Avram Finkelstein & The Illuminator

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Avram Finkelstein is an artist and writer living in Brooklyn. He is a founding member of the Silence=Death collective and the art collective Gran Fury, with which he collaborated on public art projects for The Whitney Museum of American Art, The Venice Biennale, ArtForum, MOCA LA, The New Museum of Contemporary Art, Creative Time, and The Public Art Fund. Gran Fury had its first retrospective at 80WSE in 2012, and has work in the permanent collections of The Whitney, MoMA, MOCA LA and The New Museum.

His solo work has shown at The Whitney Museum, The Cooper Hewitt Museum, Kunsthalle Wien, The Harbor Gallery, La MaMa La Galleria and The Leslie Lohman Museum, and is in the permanent collections of MoMA, The Whitney, The Metropolitan Museum, The New Museum, The Smithsonian, The Brooklyn Museum, and The Victoria and Albert Museum.

He has been interviewed about art, activism and the public sphere in international publications including The New York Times, Frieze, Artforum, Bomb, and Interview, and has been invited to speak about art, AIDS activism, LGBT politics, LGBT cultural production, the American Left, and art and intellectual property by Harvard, Yale, Columbia, NYU and the Arts and Labor working group of Occupy Wall Street.

His recent workshops and lectures focus on the "Flash Collective," a new paradigm for rethinking the public sphere—an experiment in political art-making centered on the creation of a one day collective to produce a single art intervention in a public space. Finkelstein has conducted fifteen Flash Collectives for New York University, Visual AIDS, Parsons, The New School, Concordia University, The New York Public Library, The Helix Queer Performance Network, and The Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics, and has spoken about them at The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Yale, The New School, and SUNY.


The Illuminator is a collective political art project based in New York City that was initiated in March of 2012. The project emerged out of the Occupy Wall Street movement, in the wake of the original OWS 99% Bat Signal projection-action of 17 November 2011. Since then, the collective has staged hundreds of interventions in public spaces—both geographical and virtual—as acts of incitement and invitation. The Illuminator transforms the street from a site of transit to a space of engagement, conflict, and dialogue. It creates images that circulate over the Internet as vivid talismans of trespass within the over-saturated and suffocating visual culture of commodity capitalism, provoking much needed dialogue concerning the issues of our time. By adopting a superhero persona, the collective strives to communicate in a pop culture vernacular so that all may understand its mission. The Illuminator calls for heroism—for an insurgent broad based popular movement to challenge entrenched power and initiate the radical political, social, and economic transformations that the urgency of this moment demands.