Online Class - Mapping of Socially Engaged Creative Practices

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OnLine - Berlin, Germany

Online · Berlin

How to find us

Consecutive Tuesdays May 9 - May 30, 1pm to 3pm online

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By special arrangement with The School of Machines, Making & Make Believe in Berlin, Germany

Mapping of Socially Engaged Creative Practices


Runs May 9 - May 30, 1 PM to 3PM EST online
€120 - $127 USD (artists/students/freelancers)
€170 - $180 USD (professionals)

Mapping of Socially Engaged Creative Practices

How can artists, activists, designers and other creative minds take a stand and be heard in these days and age of ecological crisis, unfettered intolerance, and growing economic inequalities? Can their work and efforts have a significant impact on the way society thinks and functions? How much responsibility does an artist bear? Is it enough to just ’spark a debate’ and hope other people will do the rest?

Course Description

The ambition of the course is to help participants understand the mechanisms of activist art and provide an overview of the most inspiring and thought-provoking actions of politically-minded creative practitioners. The sessions will also be designed to leave space for debates and reflection over contentious and ambiguous questions relevant to contemporary society.
Each week, the first half of the course will look at a particular political, cultural, technological or ethical theme that is the source of growing concern in society. Namely: the anthropocene, the persistence of colonialism, the rise of intelligent machines, the new forms of life engineered in laboratories.

Each theme will be illustrated by artworks and public actions that have engaged successfully (and also not successfully because we can always learn from our mistakes) with the topic examined. These case studies will be mostly contemporary, with several incursions into historical precedents: anti-slavery activism in the 19th century, social upheaval in Ancient Greece, liberation struggles in the 60s and 70s, etc.

The other half of the course will explore strategies, tools, and ideas to keep in mind no matter what the topic of the week will be.

Each week, an assignment will invite participants to reflect on an ambiguous issue and to articulate an opinion based on their position or inability to take a clear position.

Who is this course for?
Politically-minded artists, designers and makers who believe that their ideas, concerns and beliefs should be heard outside of the usual white walls of cultural institutions. Activists looking for inventive strategies to get their message across. And pretty much anyone worried about the state of the world.

Course Outline
Week 1

Part 1: From Tintin to Trump
Footprints of colonialism.

Part 2: The Tools.
The books, online resources, venues and other allies of socially-engaged practices.

Debate of the week.

Week 2

Part 1: The Anthropocene
Western ideas of ‘progress’ versus Planet Earth.

Part 2: Instrumentalization, Misinterpretation and Other Pitfalls
Because sometimes the most cunning plan can go wrong.

Debate of the week.

Week 3

Part 1: Automation
Robots ‘stealing’ our jobs and getting not only more intelligent but also possibly more creative than us.

Part 2: The Others
Fashion, product design, craft and other disciplines that are critical and successfully embed struggles and political action into their making and modes of distribution.

Debate of the week.

Week 4

Part 1: Chimera and Bacteria
GMOs and dodos. New fears and challenges raised by technologies that affect our understanding of what nature is.

Part 2: Where to Find Your Audience
The subway, the supermarket, the internet, etc. Even museums and traditional cultural institutions can be hijacked successfully.

Debate of the week.