Untitled, Sorrows of an Artist series, C-Print, 2012
• We Want Democracy Not Corporatocracy
—”All I want for Christmas is Business out of Politics..”
A Detour Through Our Fine Capitol
When we left Baltimore to head to our next destination, North Carolina, it was pretty obvious to us that we would need to stop in Washington DC for a couple days. Our mission in DC would be to check out Occupy DC (K Street) and reunite with our puppet making friend from OWS, Ken Srdjak.
It is hard for us to offer an accurate presentation of the current state of the occupation at K St, due to the holiday season causing a temporary flee of many occupiers and our short visit. It takes time, length of which is unique to each situation, to enter an established community. We have been experiencing and exploring this challenge since day one of our project. This also applies to individual occupations. Sometimes we feel at home in 5 minutes….sometimes 5 days….sometimes we never quite fall into a place of comfort.
Upon arrival at K St. we engaged with the Library and some lingering campers and attended a General Assembly, which was small in numbers. A huge discussion lead that evening was on the importance of the campers in dealing with recent sexual harassment against women. It was impressive, the GA consisted of several men who had zero tolerance for this issue and banded together to establish a “men’s group,” with a goal in respectfully and firmly confronting the accused that exist within the camp and commit this harrassment. With the oppression of women being a societal issue, when observed within the encampents of occupations, we are not surprised. Occupations do not create these problems, society does. Seeing progressive men opening a dialogue about the elimination of this kind of behavior is a positive shift, and the exact kind of mentality we believers in the occupy movement and societal change, hope to work towards. The women’s voice is important. We cannot create a new society that silences or excludes the feminine in the exact manor displayed through history.
Speaking of positive male presence within the movement…. Reuniting with Ken was a pleasure and ignited our fond memories of collaborating with him and our other artist friends in NYC. This gentleman was one of the masterminds behind the Wall St Robot: Slot Machine, which was constructed for Occupy Halloween, a day long event of performance art filled with costumed working-class superheros and corporate villians and the NYC Halloween Parade. Ken returned to DC where he works with Puppet Underground. This puppeteer’s collective uses art and performance to support movements and grassroots organizing for social and economic justice. In addition to being involved in Occupy K Street, they offer community art workshops, street theater shows, puppets, stilters, and help developing creative organizing strategies. This group does public performances as well as brings touring puppet shows to DC, such as Bread and Puppet, a Vermont based politically radical theater, which Ken is a veteran of.
Ken took us to explore the Puppet Underground’s studio space that dozens of artists and activists share to produce art and puppets for various direct actions, performances, and protests, such as those displayed in the ‘Roving Kabaret’ in which a theatrical tour of the nation’s capitol was given! An exciting display of artistic activism.
We were thrilled to see that DC has some amazing artists active within the community, though as it is our capitol, we were curious as to why there aren’t more. So, if you have DC on your mind, or are passing through, we hope that you take the time to support Occupy DC, find some puppeteers and represent!
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WAR-TOYS is a documentary film that follows artist/photographer Brian McCarty as he works to complete a new project in the Middle East. Using Brian’s unique toy photography and principles of play and art therapy, the project explores firsthand accounts of war from the perspective of children living in its day-to-day reality. Working through local humanitarian organizations in Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank, Brian’s WAR-TOYS project focuses on the latest generation of Israelis and Palestinians that has never known an existence without the constant threat of rocket attacks, air strikes, gunfire, explosions, and incursions.
Please check out Brians
& Webpage: http://www.wartoysproject.com/overview.html
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