voices Count, Open Knowledge Foundation, Reboot.fm, CLUB Berlin, the SWAG, Ghetto Pimps, Noisy Store, Graffiti Box Shop Berlin, and all our amazing invited artists. None of this would have been possible without their generous support and contributions.

We are proud of our artists and all they were able to accomplish in such a short time. Thanks to them, AWAC’s first major project can officially be declared a success!

Onward!

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On Thursday, July 17, attendees of AWAC-affiliated OKFestival events are invited to attend our invite-only AWAC after party at CLUB in Neukölln. (Free) tickets will be available at our workshops during the festival. Each ticket guarantees entry to the party and a welcome drink will be provided free of charge to those with tickets (while supplies last – get there early!).

A portion of the proceeds from the bar will go towards raising funds for our future projects. Additionally, CDs and artwork from our artists will be available for purchase. This is a great opportunity to meet and support the artists who made the AWAC/OKFestival workshops possible!

The party begins at 20:00 and will go until late. CLUB is located at Biebricherstrasse 14 in Neukölln, off the U8 Boddinstrasse. We are excited to see you all there – come to our workshops to secure your ticket!

On Tuesday, July 15 AWAC OKFestival musicians Juliani and Valsero will join The SWAG for their weekly SWAG Jam at BADEHAUS Szimpla in Friedrichshain. This week’s Jam is a special OKFestival fringe event – come check out OKFestival artists jamming with local Berlin hip-hoppers (and hide from the post-world cup madness)!

The SWAG Jam is a weekly event which functions as both a SWAG concert and an open mic – anyone who wants to can jam with The SWAG! The event takes place every Tuesday from 10pm til late. Entry is 5 euro (3 euro before 11pm). Badehaus is located at RAW, Revalerstrasse 99, in Berlin Friedrichshain.

In addition to The SWAG Jam concert, you can catch The SWAG performing with Juliani and Valsero at the closing performance of the OKFestival on Thursday, July 17, at 17:00.

For more information on the OKFestival Schedule, click here.

To see more fringe events, click here.

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Image Courtesy www.facebook.com/theswag.berlin

We are very excited to announce that Berlin-based hip-hop band of brothers The SWAG will join Juliani and Valsero for the OKFestival wrap-up performance at 17:00 on Thursday, July 17.

The Swag have earned their place and gained experience over the years playing for heavy weights the likes of 50 Cent, Yusuf (a.k.a Cat Stevens), Jaguar Wright, Adel Tawil, K.I.Z and Germany’s top hip hop artist Sido. The SWAG (Seriously, We Are Good) have achieved legendary status for hosting their famous weekly SWAG JAM SESSIONS at Berlin’s Badehaus since 2012, which have attracted numerous celebrities like Dead Prez, Bilal, Jeru the Damaja, Robert Glasper, Kool Savas, Marteria or JOHN FORTÉ (The Fugees) and underground no names and music lovers from Berlin and world wide. If you want to catch The SWAG in their natural habitat, a trip to the Badehaus venue in Friedrichshain on a Tuesday evening will not disappoint.

The SWAG is comprised of Rapturous Apollo Helios (MC/Vocals), Sugbear Nairn (Guitar/Hype), Roy Danger (Keys/Soundshead), Stefan “Strinx” Fuhr (Bass/Production), Jan “Stix” Pfennig (Drums/Groove), Afromaniac (Scratches/Samples) and Solomon Madu (Vocals).

The SWAG will be playing, along with Juliani and Valsero, at 17:00 on Thursday, July 17 for the closing of the OKFestival.

For more information about the OKFestival Schedule, please click here.

On Sunday, July 13, at 19:00 Berlin time LIVE on UKW 88,4 MHz in Berlin & 90,7 MHz in Potsdam, AWAC and all the OKFestival artists will appear on Reboot.fm (don’t worry, our spot doesn’t coincide with the World Cup final game!).

We will be talking about our involvement with the upcoming OKFestival, playing songs from the musicians, and interviewing all the artists about their work.

Tune in to learn more about us, and to hear some great tunes from Juliani and Valsero, and some tracks from our special guests The Swag!

We’ll also be talking about the upcoming Swag Jam featuring Juliani and Valsero as Guests this coming Tuesday, 10PM at the Badehaus in Friedrichshain.

To listen to the show, visit Reboot.fm click the stream.

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Diana Arce is still accepting/soliciting speech submissions for her OKFestival Politaoke (Political Karaoke) Session! Anyone can submit any political speech they would like, from any political party, whether or not they plan on attending the upcoming event. Arce is working towards open-sourcing the Politaoke project to make it even broader in scope and further open up the dialogue(s) that the project was designed to spark. Any and all input will greatly contribute to the development of the project.

To submit a speech, simply complete this form. We’re excited to see what you come up with! Please note that, while speeches are always accepted, only speeches submitted before the 12th will be used in the upcoming OKFestival due to time constraints.

Politaoke is a non-partisan, multi-language project in which participants are free to read political speeches from across the spectrum of ideas and affiliations. It operates in the style of karaoke – a list of speeches is provided and individuals are free to choose how and what they read in front of an enthusiastic audience.

Politaoke at OKFestival will take place at 18:00 on Tuesday, July 15.
For more information on the OKFestival schedule, please click here.

On Thursday, July 17 at 12:00 Peng! Collective will present the OKFestival session Malarkey as a Tactic for Activism. Peng members Faith Bosworth and Jean Peters will lead participants in an exploration of communications-based civil disobedience practices. Emphasis is on the political utility of creating “false realities,” using pranks and guerilla tactics to draw attention to important issues. Beginning with an interactive game and developing into small-group examinations of specific, personally relevant situations, the workshop will be based on application of the tools that Peng! Collective has developed through their own work.

From the Google Nest Page

From the Google Nest Page

Peng! Collective is a Berlin-based group, known, among other things, for their Google Nest project, a critical spoof of Google’s data and privacy policies. The original website was taken down due to Google but can be found mirrored here, here, here, and here. Google Nest showcases a new line of Google “products” such as personalized drones (‘Google Bee’) an archive of personal data to memorialize the dead (‘Google Bye’), a data protection insurance plan (‘Google Trust’) and an emotion-sensing application (‘Google Hug’). Through their parody of Google, they highlighted the increasing lack of transparency in data collection, and the omnipresence of online surveillance and data mining. Other Peng! Projects include Slam Shell, in which they infiltrated Shell Oil’s Science Slam competition (see video below) and Democready, an offering of “packages” which purport to enforce government authority, and implicitly challenge the construction of what democracy means in society.

Jean Peters and Faith Bosworth, who appeared as Google employees “Gloria Spindle” and “Paul von Ribbeck” at Google Nest’s debut, will present Peng!’s work at the OKFestival. Faith Bosworth is a self-described “fake” who, in addition to her political pranksterism and artistic endeavors, spent five years working for the non-profit Tactical Technology Collective. Jean Peters is a political-scientist-turned-political-artist, founder of Peng! Collective, subversive workshop leader, and proud professional impostor.

Peng! Collective’s OKFestival workshop will take place on July 17th from 12-13:00.
For more information about the OKFestival schedule, please click here.

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On Tuesday, July 15 at 18:00, AWAC’s founder, Diana Arce, will present Politaoke LIVE! Politaoke, Arce’s signature project, is a “Political Karaoke” event in which participants are given the chance to respeak contemporary political speeches in any way they choose. Ranging from hilarious to awkward to highly elucidating (sometimes all three at once), Politaoke is always engaging and illuminates the many ways that (mis)information can be spread by politicians and public speakers. As with musical karaoke, the audience can see the text of the speech and follow along with what the reader is (or isn’t) saying.

Arce holds a BA in experimental film and cultural studies from Hampshire College (USA) and a MA in Kunst im Kontext (Art in Context) from The Universität der Künste (DE). Her background in both visual/performance art and social sciences has led her to create work that invites audiences to engage themselves in critical reflection. She hopes to open dialogues and cross the boundaries of blind faith in systems of power. Many of her works deal with issues of migration, borders, and the presence of the past, and she often utilizes public or non-gallery space in order to create a more direct relationship with the public.

Politaoke is a non-partisan project and utilizes texts from the entire political spectrum to open debate. Anyone who wishes to can submit a speech to be used in the OKFestival via this form.

The workshop will take place on Tuesday, July 15 from 18:00 – 21:00.

For more information on the OKFestival schedule, please click here.

 

On Wednesday, July 16, Kenyan graffiti artists Bankslave, UhuruB and Swift9 will present the OKFestival workshop Get Creative: Crafting & Conveying Your Message Through Street, Guerilla and Graffiti Art. This session, aimed at artists and non-artists alike, will lead participants through the process of creating and sharing a message through street art. Those unfamiliar with graffiti will learn techniques to approach the form.

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Image courtesy zurukenya.com

All three artists are part of the Kenyan Spray Uzi collective, a group dedicated to spreading social and political messages through the publically accessible, highly visible medium of street art.

Image Courtesy sprayforchange.com

Image Courtesy sprayforchange.com

Bankslave, a painter with 13 years of experience, is one of the pioneers of Kenyan graffiti art. He brought political art to the forefront of visibility, and has been internationally acclaimed for his abilities. Most recently, he was recognized by the British Council street art contest. In addition to his work with Spray Uzi, Bankslave has worked in collaboration with 60Nozzles, Gas Crew, and the German Ghetto-Pimps Crew.

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Image Courtesy zurukenya.com

Swift9 works in a wide range of media, and has been working with graffiti since 2002. Dubbing his style “Urban Ethnikk,” Swift9 specializes in realistic murals and stencils. He recently won the Spray for Change Project’s “New Kenya” competition with his portrait of Kenyan Olympic champion David Rushida. Swift9 also works as a youth educator, encouraging the development of critical thought alongside technical skill.

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Image courtesy sprayforchange.com

In addition to the literal translation of “freedom”, Uhuru B’s name stands for the Swahili “Upendo, Halisi, Undugu, Riziki, Utu”, or, “Love, Music, Kinship, Sustenance, Dignity.” He is artist in residence at Kuona Trust Arts Centre, a key space for Kenyan visual artistic culture and education. Uhuru also works with community education and involvement, and recently facilitated a project with Nairobi youth in partnership with the Kuona Trust and Kenya Cultural Centre entitled “Identity Through Street Art.”

A large graffiti wall will be available throughout the course of the festival, and in addition to the scheduled workshop the artists will be present to continue work on the wall and consult with small groups during shorter drop-in sessions. Anyone interested in hands-on work, artistic collaboration, or crafting and packaging a message for the public should not miss Spray Uzi!

The workshop will take place on Wednesday, July 16, from 11:45-13:00.

For more information on the OKFestival Schedule, please click here.

On Wednesday, July 16, internationally acclaimed political musicians Valsero (Cameroon) and Juliani (Kenya) will team up to lead the Open Knowledge Festival workshop Packaging Your Message, Mobilizing the Public: Collaborative Music Production for Everyone. The session is open to both musicians and non-musicians, and aims to help participants convey messages creatively. Through the workshop, Juliani and Valsero will explain their own creative processes and artistic/political contexts, and lead an exploration of how to convey complex ideas simply and effectively.

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Photo Courtesy Valsero

Neither artist is a stranger to crafting a political message: Cameroonian star Valsero’s outspoken songs have seen him in conflict with the reigning Biya administration, of which he and his fans are openly critical. Banned by public media, and facing diminished bookings from fearful concert organizers, Valsero refuses to rid his music of its political bite. In a country where criticizing the president can earn one jail time, “The General” (as his fans call him) steps up to the challenge and calls on youth to express themselves and make their voices heard. Valsero also works with the Cameroonian NGO Citizens’ Association for the Defense of Collective Interests (ACDIC) to raise awareness and promote participation in campaigns for economic, social, and political change.

The Kenyan-based powerhouse Juliani has earned his fair share of international attention. Not only has he garnered many awards for his musical talents, he has also been a voice for social action: he has used his fame to support various causes, even representing Kenya at the UN Climate Change Conference in 2009. His hands-on, community based approach to change has seen him plant over one thousand trees while touring Kenya. His “Kama Si Sisi” initiative calls on Kenyan youth to become a force of positive change, “taking care of yourself by taking care of others.”

These two artists focus on bringing community involvement to critical issues, and encouraging others to find their own voice. Participants in this workshop are encouraged to bring instruments, ideas, and a willingness to create and share a message. The video below highlights the process of the collaborative workshop.

This session will take place from 14:00-15:00 on July 16.

For more information on the OKFestival schedule, please click here.

Juliani and Valsero will also perform the closing OKFestival concert on July 17 at 17:00.

“How much can be learned from just staring hard enough at one dataset? How do you take stories about the real world, which have been abstracted into data, and bring them back to the real world? What are examples of open or public data that can be seen in everyday ways?” – Begley and Burrington OKFestival Mission Statement

With a collaborative presentation entitled Just Do One Stupid Thing, and Other Secrets of Making Political Art With Data, American artists Josh Begley and Ingrid Burrington hope to inspire OKFestival participants to “ask better questions and tell better stories.” Their strategy: provide participants with a dataset, and facilitate a brainstorming session about its usage, with a clear interest in identifying how different presentational/framing methods affect perception and conception of ideas.

Josh Begley "Facility 399" courtesy www.prisonmap.com

Josh Begley – “Facility 399” courtesy www.prisonmap.com

Neither of the two artists are strangers to the question of data legibility. Most recently, Josh Begley developed Dronestre.am and MetaData+, both providing multiple ways of looking at US drone strike data – a twitter feed, a searchable database, associated pictures and news articles, and an iPhone app with maps and real-time updates. He also created a publicly-accessible API so that others can use the data in their own work. Many of his other projects include mapping of socially, politically, or economically important sites, such as prisons and military bases. His work makes visible the trends and patterns underpinning the structures of industry and society.

Ingrid Burrington is a researcher, writer, designer and data analyst who uses visualizations, especially maps, to illuminate social structures and disseminate information. Her project Measuring the Impact of a Fare Hike, 2012, mapped median income, fare card usage, and average ridership in different NYC neighborhoods to determine the economic and social impact of a proposed MTA fare hike.

 

Ingrid Burrington - "No fare hikes" courtesy www.lifewinning.com

Ingrid Burrington – “No fare hikes” courtesy www.lifewinning.com

Her work was part of a larger campaign against fare hikes in the city, and contributed by providing visual and tangible evidence of the rising economic disparities in New York. Burrington has also created informational maps for Occupy Wall Street. She is currently writing a book on unrecognized micro-nations, countries or states which function independently but are not considered legitimate by international ruling bodies.

In teaming up to present for the OKFestival, Burrington and Begley hope to explore the many meanings and narratives that can reside in a single set of data – and what different questions or thought processes can arise from each interpretation.

The hour-long session will take place on July 16 from 15:00-16:00. For more information on the OKFestival schedule, please click here.

For our first project, AWAC is teaming up with the Open Knowledge Foundation to bring five international groups of artists to Berlin’s 2014 Open Knowledge Festival (OKFestival). The OKFestival is a globally-oriented event promoting the sharing of data and knowledge. Innovators, makers, hackers, movers and shakers come together over the course of the festival to swap techniques, develop ideas, and create new ways of thinking and doing.

AWAC’s convoy of artists, hailing from Kenya, Cameroon, Germany, and the USA, have all developed their own cultural- and medium-specific techniques for engaging this year’s OKFestival theme: “Open Minds to Open Action.”

The 2014 OKFestival will take place from July 15-17 at the Kulturbrauerei in Prenzlauerberg, Berlin. According to the Open Knowledge Foundation, over 1000 people from 60 countries will be in attendance to engage in and develop new strategies for the open exchange of information. 

We are very excited to have the opportunity to present our diverse group of artists, all of whom focus on this year’s festival theme of translating of ideas and information into action. In the coming weeks we will be profiling individual artists and collectives taking part in the AWAC-affiliated portion of the festival.

Welcome to the blog of AWAC: Artists Without a Cause!

AWAC is run by artists and activists for artists and activists. We work to promote exchange between art makers and socially/politically oriented organisations and activists around the world. Our goal is to enrich the experience of both artists and activists, and better engage the general public by bringing together the disparate strategies of process-based art and goal-oriented organisations to create new models of understanding and doing.

Follow this blog for updates, artist and organisational profiles, and more!