The People's Panel: Pickled Bohemia Redux

Panel Discussion Fri 17 May 2013 4.15PM-5.30PM The New School, Tishman Auditorium
66 West 12th Street
New York City
20 Years VLC => $0 Admission
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Paying homage to both Komar & Melamid's People's Choice (1994-97) and to Group Material's 1981 exhibition People's Choice/Arroz con Mango, the Vera List Center invited the public to activate the center's archives, asking them to vote online for the event organized by the center in the past twenty years that they would most like to revisit today. This poll was taken on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Vera List Center's founding, and is presented as part of a daylong celebration of that moment. Tasked to re-create the most popular event, the center is now challenged to reflect on the complex and shifting roles of institutional history and memory but also on the tools of change and the power of the ideas that spur public programs in the first place.

In an archive of close to five hundred events, the most popular program—chosen by a significant majority of voters—was a roundtable discussion on the historicization of the Lower East Side that took place on March 18, 2005, in response to the New Museum exhibition East Village USA. Questions of art, activism, gentrification, and nostalgia were addressed in the panel consisting of activists, curators, scholars, writers, and artists Alan Moore, Al Orensanz, Yasmin Ramirez, Sarah Schulman, Gregory Sholette, and Jonathan Weinberg.

Eight years later, we welcome a creative re-enactment and interpretation of this event, bringing back original presenters along with diverse, new voices from the fields of art, activism, and academia. Among the questions to be addressed are the following: How are current historicizations of moments, important for artistic practice, useful to or even representative of ongoing political and/or artistic movements? What are the tools of urban change, and how is progress qualified? What does the rebirth of the hyper-speculative real estate market in NYC have to do with the thriving market for contemporary art? Has the edgy DIY "bohemia" of the 1970s and 1980s been pickled into a simulated "neo-bohemia," as sociologist Richard Lloyd has described it, and has that predicament been transformed by the ongoing financial crisis into a trans-national instrument of global toxic gentrification (GTG)?

Nicholas Mirzoeff, Professor of Media, Culture and Communication, New York University
Laurel Ptak, artist, curator
Georgia Sagri, artist
Jonathan Weinberg, artist, 2002 Vera List Center Fellow

Gregory Sholette, artist and writer

The People's Panel as been curated in collaboration with artists Paul Chan and Gregory Sholette. It is presented as part of the twentieth-anniversary conference From "Sustaining Democracy" to the State of the Civic: Twenty Years of the Vera List Center for Art and Politics.