Events , San Francisco

Session 3: Performance as Politics and Vice Versa

Session 3: Performance as Politics and Vice Versa


With art historian Julia Bryan-Wilson, poet David Buuck, and artist Aaron Gach.

This session explores the convergence between political activism and performance art. Julia Bryan-Wilson will weave a brief history of artists adopting / highjacking / transforming the structures, symbols, or rituals of political systems; re-creating political systems within their practices; or building social projects as performance art. Aaron Gach will talk about his work and the Center for Tactical Magic, a fusion force summoned from the ways of the artist, the magician, the ninja, and the private investigator. And David Buuck will lecture/perform on how artists and activists have attempted to puncture holes in the state apparatus, in moments of refusal or withdrawal.

Follows a screening of Eric Baudelaire’s 2014 film Letters to Max at 3 p.m.

Julia Bryan-Wilson is an associate professor of modern and contemporary art at UC Berkeley, with a focus on art since 1960 in the US, Europe, and Latin America. She is the author of Art Workers: Radical Practice in the Vietnam War Era, published by the University of California Press in 2009, and editor of OCTOBER Files: Robert Morris, from the MIT Press. Her current book project is entitled Crisis Craft: Handmade Art and Activism since 1970. A scholar and a critic, Bryan-Wilson has written articles that have appeared in Art Journal, Artforum, Frieze, October, and Oxford Art Journal.

Aaron Gach is a convergent media artist whose work consistently addresses public space, social politics, and community dynamics, as well as an adjunct professor at the California College of the Arts. Inspired by studies with a private investigator, a magician, and a ninja, he established the Center for Tactical Magic in 2000. This collaborative authoring framework is dedicated to the coalescence of art, magic, and creative tactics for encouraging positive social change.

David Buuck is a poet and visiting assistant professor at Mills College, Oakland. He is the founder of BARGE (Bay Area Research Group in Enviro-aesthetics), and cofounder and editor of Tripwire, a journal of poetics and art. His poetry, prose, essays, and artwork have been published and shown in a variety of contexts, from print to galleries to performance events. An Army of Lovers, cowritten with Juliana Spahr, is available at City Lights.