On October 12, the Arts Research Center at UC Berkeley and the Curatorial Practice at the California College of the Arts are partnering to host a live-streaming of the Creative Time Summit, an annual conference in New York that brings together cultural producers–including artists, critics, writers, and curators–to discuss how their work engages pressing issues affecting our world. To jump-start the conversation in advance of the event, attendees have been asked to submit a paragraph on a keyword associated with one of the summit themes: Inequities, Occupations, Making, or Tactics. This posting is by Sara Kimberlin, PhD Candidate in Social Welfare at UC Berkeley.
As someone rooted in the world of policy rather than art, I am struck by the question, posed in a post below by Dee Hibbert-Jones, of “how exactly do gestures of resistance so powerful and empowering translate into ideas of universal healthcare, social equality, fair-minded tax policies and equitable banking polices”? The inequitable distribution of wealth, income, and access to public goods like education are (were?) central concerns of the Occupy movement. Perhaps because of where I am situated, it seems to me that achieving any large-scale and sustainable redistribution of these components of privilege requires *making* not just critical gestures and temporary public spaces of resistance, but also engaging with government and *making* policy.
I think I understand why the movement initially resisted directly engaging with government or even articulating specific policy demands – part of the power of the Occupy gesture was demonstrating the possibility of a radically separate and democratic public space, uncorrupted by the oppressive norms and structures tacitly accepted as “business as usual” in government. But now, a year later, I wonder if it would be appropriate to attend more directly to the task of translation from gesture to policy. Revolutionary dissolution of government via the Occupy movement seems clearly unlikely at this point – so is it time to occupy the policy process instead? To publicize not just private spaces, but also public spaces? Who will take responsibility for the work of translation?