The Politics of Art and Displacement

Panel Discussion | The Politics of Art and Displacement




It is well understood that real estate developers and landlords use the arts, and artists, to usher in waves of gentrification that ultimately displace neighborhood residents. As politically engaged artists we ask ourselves whether or not our instrumentalization is inevitable. In addition to being implicated in this destructive process, how can we constructively and consciously engage in the resistance to displacement?  In this conversation with organizers, activists, and artists, we will dig into this timely and highly complex question.

The Illuminator is a political art collective based in New York City that utilizes guerrilla projections in the urban landscape as their primary strategy for intervention. Since emerging from the Occupy Wall Street movement in 2012, the collective has fought to smash the myths of the information industry, and shine a light on the urgent issues of our time.

Silvia Juliana Mantilla Ortiz (moderator) is an artist, educator and organizer whose work is located at the intersection of oral histories, migration, feminism and queerness. She is the Community Organizer at IMI Corona (Immigrant Movement International Corona), an inter-generational, volunteer-led community space for alternative education that uses art as a tool for organizing and building political consciousness and power among mixed-status, working class immigrant families. She is a member of various collectives and organizations who insist on the need for artists to be in deep solidarity with social justice movements including Talk is Cheap, Mobile Print Power, Queens Creative Solidarity, Pedagogy Group and ICE FREE Queens.

Betty Yu is an interdisciplinary artist, filmmaker, educator, and activist. She is a co-founder of the Chinatown Art Brigade, a cultural collective telling stories of Chinatown tenants fighting gentrification through public projections. Yu's multi-media installation "The Garment Worker" was featured at Tribeca Film Institute's Interactive and she also co-created "Monument to Anti-Displacement Organizing" in the Agitprop! show at Brooklyn Museum. She is a 2016 A Blade of Grass Fellow for Socially Engaged Art, a 2015 Cultural Agent with the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture (USDAC), and a 2012 Public Artist-in-Residence with the Laundromat Project, where she received the 2016 SOAPBOX Artist Award.

Catherine Green is the Founder and Executive Director of ARTs East New York Inc. (AENY), a non-profit arts organization whose mission is to provide access, affordability and exposure to the arts for the East New York community while using the arts as a tool for social change. Since 2009, AENY has worked to address socioeconomic issues hindering the growth and development of the East New York community. AENY's mission is rooted in the idea that enlightening a community through culture sets a sustainable pattern of development.

Martha Rosler is an artist who has long focused on matters of the public sphere and landscapes of everyday life, especially as they affect women. Her projects and writings often center on the production and uses of space, from systems of transport to the role of artists in cities. If You Lived Here..., a cycle of exhibitions and discussions she organized on housing, homelessness, gentrification, and community struggle, held in 1989 at the Dia Art Foundation in New York, has been revisited and rethought in many cities since — most recently in Seattle in 2016 (entitled Housing is a Human Right) and in New York City (entitled If you Can't Afford to Live Here Mo-o-ove!!) also in 2016.

Michael Higgins Jr. is a member-turned-organizer at FUREE. He first came to FUREE through its Youth Program, is a native of the Fort Greene area of Brooklyn, and now does organizing with FUREE members around environmental justice, civic participation and further inclusion of public housing in the greater housing justice movement in New York City.

Movement for Justice in El Barrio is an organization founded by Latina immigrants in East Harlem to fight for dignity and against neoliberal displacement. Named the "Best Power to the People Movement in New York City" by the Village Voice, Movement operates on a commitment to self-determination, autonomy, and participatory democracy. The organization has gone door-to-door, building-to-building, and block-to-block to organize with their fellow neighbors to build a neighborhood-wide movement for dignity and justice.

Ro Garrido is a Queens-based artist born in Lima, Peru. Ro is a self-taught, multidisciplinary artist whose work grapples with themes of memory, intimacy, and loss, particularly in how they relate to the social and political. Through collage, mixed media, sculpture, installation, photography and writing, Ro seeks to build a creative practice that is able to untangle and transform. Ro's work has been featured at the Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, Goddard College, Jack Studios, and Brooklyn Art Exchange. Ro has a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus on Mental Health from Goddard College.

Thursday, November 10, 2016 7-9 pm

Hemispheric Institute of Performance & Politics
20 Cooper Square, 5th Floor
New York, NY 10003