Open lecture | Gregory Sholette | 1 June

The Art of Activism and the Activism of Art 

Gregory Sholette | Artist, writer, activist and curator

June 1, 2022 | 18:00 (Lisbon time)
Voz do Operário – João Hogan auditorium
(R. da Voz do Operário 13, 1100-621 Lisboa)
Art of Activism medium res (1)
Since the global financial crash of 2008, and following the sharp rightward swing of the US and UK 2016 elections, artists have become increasingly engaged in a wide range of cultural activism targeting capitalism, authoritarianism, colonial legacies, gentrification, but also in opposition to their own financial exploitation. Approaching his subject from the dual perspective of a scholar and insider art activist, Gregory Sholette describes and theorizes this new wave of activist art as it absorbs and reflects political forms of dissent directly into its artistic practice. In his new book The Art of Activism and the Activism of Art (Lund Humphries, 2022) he argues that contemporary art activism occasions a broader cultural paradigm shift that he labels the total aesthetics of a ‘bare’ art world in which distinctions between art and protest, autonomy and engagement are inverted if not erased within the a-historical and uncanny temporal juncture of our unpresent.
Organization: IHA/NOVA FCSH – CASt Research Group
With the support of Sirius Arts Centre, Ireland and Voz do Operário


Gregory Sholette is a New York-based artist, writer, activist and curator of Imaginary Archive: a peripatetic collection of documents speculating on a past whose future never arrived. His art and research theorize and document issues of collective cultural labor, activist art, and counter-historical representation. Sholette received his PhD from the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands in 2017, and is a graduate of the Whitney Independent Study Program in Critical Theory (1996); UC San Diego Visual Art Program (MFA: 1995); and The Cooper Union (BFA: 1979), he is also co-founder of several art collectives including Political Art Documentation/Distribution (1980-1988); REPOhistory (1989-2000); and Gulf Labor Coalition (2010 ongoing), as well as the author of the books Delirium and Resistance: Activist Art and the Crisis of Capitalism (2017); Dark Matter: Art and Politics in the Age of Enterprise Culture (2011); Art As Social Action (with Chloë Bass: 2018), and the forthcoming study, The Artist as Activist from Lund Humphries (2021). Dr. Sholette is an associate of the Art, Design and the Public Domain program of Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, and along with his colleague Chloë Bass, Sholette co-directs Social Practice CUNY (SPCUNY), a new Andrew W. Mellon Foundation-funded art and social justice initiative linking several MFA programs across CUNY and located in the Center for Humanities, at the Graduate Center, City University of New York.