Tag Archives: performance

Screen Shot 2013-09-22 at 11.13.06 PM

Radical Orations for Nuit Blanche Ottawa+Gatineau

The Think Tank was invited by Canadian artist and curator Michael Davidge to contribute a project to “Nova Express,” an exhibition which happened this weekend during Nuit Blanche Ottawa + Gatineau 2013. Our project, Radical Orations on the Structures of Support from Steinbeck, Washington, and Graeber, revisited the format of an earlier work as a way to distribute publicly performed orations of diverse texts that explore aspects of support, community, education, and power. The texts we’ve pulled include excerpts from John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath, Booker T. Washington’s autobiography Up from Slavery, and David Graeber’s recent essay on the possibility revolution.

Public oration draws on histories as diverse as street corner soapboxes, acts of public resistance, and the invocations of self-taught religious leaders. Great orators exert a magnetic force with little more than the resonance of their voices and the gestures of their bodies. With this project, we created mass-produced newspaper insert which would invite Ottawans attending the festival to perform an oration, thus adding to both the spectacle and contemplative moments of Nuit Blanche. The orations provided, gathered from sources not meant to be spoken aloud, continue our examination of the structures of support — and begin with this question: How is it that some get by so well, while others barely get by, or not at all?

To read more about this project, check out a brief interview we did with Apt613, an Ottawa arts and culture blog. To download a copy of the publication, click here.

Radical Orations on Art, Activism & Education

Radical Orations on Art, Activism, and Education was developed in April 2008 following an online conversation about our experiences as artists, activists, and educators. Participants included Heath Schultz, Meredith Warner, Jeremy Beaudry, and Katie Hargrave.

As part of an ongoing conversation on art, activism, and education, we present documentation of radical educational texts broadcast throughout Philadelphia, Boston, and Chicago in the style of public orations. The orations are sited in the location of each individual participant, documented, combined, and distributed in this pamphletRadical Orations on Art, Activism & Education was publicly presented by the Bureau of Open Culture in its Agency for Small Claims series of exhibitions during August and September of 2009.

The live interventions draw on the history of the street corner soapbox as a form of sited, distributable education. The documentation presented here intends to combine the temporal, performative, educational, and site-specific nature of the project into a (re)distributable form. In particular, the remixing of the audio documentation is an assemblage of the orations in content and context. This editing down attempts to create connections between both the content of the radical educational texts and the ambient aural experience of the three distinct urban locations where the oration occurred.

Also important here is the prelude conversation that led us to this experimental project. This ongoing conversation is as important as this project. As you will see from our conversation, we believe our learning process is integral in a continual praxis dedicated to emancipatory education, critical discourse, and strategies for resistance.

Download the accompanying reader → 23 Readings on Art, Activism & Education


Radical Oration of Public Education (DICP)


Radical Oration 01: Henry Giroux, “When Hope is Subversive” (DIM)


radical oration pt 1 – paulo freire (DITE)


Radical Oration 01: Pauo Freire “Pedagogy of Freedom” (DIF)

The Insurmountable Dilemma of a Rooted Practice

The Insurmountable Dilemma of a Rooted Practice was a presentation and performance developed for the Artivistic 2007 conference in Montreal, Canada. The presentation focused on and problematized the insurmountable dilemma inherent in exporting a deeply rooted and contextualized art and activist practice to a foreign location. Participating in the project were Meredith Warner, Jeremy Beaudry, Jethro Heiko, and Aaron Hughes.


As part of Artivistic 2007 in Montreal, we presented a collaborative montage of typical conference presentation formats in order to interrogate a potential failure in our work. We have described this failure as the Insurmountable Dilemma of a Rooted Practice.

For the conference, we performed a presentation about our work in order to problematize the insurmountable dilemma inherent in exporting to another locale a deeply contextualized art and activist practice. Specifically, we focused on our Publicly Held Private Meetings (PHPM). These are performative and collaborative interventions, and a format that we have used frequently in our investigations of contemporary urban issues in Philadelphia. As a critical spatial practice, PHPM’s are held in the places directly related to the focus of the given investigation, even while considering and comparing its situations to other cities. Living, working, and organizing in Philadelphia, we rely on an intimate knowledge of the city in order to initiate and facilitate these dialogical projects. This knowledge is often gained over time through research, observation, and by virtue of simply sharing and negotiating space with others.

Traveling to another place to “make work,” prior to this experience, fell outside of the practice of the Think Tank that has yet to be named. A number of questions were raised for us that are relevant to the conference thematic: Can a practice rooted in a rich, nuanced interrogation of an intimately known place be relocated effectively to another, unfamiliar place? To what extent does such a localized art / activist practice rely on internalized assumptions about the valorization of indigenousness and the privileging of “authentic” spatial occupation? And what is “authentic” spatial occupation anyway? Can we even precisely locate indigenous?

The Coalition of Inquiry into the State of the Future: PUBLIC HEARING

The Coalition of Inquiry into the State of the Future was a Public Hearing held at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia as part of the "Locally Localized Gravity" exhibition in March 2007. The dialogue was an investigation of the language used to describe the state of Philadelphia and its future, as put forward by the ICA and other journalistic and cultural institutions. The project was conceived of by Meredith Warner and Lena Helen together with Rozalinda Borcilla, Sarah Lewison and Julie Wyman (as Be Like Water).

hearing01

On Saturday, March 10, 2007, the Coalition of Inquiry into the State of the Future held a Public Hearing to gather facts, information and testimony as part of an investigation into the propagation and circulation of the allegedly misrepresentative language that has appeared in the public and journalistic record. The audience was invited to be investigators, offer evidence, and act as a witnesses throughout the proceedings.

The subject of the hearing included, but was not restricted to, the following:

  • The nature and demographics of the city of Philadelphia.
  • The transparent and participatory nature of certain institutions and current and future initiatives associated with the city of Philadelphia.
  • The condition for artists and cultural workers in the city of Philadelphia.
  • The condition and status of working people and/or residents of the city of Philadelphia.
  • The nature of democracy and democratic process.

The following witnesses provided testimony: Carolyn Thomas, Philadelphia resident, featured in documentary “All for the Taking”, Nijmie Dzurenko of the Media Mobilizing Project, Mark Warshaw an Organizer for the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals, and Rozalinda Borcila, artist and participant in Locally Localized Gravity exhibition at ICA Philadelphia, co-author of “Past Futures”.

The Coalition of Inquiry into the State of the Future is an effort established by Invested Artists, Activists and Social Thinkers. Lena Helen and Meredith Warner acted to represent the Think Tank that is yet to be named, with the support, testimony, and submitted evidence of Jeremy Beaudry and Jethro Heiko. They acted together with BLW (artists Rozalinda Borcila, Sarah Lewison and Julie Wyman).