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Art as Activism, Activism as Art

Floor 3, Seminar Room, Laurie M. Tisch Education Center; and Floor 8, Tom and Diane Tuft Trustee Room

This three-week course explores art as a form of activism and considers different aesthetic strategies that artists have used to address the politically urgent questions of their time. Drawing on the exhibitions An Incomplete History of Protest: Selections from the Whitney’s Collection, 1940–2017 and Jimmie Durham: At the Center of the World, we will look at the shifting discourse of identity politics from the 1960s to the present, including the social and cultural revolutions of the 1960s, emergence of multiculturalism in the 80s, and contemporary protests in and around the art world. The course will conclude with a session on the aesthetics of protest in groups like ACT UP and others that have informed contemporary practices that rethink conventions of gender, sexuality and race. Central to this course will be a study of ways in which artists have used visual representation to engage audiences beyond the art world. Conversely, we will also consider how artists incorporated modes of activism to question, protest, and engage within the institutions of art.


Paula Burleigh is a Joan Tisch Senior Teaching Fellow at the Whitney and a PhD candidate in Art History at the CUNY Graduate Center. Paula has taught adult education courses at the Museum of Modern Art, as well as undergraduate courses in Art History and the History of Photography at CUNY Baruch College, Hunter College, and Bard High School Early College.

Josh Lubin-Levy is a Joan Tisch Teaching Fellow at the Whitney and a PhD candidate in Performance Studies at NYU. For the past ten years he has worked as a dance dramaturg and performance curator and he has recently joined the faculty at Bard College as a Visiting Assistant Professor in Theater and Performance.

Wednesdays, January 17, 24, 31
6:30–8 pm

Thursdays, January 18, 25, February 1
2–3:30 pm

Series: $375 adults; $300 members.

Through January 8, use the code “HOLIDAY50” to receive $50 off: $325 adults; $250 members.

Learn more about access services and programs.



A 30-second online art project:

Peter Burr, Sunshine Monument

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