About raised fist research

The Fist is Still Raised was:

– a touring slideshow
– visual culture research & social movement history
– a book-in-progress, coming out of two years of academic research.

After making art for social change for a decade, what I became interested in is: How do we, the powerless” use our power? How do poor people make change, and how do cultural forms and creativity play a part in this?

In order to find these forms, this is a study that looks at participatory systems that generate political resistance art forms, DIY/skillshare, copyleft and networks, radical and popular-education.

I’m looking at art works that are not Art, technology that doesn’t build the market, and teaching that is non-accredited. Whether it is a small community garden or a block party; a performance cabaret or a freestyle crew; a red square or a black square strategically placed for public view in different centuries; a sustainably loved heart or a screenprinted raised fist, resistance manifests [and femme-ifests] irregardless of permissions, constraints, and experts.

Whether there are theories or not [and there are], and whether there are studies or not, I know there is an embodied politic of cultural resistance and power that I move through and which the movement cultures I am part of and witness believe is powerful, potent, and present. What is it and why is it hard to find in an academic context?

So I became curious about how resistance to established, oppressive, intersectional orders foments. All I know is that this resistance shows up on the edges of institutions and hovers between permissioned methods of protest and that which can not be seen: extralegal, unacknowledged, unruly, and from cultural forms that are often held in common. There’s a lot more to say about where and how forms of resistance appear as we go along.

When both autonomous means of production and State repression tactics shift, how does resistant or rebellious power push back? I want to know exactly how my people have made it all these generations, how people who live nothing like me have made it, and how those who are continuing to rise up will support themselves in dreams, actions, words, and work. This is no small matter and this is not purely academic and it’s hard to find; why my digging is so instrumental and material.

I’m looking at the visual culture of vernacular arts, where they show up in fine art worlds, technology, protest productions, and beyond. I’ll look at both makers and users of visual political forms from the commons to understand the conditions in which politicized images materialize. And, just to keep this whole thing from being completely over-theoretical, my material focus is the raised fist, examined in order to understand the changing role of art in protest and resistance.

I began this from a place of privilege in a Master’s program at the CUNY Graduate Center. To share what I am learning widely, using accessible language, in order to keep ideas and knowledge where I think they should be: out of the academy and in the networks, this has become a much larger project.

This series of blog posts is going to trace the self-directed readings I’m doing and finding; summating them, making connections, and asking questions. I do hope that you readers will suggest other resources and ideas that relate to what I’m suggesting and writing about. I’m also completing a certificate in using interactive technology for pedagogical purposes, and this blog is part of that: an effort to use technology, specifically tagging in a blog format, to re/organize my thoughts, and to write colloquially as I also write academically.

There were be weekly [ish] posts with writing and readings in 2013-2014. Learn with me, talk back to me and each other.

Curious? Get in touch: hd [at] hadassahdamien.com