2022 Summer Seminar: The Art of Activism and the Activism of Art
In July 2022, New-York based artist, activist and writer, Professor Gregory Sholette, led the Fire Station Artists’ Studio 2022 Summer Seminar: The Art of Activism and the Activism of Art. Named after his upcoming book (Autumn 2022 publication), the two-day seminar focused on the theory and practice of protest aesthetics from the Situationists of the 1960s to Black Lives Matter today.
For this dynamic seminar, Gregory invited two guest speakers with a wide range of knowledge and relevant experiences to contribute to the seminar: Olga Kopenkina who contributed to the discussion with a focus on curatorial activism in Belarus during the 2020 anti-government protests and Mykola Rydni, curator and activist from Ukraine, who discussed wartime cultural practices. Participants were invited to explore the nature of their own socially engaged art practice through various critical lenses including curatorial, research-based, educational and artistic.
Gregory Sholette is a New York-based activist artist and writer who has participated in, documented, and written about activist art for over forty years. His art and research theorize and document issues of collective cultural labor, activist art, and counter-historical representation. He is the Professor of studio art and co-director of the Social Practice Queens MFA concentration and certificate at Queens College CUNY. He is an associate of the Art, Design and Visual Art Program (MFA 1995), and the Public Domain program of Harvard’s University’s Graduate School of Design.
Olga Kopenkina is an independent curator and art critic, born in Minsk, Belarus, based in New York City since 1999. Currently, she is a curator of the exhibition “The Work of Love, The Queer of Labor,” which will be on view from June 23 until August 26, 2022, at Pratt Manhattan Gallery in New York. Olga’s recent publications have been focusing on Belarusian contemporary art and activists projects during the mass protests in Belarus, after the presidential elections in 2020. She is also an adjunct professor at New York University and Fordham University.
Mykola Ridnyi is an artist and film maker, curator and author of essays on art and politics. Born in Kharkiv and working in Kyiv, Ukraine, he is a founding member of the SOSKa group, an art collective based in Kharkiv since 2005. This key collective was instrumental in developing the vibrant artistic scene in the region until it was closed down in 2012. In 2019 he curated Armed and Dangerous, a multi-media platform which brings together video artists and experimental film directors in Ukraine. His work is held in Public collections including Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw, Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich and Ludwig Museum, Budapest.