Occupy Museums in Agitprop! at Brooklyn Museum


“At key moments in history, artists have reached beyond galleries and museums, using their work as a call to action to create political and social change. For the past hundred years, the term agitprop, a combination of agitation and propaganda, has directly reflected the intent of this work.

Agitprop! connects contemporary art devoted to social change with historic moments in creative activism, highlighting activities that seek to motivate broad and diverse publics. Exploring the complexity, range, and impact of these artistic practices—including photography, film, prints, banners, street actions, songs, digital files, and web platforms—the exhibition expands over its run within a unique and dynamic framework. It opened with works by twenty contemporary artists responding to urgent issues of the day, in dialogue with five historical case studies. A second wave of contemporary work was added on February 17, 2016 and a third will be added on April 6, 2016—with each wave of artists choosing those in the next.

These projects highlight struggles for social justice since the turn of the twentieth century, from women’s suffrage and antilynching campaigns to contemporary demands for human rights, environmental advocacy, and protests against war, mass incarceration, and economic inequality.”

Occupy Museums offered a piece called “Eroding Plazas and Accumulating Resistance”–a relief map piece for the second wave of the show. It was meant to be a tool used in an outdoor action. In this piece, Occupy Museums teases out a relationship between ultra luxury global real estate in Manhattan and rapid speculation/displacement in Brooklyn. Both processes are unfolding right around the major museums: the Met and Brooklyn Museum. What role do museums play?