911--THE SEPTEMBER 11 PROJECT: CULTURAL INTERVENTION IN CIVIC SOCIETY
Open Town Hall Meeting, School of Visual Arts, Monday, October 1, 209 E. 23rd St., 8 pm
For Updates After October 1, Visit http://rhizome.org/911
Artists/cultural workers are knowledge makers and engaged citizens. They are experts at creatively utilizing their hybrid skills to reach numerous audiences--from school children and people on the street, to gallery-goers and far-flung electronic audiences--with meaningful "messages" ranging from healing images and narratives to analyses of mass-media imagery and manipulation. The traditional view of artís potential in this crisis was expressed in the New York Times of September 17, in which the pleasures of art were described as "comfort, replenishment, beauty," the museum "as a calm haven from devastating events," and the future direction of public art as a return to the memorial, and a turning away from the "humorous or ironic." All of these observations are apt, but reinforce the notion of contemporary artís remove from daily life. In a time of crisis, they are too limited.
Members of arts community(s) want to do more. This includes reaching out to the citizenry of New York with short-term aid (the American branch of the International Art Criticsí Association worked with MoMA to post a crisis board on its website, opening up avenues of expression for discussion of hasty military/political action and the conditions that encourage terrorism (petition campaigns are circulating), offering emotional solace and intellectual engagement through art and other programming (already one-off and ongoing art projects have emerged), and creating a community of concern about issues that extend beyond the mainstream gallery-museum nexus. In a monolithic media culture, it is imperative that more diverse voices be heard.
The SEPTEMBER 11 PROJECT is a response to an emergency that is designed to be open-ended and evolving. Its art-world predecessors include the pedagogical impulses of Joseph Beuys manifested in the Free University, the collaboratively-oriented, "think-tanking" approach of facilities such as Carnegie-Mellonís Studio for Creative Inquiry or MITís Center for Advanced Visual Studies, and the political engagement of the Art Workersí Coalition, PADD (Political Art Documentation and Distribution) and Artists Call Against US Intervention in Central America. Perhaps more to the point in our networked era are the activities of Visual AIDS, which functioned as a volunteer-run umbrella organization, information hub and presenter. But the past can only suggest possible strategies for responding to a condition--in civic life and the culture-at-large--that is unprecedented. The 911--THE SEPTEMBER 11 PROJECT intends to work first with New York arts and media arts organizations as an electronic clearinghouse (see http://rhizome.org/911 for current information), a presenter of exhibitions and programs with affiliated organizations, a space for cultural workers to communicate and find collaborators.
An open, town hall meeting will be held Monday, October 1st at the School of Visual Arts, 209 E. 23rd St, at 8 pm. Bring your ideas, projects, concerns.