Art & Activism - Research Center for Material Culture
15 December 2017

Art & Activism: Resilience Techniques in Times of Crisis

Conference | 13-15 Dec 2017 | RCMC

The “Art & Activism: Resilience Techniques in Times of Crisis” conference aims to foster a critical, interdisciplinary exchange amongst scholars, research-oriented curators and artists.


The program focuses on the impact of on-going structural crises on the arts, and the role of the arts in the recovery process of damaged socio-political spheres. We want to challenge the current discourse about art and social activism as one of “resistance,” which has a relatively negative charge. We offer the potentially more constructive concept of the arts as a source for individual and collective political resilience. Over sixty artistic researchers, academics and cultural activists will take part in a three-day program; it includes two keynotes and roundtables, twelve panels, Ignite presentations, a curatorial talk at the Stedelijk and expert workshops.

The program welcomes highly esteemed art historians with deep curatorial experience, the keynote speakers Professors T.J. Demos and Susan Cahan. Demos’ research advances understandings of contemporary migratory aesthetics and imaging environmental catastrophe, whereas Cahan’s research mines the period when American Black Power movements first impacted art institutions bringing to light pedagogies relevant for decolonizing and diversifying museums today.  The acclaimed scholar-artists Prof.dr Mieke Bal, co-founder of the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis, and Quinsy Gario, movement leader for “Zwarte Piet Is Racisme,” are their respective respondents.

The two roundtables calling for “Artists, Academics and Curators Unite!” bring together international and national experts that offer world-wide perspectives on cultural production in times of crisis, and how these crises reconfigure the intersectional pressures of race, place, gender and sexuality. Speakers include the 2017 MuseumTalent winner Imara Limon, the 2016 Creative Capital artist Dr. Zach Blas, the curator and #RhodesMustFall organizer Dr. Zethu Matebeni, award-winning artist and Black Lives Matter movement leader Syrus Marcus Ware, and the initiators of Toronto’s Feminist Art Gallery (FAG).  A special emphasis on film and video is represented by Prof. dr. Rosalind Galt (world cinema), Dr. Isaac Leung (sinophone video art), and Dr. Itandehui Jansen (Indigenous Mexican film).

Panels will focus on topics ranging from curatorial dilemmas, to protest strategies, and revolutionary violence with examples from Haiti, The Philippines, Egypt, The Netherlands, Macedonia, Ukraine, and more. Four transgender and queer visual artists are especially invited to discuss their resilience techniques that foreground collaboration, including J. Jackie Baier (Germany) and Gabrielle Le Roux (South Africa). We also welcome emerging scholars to present on-going research in five minute Ignite-style presentations and Sven Lütticken to facilitate a seminar on his recent book.  Additional programming includes Senior Stedelijk Curator Martijn van Nieuwenhuyzen, who will give a talk on the current Carlos Motta exhibition, and a Death Café evening discussion on uneven life chances and cultures of dying facilitated by Eliza Chandler and colleagues. 


For program and registration, please see:

Dr. Eliza Steinbock
0031 (0)71 527 71 60


  • LUCAS - Leiden University
  • NWO
  • KNAW
  • NICA
  • ACGS
  • NICA
  • Stedelijk Museum