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Prologue II: Art and Media Activism - Strategies for Political Change

How does activist art obtain political impact when playing by the rules of the media? What are the medial means by which art activism becomes an agent for political change? Which communicative strategies may be applied to strengthen the force of a political message?

The First Supper Symposium is delighted to invite you to the second part of its symposium series on art activism, investigating the relationship between contemporary art practices and politics. In this edition, Eirik Myrhaug, Center for Political Beauty, The Yes Men, Ekaterina Sharova, Deep Dish TV, Shannon Jackson, Media Impact Moscow, and moderator Trine Krigsvoll Haagensen will engage and activate the audience in unfolding the means by which art activism may become an agent for change in a world of political and economic crisis.

Video from Prologue 2 is here.

The relation between dominant political powers and strategies of resistance is continuously developing and changing. Some artists and activists respond to this situation by embracing new media and its dynamics of clickable actions and events. Others respond by withdrawing from the media circus, aiming instead to work on a micro-level, in the shadows or in anonymity. In the words of American activist Audre Lorde, “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us to temporarily beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change”. Is she correct? Are we trapped within the monster’s stomach, or provided with new possibilities for dismantling and disclosing injustice and abuse, rearranging existing power relations?

The First Supper Symposium wishes to reflect upon the methods and contexts of art activism in order to create a platform where art may have real impact in changing politics and economies, aiming at an ever-expanding connection between artistic practice, research and public space. We invite the audience to engage as participants, contributors and users of our symposium platform to investigate contemporary strategies for articulation, action, influence and change. Guided by ideas of democracy, freedom of speech and economic equality, we understand our project as a relational, performative, experimental and flexible platform where discussions and new knowledge is being produced.

PROGRAM - 1. November 2016:
Moderator Trine Krigsvoll Haagensen, NO
Eirik Myrhaug - Sami activist and shaman, NO
Center for Political Beauty, Yasser Almaamoun - Syrian activist and architect, SY/DE
The Yes Men, Mike Bonanno - artist, activist and associate professor of media arts, US
National Apology - Pia Maria Roll og Marius von der Fehr, theater director, artist and activist, NO

PROGRAM - 2. November 2016:
Moderator Trine Krigsvoll Haagensen, NO
Eirik Myrhaug - Sami activist and shaman, NO
Deep Dish TV, Brian Drolet- activist and executive director, US
Shannon Jackson - Associate Vice Chancellor for the Arts + Design, Director, Arts Research Center, University of California, Berkeley, US
Media Impact Moscow (Mediaudar), Tatiana Volkova, Pavlo Mitenko, Make - art activist platform, RU
Ekaterina Sharova - art historian and curator, Arkhangelsk, RU


We will be screening the film Art and Censorship produced by Whitebox NY.

The event took place in Deichmanske Bibliotek Tøyen in Oslo.

Eirik Myrhaug is a Sami activist, healer and shaman. He grew up in humble circumstances in Gratangen in Northern Norway and later trained as an engineer, working for Skanska and the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE). Following his engineering work he took on a leading activist role in the hunger strike against the Alta River development in 1981. Subsequently, Eirik devoted himself to developing a model of ecological economy that won widespread acclaim and is considered pioneering in this field in the Nordic region. In 1992 he took on the shaman legacy of his parents, developed the course Shaman Healing and became known as the shaman who stopped the storm in the north. Eirik has helped thousands of people with close and distant healing, and has educated many healers.

Center for Political Beauty - Yasser Almaamoun is a Syrian activist and architect. Since 2014 he works with Center of Political Beauty in Berlin as a spokesperson and Minister of Foreign Affairs, debating and communicating the outcome of the center's actions to the media. In 2016 he has participated in actions like Kindertransporthilfe, Die Toten Kommen and Eating Refugees. Through his numerous presentations and public discussions (2014-16) he works at bridging the gap between the refugees' community and German society. Yasser graduated as an architect from the University of Damascus, Syria, in 2011. Arriving in Germany in 2013, he worked in a Berlin architectural office, and became a master student at the University of Applied Sciences. He has served as jury member of an architectural competition concerning the housing of refugees in 2015 in Helsinki, Finland, and in 2016 in Berlin, Germany. http://politicalbeauty.com

The Yes Men - Mike Bonanno
The Yes Men are Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno, two guys who couldn’t hold down a job until they became representatives of Exxon, Halliburton, Dow Chemical, and the U.S. federal government. As the Yes Men, they use humor, truth and lunacy to bring media attention to the crimes of their unwilling employers. Armed with nothing but quick wits and thrift store suits, the Yes Men impersonate big-time corporate criminals to draw attention to their crimes against humanity and the environment.

Ekaterina Sharova
Ekaterina Sharova is a curator born in Arkhangelsk and educated at the University of Oslo and the Norwegian Institute in Rome. She works with Russian and Eastern-European art, with non-institutional practices and interdisciplinary experiments. Her major area of interest is a correlation between hierarchical and horizontal types of social organization, and center-periphery relationships.

Deep Dish TV - Brian Drolet
Deep Dish TV aspires to build and maintain a statewide and national network of people and grassroots organizations committed to using television and the Internet as outlets for creative independent video that addresses issues and perspectives inadequately represented by corporate media. Our goal is to strengthen and increase the visibility of movements for social and economic justice in the U.S. and around the world. We do this by consciously serving communities whose images and interests are marginalized or misrepresented in the media; by encouraging the awareness and use of public access TV and alternative media for local organizing; and by promoting collaborations among artists, videographers, producers, editors and activists.

Shannon Jackson is the Cyrus and Michelle Hadidi Chair in the Humanities at the University of California, Berkeley, where she is Professor of Rhetoric and of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies. In the fall of 2015, she was appointed to be the first Associate Vice Chancellor for the Arts and Design (AVCAD). Her book Social Works: Performing Art, Supporting Publics (2011) explores the relationship between the visual arts, performance and social engagement. Past work has considered the relationship between performance and American social reform (Lines of Activity) as well as between performance and the institution of higher education (Professing Performance). She has written for numerous exhibition catalogues and scholarly journals, and guided several workshops, symposia, and research on cross-arts collaborations for social change.

Media Impact - Tatiana Volkova, Pavlo Mitenko, Make Makovich
MediaImpact is an international non-profit organization, and an open international community seeking to explore, articulate, document, support and develop activist art. The key aspect of its activity is the inclusion of art projects into the actual socio-political practices of today, including, among other things, campaigning for the rights of minority groups, release of political prisoners, environmental protection and development of alternatives to existing healthcare systems, as well as standing up against censorship and defamation of cultural figures. MediaImpact has participants from 10 countries and the only major festival of its type in Russia. www.mediaudar.net

Trine Krigsvoll Haagensen is currently working on her doctoral thesis Picture as Paradigm at the Department of Linguistics, Literature and Aesthetics at the University of Bergen. Haagensen is co-editor of the anthology Fra terror til overvåking, et kritisk prospekt (2014) (From Terror to Surveillance, a Critical Prospect), and Images of knowledge. The Epistemic Lives of Pictures and Visualizations (2016), and had texts by Pussy Riot translated and published in Norwegian, Pussy Riot, en pønkebønn for frihet (2013). She is co-organizer of the annual Norwegian Overvåkingsseminaret (The Surveillance seminar). Haagensen is member of the research groups Media Aesthetics (University of Oslo) and Images of Knowledge (University of Bergen). She is also member of the interdisciplinary European Cooperation in Science and Technology New Materialism: Networking European Scholarship on 'How Matter Comes to Matter'.


Prologue 2: Art and Media Activism - Strategies for Political Change forms part two of a series of three symposia on art activism in Oslo. The Symposium held in June 2016 was titled Prologue 1: Art Activism - White Cube vs Public Space. The subsequent symposium is titled Prologue 3: Art Activism - Feminism in the Middle East.

Supported by KORO Public Art Norway, Arts Council Norway, Billedkunstnernes Vederlagsfond and Deichmanske Bibliotek Tøyen.

The First Supper Symposium is a collaborative art project focusing on art activism, feminism and political issues. Current members Gidsken Braadlie, Lisa Pacini and Camilla Dahl are collaborating with Hanan Benammar and Ragnhild Tronstad on the Prologue symposia.