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Panel Discussion: Artist as Activist

  • SVA MFA Art Practice 335 West 16th Street New York, NY, 10011 United States (map)
Photo credit: I Can't Breathe - performance still, VOLTA, New York, 3/4/16. Image courtesy David Willems Photography. 

Photo credit: I Can't Breathe - performance still, VOLTA, New York, 3/4/16. Image courtesy David Willems Photography. 

What role can art play in effecting social and political change? Should artists deploy cultural strategies as political strategies? In this panel discussion we’ll consider the role of the artist as activist, examining the responsibility of artists as global citizens; ethical concerns for social practice projects; reactivity vs proactivity; and criteria for measuring the success of a project.

Panelists include:

Ben Davis is the author of 9.5 Theses on Art and Class. He is currently National Art Critic for artnet News, and was formerly executive editor of His writings have appeared in Adbusters, The Brooklyn Rail, e-Flux Journal, Frieze, New York, The New York Times,, The Village Voice, and many other venues.

Shaun Leonardo is a Brooklyn-based artist from Queens, New York City. He uses modes of self-portraiture as a means to convey the complexities of masculine identity and question preconceived notions of manhood. His work has been presented in galleries and institutions, nationally and internationally, including the Brooklyn Museum, the Studio Museum in Harlem, and 8th Floor Gallery. Leonardo’s current collaborative work Mirror / Echo / Tilt is funded by Creative Capital.

William Powhida is a multi-disciplinary artist whose work critiques the contemporary art world. He is also a founding member of Placeholder, a group working towards establishing long-term, rent stabilized studios in New York. Currently he is rep- resented in New York by Postmasters Gallery, in Seattle by Platform Gallery, in Los Angeles by Charlie James Gallery, and in Copenhagen by Gallery Poulsen. His work is in the collections of the Whitney Museum and the Orange County Museum of Art.

Daniel Tucker works as an artist, writer and organizer developing documentaries, publications, exhibitions and events in- spired by his interest in social movements and the people and places from which they emerge. His writings and lectures on the intersections of art and politics and his collaborative art projects have been published and presented widely.

Caroline Woolard is a New York City-based artist who creates discrete objects as well as institutions for the sol- idarity economy. The multi-year institutions she has co-founded include barter networks (2008- 2016); (2009-2017); cross-sector organizing network SolidarityNYC (2009-2013); cultural eq- uity advocacy group (2014-2017); and the NYC Real Estate Investment Cooperative (2015-2017). 

Later Event: July 13
Exhibition: Quality Time