Atmospheres of Protest Symposium

Symposium on Sustainability and Contemporary Art

Noah Fischer and Maria Byck (Occupy Museums, New York)

SPEAKERS: Noah Fischer and Maria Byck (Occupy Museums, New York), Matteo Pasquinelli and Wietske Maas (urbanibalists, Berlin and Amsterdam), Emma Dowling (theorist and activist, London), Gabriella Csoszó (photographer/artist, Budapest), Tomas Rafa (filmmaker/artist, Bratislava), Tamara Steger (researcher, CEU Budapest) and Maja and Reuben Fowkes (

GabriellaCsoszo, Occupy Wall Street, 2011

The upsurge of new popular movements from Egypt to Greece and Bucharest to New York has engendered an atmosphere of defiance and social creativity that has captured the global imagination. Beyond the ebb and flow of individual protest movements, this symposium asks whether global solidarity has really taken hold this time and considers the variety of ways in which contemporary art is embroiled through practices of dialogue and collaboration in the emergence of a common horizon and the imagining of a sustainable future. Providing a trans-disciplinary forum for discussion of the vital issues bridging the fields of art and environmental thought, the symposium sheds light on our understanding of the multifarious notion of sustainability, which appears by turns as a radical concept in global ecological thinking, can be recruited as a corporate strategy for green capitalism, and may act as a spur to new forms of social activism.

Speakers include artist-activists Noah Fischer and Maria Byck, who are members of the Occupy Museums Collective that protests against the domination of the interests of the 1% in the running of New York art institutions, as well as Berlin and Amsterdam-based urbanibalists Matteo Pasquinelli and Wietske Maas, who will present a radical manifesto of urban cannibalism that seeks to recover the spontaneous living matter of the city. Curators Maja and Reuben Fowkes explore the creation of liberated zones and the relevance of ecological thought to new protest movements, while activist and writer on affective labour Emma Dowling will reflect on the sustainability of the protest movement in the light of the spread of locally-organised occupations of public and private space. Tomas Rafa’s video archive of marches and counter-demonstrations illuminates the spectrum of contemporary protest, while researcher Tamara Steger and artist Gabriella Csoszó debate the representation of activism.

The symposium is organised by curators Maja and Reuben Fowkes ( in collaboration with the Department of Environmental Science and Policy and the Centre for Arts and Culture at Central European University (CEU).

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