Resources on Justice – Amber Ginsburg

Open Engagement has invited a group of contributors to make this year’s blog into a timely resource for organizing, moving forward and thinking creatively during particularly unjust times.

In light of our current reality and to align with this year’s conference theme of JUSTICE these blog posts will feature strategies, testimonies, literature, art and instructions as tools for working and living in the world as we know it.

The 2017 blog project, Resources on Justice, will grow over time, be published incrementally and will feature responses from a wide range of participants including activists, writers, thinkers, artists, teachers, arts professionals, community leaders, cultural workers, and more. It is an inclusive and accessible platform to think through the conference theme, introduce dialogues specific to the conference’s host city, as well as instigate ideas that can be applied beyond the context of this conference.

About the contributor: Together with collaborators, Amber Ginsburg creates site-generated projects and social sculpture that insert historical scenarios into present day situations. Her background in craft orients her projects towards the continuities and ruptures in material, social, and utopic histories. She teaches in the Department of Visual Arts at the University of Chicago. Amber shares with us her Top 5 Resources on Justice for the 2017 blog project.


 

  1. Chicago Torture Justice Memorials and the Jon Burge Reparations

The Chicago Torture Justice Memorials project, which helped facilitate and lead to the Burge Reparations for survivors of police torture is one of the most remarkable models of artists, activists, survivors and lawyers coming together and effectively advocating for accountability. Said best their own words ––

“Chicago Torture Justice Memorials (CTJM) aims to honor and to seek justice for the survivors of Chicago police torture, their family members and the African American communities affected by the torture. In 2010 CTJM, a group of attorneys, artists, educators, and social justice activists, put out a call for speculative memorials to recall and honor the two-decades long struggle for justice waged by torture survivors and their families, attorneys, community organizers, and people from every neighborhood and walk of life in Chicago. This effort culminated in a major exhibition of 75 proposals and a year-long series of associated teach-ins, roundtables, and other public events in 2011-2013.CTJM now turns its attention to a campaign for reparations for those affected by Chicago Police torture, and to working in solidarity with other groups and individuals for racial justice and to end police violence and mass incarceration.”

The Burge Reparations offers redress to individual survivors, their families, their communities, provides education on police torture in public schools and allows descendants of survivors education and training opportunities, as well as a public memorial. This multifaceted approach to reparations, in very real terms, recognizes the depth of loss perpetrated by torture and injustice.

Recommendation: Read the Burge Reparations

  1. Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN)

IMAN, a south-west Chicago organization offers health care services, dentistry, youth poetry slams (they are great!), art classes, green construction training for formerly incarcerated men, counseling and much much more. This small organization, deeply immersed in the community directly combats negative ideas spread through Islamophobia by their powerful social justice programming.

imancentral.org

  1. Chicago Community Bond Fund

“The Chicago Community Bond Fund (CCBF) pays bond for people charged with crimes in Cook County, Illinois. Through a revolving fund, CCBF supports individuals whose communities cannot afford to pay the bonds themselves and who have been impacted by structural violence. Inability to pay bond results in higher rates of conviction, longer sentences, loss of housing and jobs, separation of families, and lost custody of children. By paying bond, CCBF restores the presumption of innocence before trial and enables recipients to remain free while fighting their cases. CCBF also engages in public education about the role of bond in the criminal legal system and advocates for the abolition of money bond. CCBF is committed to long term relationship building and organizing with people most directly impacted by criminalization and policing.”

chicagobond.org

  1. Prison + Neighborhood Arts Project (PNAP)

“Prison + Neighborhood Arts Project is a visual arts and humanities project that connects teaching artists and scholars to men at Stateville Maximum Security Prison through classes, workshops and guest lectures. Classes offered include subjects ranging from poetry, visual arts, and film study to political theory, social studies, and history. Classes are held once a week, on a 14 week semester schedule. Each course results in finished projects—visual art, creative writing and critical essays—with specific audiences and neighborhoods in mind. These works are then exhibited and read in neighborhood galleries and cultural centers. Over the course of an academic semester, artists and scholars on the inside and outside address key questions:

What can we learn from each other?

Who are our audiences?

What materials and methods best relate our concerns?

What can we say from inside a maximum security prison?”

p-nap.org

  1. Jane Addams Hull House Museum

In terms of the theme of Justice, I would be remiss to not include Jane Addams, such an important thinker and model for lived/action-based ideas of change.

hullhousemuseum.org


Resources on Justice – Marisa Jahn

Open Engagement has invited a group of contributors to make this year’s blog into a timely resource for organizing, moving forward and thinking creatively during particularly unjust times.

In light of our current reality and to align with this year’s conference theme of JUSTICE these blog posts will feature strategies, testimonies, literature, art and instructions as tools for working and living in the world as we know it.

The 2017 blog project, Resources on Justice, will grow over time, be published incrementally and will feature responses from a wide range of participants including activists, writers, thinkers, artists, teachers, arts professionals, community leaders, cultural workers, and more. It is an inclusive and accessible platform to think through the conference theme, introduce dialogues specific to the conference’s host city, as well as instigate ideas that can be applied beyond the context of this conference.

About the contributor: Marisa Morán Jahn is an artist, activist, and founder of Studio REV-, a non-profit organization that produces public art + creative media with low-wage workers, immigrants, and youth. She teaches at MIT and The New School. Her current projects include CareForce (mobile studios: the CareForce One and NannyVan), Video Slink Uganda, Bibliobandido. Marisa shares with us her Top 5 Resources on Justice on the blog.


1. Cassils, Transliberation

Cassils is a transgender artist whose powerful works are particularly resonant right now. Here is a video Cassils created in response to the Pulse night club shooting. I recall watching this for the first time and crying from its power; the retrenchments of LGBTQA rights under the new administration invoke that same horror and shock. Here is a link to more of Cassils’ work. When showing their work to students I first show them the wikipedia definition of transhysteria which we discuss and address.

2. Immigration Resources

Women Step Forward is an easy-to-use website that offers step by step instructions to guide individuals with different immigration status towards trusted, verified resources. You can also find trusted, vetted lawyers (since a lot of immigrants face fraud in legal processes), advocacy pipelines, and options. The site and its resources were created after the election by We Belong Together, an initiative of the National Domestic Workers Alliance (an organization with whom I work closely) and the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (who support immigrant, women leaders).

3. Digital Inclusion

Stemming from a long-standing curiosity about the technologies of intimacy (extimacy) such as letter-writing, the Roman postal network, Ugandan bootleg industries, Afghan fighters composing love poems to their enemies via bluetooth, etc., I’ve been recently fascinated by the rhetoric of so-called “networked economy” whose de-territorialized metaphors (“the cloud”) belie an ecology of server farms relaying messages to select countries via underwater sea cables lain by 19th century colonial allies. How do these infrastructures reify hegemony or alternately, support digital inclusion? For example, in 2016, Facebook and the entrepreneur Elon Musk sent a satellite into space (which exploded), intending to “bring Facebook to Africa” — an undertaking that provokes a question about how corporate-owned proprietary networks produce a new form of reliance and dependency.

For more information about the politics of a digital economy on which most of us depend, I recommend Nicole Starosielski’s amazing book, The Undersea Network.

4. Grow the movement! Provide childcare at political gatherings!

Providing childcare at political gatherings (and ideally cultural gatherings as well) helps grow the movement. Let me unpack this a bit. Having a kid is expensive. National estimates say that the average cost of having a cost is about $13,000 and it gets even more expensive in urban areas. So paying for a babysitter isn’t always an option for people — especially artists, activists, lower-income folks, and those from frontline groups. Without organized childcare at events, we thus exclude many from participating and end up with insular conversations. When we do include childcare, those kids develop life-long friendships with their peers within the movement and the arts community. Plus, older, more experienced activists who have kids are able to participate and share knowledge; they are also reinvigorated by younger artists — so this is a two-way street.

Organizing cooperative childcare can be low-cost or free. I remember going to punk disco dance parties in Canada where they provided childcare. And many immigrant groups and most domestic worker groups offer childcare at meetings. They simply asked those from their community to volunteer. If you do want to turn to domestic worker and childcare coops for support, here are two:

  • Beyond Care (Brooklyn) is a child care services cooperative created and run by professional nannies.
  • ChiChiCo (Chicago) is a group of volunteers who support the participation of parents, especially mothers, in racial and economic justice work. The collective matches volunteers with community organizations across the city to have fun with kids while their parents participate in and lead organizing efforts to defend their rights and build a better Chicago.

5. Screenprints from the series Solutions for the CareForce

Title: Mamas Wanna Dance (from the series, Solutions for the CareForce)

Authorship: Marisa Morán Jahn (Studio REV-)

Date: 2017

Medium: Silkscreen (1 of 10)

Dimensions: 19” x 25”

Photo Credit: Taehee Whang, 2017

Special Thanks: Taehee Whang



Title: Grow the Movement (from the series, Solutions for the CareForce)

Authorship: Marisa Morán Jahn (Studio REV-)

Date: 2017

Medium: Silkscreen (1 of 10)

Dimensions: 19” x 25”

Photo Credit: Taehee Whang, 2017

Special Thanks: Taehee Whang



Title: Increase America’s Pre-Tax Care Allowance (from the series, Solutions for the CareForce)

Authorship: Marisa Morán Jahn (Studio REV-)

Date: 2017

Medium: Silkscreen (1 of 7)

Dimensions: 19” x 25”

Photo Credit: Taehee Whang, 2017

Special Thanks: Taehee Whang



Title: Support America’s Elderboom (from the series, Solutions for the CareForce)

Authorship: Marisa Morán Jahn (Studio REV-)

Date: 2017

Medium: Silkscreen (1 of 10)

Dimensions: 19” x 25”

Photo Credit: Taehee Whang, 2017

Special Thanks: Taehee Whang

Title: Caregiver Credits (from the series, Solutions for the CareForce)

Authorship: Marisa Morán Jahn (Studio REV-)

Date: 2017

Medium: Silkscreen (1 of 7)

Dimensions: 19” x 25”

Photo Credit: Taehee Whang, 2017

Special Thanks: Taehee Whang


Resources on Justice

Open Engagement has invited a group of contributors to make this year’s blog into a timely resource for organizing, moving forward and thinking creatively during particularly unjust times.

In light of our current reality and to align with this year’s conference theme of JUSTICE these blog posts will feature strategies, testimonies, literature, art and instructions as tools for working and living in the world as we know it.

The 2017 blog project, Resources on Justice, will grow over time, be published incrementally and will feature responses from a wide range of participants including activists, writers, thinkers, artists, teachers, arts professionals, community leaders, cultural workers, and more. It is an inclusive and accessible platform to think through the conference theme, introduce dialogues specific to the conference’s host city, as well as instigate ideas that can be applied beyond the context of this conference.


Let’s continue to make magic together – Registration for OE 2017 is open!

Dearest friend of Open Engagement,

While the conference might look polished, well funded, and fully staffed, the reality is that the conference does not even have one dedicated full-time staff member, and our operating budget is 1/3 that of convenings a fraction of our size. The primary team of OE is only four people. With how much we have done with so little I think we might be legitimate witches.

It is almost springtime in Chicago, and that magical feeling of rejuvenation and transformation is in the air as we ready ourselves for the 9th annual conference, set to take place in Chicago on April 21-23 2017. We are steeped in the details and logistics of realizing what has become the largest artist-led and operated conference dedicated to socially engaged art. Last December we met with over 25 artists, organizers, and community members to program the conference through our open call for proposals that generated over 300 submissions. We are thrilled and excited about the quality of programming, the projects from around the world, and the critical conversations and performances that we have lined up for Chicago.

Open Engagement in Chicago is the second in our three-part thematic trilogy that is taking the conference from Oakland (2016 –– POWER), to Chicago (2017 –– JUSTICE), and ending in New York (2018 –– SUSTAINABILITY). As founder and director, and with OE’s ten year anniversary coinciding with our last scheduled conference in 2018, I am thinking about the future, and where our values, punk ethos, centrality of weirdness, collective care, love, dreams, and magic may take us.

Since 2007, OE has grown and evolved in so many ways. We have worked on nine conferences in two countries and six cities, hosting over 1,600 presenters and over 6,000 attendees. I started work on this conference in 2006 because I saw an urgent need for community, for support, and the political potential of art and dialogue. It has become a site of care for this field. We have formed a national consortium of five organizations and institutions who also believe in the power of art and artists to enact creative change in the world.

Open Engagement began as a student project, as my graduate thesis. It was made possible because of a DIY spirit, and an incredible group of community members who rallied around the idea and worked hard to make the conference happen with wildly limited resources. The small core team that on a part-time basis make the day-to-day workings of Open Engagement happen, are Assistant Director Crystal Baxley, Alex Winters on social media, and Administrative Assistant Latham Zearfoss.

Recently three of us connected in Chicago for a few days of intensive OE work. One evening, following our work day, we went to a premiere screening of Open TV’s second season of Brujos, a web series chronicling four gay Latino PhD candidates who are witches. Similar to OE, Open TV is a space that values, centers, and respects voices and individuals that are often marginalized. Following the screening of the first episode, writer/creator/director/lead actor Ricardo Gamboa noted that POC and WOC are not represented in popular televisual media centering on the occult and supernatural magic. Gamboa noted the inherent irony, arguing that we must be magic to have not only endured, but to have survived, occasionally even thrived. With how much OE has done with so little, I feel a similar way: magic that has allowed us to get to this point. We have made a space within the art world that more accurately represents the one we would like to see, and conjured a community to exist there with us—you!

Magic is essentially about transformation and power. OE has been able to continue for nearly a decade, in part because we have been able to navigate institutional partnerships. In so doing we reassign value and resources, creating new hybrid space of material and psychic support. Socially engaged artist, writer, and educator Ted Purves has been present at Open Engagement from the very inception of the project. He served as my external examiner for my graduate thesis work, which happened to be the very first iteration of OE. He affirmingly described Open Engagement as a “punk” conference. This description without a doubt captures the scrappiness of piecing things together, but also, and more importantly, the urgency and the desire to make our own institutions that enact our values. As we turn the corner towards a decade of this endeavor, I want to ensure that we do not lose this self-actualizing sensibility.

Our recent OE intensive work session ended with the three of us in a nearly completely empty karaoke bar on a Tuesday night with me singing Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” to Crystal and Latham. Before this, we had dinner together and discussed our dreams for the future of the conference. The conversation explored radically different forms, long-term options, satellite models, more distributed weight and labor, chapters, rural locales, and more. Unifying these disparate tracks is a need to fortify OE as a site that imagines and realizes what does not yet exist, that we can be radical, and that above all that we care for and support this field.

Latham mentioned a piece of advice that he received from a mentor that he often returns to. The sentiment is simple: if you are working collectively, and not everyone is in agreement, there is always a better idea. You all are our collaborators, our co-conspirators. We exist because of you. We are excited about the next two years of Open Engagement with you, as well the potential that the future holds. What do we need to do next? What work is not being done that we can manifest and conjure for the field? We cannot continue to serve as a site of care for the field without your help. Please know that when you choose to contribute to Open Engagement we see it as a confirmation of the beloved community that continues to work hard, fight for change, and show up for one another in the continued struggles of our time. We ask that if you are planning to attend OE 2017 that you donate what you can during the registration process. Register for OE 2017 now! If you cannot attend and still want to make a contribution we ask that you do so by April 15th. Information on how to make a donation is below.

OE needs your support, let’s continue to make magic together.

To all the weirdness, magic, care, and love our hearts, minds, and spirits can muster,

Jen Delos Reyes with the Open Engagement team—Crystal Baxley, Alex Winters, Latham Zearfoss

 

   


WE ARE OPEN – 2017 CALL FOR PROPOSALS

chicago8

CALLING ALL local, national, and international artists, activists, academics, cultural producers, administrators, curators, educators, writers, thinkers, doers, and makers of all ages with a vested interest in art and social practice. We are currently accepting proposals for Open Engagement 2017 –– Justice through our FREE call.Open Engagement (OE) is the largest artist-led conference dedicated to expanding the dialogue around, and creating a site of care for, the field of socially engaged art. Founded in 2007, OE has evolved into an unparalleled hub for practitioners and audiences to assemble. OE employs an inclusive open call model that supports emerging and established artists and organizers, highlights the voices of students alongside professionals, and collaborates closely with national institutions to further the networks of support for socially engaged art. OE is committed to the power of art to enact radical social change.Open Engagement 2017 — Justice will take place April 21–23, 2017 at the Chicago Cultural Center and a constellation of sites across the city. This year’s conference, guided by the curatorial vision of Romi Crawford and Lisa Lee, will explore the centralized theme of Justice, and will feature presenters including Theaster Gates, Maria Varela, and Laurie Jo Reynolds.

Too often, artists and activists working across a wide spectrum of issues ranging from immigration, food and environmental justice, urban planning, gentrification, police violence, and many other vital and timely reckonings are isolated from one another. How can artists contribute to the work for justice? How can these movements be more effective with the work of artists? This conference is intended to break down these silos, serve as an educational resource, facilitate crucial dialogue, and provide opportunities to highlight successful artistic and community engagements. OE is a site to learn from one another, to examine the state of our field, and to provide opportunities for attendees to access valuable skills and tools that push and support their work in embedded contexts.

OE works to honor multiple ways of engaging in dialogue and to build up the community surrounding socially engaged art. OE is a site that supports multiple forms of knowledge and encourages non-traditional conference forms. Open Engagement is ADA and family welcoming.

It is time for creative communities to collectively forge new pathways toward justice and equity. In close partnership with activists, artists, community members, organizers, and cultural workers in Chicago, we are working to cultivate OE 2017 into a site for practitioners of all perspectives. We are thrilled to welcome OE participants to the contested, resilient city of Chicago for an intimate convergence with the artistic practices and projects of those who are working to make the world less treacherous and more equitable.

OE is working with partners spanning the breadth of Chicago’s neighborhoods to represent the work being done at the intersection of art and activism across the city. Current partners include The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, Hyde Park Art Center, Bad at Sports, Rebuild Foundation, Co-Prosperity Sphere/Lumpen Radio, Smart Museum of Art, National Museum of Mexican Art, Art Institute of Chicago, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Columbia College, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, 6018 North, Gallery 400/Threewalls/Propeller Fund, ACRE, 3Arts, Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts and The Block Museum. We will be working with local activists to provide intensive trainings throughout the conference on restorative justice, community organizing for social change, and youth leadership. In addition, queer-inclusive nightlife organizers from Chicago will host evening celebrations, guided by the belief that transformative acts of change are deeply indebted to these marginal spaces of collective joy.

Open Engagement 2017 — Justice is presented in partnership with The School of Art & Art History at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and marks the second year of a three-year cycle that situated the conference in the Bay Area (2016 — Power) in partnership with the Oakland Museum of California and the California College of the Arts, and will complete in New York in partnership with the Queens Museum (2018 — Sustainability).

In line with this year’s theme, Open Engagement will implement a new pricing model in line with our commitment to economic justice. Presenters will not be charged to attend, and no one will be turned away for lack of funds.

Proposals received through the open call will be reviewed by volunteer committees comprised of local and national partners, artists, activists, students, community members and scholars.

Visit APPLY on our website for more information, sign up to our mailing list and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.