Category Archives: Art

Occupy Wall Street Poetry Anthology Recording + Center For Book Arts Show

This recording was made for the installation telling the story of The Peoples Free Library and the Occupy Wall Street Poetry Anthology shown at the Center for Book Arts (Jan-March 2013), “Brother Can You Spare A Stack?”

www.centerforbookarts.org/

the Center for Book Arts:

Brother, Can You Spare a Stack
January 18, 2013 – March 30, 2013

Organized by Yulia Tikhonova

Brother, Can You Spare a Stack presents thirteen art projects that re-imagine the library as a force for social change. Each project constructs a micro library of sorts that serves specific economic or social needs within the community. Each project proposes an alternative politicized realm, which can be imagined and formed to explore the social dimensions of contemporary culture. Small and mobile, these projects resist the limitations of a controlled, highly organized system that governs our society. In contrast to subjective libraries formed by the artists picking and choosing book titles, these projects take a pragmatic and rational approach, using the library model as an interactive field. Selected projects update the principles of relational aesthetics, and shift them towards all-inclusive and useful cultural production. “Brother, Can You Spare a Stack” borrows its title from the lyrics of a popular depression era song, claiming that the artists invent alternative models of questioning, inspiring new perspectives on social transformation. They insert themselves into the most unexpected situations and spaces, in this case libraries, to propose social and cultural improvement. The exhibition includes projects by: Arlen Austin and Jason Boughton; Brett Bloom and Bonnie Fortune; Stephen Boyer; BroLab (Rahul Alexander, Jonathan Brand, Adam Brent, Ryan Roa, and Travis LeRoy Southworth); Valentina Curandi and Nathaniel Katz; Finishing School with Christy Thomas; Anna Lise Jensen and Michael Wilson; Jen Kennedy and Liz Linden; The K.I.D.S. with Word Up Collective, Eyelevel BQE, Launchpad, NURTUREart, Weeksville Heritage Center, and individual partners, as well as with Emcee C.M., Master of None; Annabel Other; Reanimation Library; The Sketchbook Project; and Micki Watanabe Spiller.

The Occupy Wall Street Poetry Anthology lives online in its entirety here:

http://peopleslibrary.wordpress.com/2011/11/17/occupy-wall-street-poetry-anthology/

A special thank you to all the poets and to Anna Huckabay, Ben Rosenberg, Lee Ann Brown, Miranda Lee Reality Torn, Tony Torn, and Xena Stanislavovna Semjonova for helping create this recording!

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Filed under Announcements, Art

The People’s Library summering on Governor’s Island

This summer the People’s Library has partnered with Superfront and artist collective DADDY in a project called the Library of Immediacy. Superfront challenged designers to create a semi-outdoor structure for our library within a set of strict parameters in a two-hour charrette that took place on June 10, 2012.

One of the aims of the project is to explore the notion of the library: to create and promote engagement, prompt collaboration and participation within a temporary public space–some of what we at the People’s Library do best! The project will serve as an evolving art installation, a functioning library and a welcoming gathering place.

Here are details about the winning design. The structure is currently being built for us on Governor’s Island–we plan to move a portion of the collection in to the space in the next few weeks.

The library will be open on Governor’s Island weekends from July 21st through September 23rd. Check back here for details about library programming and info on the opening party.

Directions and Ferry schedules here.

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Filed under Announcements, Art, Betsy, Education, Ephemera, Friends of the Library, Literature, Party time!, Public/Private Parks

Art & Labor

This is how I feel about labor lockouts.

So, one of the four versions of Edvard Munch’s The Scream — pastel on board, and the only one still in private hands — sold for $119.9 million at Sotheby’s (including buyer’s commission) here in New York on Wednesday, setting a record for the highest price ever paid for an artwork at auction.  (Some people think there’s better things to spend that much money on, even in the art world.  I’d probably buy a bunch of lesser-known Impressionists and a shit-ton of Italian Art Nouveau everything.)

I have so much to say about this!

I take a professional interest, as this is my industry.  I’m an art librarian, and, as the stalkers, fanboys, and government info-mining creepers know, I work at a small art auction house. (Don’t judge, a girl’s gotta pay her student loans, and, anyway, my boss doesn’t mind if I take occasional time off to occupy shit.)  As such, I like to keep tabs on the art market (current thoughts — only really cheap and really expensive stuff sell around here; the destruction of a comfy middle to upper-middle class with a good outlook on the economy has also destroyed that large middle part of the arts & antiques market).  I also am really onboard with organizing labor around industries, rather than trades or workplaces.  To paraphrase Utah Philips, if the pilots, baggage handlers, air traffic controllers, and flight attendants all organized together, we’d own the airline by now.  An injury to one, and all that.  In that light, the Sotheby’s art handlers’ problems are my problems, too, even though I’m a librarian rather than an art handler and I work at a different house.

For those who’ve missed it, the art handlers at Sotheby’s, Teamsters from Local 814, have been locked out for nine months — since last August 1.  A lockout is like the opposite of a strike — it’s what owners and managers can do to workers during a labor dispute; they literally or figuratively lock workers out of their places of employment, hoping that the economic coercion will force workers to concede.  In the meantime, companies will hire temporary workers [i.e. scabs] to keep the place running.  It can be a crapshoot for the owners, as it costs more than business as usual; Sotheby’s will almost certainly lose money this year compared to if the Teamsters had had their contract.  Historically speaking, lockouts haven’t been particularly common in recent decades, up until the last few years.  If you ask me, it’s one sign that the oligarchs aren’t looking at this all from a merely fiscal perspective, but are also using whatever tools they have to fight class wars, increase income and wealth inequality, and basically be a bunch of jerks because they don’t quite recognize the rest of us as real people in the same way they are.  Even if it costs them money to do so.

In 2011, Sotheby’s set records for sales and earnings.  And this, at a time when those of us who work — if we can find work — for a living are having a harder and harder time making ends meet.  It is unconscionable that a company doing so well should want to pay its skilled laborer less; it is the very definition of economic exploitation when someone other than those who perform labor profits from it.  The Sotheby’s art handlers — and their families —  lost their health insurance at the beginning of the year.  They are currently receiving $400 unemployment plus $200 a week from the union.  To paraphrase Utah again (I feel like I do that a lot), the issues are wages, hours, and conditions, of course.  The union wants a contract — decent pay, benefits, the ability to organize — and Sotheby’s wants to replace skilled union workers with low-wage, non-union workers, with no benefits and no collective bargaining rights.  Same shit as always.

Aside from picketing at Sotheby’s, the Teamsters, along with OWS folks and other allies, have been targeting their campaign on people and institutions who sell through the auction house.  I went to an action at MoMA in late February.  Two of the museum’s curators approached me — I had just come from work, and so I suppose I was speaking their bespectacled and elbow-patched visual language — and I got the chance to explain it to them, after telling them that I’m an art librarian and an auction house employee myself.  I hope I did my part in bridging the gap between the curators and the handlers; I think I surprised the curators a little, being from their intellectual world, but standing with the Teamsters and the Occupation.  It’s kind of a perverse glee, but that’s one of my great pleasures at the Occupation, sometimes looking all proper and getting approached by non-occupiers who think I’m part of their in-group, and then surprising them by laying some uncomfortable facts and well-thought-out theory on them.  Unfortunately I missed the demonstration outside the sale at Sotheby’s on Wednesday evening, as I was (once again) at Manhattan central booking to retrieve some of the 95 or so comrades who’d been arrested at Tuesday’s May Day actions.  The May Day arrestees included three of our librarians, who’d been grabbed off the sidewalk for nothing more than carrying the black flag and being recognizable as occupiers.  Which is messed up, but less messed up than, say, Shawn’s experience.

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Filed under Art, Jaime

May Day Verse

From the foregathered there comes a cry

an echo of all that has been said before

in every language

in every way

it sounds like music

it feels like spring

it seems a message

will play here forever

it reaches even those who cannot hear

those who refuse to hear

it sounds like music

it feels like spring

like an echo of all that has been said before

from the foregathered there comes a cry

here it is then

OCCUPY

visit

www.theowsreview.org

for new words from Peter Lamborn Wilson

and submit your literary arts to:

occupyreview@gmail.com

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Filed under Announcements, Art, Literature, Poetry, Sean, Solidarity

This is a Thing

Last fall, Edward Winski replaced Tony Bologna as head of downtown state-sanctioned Occupation harassment.  He’s been a pox upon our house tent.

And, despite the opinions of the “get a job!” hecklers, we have a lot of well-read, creative, hardworking folks in the Occupation.  Which means that things like this happen:

Lyrics are here, for those who can’t hear it.

I appreciate stuff like this much more than I do, say, doxing him, which is also a thing that happened.  Though, turns out that he writes his Amazon reviews in all caps with no punctuation, which makes my librarian heart cry.

[ETA: Further, if anyone even tries to give the video's makers a hard time about copyright, you'll be facing the wrath of a bunch of folks who really know what they're talking about, so maybe you shouldn't even try.  Just sayin'.]

[Additional ETA: I've since learned that one of our more fabulous librarians was in on the creation of this gem!  Clearly, one should not fuck with librarians.]

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Filed under Art, Cops, Jaime, Media, Music, Video

POETRY MONTH~ OWS Poetry Anthology @ Jefferson Market Library

For the month of April, the Jefferson Market Library is holding an exhibition of poems from the OWS Poetry Anthology on the wall of the spiral staircase leading up the beautiful tower. It’s a great chance for library goers to absorb the many, varied poems in the anthology and simultaneously enjoy voices from those directly involved with the movement and from supporters from around the world.

On April 14th, we’ll be hosting a reading at the library from 2-5pm. Everyone is encouraged to bring a poem to share! Poets will get 3-5minutes depending on the amount of people that show up, and the event will start out with quick lecture on the significance of the GENERAL STRIKE the occupy movement has called for on May 1st. We’ll also be giving the NY Public Library copies of the OWS Poetry Anthology on the 14th to add to their collection! One copy will go to the archives at 42nd street and another copy will remain at the Jefferson Market location. If you want to check out the exhbition but aren’t sure when to go, I really suggest saving date, Saturday afternoon on April 14th!! If you want to add a poem to the copy of the anthology that will be given to the NY Public Library, please send poems by the evening of April 8th, 2012 to “stephenjboyer(AT)gmail.com.

Here’s a couple photo’s taken by one of the librarians at the Jefferson Market Branch, Marie Hensen… it seems all the librarians are really excited about the exhibition!

And here’s a photo of Frank Collerius (head librarian at the branch) and I… when you stop by, be sure to say hi!

And here’s a few more photo’s, taken by the poet Lee Ann Brown…

My partner in crime, Miranda Lee Reality Torn, her poem “Corporations!” is hanging up now…

Another partner in crime, the poet Patrick Hammer, thanks again for all your help!

AND AGAIN~~THANK YOU AGAIN, JEFFERSON MARKET LIBRARY, AND WE’LL SEE YOU ON APRIL 14TH AND CHECK OUT THE CAMPAIGN TO PRINT THE ANTHOLOGY ON INDIEGOGO!!!!

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Filed under Art, OccupyLibraries, Party time!, Photographs, Poetry, Stephen

“Modern civilization is a dangerous, insane process– destructive of man’s natural potential, murderous to other species of life, symbol addicted, anti-life. Drop out of the social game.”

Protest History: Underground Press Syndicate pt. 2 (of 4)
Continuing from last week’s installment, here is part two of Laurie Charnigo’s essay, Occupy the OccuPAST: Echoes of Dissidence in the UPS Underground Newspaper Collection.

While the underground newspapers of the sixties and early seventies were united in their opposition to the Vietnam War, their content and purpose was by no means uniform. Some of the papers focused on hippie “drop out” culture, such as the short-lived but beautifully- illustrated San Francisco Oracle published from 1966 to 1968. The Oracle captured the pinnacle of the “Summer of Love” in Haight-Ashbury, covering such subjects as expanding consciousness, experimentation with Eastern spirituality, and human be-ins. Contributors to the Oracle included writers, poets, thinkers, and artists such as Timothy Leary, Gary Snyder, Ken Kesey, Alan Watts, Allen Ginsberg, Michael Bowen, and Allen Cohen. Revolution, as espoused in the Oracle, is an expansion and change of consciousness which occurs within an individual. As Timothy Leary proclaimed in the first issue of the Oracle, “Drop out! Modern civilization is a dangerous, insane process– destructive of man’s natural potential, murderous to other species of life, symbol addicted, anti-life. Drop out of the social game.” Perhaps no other paper in the underground newspaper collection achieved the Oracle’s sophistication in artistic expression. The paper is just as interesting to look at, with its beautiful psychedelic imagery, as it is to read. Allen Cohen, the paper’s editor, wrote that the idea for the Oracle came to him in a “rainbow newspaper” dream. The Oracle, however, only represented one spectrum of the rainbow of underground papers. On the other end of the spectrum were papers which were opposed to flowers, peace, and mind expansion as a central means to obtain social and political justice.

Music may have been the most powerful and unifying expression of the counter-cultural movement. In Voices of Revolution: The Dissident Press in America, Rodger Streitmatter writes “Despite rock ‘n’ Roll’s evolution into a potent cultural force, the established media largely ignored it.” (211). Streitmatter goes on to assert that underground newspapers helped “legitimize” rock n’ roll by providing the first serious reviews and analysis of records. One of the most beautiful counterculture essays is “Liberation Music” written by John Sinclair, former White Panther Party member, while he was serving time in Marquette Prison in July 1970. In “Liberation Music” which was published in Creem Magazine, Sinclair warns about the commercialization of music and how it is was being co-opted by big corporate interests. In this piece, Sinclair writes about the origins of the counterculture movement “Our culture started to develop about five years ago [1965] as a real alternative to the death culture of the straight world. We started from where we were then, which was almost nowhere, and we built up our culture from the ground.” Sinclair found parallels between what was happening in the rock and roll world and society as a whole, writing:

“…if we study the way the pig has infiltrated and taken over and manipulated our culture, we can not only discover how to put an end to this exploitation but we can also see how monopoly capitalism and imperialism works in the larger society as well. What we have to realize, finally, is that everything that happens in the macrocosm of the American consumer culture can be seen in detail at work in the microcosm of the rock and roll world, and if we can combat the consumer mentality in our culture then we can combat it in the mother country culture too, and save ourselves and eventually all the people of the earth from destruction at the hands of the greed creeps and “owners” who are causing all of us all this grief.”

While underground papers served as the journalistic voice of the counterculture movement, rock n’ roll was the greatest and most lasting expression of the movement.

While sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll surface frequently in the underground newspapers, hundreds of others focused solely on serious social and political issues. New Left Notes, the official paper of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), for example, focused on New Left ideology. The Black Panther Intercommunal News Service (BPINS) was the voice of the Black Panther Party and addressed Black Power and African American issues. Papers in the south, such at The Great Speckled Bird in Atlanta, the Kudzu in Jackson, Mississippi, T-Town’s High Gauge (roll tide, crimson hippies!) and NOLA Express in New Orleans spent a great deal of time reporting on civil rights issues. Although hippies and college-educated New Left did not exactly fit in with the working class, Rising up Angry addressed workers rights in Chicago. Free Palestine (Washington, D.C.) took up the issue of Palestinian rights and ran from 1969-1971. In the January 1969 issue of Free Palestine, Justin Harris urged Americans to become more informed about the IsraeliPalestinian conflict writing:

“One can make a fine start towards the goal of wider understanding by reading the message of the Palestinian resistance as presented by Free Palestine, and then continue with additional study of the historical roots of the problem and the present-day ramifications. Careful consideration should be given to this movement’s revolutionary contribution to the Arab world; its political impact on American society and its spiritual significance to all the oppressed people of the world.”

Dine’ Baa Hani gives readers a glimpse into the social issues surrounding the Navajo during 1970 to 1973. Modern Utopia provided information about communal living and compiled lists and addresses of social organizations. Gay Sunshine was one of the first papers to focus on gay and Lesbian rights following the Stonewall Riots in 1969. G.I. Press Service was an example of the many underground newspapers created by soldiers who opposed the War in Vietnam. Perhaps G.I. papers, more than any other paper, would have been considered “underground.”

Women’s rights were the central focus of Rat (New York), It’ Aint Me Babe (Berkeley), and Ain’t I a Woman (Iowa). In 1970, the women who worked at Rat staged a coup and took over the entire paper, opening up “LiberRATion” from their alleged sexist- male coworkers whom they believed had relegated them to secretarial or non-important positions in the paper. In her exposé, “Goodbye to All That,” printed in Rat’s “take over” edition, Robin Morgan wrote:

“Goodbye, goodbye forever, counterfeit Left, counterleft, male-dominated cracked-glass mirror reflection of the Amerikan Nightmare. Women are the real Left. We are rising, powerful in our unclean bodies; bright glowing mad in our inferior brains; wild hair flying, wild eyes staring, wild voices keening…We are rising with a fury older and potentially greater than any force in history, and this time we will be free or no one will survive. Power to the people or to none. All the way down this time.”

Morgan’s “Goodbye to All That” was widely reprinted and considered one of the best underground newspaper essays on the role of women in the counterculture movement.

Numerous papers were centered around or started as college newspapers. These papers tended to create a counterculture environment on or around campuses, with many forming SDS chapters. In September 1969, NOLO Express (New Orleans) put out a special “Student Handbook” in which they exposed the big corporate affiliations of the LSU at New Orleans Board of Supervisors in “Freshman Orientation 101: Introduction to LSU Board of Supervisors”. The editors proceeded to lambaste the monopoly of the campus bookstore and the outrageous prices of textbooks in “Book Store Code Exposed.” Other pieces in the “Student Handbook” included “Busting the Ban on SDS “ (the University felt the organization was too radical for LSUNO), disgruntlement at the high prices of coffee and the “cardboard hamburgers” in the University Cafeteria, a “Freshman Orientation Quiz” with a section on maps titled “Know your Empire,” and a piece bemoaning the increase in student fees. On the cover of the handbook is a cartoon by R. Cobb of Satan tempting a hippie- looking Adam and Eve couple with the caption “Besides…Just how far do you think you can get in today’s world without a good education?”

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Filed under Art, Betsy, Digital Archive, Ephemera, Literature, Reference, Scholarship