Activism in the museum and gallerySpaces of Contestation Speaker Series, Talk 5

Capitalist Cocktails and Moscow Mules: Activism in the Museum and Gallery

by Kirsty Robertson

Wednesday April 16, 7pm

World Art Centre at SFU Woodward’s (149 West Hastings)

This talk asks: what happens when protest crosses the threshold of the large-scale museum or gallery? Using a number of examples, among them a major museum fundraiser that parodied anti-capitalist protest; an international exhibition organized to take place in the same streets where activists gathered against G8 meetings; and the accession of artifacts from protest actions into museum collections, this talk questions the role of authoritative museums under late capitalism, ultimately recognizing such institutions as contested spaces.

Kirsty Robertson is an Associate Professor of Contemporary Art and Museum Studies at Western University, Canada. Her research focuses on activism, visual culture, and changing economies. She has published widely on the topic and is currently finishing her book Tear Gas Epiphanies: New Economies of Protest, Vision, and Culture in Canada. More recently, she has turned her attention to the study of wearable technologies, immersive environments, and the potential overlap(s) between textiles and technologies. Her co-edited volume, Imagining Resistance: Visual Culture, and Activism in Canada, was released in 2011, and her tri-authored volume Putting IP in its Place: Rights Discourse, Creativity and the Everyday was published in 2013.

Collective Walks/Spaces of Contestation is a series of talks, performances, public actions, publications, and an exhibition that examines the collective walk/protest/public demonstration as both a performance and a social formation and fosters discussion about issues related to urbanism, community activism and politically engaged artistic practice. The project is curated by Mariane Bourcheix-Laporte and presented through UNIT/PITT Projects. The core of the project is in four collaborations between artists and community organizations, that initiate community engagement and democratic use of public space via the realization of site-specific participatory performances.

The speaker series is co-presented by UNIT/PITT, the SFU Vancity Office of Community Engagement and the SFU Institute for the Humanities. The project is supported through the BC Arts Council’s Arts-Based Community Development Program and by the Hamber Foundation.

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