Contemporary artists weigh in on world issues on Creative Time Reports – resource alert

In October 2012, New York based arts organisation Creative Time launched Creative Time Reports, a multimedia website dedicated to artists’ commentary and analysis on contemporary issues from around the world.

Creative Time Reports (CTR) was founded on the belief that artists’ voices are a critical element of public discourse and play an important role in shaping society. The website offers a rare platform for artists to express themselves in a direct, unmediated way beyond their artwork, and for the public to engage with these ideas outside of a conventional exhibition space.

The homepage of Creative Time Reports. Image by Art Radar.

The homepage of Creative Time Reports. Image by Art Radar.

CTR features original reporting and analysis by artists from around the world in a variety of formats, from narrative pieces to videos to still images. In addition to commissioned pieces, the website also encourages public feedback and hopes to foster ongoing dialogue across a range of social media platforms.

Says Laura Raicovich, Creative Time’s Director of Global Initiatives in an email interview with Art Radar,

Laura Raicovich, Creative Time’s Director of Global Initiatives. Image by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders.

Laura Raicovich, Creative Time’s Director of Global Initiatives. Image by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders.

We acknowledge the fact that we come from a place of extreme privilege being in New York and being a part of the contemporary art world,” says Laura Raicovich, Creative Time’s Director of Global Initiatives. “We are aware of the potential for people to think that we are a colonialist enterprise, so rather than setting up a broadcast mode of communication, we deliberately wanted to create a space for the exchange of ideas and build a community internationally around some of the more pressing issues of our time.

Updated several times a week, CTR aims to highlight in-depth reports on a major topic of concern in the world today, along with a number of shorter dispatches from a diverse network of artist-correspondents who provide news of important and time-sensitive local events. Artist-correspondents are both internationally acclaimed and emerging artists whose artworks address contemporary social and political issues. Future reports will address elections in countries across the globe; climate change; human rights; human trafficking; food and water security and a variety of other topics.

The artist-correspondents are drawn from various disciplines, including both the visual and performing arts. A cross-section of initial contributors includes

A.L. Steiner, "Are We Complicit in the Deaths of Environmental Activists?", Dispatch, USA. © Stop Onestar Press, A.L. Steiner, 2003.

A.L. Steiner, ‘Are We Complicit in the Deaths of Environmental Activists?’, Dispatch, USA. © Stop Onestar Press, A.L. Steiner, 2003.

While CTR‘s network is strongest in the United States, Raicovich indicates that the organisation is focused on increasing its correspondence and reach in the Asia region. Currently there are the only two Asia-based contributors, Malaysia-based Iranian artist and satirist Kioomars Marzban and Bangladesh-based artist Naeem Mohaiemen.

CTR‘s aim is to get artists’ voices into public discourse more broadly through partnerships with various established print and online media. As Raicovich says, “Not only do we want to create content for our site, but we also want to offer it to media around the globe. We want to break the voice of the artist outside of the arts ghetto, if you will, and push it out there.”

Already, a number of mainstream and arts publications such as The New York Review of Books, Foreign Policy and ArtAsiaPacific have featured pieces written by CTR‘s artist-correspondents. The website’s content will be further expanded as stories are co-produced in partnership with other media outlets such as The Nation Institute, Printed Matter and FilmAid.

Jaber Al Azmeh, "Syria: This Is Not a 'Civil War'", Op-Ed, Syria. © Jaber Al Azmeh, "The People", Damascus, 2011.

Jaber Al Azmeh, ‘Syria: This Is Not a “Civil War”‘, Op-Ed, Syria. © Jaber Al Azmeh, “The People”, Damascus, 2011.

According to Raicovich,

Artists’ passion for particular ideas or topics often leads them to produce a thematic body of works. Twenty-five years into research-based art practice, you have artists who have developed a very deep and extensive body of knowledge around a particular set of information. Wouldn’t we be better off as a society if we have access to more than just the resulting artwork but also to the ideas behind them as well?

 

When you look at what’s covered in the newspaper about the art world, it’s always auction prices or some financial scandal involving various people. It’s always something that has nothing to do what the artists are actually thinking. I think there’s a general perception that the production of culture is about commodity. If artists only have a voice within the marketplace then they don’t have a voice at all because they’re only going to be talked about in dollars and cents but not necessarily in terms of their ideas.

Suzanne Lacy, "Distracting Vaginas and the Body Politic", Election Report, USA (Wheelock College, “Toronto’s SlutWalk", 2012).

Suzanne Lacy, ‘Distracting Vaginas and the Body Politic’, Election Report, USA.

Art Radar also got in touch with Kioomars Marzban, who works in film and produces political satire radio programmes for Radio Zamaneh, a Persian language station based in Amsterdam, to ask about his involvement with Creative Time Reports.

From 2004 to 2009, Marzban made eight films in Iran. However, the Iranian election in 2010 and the Green Movement made the situation very difficult for artists living and working in the country. As a result, Marzban left Iran for Malaysia in 2010 to seek greener pastures. “I couldn’t continue filmmaking because I felt that I was a filmmaker only for Iran. Then I started to write satires about Iranian government and politics. I created Radio Sangetab in 2011, the first Iranian podcast on Facebook,” reflected Marzban.

Ghana ThinkTank and Aaron Krach, 'Graffiti in Mitrovica', 2011, © Unitarian Universalist Association and Walter Staton of NoMoreDeaths.org

Ghana ThinkTank and Aaron Krach, ‘Graffiti in Mitrovica’, 2011, © Unitarian Universalist Association and Walter Staton of NoMoreDeaths.org

During this period, Marzban also succeeded in writing his first book including some short satirical stories. In 2012, he started making radio programmes for Radio Zamaneh and it was during one of his radio projects that he met New York-based Iranian artist Katayoun Vaziri with whom he made a podcast for Creative Time Reports.

As artists, on the one hand, we are looking for a place where we can connect with the people directly, honestly and without any political games, and on the other hand, we want to work with the media as an artist not as a political activist. Creative Time Reports is the best place to achieve our objectives.

This article was written by a participant in our art writing diploma programme. Do you want to write for Art Radar, too? Click here to find out more about our Diploma in Art Journalism & Writing.

YW/KN/HH

Related Topics: resources for art professionals, art and the internet, reviews – art websites

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