Learn-in: arts, pedagogy
and reimagining our existence in dark times
Saturday, March 9, 2019
12 to 8pm
The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation at The 8th Floor presented Learn-in: arts, pedagogy and reimagining our existence in dark times, a program initiated by artist and member of Chto Delat Nikolay Oleynikov, and Alessandra Pomarico of Free Home University. The program was conceived to reflect on autonomous learning spaces, propose models for self-organized pedagogical platforms that support a re-imagining of more interconnected relations, and promote collective responses to the ecological, economic, political, and social struggles of today.
The Learn-in brought together artists, activists, and organizers including Ayreen Ansatas and Rene Gabri, Adelita Husni-Bey, Nikolay Oleynikov/Chto Delat, Alessandra Pomarico/Free Home University, and Michael Roberson and Robert Sember of Ultra Red.
The first half of the day the artists introduced questions, propositions, and themes that are of particular concern at present in their practice. Husni-Bey presented a pedagogical approach to collective grief and embodiment for groups working with issues of racism, police violence, mass incarceration, and anti-immigrant policies. Anastas and Gabri introduced processes of (counter)mapping as tools for collaborative, autonomous inquiry and the commoning of time and space. Oleynikov considered how learning occurs within conditions of political despair and radically reduced horizons of possibility. Pomarico considered practices of alignment and unconditional solidarity with communities in crisis. Roberson and Sember of Ultra-red examined protocols of interpersonal and institutional atonement, guiding those in attendance through an intentional listening exercise, inviting a collective reading of excerpts from documents that reflect on the nature of structural, systemic violence.
Through an interactive, improvisational dialogue, the invited artists collaboratively facilitated the conversations they inspire. Those present were guided through pedagogical exercises designed to encourage inquiry and discussion.
The program closed with remarks from writer and artist Rehan Ansari and Rubin Foundation directors George Bolster and Sara Reisman, and a screening of Chto Delat's The Excluded. In the Moment of Danger (dir.: Tslapya Olga Egorova), realized in collaboration with the 2014 graduates of the Chto Delat School of Engaged Art. The film examines the hopes generated by the 2011-12 anti-Putin protests, the 2013 Ukrainian Maidan, and the consequent disillusionment after the failure of these uprisings.
"We had only begun to rise when life went all to hell. Our radiant intellectual constructions showed to be inoperative..." - Chto Delat
The event venue is wheelchair accessible via passenger elevator. Lighting in the room is from halogen bulbs.
Ayreen Anastas is an artist living in New York.
Rene Gabri is an artist born in Tehran living in New York.
Adelita Husni-Bey is an artist and pedagogue interested in anarco-collectivist education, theater, law and urban studies. She organizes workshops, produces publications, radio broadcasts, archives and exhibition work focused on using non-competitive pedagogical models through the framework of contemporary art. Working with activists, architects, jurists, schoolchildren, spoken word poets, actors, urbanists, physical therapists, athletes, teachers and students across different backgrounds, the work focuses on unpacking the complexity of collectivity. To make good what can never be made good: what we owe each other.
Michael Roberson is a public health practitioner, advocate, activist, artist, curator and leader within the LGBTQ community, as well as an Adjunct Professor at The New School University/Lang College, NYC and Union Theological Seminary NYC. He is an international art and politics consultant and a member of the international sound art collective entitled Ultra-red. Roberson has two Master degrees from Union Theological Seminary and as such is the Senior-Scholar-in-Residence for the Center for Race, Religion and Economic Democracy. Additionally, he is also a consultant with Ryan Murphy Productions and Fox Studios, working with the writers and casting of a new television project about 1980’s NYC Ballroom and Club cultures. The project is being produced by Ryan Murphy, the creator of such television series as “Glee”, “American Horror Story”, “American Crime,” and “The People vs OJ”.
Robert Sember works at the intersection of art and public health. He is a member of the international sound-art collective, Ultra-red, which helped establish Vogue’ology, an initiative by and for members of the African-American and Latino/a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community in New York City. His ethnographic research in the U.S. and South Africa has focused on governmental and non-governmental substance abuse, mental health, and homelessness service sectors with an emphasis on HIV/AIDS prevention, testing, and treatment access. Sember teaches Interdisciplinary Arts at Lang and is on the faculty of the Summer Institute on Sexuality, Culture, and Society at the University of Amsterdam’s Graduate School of Social Sciences. He is the recipient of the New School’s Distinguished Teaching (2016) and Social Justice (2018) teaching awards.
Respondent Bios (Forthcoming)
Rehan Ansari is a Brooklyn-based writer, playwright, and artist who also works as a political pollster and measures impact in the field of art and social justice. Recent writings: Ansari wrote the brochure essay for Revolution From Without…, a current exhibition at The 8th Floor in New York. He recently performed political standup for Martha Wilson’s Activist History Teach-in at The 8th Floor and for Little Injustice at Galéria HIT in Bratslava, Slovakia. In 2016, his play Unburdened had a staged reading at Meet Factory, Prague and inspired an installation as part of the exhibition Enacting Stillness at The 8th Floor. In South Asia: Ansari was Foreign Editor Daily News & Analysis, Mumbai, India (2005-8). He had a Ford Foundation Fellowship (Fellowship in South Asian Alternatives) at CSDS to work on Partition narratives (1998-2001). In Pakistan, with the George Washington Fellowship-Independent Press Association (New York), he did stories on families deported to Pakistan from the New York area post 9/11 (2004) and in India, he did a series on civil liberties post 2001.
Alessandra Pomarico, PhD in Sociology is originally from Italy and based in NYC. Since 2000 she has been curating international and multidisciplinary artists’ residency programs at the intersection of arts, pedagogy, social issues, nano-politics, and the poetic of relationship in community building. Her practice is based on research and context-based art projects, with a focus on social change. Ideas and collaborations often resulted in long term initiatives as the recent and ongoing Ammirato Culture House, a hub for social practices and a community center in a formerly dismissed municipality building; The Common Orchard for Minor Fruits, a generative rural and social project in collaboration with organic farmers and activists; Free Home University, an artistic and pedagogical experiment co-designed to investigate new possibilities to produce knowledge and share the learning by experiencing life in common; and Sound Res (since 2004) a residency program, festival, and summer school for experimental and new music. Mobilizing and bridging local and international institutions, governmental bodies, different communities, cultural actors and activists from the local and international world, Pomarico’s challenges have echoed in lasting alliances, some memorable failures, artistic projects that blend into life, and solid friendships.
Nikolay Oleynikov artist; punk; antifascist; member of Chto Delat; harmonica\percussion\voice of Arkady Kots band; mentor at Chto Delat School of Engaged Art; present at Rosa’s House of Culture; co-pilot at Free Home University; contributor and editor for arteseverywhere.ca; and author of the Sex of the Oppressed (FreeMarxistPress/PS-Guelph). Solo and collective exhibitions worldwide.