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2015–17 VLC Fellows announced
Vera List Center for Art and Politics
Above: Left: Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Contra Diction: Speech Against Itself, 2014. Performance at Cornerhouse, Manchester. Right: Casey Gollan and Victoria Sobel. Images courtesy the artists.
Above: Left: Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Contra Diction: Speech Against Itself, 2014. Performance at Cornerhouse, Manchester. Right: Casey Gollan and Victoria Sobel. Images courtesy the artists.

Vera List Center for Art and Politics
The New School
66 West 12th Street
New York City

www.veralistcenter.org

The Vera List Center for Art and Politics at The New School is pleased to announce the appointment of Beirut-based audiovisual artist Lawrence Abu Hamdan and Free Cooper Union organizers Victoria Sobel and Casey Gollan as 2015–17 Vera List Center Fellows.

The center’s fellowships support individuals whose work advances the discourse on art and politics, in relation to the curatorial focus theme of Post Democracy for 2015–17. Post Democracy has recently arisen as a complex and contradictory term used to describe regimes where traditional forms of representation and democratic participation have been undermined by corporate interests, the rise of the transnational NGOs, political organizing through social media, and other developments. Lawrence Abu Hamdan and Victoria Sobel and Casey Gollan are developing exemplary projects to advance our understanding of Post Democracy that consider the changing status of political subjects and the possibility to recapture people’s power through critique.

Fellowship projects
Lawrence Abu Hamdan’s work often explores the role of voice in law and the politics of listening. During his fellowship at the VLC, and in collaboration with faculty and students this coming fall, Abu Hamdan will develop a new case study on ShotSpotter, a technology that registers gunshots and alerts police of their whereabouts and is at this point installed throughout New York City. Abu Hamdan will lead an audio investigation into Shotspotter as a way not only to understand this algorithmic surveillance technology, but to raise fundamental questions about the politics of representation, in particular the limits of free speech and the diminishing possibilities of recourse to silence.

Victoria Sobel and Casey Gollan’s work grapples with incoherence, non-aspiration, and compromise in the face of entropic institutions, systems, and paradigms. During their fellowship, they will explore alternative models of student governance, transparency, and accountability, informed by their ongoing engagement around the controversial introduction of tuition at Cooper Union, their alma mater. With deep commitment to the possibility of reform and resistance from within educational institutions that are subject to increasing pressures to corporatize, they will enact new forms of collaboration and organizing that stretch the limits of institutional critique, calling for a shared space of “para-institutionality.”

Artists
Lawrence Abu Hamdan’s work addresses the relationship between listening and politics, borders, human rights, testimony and truth through the production of documentaries, essays, audio-visual installations, video works, sculpture, photography, workshops and performance. His previous solo exhibitions include taqiyya at Kunsthalle St. Gallen (2015); Tape Echo (2013) at Beirut in Cairo and Van Abbe Museum, Eindhoven; The Freedom Of Speech Itself (2012) at Showroom, London; and The Whole Truth (2012) at Casco, Utrecht. Additionally his works have been exhibited and performed at venues such as New Museum Triennial (2015), The Shanghai Biennial (2014), The Whitechapel Gallery London, MACBA Barcelona, Tate Modern London, M HKA Antwerp, the Beirut Art Center and The Taipei Biennial (2012).

Abu Hamdan was the Armory Show commissioned artist in 2015, and delivered the keynote speech at the VLC’s Politics of Listening symposium in March 2015. The artist’s forensic audio investigations are conducted as part of his research for Forensic Architecture at Goldsmiths College, London, where he is also a PhD candidate. Abu Hamdan’s writing can be found in Forensis (Sternberg Press), Manifesta Journal and Cabinet magazine.

Victoria Sobel and Casey Gollan are two of many co-founders of Free Cooper Union, which coordinated direct actions and creative interventions framing the college’s tuition crisis as part of a national debate on higher education. Free Cooper Union is featured in the nationally aired documentary Ivory Tower (2014), and has been covered by the New York Times, Blouin Artinfo, Hyperallergic, artnet, ARTnews, The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, and numerous other publications. Sobel and Gollan continue this work para-institutionally, through groups, across constituencies, and as individuals. They recently contributed to “Class Dismissed: A Roundtable on Art School, USC, and Cooper Union” for Artforum (2015).

Vera List Center for Art and Politics
The Vera List Center for Art and Politics is an idea incubator and a public forum for art, culture, and politics. It was established at The New School in 1992, a time of rousing debates about freedom of speech, identity politics, and society’s investment in the arts. A pioneer in the field, the center serves a critical mission: to foster a vibrant and diverse community of artists, scholars, and policy makers who take creative, intellectual, and political risks to bring about positive change.

We champion the arts as expressions of the political moments from which they emerge, and consider the intersection between art and politics the space where new forms of civic engagement must be developed. We are the only university-based institution committed exclusively to leading public research on this intersection. Through public programs and classes, prizes and fellowships, publications and exhibitions that probe some of the pressing issues of our time, we curate and support new roles for the arts and artists in advancing social justice.

For further information, please visit www.veralistcenter.org.

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December 9, 2015