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A panel discussion organized by the Platypus Affiliated Society, held on March 19, 2011 at Left Forum, Pace University.

Panel Abstract: This panel will focus on the aesthetic tropes that activists use to express political dissent. Theatrical gestures such as street art (e.g., glamdalism), dance parties (e.g., Funk the War), or costumes have found their way into protest tactics. Simultaneously, many contemporary artists create 'activist' or 'social' art by pulling off media pranks against the government or corporations (e.g., Yes Men), reenact past protests (e.g., Mark Tribe or Sharon Hayes) and other forms of public performances. What are the historical roots that contribute to the use of current aesthetic interventions in political protests? In what ways do they expand or limit the possibilities for protests to transform the social order? How does experimenting with aesthetic and artistic sensibilities influence our political consciousness and practice? Political thinkers and art-activists will address these questions in order to make sense of the various forms of protest today.

Chris Mansour - Parsons School of Design, Platypus Affiliated Society
Jamie Keesling - 491
Laurel Whitney - Yes Men
Marc Herbst - Journal of Aesthetics and Protest, Reclaim the Streets
Stephen Duncombe - New York University

Transcript of Chris Mansour's remarks in Platypus Review #39 (Click below):

“DIESER HÖRSAAL IST BESETZT!” (“This lecture hall is occupied!”) In November and December 2009, signs bearing such slogans were found on doors at over 60 German universities. For the second time that year, a broad student movement managed to gain public attention for its demands. Protests at the University of Vienna kicked off what became a Europe-wide solidarity wave. In Germany, the Viennese protest first triggered occupations in Heidelberg, Münster, and Potsdam, after which students at many other institutions also became involved. In most cases, the biggest or most central lecture halls were taken, and tens of thousands of students marched through the streets.
Photo taken by Matthew Cassel
NO GAMES CHICAGO WAS FOUNDED in the summer of 2008 when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced that Chicago was among the bid cities for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. The group’s aim is to prevent Chicago from hosting the games—nothing more, nothing less. The reason for this opposition is No Games Chicago’s claim that, if Chicago wins the bid to host the Olympics, the city’s working class would bear the bulk of the costs. They substantiate their claim by pointing to the experience of previous host cities, the lack of transparency in the decision process within Mayor Richard Daley’s Chicago Bid Committee, and economic statistics that show Chicago is already too financially strained to host the games.
To the editors of the Platypus Review: I am not now, nor have I ever been, either a Maoist or sympathetic to Maoism. I am also not a member of SDS. I was outraged however, by the blatant red-baiting of Rachel Haut in a recent Platypus Review Interview and disturbed that it seems to have gone unchallenged by PR.
I decided not to participate in any illegal protests at the RNC. There’s a simple, material reason: Had I been arrested I would have been accountable for bail money (or unhappily relying on legal defense funds that I truly feel have more value elsewhere) and possibly a day’s worth of income.