Harrell Fletcher: Notes On Claiming


What I wanted to write about today is the concept and practice of “claiming” in relationship to art and specifically social practice. I’ve always struggled with how much students and artists need to know about art to be able to function effectively as artists, sometimes I’ve felt like it might be better to know very little (so as not to be limited by existing frameworks and models), and when it comes to the MFA that I currently am in charge of I encourage people who don’t have undergrad degrees in art to apply, and we have happily accepted folks with degrees in lots of other disciplines, many of whom went on to make amazing art work. If it were in fact up to me, I’d also potentially accept people with no undergraduate degree at all just based on their work and life experience, but the university won’t go for that. 

At the same time my own knowledge of art history has been very influential on my practice and informs a lot of the work I do in a wide variety of ways both conceptual and aesthetic. Duchamp’s readymades, and Richard Prince and Sherry Levine’s work using appropriation have been very important to me in developing my own practice and projects. I was thrilled as a young student when I learned about those approaches, so it is always interesting to me how presenting those concepts to my own students can have such emotionally negative reactions, they seem to feel that those artists were cheating, and think that their success somehow undermines the students own skills in more traditional artist techniques. I’ve seen undergrads brought to tears when learning about Duchamp and his status in the world of contemporary art.

[The American War. Harrell Fletcher]

Anyway, what I wanted to write about here is the potential use of what I’m going to call “claiming” as an artistic method. What I’m talking about has all sorts of potential applications from ones that are just expansions of readymades and appropriation, which is in many ways what I was doing with my project The American War (though I added in site-specific participatory events as well), to other uses which start to operate further afield partly because they can function outside of the need to create some kind of object that can be bought and sold and displayed in an art world venue. I recall that Fischli and Weiss had a project in the late 90’s as part of the Munster Sculpture Project where they just claimed a community garden as their project and directed people to go see it. Actually, I just looked that up and it turns out it was a garden that they had constructed to look like a community garden and it was temporary just for the exhibition time, so that doesn’t work as an example of claiming in the sense that I’m talking about. (Though it does fit well into another topic I’d like to write about sometime which is how prior to the use of the internet it was sometimes hard to find out accurate details about temporary projects and through the reliance of limited documentation or even just word of mouth artists would often be inspired to create something new based on a misinterpretation or lack of details of something that had happened before. That might be something that is being undermined now by so much digital availability to vast documentation and information on the web.)

So let’s just say Fischli and Weiss had not created the garden, but had instead just claimed it, would that be valid? For me it’s no different than a photographer taking a picture of a garden (or any other pre-existing thing) and then presenting the print as their work. Some would say that the formalization of the photograph (composition, technical elements, printing, framing, etc.) are what makes the photograph art, which from my point of view (as a fan of appropriation) isn’t necessary to call something art. It’s really just the act of calling it art that makes it art, but in the case of an artist claiming a garden (or any other pre-existing thing) as their art, there are still various formalizing aspects to doing that.

Screen Shot 2017-01-22 at 8.36.21 PM
[photo credit: Fischli/Weiss: Garten, 1997/2016. Bild: © Fondation Beyeler]

Let’s once again take the garden as a hypothetical example even though in reality it wasn’t done in the way that I thought it was, but let’s suspend reality and pretend that it was. If that had been the case then the project would have been formalized by its inclusion in the program listing along with the other projects that were a part of the show, it would have been on the map showing where all of the sculpture projects were located, there would be a title, description, etc, it would have been included in the exhibition catalog, it would have been documented and re-presented, basically anything that would have happened to a constructed outdoor sculpture that was included in a major exhibition would also have happened to the pre-existing, site-specific, ongoing garden or whatever.

There is a potential problem with this approach that goes beyond just being valid or not as art. It could also be thought of as an imperialistic approach in that the artist without having actually made anything other than a claim, would be seen as the author of a project that someone else or some other group actually created and maintained. This hits on something I’ve also written about related to crediting, and I think it is applicable not only to conceptual claiming projects, but also to almost anything that involves other people’s un-credited contributions to art projects from assistants, fabricators, silent collaborators, participants, etc. In the case of the garden and projects like that it is simple enough to find out who actually created and maintained the garden and then to get approval from them to use the garden as part of an art project and credit them for their role. If it is possible or desirable to share funding then that can happen as well. My sense is that most people would happily have their garden (etc) included in a major art exhibition, especially if they are getting credit and potentially even payment.

Ok, so what if the claimed pre-existing thing isn’t part of a major art project. It can still work without any validating institutional approval or inclusion (though as with all art, that makes it easier to be seen as significant and valuable). There are still other ways for artists to formalize their claim. They can program their own event related to the site or object, they can document it, title it, etc. and then just put it on a website, make a zine about it, present it at a lecture, etc, etc. It could also be more than a single claim, imagine for instance a series of spots that an artist locates and formalizes to go together, like making a music playlist the artist could suggest that people check out a certain tree, talk to a particular person at a store, look at a specific book at a library, eat a suggested item at a food cart, etc. all in a detailed out sequence with potentially added information about each location, sort of like a walking tour of the senses. This selection of claimed spots could be made available in a variety of forms, for instance maybe published in a local weekly newspaper or put up as a flier, or just told to a set of people, and in that way becomes applied and no longer just an idea, then can be listed on a resume, presented in lectures, printed in publications etc, just like any other work of art.

[A Tour of the Monuments of Passaic, New Jersey by Robert Smithson (1967).]

A related example that also had a huge impact on me were two works by Robert Smithson, his 1967 photo article A Tour of the Monuments of Passaic, New Jersey, in which he describes in a very conversational tone a set of “monuments” which he observed which were in reality industrial units and piles that he was giving extraordinary significance to, basically treating things like art that weren’t intended as art. In a similar piece, The Hotel Palenque from 1972, (initially presented as a slide lecture, and later published in a Parkett magazine where I first encountered it) Smithson details with photos and more nonchalant but validating language a hotel in Mexico that he stayed at which was undergoing at the same time a process of literal construction and de-construction. The only real difference between the Smithson pieces and what I’m suggesting is the way that an audience can be invited to participate in experiencing the chosen claimed places, objects, sounds, etc.

I think the concept of claiming has all sorts of potential artistic and curatorial applications and would be a welcome addition or even substitution for much of the work produced currently by art students and other artists, who instead continue the largely futile production of studio based objects in the hopes of showing and selling in galleries, which is very unlikely given the high volume of art object production and the scarcity of status quo venues.


Mining Resources at the Crumpacker Family Library

April 10th, 2013

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Featured books on Activism in Art The Anne and James F. Crumpacker Family Library is the region’s most comprehensive visual art resource open to students, researchers, docents, staff, and free to the public. The Library’s collection of more than 35,000 volumes originated in 1895 and includes current and historical periodicals, art archives, and resources specific to the Museum’s history. Located on the second floor of the Mark Building, a former Masonic Temple, the Library’s comfortable reading room, much of the decor and furniture from the period, and irreplaceable, non-circulating collection provide an urban retreat for anyone interested in art.”

Special thanks to the Library Director, Debra Royer, who was very knowledgable and more than willing to help in searching and minging the Library for not just activism in art, but also the rest of the Journal’s themes and assisting the other Social Practice Journal’s editors. 


“Change is inevitable, growth is optional”

-writing on the wall

Originally I thought an anonymous bite of genius found scribbled on the restroom wall, but with more research found it has been quoted by John Maxwell, the evangelical Christian author, speaker, and pastor who has written more than 60 books, primarily focusing on leadership. I am not sure about the author, but the quote is pertinent. It is nevertheless one of many versions of quotes pertaining to this basic human experience. I believe that it is at that very first experience of change that provokes us to express our emotion and reaction to change.

Activism encompasses many qualities that function transcendentally in art; from traditional graphical forms, to performative, to participatory. There are many forms of art that have been used as tools in social movements throughout history. It has only been in the last century that art has been recognized as a used tool, other than for aesthetics for dissemination of information or education. Different forms of counter-institutional art, the Dadaists for example in Europe at the turn of the twentieth century, have developed in order to incite a social conscious change. But there are other examples of activism within art that are not visual, as in the Theater of the Oppressed developed by Augusto Boal in the 1960’s influenced by the work of the educator and theorist Paulo Freire.

With these vast examples of activism manifesting within art it was hard to only pinpoint one word or one overarching phrase that would produce results in one find. I realized that this also means people have different in interpretations of what or how activism may be represented in art. This display is a result of that realization. I tried to initiate various searches using the Library’s Online Collection Database to produce this exhibition of books that either ARE examples of activism, represent social activism within their pages, or are collections of thoughts and works of artists. My hope is to introduce community to different forms of art and to invite community to run their own searches based on their own interpretation of what activism is to them.


Ault, Julie, Brian Wallis, Marianne Weems, and Philip Yenawine. Art Matters: How the Culture Wars Changed America. New York: New York UP, 1999. Print.
Chandler, Annmarie, and Norie Neumark. At a Distance: Precursors to Art and Activism on the Internet. Cambridge, MA: MIT, 2005. Print.
Cushing, Lincoln, and Tim Drescher. Agitate! Educate! Organize!: American Labor Posters. Ithaca: ILR/Cornell UP, 2009. Print.
Doherty, Claire. Situation. London: Whitechapel Gallery, 2009. Print.
Douglas, Emory, Bobby Seale, Sam Durant, and Sonia Sanchez. Black Panther: The Revolutionary Art of Emory Douglas. New York, NY: Rizzoli, 2007. Print.
Fletcher, Harrell. The American War. Atlanta, GA: J & L, 2006. Print.
Frascina, Francis. Art, Politics, and Dissent: Aspects of the Art Left in Sixties America. Manchester: Manchester UP, 1999. Print.
Heyman, Therese Thau. “Patriots and Protestors.” Posters American Style. New York: National Museum of American, Smithsonian Institution in Association with H.N. Abrams, 1998. N. pag. Print.
Higgie, Jennifer, Hugo Ball, Henri Bergson, André Breton, Dan Cameron, Leonora Carrington, Hélène Cixous, Marcel Duchamp, Marlene Dumas, Alex Farquharson, Dan Fox, Sigmund Freud, Girls Guerrilla, Jörg Heiser, Dave Hickey, Hannah Höch, Jo Anna. Isaak, Mike Kelley, Barbara Kruger, Nathaniel Mellors, Tom Morton, Claes Oldenburg, Francis Picabia, Arnulf Rainer, Ad Reinhardt, Peter Schjeldahl, Carolee Schneemann, David Sedaris, Robert Smithson, Frances Stark, Kristine Stiles, Anna Tilroe, Hamza Walker, Sheena Wagstaff, and Slavoj Žižek. The Artist’s Joke. London: Whitechapel Gallery, 2007. Print.
“Outrage And Sympathy: Artists on Injustice.” Des Moines Art Center: Gallery Guide (1991): n. pag. Rpt. in Gallery Guide. Comp. Lea R. Delong. Des Moines: Des Moines Art Center, 1991. Print.
We Need to Know Where We Have Been to Know Where We Are Going: A Collaboratively Written History of Art and Social Practice. LaVergne, TN: [s.n.], 2010. Print.



Roya Amirsoleymani

Roya Amirsoleymani is Artistic Director & Curator of Public Engagement at Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (PICA), a multidisciplinary center for contemporary and experimental art, where she co-curates the annual Time-Based Art Festival (TBA); year-round exhibitions, performances, and socially engaged projects; and critical, contextual, educational, community-based, and participatory programs. With PICA, she has designed and helps manage the Creative Exchange Lab artist residency program, the Crucial Bonding program for youth and artist mentors of color, and the Precipice Fund, a grantmaking program through the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts’ Regional Regranting Program. She is PICA’s primary liaison to the Black Art Ecology of Portland project and is part of a PICA team supporting the development of the international Global First Nations Performance Network. In her work with PICA and beyond, she strives to foreground complex questions and concerns of access, equity, and inclusion for experimental art and its institutions.
Roya is a founding member of Arts Workers for Equity (AWE), which seeks to advance racial equity in Portland’s cultural sector, and is on faculty in the Art & Social Practice MFA Program at Portland State University. She has presented at international, national, and local conferences and convenings and has served on numerous national and regional grant panels and award committees. She holds a BA in Contemporary Visual Culture & Gender Studies (Johnston Center for Integrative Studies, California) and a Masters’ in Arts Management (University of Oregon).
As faculty in the MFA Art & Social Practice Program at Portland State University, she has taught courses in Critical Art Theory, Art History II, Writing & Research, and Directed Studies, and she regularly serves on students’ graduate committees.

Anna Gray and Ryan Wilson Paulsen in conversation with Zachary Gough



Anna Gray and Ryan Wilson Paulsen are people who structure their lives around reading, writing, talking, making art, and imagining things with their son. They currently live, work, and play in Portland, Oregon, where they are wondering how to invent new realisms.

April 27th, 2013

ZG: How did you come to be showing with Jane at PDX Contemporary?

RP: When I first moved to Portland I started going to galleries and she was the only gallerist who would come out and talk to me, not that I was trying to show there or anything.  She was somebody who genuinely loves art.

AG: She loves talking to people too.

RP: The first time I went in there she talked to me for an hour.  And I’m a kid, right, in shabby clothes and everything, she knew I wasn’t going to buy anything.  Later, when we started doing mail projects, we put her on the list because we thought she was an interesting person. And she took notice, she also listened to the other artists who she was representing at the time, who had become friends of ours and they put the bug in her ear I think.

ZG: Do you find that, to a certain extent, anything you offer up to her has this understanding that part of how it’s made takes into consideration the idea that it will be sold?

AG: Not always.  With the first solo show we had there, The Classroom, we were a lot more conscious about that.  We had just finished the program at PSU and were thinking a lot about education, and so we did things like design a 16-week course, wrote a syllabus, and a designed/wrote a 300-page reader, which we tried to sell in the gallery.  So what you saw on the wall was a framed copy of the syllabus and the bound reader.  Our thinking initially wasn’t to offer it in a gallery, but then the opportunity to play with the conventions of commodity and gallery space seemed interesting. We were thinking how awkward but exciting it would be if a collector bought private tutelage, or group of collectors could form a small class, or a university could buy it, I guess.  Artists like Joseph Bueys or even Harrell Fletcher talk about teaching as their art practice, so what if we push that claim and try to sell it in the same framework as a traditional art object might enter the economy.

RP:  What we were trying to do, by developing and selling a course, and alongside it in the show, to offer free ‘classes’ in the gallery on saturdays was to operate a sort of inversion. We were thinking that to sell commercially the bit that looks like academic coursework is to point to the increased commercialization and financialization of learning and to offer free saturday ‘classes’ in a space that is recognized as blue chip, art market space is to possibly demonstrate what might be done about it.

AG: I think what’s interesting about both of those things is that what they alternatively did was show that you can’t buy and sell an education, because the actual learning is an immaterial thing that you can’t find an equivalent for in dollar amount.  And equally so, you think about the gallery as this commercial zone which is totally tied up in capitalism, but it’s actually one of the few places you can go and see high quality art for free with no expectation that you purchase it or pay admission.

RP: Well, we also have to make use of private spaces because there’s no commons left. We have to re-communize privatized space. We imagine a commons that can move. We might possibly to be able to imagine institutions that also move.  That is, they don’t fix themselves to a space or an idea and become immobile, existing to preserve only themselves and their relationships to these spaces and ideas.

RP: I mean we are anti-capitalist.

ZG: How does that work, how do you sell anti-capitalist work?

RP: We are not idealist.  We are not pure or stuck on being pure.  Well, we also live in a world.  So we try to problematize what we’re selling.

AG: I also think that anti-capitalist notions sell really well, especially in the art world.

ZG: Isn’t that inherently a contradiction?

RP: Yes. Antinomies are everywhere. Capitalism has been described as a moving contradiction. Also, our pieces that present themselves more in the language of critique rarely sell. But its all woven in I think.  We make very tame, smooth work a lot of the time more about the ways we come to and through knowledge, reading and writing etc. but I think we try to slip this other strain of thinking underneath, or behind it.

AG: Also, what’s with the obsession with purity? Nobody is outside and not implicated in the system of global capitalism to some degree.  What’s the expectation that if the artist is making a critique that they are somehow objective or without contradiction? It’s unrealistic. I don’t know if I would want to listen to that kind of artist.

RP: How do you forward a critique or an alternative when you’ve disappeared? What’s the point of making a critique if you’re off the grid? And that seems like what you would have to do if you didn’t want to live with compromise. We’re incredibly implicated in the system.  We teach at a University; we participate in the art market; we shop at grocery stores; we pay rent to a landlord.

AG: Those internalized contradictions that we all have to live with are numerous and interesting.  Lamentable, but interesting.  What is this journal topic?

ZG: Paradoxes and Loopholes.  Loopholes came up as ways to get out of paradigms.  But also as a way of interacting in this current society.  It’s almost a redundant question.  Everyone needs to navigate loopholes to some extent.  If you’re a non-profit and you’re swimming upstream, trying to get something done that doesn’t fit in the capitalist framework, you almost have to find these creative ways of surviving in the world.

AG: We talk about that. We’re artists and we’re trying to find ways to be resourceful and survive. (We could be more imaginative in this respect I think.) But if we really want good role models for loopholes, we should look up to the men and women in the boardroom.

ZG: Like that’s what they do too.

AG: Fuck yeah! That’s the whole thing.

ZG: It’s so funny, loopholes becomes not this random small thing that happens once in awhile if you’re really sneaky, but it’s how everything works.

AG: It’s the permanent state of exception. Look at the Keystone pipeline or the Grand jury resistors, it’s all details.  Just redraw a tiny line on the map and then, the problem is solved.  We’re all using similar tactics, we just don’t have the same amount of resources.

RP: I want to emphasize that not everything we do is in the vein of capitalist critique.  We do a lot of work around books.  We’re really interested in how imagination works, how things are translated in our minds, the experience of submersion in a text and then the process of exporting that author’s subjectivity and voice into your lived experience.  And I don’t think that’s necessarily a partisan political stance, it can have that aspect to it, but the impulse isn’t a partisan political impulse.  And that stuff sells.  It’s easy to sell it.  And if I don’t have to go into wage labor, I’ll do it.

RP: I’m sure you’ve noticed this obsession with the creative class in the last 10, 15 years.  What we see, or what I see is that with the rise of “creativity” comes the death of the imagination.  The way that creativity exists in rhetoric now it’s so tied to technological innovation and a productivist attitude.  It has to be a productive creativity, there has to be something that comes out of it.  But let’s just stop and imagine new worlds, we don’t have to manifest them immediately.  There’s a potency to imagination that can lead to creativity, but creativity should not be the end goal.

AG: We’ve also seen all these technologies democratized. So many people have video editing software, and all these creative tools for broadcasting and visualizing their daily life.  And it seems that there’s this blossoming of creativity, looking at youtube – people are so amazing (and so boring).  But it seems that people are just reordering things within a standard frame.  Creativity has been standardized.

We got involved in this reading group at the end of last summer and the first text we read was called The Problem with Work, (Kathi Weeks) which is an amazing marxist/feminist critique of the work ethic in the United States.  The last chapter is all about how to develop post-work imaginaries.  She looked at the history of utopian forms, people like Thomas More who wrote Utopia and other science-fiction authors, but also other writers who were writing about the politics of hope.  Imagination started becoming super interesting.  Concurrently, we started watching our son, Calder, who has the most amazing imagination ever, and realized our own intense deficiency in that department.

ZG: Do you two do exercises, or do you just watch him and are like, ‘wow, I want to do that too’?

AG: We should start doing exercises.

ZG: How do you cultivate imagination?  I mean, I don’t think I even thought of creativity and imagination as separate, but of course they are.

AG: I like the idea of imagination exercises.

ZG: We should come up with an exercise right now.


RP: It’s hard, imagine that.

AG: It reminds me of Tom Friedman, he kept going into his studio and would stare at a white wall for an hour, or a certain amount of time everyday, but that’s all he did in his studio.  Just forcing it on yourself, maybe?

ZG: I feel writing is a good tool for imagination.

AG: What about making it communal?  That seems really important – public imagination.  Because what we’re talking about isn’t individual reverie necessarily.  We’re talking about how to actually imagine something a different normative structure that’s feasibly put into action, and maybe even comfortably put into action.  I feel like I can imagine lots of things, but am I actually going to do them?

ZG: But those are different things.  Isn’t the beauty of a good imagination that it doesn’t have to be possible? It’s not tied to that.  Or is that not worth imagining.

RP: I think the thing is that we don’t even know what’s possible, because we’re so colonized by what we believe is possible.  And that’s I think part of the problem.  Maybe if enough of us had imaginative wondering ways it could create new possibilities, and a new kind of creativity that is not Wieden and Kennedy telling us what shit we want.

ZG: So we almost need a situation where you’re free to imagine whatever you want, and it doesn’t have to be functional, but in the back of our minds knowing that maybe we will find something that will be of use to us.  But that’s not the goal.

AG: Yes, a strategy that is indirect.

RP: Going back to Utopia, it’s interesting that it’s become a bad word.  That’s problematic to me. The writer David Graeber has this line “the problem with utopia is having only one”.  Like if we had millions, that would be amazing.  What would come out of millions of Utopias?

AG: The other thing I took away from the Kathi Week’s book was that when she was talking about utopias, and utopias created in literature and art and things, she was really critiquing utopias that are blueprints.  And she valorized ambiguous utopias.  Imaginative projects that start out not knowing what they are going to be, that have necessary holes in them.

AG: This has made me want to take notes on Calder’s play.  The other thing that’s interesting to me, and maybe useful for developing structure for imaginative exercises: for him, there are certain things that can be pretend, and there are certain things that cannot.  But for us, those rules are really hard to determine.  He obviously has changing notions of what realism is.  So how do you establish, or destabilize the real before you attempt to have these imaginative exercises?

RP: So, this is a bamboo stick with a bit of blue tape on it.  Today it’s a sledge hammer, yesterday it was an oar, and a magic wand.  But you can’t revisit it as the object it was.  Like tomorrow I can’t say “ok, give me the sledge hammer,” he’ll be like “we don’t have a sledge hammer”.  This might not be that same object ever again.

ZG: Does he remember it as having been once a sledge hammer?

RP: Yeah.  He’ll be like “papa, it’s not that anymore!”

AG: “Get with it”.  That whole thing of objects is really interesting too. And that’s why I’m still compelled to make objects.  We could go all day without having toys, but he always is looking for something tactile to turn into something else.

ZG: I once took a philosophy class, philosophy of aesthetics, and play came up, and we were trying to figure out what play is, and we came to this understanding that in order for play to happen, the rules have to be in flux.  Like just playing soccer is not play, but if you say “ok, now everyone can play with their hands too”, or instead of having two nets you have three nets and three teams.  It’s like those drinking card games where the winner of the round gets to make up a new rule, if you play the seven you have to take three shots or whatever.

AG:  That seems really useful to think about in terms of play and imagination.  In terms of thinking of alternative public space, it has to function like that.  That’s where institutions become so problematic, when their rules can’t change and they can’t play any more.

RP: The institution becomes a self-preserving island.  It loses all use value.

AG: So how do we make an imaginative exercise?

RP: It’s almost like that’s it.  Imagine an imaginative exercise.

ZG: If we can’t do that, our imaginations are weak.  What about imagining three interesting conversations.  Because it needs to be a chain of events.  It’s a back and forth thing, where you need multiple influences that change the outcome of the situation.  You can’t just imagine one thing, you need to imagine a set of parameters that define the outcome.  It’s kind of the creative process.

AG: Do you mean having a conversation with someone who’s not there?

ZG: A really great conversation is nice because you can’t have it alone.  So how do you imagine a nice conversation? You need to have factors, or understand these characters and their motivations, so that that can lead to this situation that you wouldn’t have otherwise thought of.

AG: That’s also a really good imaginative exercise because it makes you realize how multiple you could be, or are already. It reminds me of something we were reading about the literary device of apostrophe–the moments in literature where a character suddenly breaks into something like “Ah Bartleby! Ah humanity!” addressing some absent person, or idea, or thing or form. The character is having a projective conversation, ‘free indirect discourse’ is how it was talked about in the text.

ZG: Here’s one: Ok, you’re in a group of three and each person imagines a character, and where they are in their life.  And these three characters have a dinner party or something.  Then individually, each player writes a story of how the conversation goes over the course of the dinner, and you come back together and you have three different stories, three different characters, three different situations.

AG: That sounds like a real-time event.

ZG: You could do it over dinner.  And you could do it quickly, like once you have your characters, you have ten minutes to think up a scenario, then you share and do it again.

RP: But building on the previous scenario? Like what you said, it’s this thing that takes multiple partners, to make it really good.  It’s revelatory, because it’s not all in your head.  You hear something and it changes how you were thinking about the thing.

ZG: So you really need to be in a listening space.

AG: It’s a little bit like an improv prop exercise.  But doing a similar structure, where everyone gets an object and there are no rules beyond that, just imagine a sculpture or a story or something.  Having something to grasp onto, another person, or a site or an object seems useful.  …  I read a really amazing article in our contemporary theory class in undergrad called Spontaneity by Keith Johnstone, theatre theory dude or actor I think. It was about play and how important it is in improv just to say ‘yes’.  To say yes to your own impulses and those of others, just in general to embody a spirit of yesness.

RP: The spirit of saying yes is also really scary.

AG: Especially since we’re interested in strategies of creative refusal.  Saying ‘no’ to work, or saying ‘no’ to productivist values that we’ve internalized. And this becomes important looking at the idea of immaterial labor which has been described by a number of theorists and has resonated in the art world, because of the nature of creative work I think. But, in their formulation work and labor have fundamentally changed. Our labor has been largely intellectualized, made flexible, and through devices like cell phones and social media a full-time/anywhere/on/off-the-clock kind of endeavor, therefore organization and solidarity among workers is fractured, there is nothing common to leverage or organize around, the only thing one has is the strategy of refusal–to retract your labor.  Saying no is the only thing that a lot of people have left in terms of protest.  Looking at Guantanamo, it’s fucking insane that the only thing they can do is not eat, and they aren’t even allowed to do that.



Mining Resources at the Portland Institute of Contemporary Art (PICA)

Resources on Activism at PICA

Abner, Holly, Travis Hale, Kevin Kaempf, Jeff Kowalkowski, Heather Lindahl, Bill Talsma, Michael Thomas, and Mary Zerkel, comps. AMERICA/N. N.p.: Half Letter, 2013. Print.

The book is the culmination of a project to investigate the US Constitution. Lucky Pierre, collaborative group working in writing, performance, and visual forms, invited 24+ artists, activists and scholars to present a section of the Constitution during a 13 hour performance on November 6, Election Day. It is inspired by the 12-hours of presentations on Election Day. The publication includes a handy pocket constitution and documentation of the day along with the text and images from the presentations. And it looks really good. America/n (the book) was released on Inauguration Day, 2013. http://www.luckypierre.org/current/america-n.html
Bondt, Sara De., and Catherine De. Smet. Graphic Design: History in the Writing (1983-2011). [London]: Occasional Papers, 2012. Print.
Bourriaud, Nicolas. Relational Aesthetics. [Dijon]: Leses Du Réel, 2002. Print.

Cotton, Charlotte. The Machine Project: A Field Guide to the Los Angeles County Museum of ART. Ed. Mark Allen, Jason Brown, and Liz Glynn. Comp. Mark Allen and Joshua Beckman. N.p.: Machine Project, 2010. Print.

On November 15th, 2008 Machine Project was invited to visit the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, orchestrating ten hours of performances, workshops, and events experimenting with LACMA’s expansive grounds and enormous collection of stuff. http://www.machineproject.com/files/pdf/MP0806_LACMA_Final.lo-res.pdf
Garrels, Gary, Kara Kirk, Jim Lewis, Abigail Solomon-Godeau, Andy Warhol, and Photographer-Robert Frank, comps. Public Information: Desire, Disaster, Document. San Francisco, CA: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 1994. Print.
O’donnell, Darren. Social Acupuncuture. N.p.: Coach House, 2006. Print.
Raunig, Gerald. Art and Revolution: Transversal Activism in the Long Twentieth Century. N.p.: Semiotext(e), 2007. Print.
Wilson, Preface-Wil, and Forward-Patsy Phillips. Manifestations New Native Art Criticism. Ed. Nancy Mithlo. N.p.: Museum of Contemporary Art, 2012. Print.