Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The List! (Resources for aspiring and/or realized activists)

The following is a compilation of some of the projects and organizations that were represented at SFMoMA's Visual Activism and Bearing Witness symposiums this March. (Many of the titles are also links.)


An AIDS coalition that played a formative role in disseminating awareness in the early AIDS crisis and continues to do so. Their longstanding mission is to turn silence, grief and fear into action.

An artist/activist collective that used bold visual tactics to convey the urgency of the AIDS epidemic. Best known for the SILENCE = DEATH campaign and “Kissing doesn’t kill."

An activist organization supporting queer folks and people living with AIDS/HIV in New York City. Among their activities include staging protests and demonstrations, such as their Prevention vs. Prosecution project.


A project that gives voice to the inhabitants of California’s San Joaquin Valley, the proverbial breadbasket of America. The Valley is also riddled with toxins and pesticides that its residents have to live with on a daily basis. Voices from the Valley uses photography, oral history and theater to bring to light this pressing environmental justice issues.


A project launched to rebrand the immigration movement and promote immigrant’s rights. Why not turn immigrants into heroes? Artist and activist Favianna Rodriguez (co-founder of Culture Strike) sees the role of artists today as being one of institution builders.

The Political Equator
Renowned for his work on the Tijuana-San Diego border, Teddy Cruz considers the benefits of artistic experimentation in marginal neighborhoods and how architecture can transform border conflict zones. He rethinks urban development from the bottom up, and believes that the future of cities depends less on building and more on socio-economic relations.
You can see Teddy Cruz’s TED Talk here.

Undocumented and Unafraid
A slogan of the immigrant youth movement. Among the organizations you can seek resources from are the Immigrant Youth JusticeLeague, based in Chicago.


A bilingual graphic novel written and illustrated by Jaime Cortez for AIDS Project Los Angeles. It captures the life of the fierce and saucy Cuban transgender immigrant, Adela Vazquez.

You can download the entire publication from the artist’s website.

Jaime Cortez, Sexile (pg. 4), 2004. Ink on paper.

Faces and Phases
A photograph series by photographer and activist Zanele Muholi, Faces and Phases seeks to quell the stereotypes of black lesbians and transgendered people in South Africa, many of whom have been victims of rape and violence. Her work is featured in an exhibition at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Public Intimacy: Art and Other Ordinary Acts in South Africa. Get to know the lovely and charming Muholi here.

Zanele Muholi, Anelisa Mfo Nyanga, Cape Town, 2010


A collaboration between artists Cheyenne Epps and Kyle Lane-McKinley, this project seeks to document items that have been mistaken for weapons by police who then killed or unlawfully beat the citizens in possession of those items. Objects visualizes this issue through the use of t-shirts, artist’s prints, and a website that depicts drawings of the objects on a world map, along with the events that transpired.


An ongoing documentary project by Natalie Bookchin comprised of video diaries by US residents barely getting by. Giving voice to a silenced group of people, Bookchin asks her subjects questions such as, “What do you think the middle and upper class need to know about poverty?” and “What would you like to tell politicians?” They are told to address an audience not of their class.

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