The Arts Research Center at UC Berkeley is sponsoring the working session “Occupy as Form” on February 10, 2012. Participants have been invited to post some brief thoughts on the topic in advance of the event. This guest posting is by Erin Johnson, graduate student at UC Berkeley.
I am interested in researching and creating work around the idea of care in sites of protest. Social practice artists and contemporary artists working around issues of protest engage different value systems than traditional, market-based production, often leading to alternate systems of exchange around needs and care, both in society and on a personal level. Which social practices are being employed at Occupy by a wide range of participants to address gaps in services provided by governments, institutional structures? How effectively are these practices filling these gaps? How has, through free massages, street medics, the cooking of meals, the sharing of resources, the Occupy movement created a different kind of protest movement? How do these forms of care transform the movement, setting it apart from it’s revolutionary predecessors? Through a collaboration with faculty member Amanda Eicher, we hope to explore these questions while addressing the roles artists play within the Occupy movement and the aesthetic tactics they employ.