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Hong-Kai Wang // Huwei

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Taiwanese artist Hong-Kai Wang has been developing a series of projects since 2010 trying to trigger collective re-writing of the history of sugar labour in her hometown, Huwei, in central Taiwan. Huwei was nicknamed the ‘Capital of Sugar’ during the Japanese colonial rule (1895-1945). Music While We Work (2011) invites a group of retired sugar factory workers and their spouses to revisit their former workplace and make audio recordings inside of the factory and on the sugarcane fields during the harvest season as a video camera quietly follows them. The Sugarcane Fever (2016) works with a group of sugarcane workers and other crop planters in reimagining ‘The Sugarcane Song’ which was credited to mobilize the very first agrarian revolt in 1925. This song powerfully addresses the struggle between the sugarcane workers and the capitalist owners, with references to slave labour and union organising.

“In her works, sound is a tool for conceptualization that, through the ‘organization of listening’, affords the listener new access to life and history, and an experience of the political spaces that exist therein.”

– Amy Cheng

 

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October 21st, 2017

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Red Saunders // London

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    Leveller Women in the English Revolution, 1647
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    The Swing Riots, 1830
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    William Cuffay and the London Chartists, 1842
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The epic photographic tableaux vivants by Red Saunders – or ‘single-frame movies’ referring to their cinematic scale and qualities – recreate momentous but overlooked events from Britain’s struggle for democracy and equality, from the Peasants Revolt of 1381 to the Chartist movement of the 1840s. Focusing on the contributions of unknown men and women rather than the monarchs and ‘Great Men’ that dominate official history, Saunders seeks to shed light on the parallel ‘hidden history’ of revolutionaries and radicals. Each scene is carefully planned and lit, using costumed models and a team of volunteers behind the camera. Together, they suggest photographic ‘evidence’ for events that occurred before the widespread adoption of camera technology, giving new life to important episodes of working people’s history.

“Red Saunders’ Hidden project is a most imaginative idea, allowing us to visualize the key moments in the long struggle of working people for democracy and social justice, a struggle which the establishment has tried so hard to conceal from us.”

– Tony Benn

 

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July 24th, 2014

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Iconoclasistas // Buenos Aires

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The Iconoclasistas duo, consisting of Pablo Ares (graphic artist, comic strip author), and Julia Risler (communicator, researcher and teacher at the University of Buenos Aires), have been working together since 2006. Their mission is to use cartography and other graphic art forms to turn dominant paradigms on their head and make way for new visions of historic representation, societal growth and participation. Their mapping workshops and collective research projects bring together different communities: neighbours, students, activists, as well as representatives of indigenous groups and the labor rights movement. Their practice spreads through and by a dynamic network of affinity and solidarity, built through sharing and organizing free workshops and projects in Argentina, Latin America more widely, and Europe.

“Iconoclasistas has facilitated a large number of “agit-pop” projects, always with the goal of producing free media for the public to use and disseminate.”

– Full Steam

 

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July 7th, 2014

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Graphic History Collective // Canada

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    ...wobbly, communist, on-to-Ottawa Trekker, Spanish Civil War veteran...
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The members of the Graphic History Collective (GHC) originally came together in 2009 to produce a historical comic book about May Day in Canada. With financial support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the GHC planned to write a comic book that would be educational and inspirational for a cross-section of audiences. Over time new people joined the GHC, adding their skills and talents while sharing a love of history alongside a dedication to social and economic justice. The GHC continues to develop graphic history projects to present historical information about issues that remain important and relevant today. Members so far have included Mark Leier, Robin Folvik, Sean Carleton, Julia Smith, Sam Bradd, and Trevor McKilligan.

“The May Day Graphic History is a wonderful introduction to a major event in labor history and its significance, far too little known in North America.”

– Noam Chomsky

 

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May 23rd, 2014

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Mariano Maturana // Barcelona

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    The route of anarchism
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    El Árbol de la Libertad (The Tree of Liberty)
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    iBook, 127pp, available from iTunes
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    Augmented Reality projects available for iOS and Android


In 2001, Chilean media artist Mariano Maturana founded the Tactical Tourism project in Barcelona. The project has organised a number of urban interventions in diverse cities drawing on the practices and language of tourism. These interventions use different formats – such as tours on foot or by bus – and employ within them audiovisual media, radio broadcastings, maps, publications and performances.
A striking example is the Route of Anarchism, a tour in Barcelona highlighting the hidden (hi)stories of the great anarcho-syndicalist movement of the city. Since 2009 Mariano Maturana has also developed and designed Augmented Reality projects using mobile devices for further subversive interventions of public spaces. Together with Consol Rodríguez and Manu Valentin, Maturana is also the co-founder of the Barcelona based Augmented Reality research and project group Cierto.

“What makes Tactical Tourism especially interesting is the ways in which it wraps art, tourism and politics together.”

– Pau Obrador & Sean Carter

 

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May 23rd, 2014

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Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative // North America

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Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative is a decentralized network of 24 artists committed to making print and design work that reflects a radical social, environmental, and political stance. With members working from the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, Justseeds operates both as a unified collaboration of similarly minded printmakers and as a loose collection of creative individuals with unique viewpoints and working methods. Projects with focus on history include Celebrate People’s History – the poster book of resistance and revolution, a presentation that celebrate collective fights, not just high-profile individuals, and A People’s Art History of the United States, a book that places art history squarely in the rough-and-tumble of politics and social struggles. Josh MacPhee’s text on Street Art and Social Movements is also an interesting read.

“From graffiti to posters, their work centers on political activism and social justice. Labor is a common motif, and migrant workers are found in many of their political posters.”

– Alec Opperman

 

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May 23rd, 2014

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RaspouTeam // Paris

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    17.10.61: Prison de la Santé


RaspouTeam is a Paris-based collective of urban artists founded in 2005. They have undertaken several projects aiming to spread information about key moments in the radical history of Paris. Events covered have included the Paris Commune of 1871, and the Paris Massacre of 1961 when hundreds of Algerian protesters were killed by the French police. The group engages with the public at large by using and subverting new technologies (QR codes, GPS data, online maps) mixed with ‛old-media’ urban interventions such as posters, stencils and graffiti. Onscreen actions and on-the-street experiences are closely linked in presentations where tools of commercial advertisers are turned into tools for historical enlightenment.


“En 2011, les murs parisiens servent de nouveau de support pour d’immenses sérigraphies retraçant les grands événements de cet épisode révolutionnaire et collées par une bande de trois amis venus du street art, connue sous le nom de Raspouteam.”

– Audrey Olivetti, Théâtres Politiques

 

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May 23rd, 2014

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Matthias Schmeier // Köln

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    Revolution and class struggle in 1:35 scale
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    Durruti Column leaving Barcelona, 1936
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    Palestinian refugee camp, Beirut, 1982
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    Exhibition, no strings attached art and theatre festival, Mainz, 2013
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    Homage to Catalonia 1937


History teacher and former activist-squatter Matthias Schmeier employs small means to illustrate big struggles. In his hobby room in a small town suburb of Cologne, Germany, he builds radical history dioramas in 1:35 scale. They include scenes from the Spanish Civil War, street riots and battles from Berlin, Munich, Belfast and Dublin, as well as refugee dramas in Vietnam, the Balkans and Beirut. Exploring the relationship between art and the history of political resistance, his theatrical miniatures range from the Dublin Easter Rising (1916) and the Munich workers’ council republic (1918-19) to events in 1980’s Germany in which he was a participant. These first-hand experiences might explain the lavish use of fine textures and small details in his work: from a bombed out house in Sarajevo to a 1 mm cigarette butt in the corner of the mouth of a Spanish anarchist.

“The revolution takes place in the basement.”

– Die Tageszeitung

 

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May 23rd, 2014