Ted Purves is a writer and artist based in Oakland. His public projects and curatorial works investigate the practice of art in the world, particularly as it addresses issues of localism, democratic participation, and innovative shifts in the position of the audience. Purves recently received a visual arts grant from the Creative Capital Foundation and a Creative Work Fund grant from the Elise and Walter Haas Foundation. His book, What We Want Is Free: Generosity and Exchange in Recent Art, was published by State University of New York Press in 2005.
ABBAS AKHAVAN, KRISTINA LEE PODESVA, MOHAMMAD SALEMY
September 12–October 31, 2009
Race: Proposals in Truth and Reconciliation
What are the possibilities of talking about race today? It is critical that we continue to challenge the conditions of racism, marginality, exclusion, and xenophobia. But how does one approach talking about a subject whose archaeologies of knowledge have been laden with histories of conflict and contestation? And how does one do this with a commitment to generosity, truthfulness, and reconciliation?
Over the last year, there has been an escalating presence of race in every aspect of social, political, and economic life. Barack Obama’s “A More Perfect Union” speech in Philadelphia became the most popular video in the world, drawing 1.2 million views in the first 24 hours after it aired. Described by some writers as the most important speech on race given by any American politician, it pointed to the fact that racial discord in the US, although entrenched, distracting, and emotional, was not necessarily intractable. It is this disavowal of intractability that forms the core of Speaking Truth to Reconciliation. Is it possible to engage with a fraught subject, but with a commitment to moving beyond questions of accountability or accusation, towards a conversation that both acknowledges the conditions of exclusion, while seeking shared ground?
Through an exhibition and forum Speaking Truth to Reconciliation brings together artists, writers, and curators to consider the possibilities of discussing this contested subject and “speaking out.”
The artists will engage with Artspeak as a site of dialogue and discussion that takes the principle of “truth telling” as a framing device, while considering these concepts poetically, pedagogically, and declaratively.
Curated by Sadira Rodrigues
ABBAS AKHAVAN, RANDY LEE CUTLER, KRISTINA LEE PODESVA, KEN LUM, SVEN LÜTTICKEN, ASHOK MATHUR, TED PURVES, MOHAMMAD SALEMY
October 23–October 24, 2009
Speaking Out: A Lamentation for Parrhesian Strategies
Emily Carr University Theatre, Room 301, South Building
“My intention was not to deal with the problem of truth, but with the problem of truth-teller or truth-telling as an activity… Who is able to tell the truth? What are the moral, the ethical, and the spiritual conditions which entitle someone to present himself as, and to be considered as, a truth-teller? About what topics is it important to tell the truth?… What are the consequences of telling the truth?… And finally: what is the relation between the activity of truth-telling and the exercise of power, or should these activities be completely independent and kept separate? Are they separable, or do they require one another?”
—Michel Foucault, Discourse and Truth: the Problematization of Parrhesia (1983)
In a two-day forum, local and international speakers will consider the possibilities of “speaking out” in the context of cultural production. Speaking out describes adopting a position which is perceived to be oppositional to mainstream cultural production and which chooses to reveal the limitations or structures in the operation of power. Speaking out also implies a consequence to the act of intervening or critiquing these institutions. The act of speaking out is not only intellectual, but extends to the value of the speaker as a social individual, his or her place in society, the consequences on their cultural capital, and the ramifications of talking about things most people do not want to.
The project will include a publication co-published by Artspeak and West Coast Line.
FRIDAY OCTOBER 23
6:30pm / Sadira Rodrigues
7pm / Ken Lum
SATURDAY OCTOBER 24
10am / Sven Lütticken (virtual)
11am / Ted Purves
12:30–1:30pm / Break
1:30pm / Ashok Mathur
2pm / Mohammad Salemy
2:30pm / Kristina Lee Podesva
3pm / Abbas Akhavan
3:30–5pm / Panel: Randy Lee Cutler, Ken Lum, Kristina Lee Podesva, Ted Purves, Sadira Rodrigues
Curated by Sadira Rodrigues