Viral Images: Exploring the historic and conservation challenges of objects created for social protest and solidarity

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Tuesday, 14 February, 2017 - 14:30 to 17:00
Metropolitan Museum of Art
New York City

Bonnie Sacerdote Lecture Hall, Metropolitan Museum of Art,
5th Avenue & 82nd Street,
New York City

Tuesday, February 14, 2017
2:30-5:00 pm

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Historic events of the past years have highlighted art as a creative means of social expression as well as a powerful tool used during social protests. A few images and words scribbled on a collection of post-it-notes or a graphically designed phrase captured in a Tweet heard around the world have had an unexpectedly lasting influence. But what happens to the art works when the protesters leave? Were they ever intended to be collected or preserved? Is there precedence for archiving these ephemeral materials? Who is collecting them? How do we preserve the intent and impact of these creative works for posterity? Archiving this form of cultural heritage presents many challenges.
The IIC will bring together six exceptional individuals to explore these issues at the latest roundtable discussion in IIC’s dialogues initiative. A curator, a sociologist, a conservator, an activist and academic, a librarian/archivist and a historian will explore with you these complex and relevant issues.

For those in attendance, the program will begin promptly at 2:30PM with protest art performances, including a film preview of STREETWRITE written and directed by Blanche Baker, followed by a 20 minute performance work by NYC artists Rebecca Goyette, Kenya Robinson, and Brian Andrew Whiteley. For more information on the artists and the opening program please click HERE.

Space is limited. Pre-registration not required but suggested.
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For those unable to attend in person, the program will be livestreamed on the IIC website over here.

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Michael Gould
Michael Gould-Wartofsky
sociologist and author
Lydia Uziel
Lidia Uziel
Head of the Western Languages Division (WLD) and Bibliographer for Western Europe at the Harvard Library. read more...
Christian Scheidemann
Christian Scheidemann
conservator and founder of Contemporary Conservation Ltd.
Gregory Sholette
Gregory Sholette
founding member of Political Art Documentation/Distribution and Associate Professor, Sculpture and co-founder of Social Practice Queens (Queens College, City University of New York) read more...
Ralph Young
Ralph Young
Professor of History, Temple University
Aaron Bryant
Aaron Bryant
Mellon Curator of Photography at Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture read more...

Michael Gould-Wartofsky

sociologist and author
Michael Goulld-Wartofsky is currently a PhD Fellow in Sociology at New York University, and holds a BA in Government from Harvard University. His writing has been published in such venues as the Washington Post, The Nation, Guernica, Jacobin, and Salon. His photography has appeared in the books Interactive Democracy (2014), Changing the Subject (2013), A Dream Foreclosed (2013), The 99% (2012) and Occupy! (2011). He is the author of The Occupiers: The Making of the 99 Percent Movement (Oxford University Press, 2015). Recently named Book of the Month by Le Monde Diplomatique and featured on NPR, PBS, and Vice.

Michael Gould- Wartofsky Selected Bibliography:

Lidia Uziel

Head of the Western Languages Division (WLD) and Bibliographer for Western Europe at the Harvard Library.

Lidia Uziel serves as the Harvard Library Western Languages Division’s leader. She carries primary responsibility for collection development and related services for all materials in humanities and social science originating in Western Europe (France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Benelux and Scandinavian countries), Hungary, Romania, and Albania. She has a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of Montreal in Canada, a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Jean Moulin Lyon 3 University in France, a Master in French Literature from Jean Moulin Lyon 3 University, a Master in Library and Information Science from the University of Montreal, and a Bachelor of Arts in Romance Languages from the Jagiellonian University of Krakow, Poland. She did a post-doctorate in Comparative Literature at Stanford University, and completed several doctoral research stays in Russia at the Saint Petersburg State University and the Russian State University for the Humanities in Moscow.

About the Charlie Archive Collection at the Harvard Library
The attacks of January 7, 8, and 9, 2015 against Charlie Hebdo, a weekly French satirical magazine and a kosher supermarket in Paris sparked a vigorous debate about fundamental political and ethical issues such as freedom of expression, the relation between state, religion and society, respect for other beliefs and perspectives, inequality, and the disenfranchisement of individuals and communities. Although the events and subsequent protests were concentrated in France, extensive media coverage drew global attention. “Je suis Charlie” or “Je ne suis pas Charlie” became international expressions of adhesion to or distance from the stance attributed to Charlie Hebdo with regard to religion in general and to Islam in particular.

The Western Languages Division at Harvard is currently building the "Charlie Archive Collection at the Harvard Library" that includes materials such as manuscript, printed, digital, and ephemeral content produced in the aftermath of these events that represent diverse perspectives responding to the terrorist attacks in France in 2015 or contributing to the debates surrounding the events. The objective of the archive is to document a peculiar moment in the early 21st century when the word “Charlie” all of a sudden took on tragic significance and became charged with conflicting emotions, opinions, and agendas.

Lidia Uziel Selected Bibliography:

  • Lidia Uziel, Capturer l'éphémère pour conserver la mémoire d'un événement : la construction d'un fonds d'archives sur les attaques contre Charlie Hebdo en janvier 2015 par la bibliothèque d'Harvard. In Pérenniser l’éphémère. Archivage et médias sociaux. Université Catholique de Louvain and Université de Namur Louvain-la-Neuve (Belgique). Forthcoming. 2017.
  • Lidia Uziel, Archive Fever: Preserving Our Story. “What Should We Do After “I Do”? Conversations on Challenges that Remain for the LGBTQ Community”, a conference co-sponsored by the Harvard Gender & Sexuality Caucus and the Harvard Alumni Association. Harvard University. 2015.
  • Lidia Uziel, Documenting Diaspora and Trans-National Communities. Joint panel of the Romance Language and Germanist Language Discussion Groups, Western European Studies Section, ALA annual conference, Las Vegas, 2014.

Christian Scheidemann

conservator and founder of Contemporary Conservation Ltd.

Christian Scheidemann a conservator of contemporary art specializes in the conservation of works from artists who have been charging non-traditional materials such as petroleum jelly, elephant dung, chewing gum, soap or chocolate with iconographic significance. In 2002, he founded Contemporary Conservation Ltd. (New York City). He received his training in conservation of medieval paintings and polychrome sculptures, as well as in art history, in Bonn, Germany. After further studies in conservation labs in museums (Pinakothek Munich, Kunsthalle Karlsruhe, Hamburger Kunsthalle), he opened his own practice in Hamburg in 1983. Since then, he has worked with some of the most important collections in Europe. Christian has lectured and published extensively on material matters in contemporary art and how they inform, trouble or intersect with aesthetics, ethics and value. In 2009 he was profiled in the New Yorker as “The Art Doctor” (

Christian Scheidemann Selected Bibliography:

Gregory Sholette

founding member of Political Art Documentation/Distribution and Associate Professor, Sculpture and co-founder of Social Practice Queens (Queens College, City University of New York)

Gregory Sholette ( , an artist, activist, and writer is a founding member of Political Art Documentation/Distribution, which issued publications on politically engaged art in the 1980s; of REPOhistory, which repossessed suppressed histories in New York in the 1990s; and more recently, of Gulf Labor, a group of artists advocating for migrant workers constructing museums in Abu Dhabi. He is also an Associate Professor in the Queens College Art Department, City University of New York where he helped establish the new MFA Concentration SPQ (Social Practice Queens; ) and is an Associate of the Art, Design and the Public Domain program at the Graduate School of Design Harvard University. Gregory is a graduate of the Whitney Independent Study Program in Critical Theory.

In dozens of essays, three edited volumes, and his books Delirium & Resistance: Art Activism & the Crisis of Capitalism and Dark Matter: Art and Politics in an Age of Enterprise Culture, Sholette has documented four decades of activist art that, for its ephemerality, politics, and market resistance, might otherwise remain invisible. His recent art installations include Imaginary Archive at the Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania and the White Box at Zeppelin University, Germany. His collaborative performance Precarious Workers Pageant premiered in Venice on August 7, 2015.,

Gregory Sholette Selected Bibliography:

Ralph Young

Professor of History, Temple University

Dr. Ralph Young is Professor of History (teaching/instructional) at Temple University. He is the author of Dissent: The History of an American Idea, which is a narrative history of the United States from the standpoint of dissenters and protest movements. He is also the editor of Dissent in America: Voices That Shaped a Nation a compilation of 400 years of documents by American dissenters. He is the founder of the weekly campus-wide “teach-ins” at Temple University in which students and faculty examine the historical context of controversial contemporary issues. He was the recipient of a Fulbright Specialist Fellowship to teach a seminar on Dissent in America at the University of Rome and also taught the seminar at Charles University in Prague. Previously he lived in Europe for ten years where he taught at the University of London in England as well as Bremen University in Germany. Dr. Young’s writings have appeared in such publications as The New England Quarterly, USA Today Magazine, the History News Network, and in blogs for the National Constitution Center and Salon.

Ralph Young Selected Bibliography:

Interview on NPR about Make Art Not War:

Aaron Bryant

Mellon Curator of Photography at Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

Aaron Bryant is Curator of Photography and Visual Culture at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Prior to the Smithsonian, he was curator for the art collection at Morgan State University and the university's James E. Lewis Museum of Art. His research includes political and social history, cultural studies, and modernism. He has worked on exhibitions for the National Electronics Museum and the National Library of Medicine and has lectured on literature and art, social movements, and photography at Harvard, the British Museum, Johns Hopkins, Duke, the University of Cambridge, and Oxford. Additionally, he has published research in various journals and anthologies on art, politics, and cultural history.

Aaron Bryant Selected Bibliography:

  • Most Daring Dream. Robert Houston Photography & the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign, Callaloo
  • Volume 31, Number 4, Fall 2008, pp. 1272-1274 |