Elizabeth Klipp, 404-413-1356
Jan. 5, 2010
ATLANTA - Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. are well known advocates of civil disobedience. Each refused to obey certain governmental laws, demands or commands in a non-violent and collective way.
Now, Georgia State University is offering the community a new glimpse into civil disobedience through the eyes of artists from around the world in an exhibition titled, "Disobedience: Art as Agent of Change." It will be open and free to the public through Jan. 27 in the Ernest G. Welch School of Art and Design Gallery.
In the main gallery will be selections of Italian curator Marco Scotini's "Disobedience Archive," shown for the first time in the United States.
Since 2005, Scotini has been cultivating the video archive showing artists' response to international political, social and economic events. The project is an investigation into the practices of art activism emerging from the fall of the Soviet block to the implications of the Sept. 11 attacks, which are developing on a global scale.
Scotini's archive is made up of "video art," a digital medium different from normal entertainment or documentary filmmaking.
"By setting in motion different signs and situations, Disobedience is presented as a network of open topics, brought together by artists, activists, film producers, philosophers and political groups," Scotini said on his Web site.
The archive contains ten sections and six are being presented at Georgia State, including Reclaim the Streets, Protesting Capitalist Globalization, Disobedience and Society of Control, Disobedience East and Argentina Social Factory.
Paired with Scotini's works will be a collection of documentary photos of the civil war in Argentina, titled "En Negro Y Blanco" (In Black & White). The collection was co-sponsored by the Georgia State Center for Human Rights and Democracy, and the Consulate General of Argentina in Atlanta, when it was first presented in March 2009.
Taken by photojournalists during the late 1970s to the mid 1980s, the pictures tell the story of Argentina's "Dirty War" - the rise of the military dictatorship, the junta war, the disappearance of thousands of Argentines, the collapse of the regime and establishment of democracy, as well as the trials of the perpetrators.
"The photographers basically risked their lives trying to keep a record of what is going on," said Fernando Reati, co-director of GSU's Center for Human Rights and Democracy, and chair of the Modern and Classical Languages Department. "The regime tried to keep everything a secret. Taking these pictures and saving them for future exhibition was itself an act of civil disobedience."
Reati, who lived in Argentina during the civil war and experienced oppression, said such violence is not unique to Argentina or Latin America.
"What is unique is the fact that the Argentine society has been able to prosecute the perpetrators of human rights violations and memorialize the victims throughout the country with statutes, art and museums," Reati said. "The outcome is that society went through a difficult period but was able to find truth and justice."
In its entirety, the exhibition will examine the role of the artist as political activist and explore the historic and contemporary functions art can play in political discourse.
"People may think artists are isolated from issues in the world, but certainly this exhibition will demonstrate artists are very concerned with what is happening in the world and, through their artworks, have contributed to the dialogue in the ways they can," said Cheryl Goldsleger, academic director of the School of Art and Design, who proposed the exhibition to CENCIA.
In conjunction with the exhibition, a symposium will be held from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Jan. 15 in the Rialto Center for the Arts. Speakers will include Scotini and Reati, as well as Kara Walker, a painter who explores black history and MacArthur Fellow, and Tami Randahl Morris, expert in Peruvian arpilleras.
The panelists will make presentations from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. and have a panel discussion with a moderator, Sylvie Fotin, editor of "Art Papers," from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. A gallery reception will follow from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The exhibition and symposium are free and open to the public. Free evening event parking is available at the United Way garage at the corner of Auburn and Courtland avenues.
The event is sponsored by CENCIA, GSU's Ernest G. Welch School of Art & Design, the Visiting Artists and Scholars fund, the Office of the Dean of Students/Intercultural Relations, the City of Atlanta and the GSU Student Activity Fee.
"It was a perfect project for CENCIA to sponsor because it was art-based, international and interdisciplinary," said Ralph Gilbert, director of CENCIA and associate dean of fine arts in the GSU College of Arts and Sciences. "It touches upon the university's concerns for international human rights as well as arts in general."
CENCIA is the Center for Collaborative and International Arts, which brings together creative writers, visual arts, composers, musicians, actors and playwrights, filmmakers and scholars engaged in arts-related research at Georgia State.