On Friday, August 18, 2017, I had the pleasure of working with twelve curious and courageous souls who attended the Me(dia) Response: Self-Awareness and Activism Through Art-Making workshop at MIT List Visual Art Center. This, the first of a three-part workshop, stirred a conversation about the excess of violent imagery in our news and questioned the role of the photographers, editors, and consumers (us) in making (and disseminating) political statements.
After a guided meditation, participants selected violent images that spoke to them—hands that called out for help, people locked in protest for their civil rights—from a collection of over 100 that I've been snipping from newspapers since December 2016.
We got right to making, each person gluing together over 60 pages of newspaper. The goal was to give participants quiet time to consider the glut of violent imagery and news as they busied their hands. But heated political conversations quickly ensued. The imagery may have aggrevated some who were not comfortable sitting with the feelings it evoked. Or perhaps they were frustrated at not being heard in other contexts.
As time went on, the suggested shape, a vertical stack akin to striated rock, took on new and surprising shapes — a flower, a frayed puck shape, and a hand for instance.
Now it is my turn to alter the twelve completed accumulations with a unifying color and texture using a black rubbery paint. I'll return in September to guide the next set of participants through a deeper understanding of their role in shaping media (and how they can take control of it) by altering someone else's creation.
Me(dia) Response: Self-Awareness and Activism Through Art-Making is part of List Projects: Civil Disobedience, a program of documentaries, news footage, citizen journalism, artist’s films and videos focusing on moments of political resistance and public demonstration from the early 20th century through today. Presenting records from the historical Civil Rights and women’s movements, gay liberation and AIDS activism, the Black Lives Matter movement, and recent Women’s Marches recognize the history of resistance, and considers the role that artists and documentarians play in chronicling and confronting abuses of power and social injustice. July 18, 2017 - October 29, 2017 (Note: closed August 22–27. Daily screening program will resume on August 29.)