Decolonize This Place, Artist Space NY
September 17 – December 17
Artists Space Books & Talks
55 Walker Street
Organized by the collective MTL+ at the invitation of Common Practice New York, Decolonize This Place will convert Artists Space Books & Talks into a shared resource for art, research and organizing.
At the core of its process is a weekly program of public events, with collaborators from across the five boroughs anchoring assemblies, trainings, skillshares, readings, screenings, meals, and healing sessions. Confirmed participants include
Aida Youth Center—Palestine
Black Poets Speak Out
Bronx Not For Sale
Chinatown Arts Brigade
Common Practice New York
Direct Action Front for Palestine
Global Ultra Luxury Faction (G.U.L.F.)
Insurgent Poets Society
NYC Stands for Standing Rock Organizing Committee
Queens Anti-Gentrification Network
Take Back The Bronx
Tidal: Occupy Theory, Occupy Strategy
Wing On Wo & Co.
Woman Writers Of Color
with further collaborators added through the duration of the project.
The program of outward- and inward-facing events will center five lines of political inquiry, namely: Indigenous Struggle, Black Liberation, Free Palestine, Global Wage Workers, and De-Gentrification. Different communities will be in dialogue through the space, establishing ties between groups that tend to converge around single issues. Moving beyond politics that rely upon loose definitions of commonality, Decolonize This Place seeks instead to mobilize complex differences to decenter whiteness and repatriate land.
Decolonize This Place will prioritize the presence and work of people of color and will be inclusive of queer, immigrant, and disabled participants—challenging the white supremacy that continues to characterize the economies and institutions of art.
The project will be grounded in the in-house production of posters, banners, t-shirts and other artworks, with a print station providing the means to make zines and publications. Artworks produced will be displayed in the gallery and strategically used in actions across New York, collapsing a feedback loop between exhibition and demonstration. Through this, 55 Walker Street will be coded as a site of continuous social and aesthetic production that feeds directly into movements across the city. A kitchen and greenhouse will root the project in a politics based on abundance, in an attempt to depart from an economic schema that emphasizes scarcity.
Through its three-month duration, Decolonize This Place will question how the alternative arts organization, pressured to justify ever-escalating real estate values, can re-interpret its traditional function as holdout within an art world increasingly quarried for ultra-luxury assets. At a time when so many neighborhoods see art crudely utilized to drive gentrification, what further models of community engagement can nonprofit institutions devise?
A launch and orientation party will open Decolonize This Place on Saturday, September 17th, from 6-9pm, with DJ sets and performances by traxsessions (Devin Kenny, Jesse Hlebo and guests). A website with further information, documentation and a calendar of daily activities will be launched on this date at www.decolonizethisplace.org.
The first event of Decolonize This Place will be a 50th anniversary screening of Battle of Algiers (1966) on Sunday, September 18th, noon-9pm. Titled Casbah, it will feature the film on loop between noon-6pm with an original soundtrack by Razor Step. This will precede a potluck dinner and a conversation between Sohail Daulatzai and MTL at 6pm, centered around discussion of Daulatzai’s newly released book Fifty Years of “The Battle of Algiers”: Past as Prologue (University Of Minnesota Press, September 2016).
MTL+ is comprised of Nitasha Dhillon, Amin Husain, Yates McKee and Andrew Ross, with production support from Kyle Goen and Amy Wang
Common Practice New York is an advocacy group that fosters research and discussions about the role of small-scale arts organizations in New York City. The members of Common Practice New York are Anthology Film Archives, Artists Space, Bidoun, Blank Forms, Danspace Project, Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI), ISSUE Project Room, The Kitchen, Light Industry, Participant Inc, Primary Information, Printed Matter, Recess, SculptureCenter, Storefront for Art and Architecture, Triple Canopy, and White Columns