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MIT List Visual Arts Center opens 'List Projects: Civil Disobedience'
Jem Cohen, Gravity Hill Newsreels: Occupy Wall Street no. 2 (still), 2011. Single-channel, video, sound, 3:48 min. Image courtesy of the Video Data Bank.


CAMBRIDGE, MASS.- In the streets and on college campuses, in town halls, churches and prisons, in public parks and reservations, civil disobedience has long been a tool of activism. Whether taking the form of mass occupation or individual statement, carried out in public and communal spaces or articulated in writing and on film, political protest is ingrained in American culture. Recently, acts of police violence and executive policies singling out particular demographic groups have produced a groundswell of opposition. The exhibition List Projects: Civil Disobedience presents an ongoing film and video program that features a selection of documentaries, news footage, newsreels, and artist’s films and videos focusing on moments of political resistance and public demonstration.

This exhibition aims to provide context for resistance movements that have shaped the history of the United States in the 20th and 21st centuries and highlights the various ways in which artists, filmmakers, writers, scholars, and activists have employed artistic strategies in the interest of social change. Ranging from Great Depression-era hunger marches and the historic Civil Rights movement to recent Women’s Marches and Black Lives Matter, the exhibition provides a look at the history of civil disobedience and considers the role that contemporary artists and documentarians play in chronicling and confronting abuses of power and social injustice.

The program screened daily in the List Center’s Bakalar Gallery features 26 films and videos organized into eight thematic programs: The Film and Photo League; 1960s Civil Rights Movement; 1960s Social Unrest and Anti-War Protest; Protest Actions at MIT; Women’s Liberation, Gay and Gender Rights, AIDS Activism; Economic Disparity and Political Polarization; Black Lives Matter; and Women’s Marches and Other Recent Protests. In addition to the daily programming, the exhibition will be accompanied by weekly Thursday night documentary film screenings, also shown in the Bakalar Gallery.

List Projects: Civil Disobedience includes the work of filmmakers Madeline Anderson, Gregg Bordowitz, Jem Cohen, Storm de Hirsch, Ja’Tovia Gary, Kevin Jerome Everson and Claudrena N. Harold, Barbara Hammer, Leonard M. Henny, Richard Leacock, Tara Mateik, and Patricia Silva; collaborative work by video collectives Meerkat Media Collective, Paper Tiger Television, the Workers Film and Photo League, and Videofreex; content from long-running television series Firing Line, and media outlets such as the Associated Press, C-SPAN, and Democracy Now!, PBS (Public Broadcasting Service), and Third World Newsreel.

Thursday Night Screenings include I Am Not Your Negro (2016, dir. Raoul Peck) on July 20, 27 and August 3; Stonewall Uprising (2010, dir. David Heilbroner and Kate Davis) on August 10, 17, and 31; Let the Fire Burn (2013, dir. Jason Osder) on September 7, 14, 21; Citizenfour (2014, dir. Laura Poitras) on September 28; October 5, 12, and November Actions (1970/2016, dir. Richard Leacock) on Oct 19, 26.

The List Center also presents a selection of MIT student protest posters from 1968–1973, displayed in the atrium of the Wiesner Building outside of the Bakalar Gallery. Courtesy MIT Museum.

List Projects: Civil Disobedience is organized by Henriette Huldisch, Curator, and Yuri Stone, Assistant Curator, MIT List Visual Arts Center.






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