PAGES Program Overview 2014-2015
Media Arts Experience
Forbidden Voices: How to Start a Revolution with a Computer
A film by Barbara Miller
On screen, students will view Forbidden Voices, a film by Barbara Miller, featuring a look into the lives of three world-famous activist bloggers Yoani Sánchez, Zeng Jinyan and Farnaz Seifi, whose voices are suppressed, prohibited and censored, in their native Cuba, China, and Iran, respectively. “Unafraid of their dictatorial regimes, these fearless women represent a new, networked generation of modern rebels. In Cuba, China and Iran their blogs shake the foundations of the state information monopoly, putting them at great risk.”
This film accompanies these young activist writers on perilous journeys including Sánchez’s brutal beating by Cuban police for criticizing her country’s regime; Chinese human rights activist Jinyan under house arrest for four years; and Iranian journalist and women’s advocate Seifi forced into exile, where she blogs under a pseudonym. Tracing each woman’s use of social media to denounce and combat violations of human rights and free speech in their respective home countries, Forbidden Voices attests to the internet’s potential for organizing and building international awareness, applying political pressure, socio-political resistance.
This film tackles sophisticated topics as students will explore and critically think through discussion and writing inspired by the notion of the art of communication as transformative; and cultural contexts that include issues of social awareness, social justice, and media literacy.
Visual Arts Experience
Fiber: Sculpture 1960 – Present – Various Artists
Hassan Hajjaj: My Rock Stars Experimental, Volume 1
On view, students will tour the two exhibitions: Fiber: Sculpture 1960 – Present – Various artists and Hassan Hajjaj: My Rock Stars Experimental, Volume 1.
My Rock Stars: Volume 1, the first American solo show by Moroccan-born artist Hassan Hajjaj. The body of work produced for this exhibition is a continuation of Hajjaj’s ‘Rock Stars’ series, in which the artist portrays his close personal friends in the guise of ‘rock stars’. Taking his pop-up studio through Morocco, London and Paris, Hajjaj’s approach combines the spontaneity of street portraiture with the language of fashion photography, creating an image that simultaneously evokes urban culture and the haute couture of glossy magazines.
Draping traditional woven mats on the street, the artist outfits his subjects in colorful and quirky costumes that he has designed. Suits sewn from found fabrics and industrial food packagings are combined with bold accessories, and the resulting portraits are encased in wooden frames lined with products sourced from Moroccan markets – items such as food tins, matchbooks, pigment bottles and Arabic alphabet blocks. Through costuming, posturing and mise en scène, Hajjaj blends African, Arabic, European and Western cultural signifiers in a vibrant fusion of contemporary globalized society. The identities of this international collection of musicians, dancers, fashion designers, capoeira masters and restauranteurs have been obscured, and these personal inspirations from Hajjaj’s life have been immortalized as his very own ‘Rock Stars’.
Fiber: Sculpture 1960–present is the first exhibition in 40 years to examine the development of abstraction and dimensionality in fiber art from the mid-twentieth century through to the present. Adapting age-old techniques and traditional materials, artists working in fiber manipulate gravity, light, color, mass, and transparency to demonstrate the infinite transformations and iterations of their material. Early pioneers such as Magdalena Abakanowicz, Sheila Hicks, Lenore Tawney, and Claire Zeisler demonstrated a revolutionary redefinition of fiber art in the 1960s and 70s, showcasing radical, non-representational forms. Fiber: Sculpture 1960–present addresses the cultural and critical forces that contributed to the initial efflorescence of the fiber revolution in the mid-century, its contraction in the 1980s, and its recent reclamation by contemporary artists.
Students will engage concepts in writing and art that include: cultural contexts, new and interesting use of materials, narrative, tension, irony, and metaphor. Students will participate in a tour to view and discuss the artwork, then have an opportunity to write in their journals in the galleries.
Performing Arts Experience
Erik Friedlander and Mitch Epstein
“These pictures question the human conquest of nature at any cost.”—Mitch Epstein on American Power
American Power, a collaboration with cellist and composer Erik Friedlander and photographer Mitch Epstein that examines how we coexist with our diverse sources of energy and power. Performed live, Friedlander’s haunting score illuminates a series of images drawn from Epstein’s acclaimed volume American Power, whose focus Epstein says was “to photograph the relationship between American society and the American landscape, and energy was the linchpin.” These potent images include the pivotal photographs that first inspired this thematic series, which he took during a trip along the Ohio River Valley.
To shape American Power theatrically for the stage, Epstein shares anecdotes about the people and towns he visited across the country while photographing where citizens live next door to their sources of power: from fossil fuel, nuclear, and hydroelectric to wind, solar, and other forms of alternative energy. He supplies telling details on his encounters with the Department of Homeland Security, environmental contamination, corporate impenetrability, and our culture of excess, while also revealing how these experiences led him to reconsider the artist’s role in a country teetering between collapse and transformation. Together, Erik Friedlander’s evocative music and Mitch Epstein’s stories and images avoid easy polemic, preferring to lay bare and investigate notions of power—whether electrical or political. They ask: who has it, what do they do with it, and how does that affect other people?
Students will engage concepts in writing and art that include: environmental science, politics, narrative, and metaphor.