…Since then it’s been all clamor: MoMA’s always been a play thing for the rich, how’s this gonna change it? Have “voices of dissent” actually been silenced by BIG money? And my favorite: Why aren’t they targeting something else? (Libraries were tabled at Gothamist, Chelseagalleries and Sotheby’s everywhere else).
These are all reasonable questions, but they respond to a single artist’s work — Noah Fischer’scall to action — and not the occupation itself, which is defined by many voices and included poetry, manifestos, and even the General Assembly as proposed works of art. That one artist’s name should be so prominent in a leaderless protest is an obvious flaw in the call to action, which should not only be understood as secondary to the protest itself, but reflective of the artist’s practice. Fischer has a long history of engaging rhetoric and the language of protest in his work, a background I am more familiar with than most because of our friendship [<——- disclaimer here]. The call, as I see it, is essentially a work of pastiche.
“Understanding Occupy Museums is understanding what Occupy is,” Fischer told me. It’s a point that may have little meaning even to those who have spent time at Zuccotti Park. I myself have given up trying to explain to naysayers why anyone should care about a crowd with a DIY microphone, five hundred different opinions, and zero leadership; the only way to understand the movement is through extended participation. Fischer, a long time participant in the Occupy Wall Street movement, does a far better job on that front, describing its uniqueness as a kind of “social software” and a “physical embodiment of the Internet.”
“Little groups of people form, and they’re not closed like cliques, like in other social situations – it’s all about information sharing,” he told me over the phone. “There’s larger forums where we can communicate, too, and this kind of open identity and anonymity at the same time in the way that you interact with people. It just seems like you’re literally walking around in a kind of an Internet space.”
This is what is new and transformative about the movement and, ultimately, what Occupy Museums is about: using the open process of self-education as a means of self empowerment. It is a fight against passivity, and a demand that the people of all income stratas be given a voice.