Thursday, November 19, 6:00 pm
“True Tales from the Tactical Magic Trenches: How To Make Art in a Police State”
A panel discussion with Aaron Gach, Karen Fiss, and Nancy Zastudil
Since 2000, the Center for Tactical Magic has been investigating ways in which power is performed on a daily basis by those with specialized knowledge and skills. Although the collaborations take many different forms, the work is largely the result of creative partnerships with a wide array of individuals and organizations, including biologists, engineers, activists, nurses, an NSA whistleblower, a founding member of the Black Panther Party, radical ecologists, a former bank robber, security experts, a military psychic, labor organizers, and many others. Although the Center for Tactical Magic has a long history of initiating surprising collaborations in public space, sometimes uninvited collaborations also occur. Aaron Gach, Karen Fiss, and Nancy Zastudil will lead a conversation that explores the work of the Center for Tactical Magic through anecdotes, incidents, and backstories related to CTM projects that drew police engagement.
Karen Fiss is co-curator of Necessary Force: Art in the Police State, and a professor of visual studies at the California College of the Arts, San Francisco. She is the author of Grand Illusion: The Third Reich, the Paris Exposition, and the Cultural Seduction of France (University of Chicago Press, 2009), co-author of World’s Fairs on the Eve of War (University of Pittsburg Press, 2015), and served as curator for the exhibition, Flores azules en un paisaje catastrófico, for the Museo Reina Sofia in 2012. She is currently writing a book on contemporary art and exhibition practices in relation to nation branding and globalization.
Inspired by studies with a private investigator, a magician, and a ninja, Aaron Gach established the Center for Tactical Magic as a collaborative authoring framework dedicated to the coalescence of art, magic, and creative tactics for encouraging positive social change. His commitment to working across disciplines has led to the creation of numerous projects that consistently address public concerns, social politics and power dynamics. His work has been highlighted by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Massachussetts Museum of Contemporary Art, Hayward Gallery – London, Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Vigo, Spain, Deutsches Theater – Berlin, and many others. In addition to producing national and international projects for museums, communities, and major cities, Aaron Gach has taught courses in Community Art, Street Media, Art & Magic, and Collaborative Practices at the University of California – Santa Cruz, Stanford University, the San Francisco Art Institute, and currently at California College of the Arts. Although he is often accused of being both an artist and an activist, he insists that he’s actually rubber and you are glue.
Nancy Zastudil is a curator, writer, and administrator dedicated to making positive change through philanthropy and entrepreneurship in the arts. Her personal and professional approach is inspired by Constructivist artist Vladimir Tatlin, who has been quoted as saying, “Not the old, not the new, but the necessary.” Nancy is owner/director of Central Features, a contemporary art gallery in downtown Albuquerque that promotes environmental stewardship, social progress, and the intrinsic value of creative acts. She also sits on the Coordinating Council of Downtown Albuquerque Arts & Cultural District and is the regional coordinator for The Feminist Art Project.