research and exhibition at MIT 2011
April 5th, 2012

Shift Boston on Disobedience Archive at MIT

A private or public sleeping space?
by Zenovia Toloudi
April 10th, 2012

The concept of micro-spaces,  explored in (the recent) Antoni Muntadas, Volume 1: Between book and (for long present) work, is also very present in  Giacomo Castagnola‘s practice, where he explores a series of interstitial spaces interconnecting the building with the body. His latest project, is a micro-space for sleeping, a semi-private small environment,  can be found and experienced in the semi-public  Fumihiko Maki‘s new MIT Media Lab ”whitish” lobby.  According to the artist (also designer,  architect, and currently a graduate student at MIT Art, Culture & Technology) :

“Sleeping is a behavior that happens all the time in hidden corners and library couches throughout MIT, and I am interested in accommodating a space for that ‘non conforming’ activity in order not to represent civic disobedience only, but to actually embody it within the project…

…The ideas generated by “sleeping in public” as a form of social critique led me to an article on Richard Stallman by K.C. Jones in InformationWeek, that notes: ‘until around 1998, his office at MIT’s AI Lab was also his residence. He was registered to vote from there.’ In other words, Stallman was sleeping on campus.”

The multi-faceted project refers to MIT’s  hacking culture (with famous examples like that of students placing MIT Police Car on the Great Dome of MIT back in the 1994) . From installation’ s manifesto:

”Sleeping with Stallman is a ‘hack’ into the exhibition space with the simple activity of sleep or rest.

‘Hack’ is another MIT-coined word: ‘A hack is a parodic, practical joke designed to debunk authority.’ As Stallman says, ‘hacking means exploring the limits of what is possible, in a spirit of playful cleverness’.”

The temporary micro-space is part of the “Disobedience Archive” research and exhibition curated by Marco Scotini together with Nomeda & Gediminas Urbonas on show until April 15th in the MIT Media Lab  lobby. It consists of a soft platform that hosts three sound compilations and three reading sections.

The project is very popular among MIT community since in this case art provides a function, an opportunity for the users to occupy the building in a more  comfortable way through naps and rests. It creates a contrasting to the transparent (surveilling, open) Media Lab, little corner where one can hide and sleep without complete isolation. It provides an opportunity to enjoy the small (individual bubble) while being part of the big (system).

*ZIG-ZAG is a series of two-fold posts that present one project (ZIG) and their creator (ZAG).

SHIFTboston’s readers can participate in the process by submitting their questions and comments (ZAG), or to pinpoint interesting projects or their projects for exploration (ZIG).

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March 22nd, 2012

Abitare on Disobedience archive at MIT

Learning & exhibiting. “Disobedience Archive” at MIT in Boston and other study cases.

In these last years the exhibit spaces of many academic institutions in Europe and in the United States of America are characterized by experimental programmes and interesting elaborations around the format of the art and architecture exhibition. After the unsuccessful experiment of Manifesta 6 in Cyprus, which will be the future of the combination learning&exhibiting?

posted by abitare

by Francesco Garutti

Almost six years have elapsed from Manifesta 6 in Nicosia, the curatorial project by Mai Abu ElDahab, Florian Waldvogel and Anton Vidokle that – inspired by the Black Mountain College founded in North Carolina in 1933 – had for some months fancied of transforming an European biennial into an Education project set up in a conflicting land, where there were neither art academies nor architecture schools. By now some years have elapsed also from “United Nation Plaza”, the temporary school that Vidokle himself decided to place in a Berlin ‘terrain vague’ in 2007, shortly after the sad conclusion of the Cypriot adventure, never become a reality, never transformed into a physical structure, just remained an interesting project.

Today, in a moment when the spaces dedicated to art and culture institutions are undergoing an interesting process of redefinition, in the light of the radical expansion of the global systems, of a renewed social participation and of the new territories explored by artists in these last years, some academic structures seem to be in the vanguard by hosting and often producing very high-quality exhibitions and projects at their premises, thus revealing and triggering interesting exchange mechanisms between the education world and that of producing art (or architectural research) and exhibition.

For instance Wattis in San Francisco is a space precisely born in a university context and for years capable, today even more under the guide of Jens Hoffmann, to produce exhibitions, often exploiting as driving force its relation with the academy (California College of Art – San Francisco). A clear example thereof is “John Baldessari: Class Assignments, (Optional)” as the future project announced during the last interview Hoffman realized for Abitare, “When attitudes became form, become attitudes” (September 2012) in which the famous and influential exhibition curated by Szemann at Kunsthalle Bern will be reread and rearticulated between past and future.

With regard to architecture, EPFL | École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne and Architectural Association London, just to mention a few, realized in these last years various exhibitions apt to explore key themes and issues in the contemporary debate. Among these there is definitely “OMA Book Machine” (2010) curated by Brett Steele and Zak Kyes.

In this sense a few days ago closed at MIT Boston an exhibition which maybe more than others explores and puts to the test the fertile relation ground between education and display. “Disobedience – an ongoing video archive” was set up at the Media Lab Complex Lobby of the MIT in Boston, curated by Marco Scotini and Nomeda & Gediminas Urbonas.

The archive of “Disobedience” explores and reveals the common ground, between present and past, where political and aesthetical practices merge in an organic whole of action and revolution. Already displayed in many exhibition sites such as Rawen Row in London or the Van Abben Museum in Rotterdam, Kunstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien in Berlin, the project reconfigures for the MIT academic context with a new display designed by Urbonas Studio, that includes in the archive pieces and videos the works realized by the American students during workshops and harbours local material relating to political and artistic actions developed in the Boston area (for instance Sylvère Lotringer, Hans Guggenheim, ACT UP, Juliet Stone).

As a long strip of garden, the display gets into the space of the faculty lobby, the setting up of the project echoes the forms of the community gardens and of the North-American protest tent camps. With no hierarchy inside – every piece, video, publication, testimony, has the same historic and aesthetic value – the archive being a complex and compressed aesthetic-critical device transforming into a tool for students and visitors. The school supports the research for the exhibition, completes the narrations, enriches with its contents. The exhibition and the research complete themselves, the school – really as infrastructure – produces and redistributes contents.

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March 16th, 2012

SA+P on Disobedience Archive at MIT

Art and Political Activism
The Disobedience Archive Comes to SA+P
Posted March 2012

The lobby gallery of SA+P’s new Media Lab Complex is the site of an exhibit this spring exploring video works by artists working at the intersection of art and political activism.

Founded in 2005, and since exhibited around the world, The Disobedience Archive is an atlas of activist approaches developed by artists and filmmakers after the fall of the Soviet bloc that are currently proliferating on a global scale. Using ‘tactical media’ such as low-cost video and free web access, the DIY techniques offer unprecedented access to those who feel they’ve been damaged by mainstream culture.

The core of the collection focuses on social struggles in Italy, Germany, Argentina, Israel and Palestine, post-9/11 America and other insurrections around the world. But the archive has always been considered a long-term work-in-progress, intended to expand over time, and for this installation it was enlarged to include political and artistic action in Boston.

Originally scheduled through February, then extended through April 15, the installation was curated by SA+P’s Gediminas Urbonas, and his partner Nomeda Urbonas, working with critic and curator Marco Scotini, director of the Visual Arts Department at Nuova Accademia de Belle Arti Milano and curator of Milan’s Gianni Colombo Archive.

It was developed in tandem with last fall’s lecture series in the Art, Culture and Technology Program – Zones of Emergency: Artistic Interventions – directed by Ute Meta Bauer, then director of the ACT program. That series investigated creative responses to conflict and crisis to explore how artistic interventions can disrupt, subvert or transform existing conditions in critical ways.

The exhibit was produced in collaboration with students from two ACT seminars – both taught by Urbonas – that offered students occasion to research, debate and create artworks that examine the notion of disobedience as it relates to history and politics in the Boston area. Student works included:

Tables Talk, an installation by Hailong Wu exploring the student protests at Harvard in 1969. During the strike, the first thing students did was to pile up the tables in classrooms, to re-arrange the space as a way of deconstructing the power structure. Tables Talk freezes such a moment and reconstructs it with different material, different geometry and different functions, turning the tables into stairs, mirrors and sound generators that offer people the chance to revisit a multi-layered sensation of disobedience as it took place in Harvard 1969.

Consent, a multi-channel video work by Alex Auriema comprising video coverage taken by police of the public in protest. Since the US Court of Appeals ruled that citizens have a right to videotape police in action, police have become increasingly wary of making arrests for ‘unlawful’ recording of their actions and have even become creative with their own video recording, stepping up their own right to record the actions of protesters. An open lawsuit in collaboration with the Boston ACLU is seeking to retrieve the footage that the Boston Police Department has captured since the start of Occupy Boston.

Sleeping with Stallman, an installation by Giacomo Castagnola, began as an investigation into the use of dwelling as a protest tactic, such as Occupy Boston’s use of sleeping in public space to disrupt the existing system. The notion of ‘sleeping in public’ as a form of social critique led him to knowledge of Richard Stallman, who lived and slept in his office at MIT in the 1990s as an act of civic disobedience.

Consisting of a soft platform that hosts three sound compilations and three reading sections, Sleeping with Stallman is a ‘hack’ into the exhibition space that references sleeping as a form of political resistance.

microBUG, an installation by Joan Chen, was inspired while researching histories of urban gardening in Boston. Chen studied the Southwest Corridor Park, an area that was cleared for a proposed interstate during the country’s peak of highway projects only to be terminated in 1969 due to extensive community protests. The need to heal the urban scar left by mass demolition was met by building a public green space featuring community gardens to stitch the neighborhoods back together in a form that combines food production, neighborhood renewal and ongoing discussion of urban agriculture.

For this exhibit, the MIT Museum also loaned digital scans of original protest posters from their general collection, documenting actions at MIT during the Vietnam Era. And iHuman, a collaborative project by Caleb Benjamin Harper, Ali Khalid Qureshi and Summer Stephanie Sutton, provided visitors with an avatar that could move around the environment, allowing the controller to experience the physical space in a manner both anonymous and remote.

The Disobedience Archive was produced at MIT with help from SA+P’s Office of the Dean, Julian Bonder, Paul Summit, Mel King and Juliet Stone. It was funded by the Grants Program of the Council for the Arts at MIT and a Director’s Grant from the Council for the Arts at MIT.

For more information visit Read more in Domus (in Italian)


Posted March 2012

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February 23rd, 2012

Domusweb on Disobedience Archive at MIT

Disobedience Archive—
Per la Lobby del Media Lab Complex al MIT, l’archivio propone un insieme di materiali capaci di creare sinergie forti a cavallo tra arte e attivismo A news report from Boston

Il Disobedience Archive, curato da Marco Scotini insieme con Nomeda e Gediminas Urbonas e con l’assistenza di Andris Brinkmanis, raccoglie una serie di pratiche e di forme di auto-rappresentazione individuali viste come un insieme capace di creare sinergie forti a cavallo tra arte e attivismo: una trasformazione nel linguaggio che la società produce come soggetto politico e come oggetto mediatico. Ciò che importa nel progetto Disobedience non è tanto un’alleanza tra le domande degli attivisti e le risposte degli artisti per il raggiungimento di obiettivi comuni, quanto piuttosto l’emergere di spazi e piattaforme comuni di condivisione. Questi spazi non sono chiaramente delimitati, ed è quindi impossibile tracciare una linea di demarcazione tra forze e segni, tra linguaggio e lavoro, tra produzione intellettuale e azione politica. Disobedience funziona attraverso il dispositivo dell’archivio, in cui tutti i materiali esposti, prevalentemente video, condividono un livello di equivalenza, che è quindi privo di gerarchie e che rifugge l’esibizione di ogni qualsivoglia set preordinato di regole istituzionali. Sta al pubblico la scelta e l’organizzazione del proprio personale modo di vedere i materiali a disposizione, l’archivio si trasforma così in un kit di strumenti ready for use.

Il Disobedience Archive è stato esposto in una grande varietà di ambiti in tutto il mondo sin dal 2005. Nell’istallazione per la Lobby del Media Lab Complex al MIT l’archivio si è espanso includendo alcune di quelle azioni politiche e artistiche che si sono espresse nel contesto locale, geografico e storico, di Boston. Sono inoltre esposti nuovi e recenti lavori di studenti, prodotti in seminari di ricerca, e nell’ambito di Art, Architecture, and Urbanism in Dialogue and Introduction to Networked Cultures and Participatory Media, che si interrogano criticamente sul concetto di Disobedience e che, nell’ambito della mostra, costruiscono un dialogo con il corpus dei lavori che compone l’archivio.

Per quanto riguarda l’allestimento nella Lobby del MIT, qui l’archivio stesso prende la forma di un giardino lineare che si attesta su un asse che rompe la logica tradizionale dello spazio in cui si inserisce alludendo alle politiche spaziali e urbane, dai community garden alle tendopoli spontanee, che hanno caratterizzato tante delle istanze degli attivismi della Boston area.

Per finire ecco l’elenco delle fonti dei contributi all’archivio: 16beaver group, Atelier d’Architecture Autogérée (AAA), Gianfranco Baruchello, Bernardette Corporation, Black Audio Film Collective, Copenhagen Free University, Critical Art Ensemble, Dodo Brothers (Andrea Ruggeri and Giancarlo Vitali Ambrogio), Etcètera, Marcelo Exposito, Harun Farocki and Andrei Ujica, Grupo de Arte Callejero (GAC), Alberto Grifi, Ashley Hunt, Kanal B, Margit Czencki/Park Fiction, Radio Alice, Oliver Ressler with Zanny Begg, Joanne Richardson, Eyal Sivan, Hito Steyerl, The Department of Space and Land Reclamation (with StreetRec., The Institute for Applied Autonomy, Las Agencias and AffectTech/BikeWriters), Mariette Schiltz and Bert Theis, Ultra Red, Nomeda & Gediminas Urbonas, James Wentzy, Dmitry Vilensky and Chto delat / What is to be done?, con il contributo di Hans Guggenheim, Mel King, Juliet Stone, Richard Leacock, Sylvère Lotringer, MIT Museum, Paul Summit, Urbano platform, ACT UP e Food not Bombs.

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January 13th, 2012

FlashArtonline on Disobedience archive at MIT

December 2011 – April 2012
E14 Media Lab Complex Lobby
MIT program in Art, Culture, and Technology.

Curated by: Marco Scotini together with Nomeda & Gediminas Urbonas
Assistant curator: Andris Brinkmanis
Display System by US: Urbonas Studio

Disobedience Archive brings together a series of practices and forms of individual self-representation just as they are finding the key to their strength in an alliance of art and activism: a transformation in the languages that society produces as a political subject and as a media object. What matters in Disobedience is not so much an ‘alliance’ between activist demands and artistic practices in order to achieve common goals: it is more that of a common space or a common base that is emerging. This space is not clearly defined, thus making it impossible to draw a precise line between forces and signs, between language and labor, between intellectual production and political action. It functions through a display of the archive format, in which all the materials on show share the same level of equivalence – without hierarchies and without exhibiting any preordained set of institutional rules. It is up to the public to choose and to organize their vision of the available material: turning the archive into a toolkit ready for use.

The Disobedience Archive has been organized and exhibited in many different venues across the World since 2005. In the installation at the Lobby of the Media Lab Complex at MIT the Disobedience expands to include cases of political and artistic action that have manifested in the geographic and historical terrain of Boston. In addition to this, new student works that critically interrogate concepts of Disobedience are exhibited in conversation with the pre-existing body of works that comprise the archive.

Here, the archive itself takes the form of a garden “corridor” arranged on an axis that disrupts the traditional logic of the existing space and makes an allusion to the spatial and urban politics, from community gardens to self-reliant tent cities, that have characterized many instances of activism in the Boston area.

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