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Curating Social Movements

Curatorial experts Ryan Wong and Josh MacPhee explore a topic often considered taboo by arts institutions: the challenge of curating material from social movements.

The pair delve into the wealth of visual culture produced by social movements and the cross-section of the worlds of arts and activism. Wong discusses Serve the People: The Asian American Movement in New York, an exhibition of activist ephemera charting the history of Asian American activism, organizing, and cultural production in the 1970s. MacPhee draws on his experience co-curating the exhibition Signs of Change: Social Movement Cultures 1960s to Now, which presents a collection of posters to narrate a story of social activism through the artwork they produced.

Ryan Lee Wong serves as the Program Director at Asian American Writers’ Workshop, organizes exhibitions, and writes about art.

Josh MacPhee is a designer, artist, and archivist. He is a member of the Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative, the co-author of Signs of Change: Social Movement Cultures 1960s to Now, and co-editor of Signal: A Journal of International Political Graphics and Culture. He helps run Interference Archive in Gowanus, Brooklyn, an organization dedicated to documenting and exhibiting visual culture created by social movements.

Recorded August, 2014.


Independent Curators International (ICI)


Independent Curators International (ICI) produces exhibitions, events, publications, and training opportunities for diverse audiences around the world. A catalyst for independent thinking, ICI connects emerging and established curators, artists, and institutions, to forge international networks and generate new forms of collaboration. Working across disciplines and historical precedents, the organization is a hub that provides access to the people, ideas, and practices that are key to current developments in the field, inspiring fresh ways of seeing and contextualizing contemporary art. Headquartered in New York, ICI is a small non-profit with a large purview. Over the last 35 years, ICI has produced 118 traveling exhibitions and profiled the work of more than 3,700 artists, working with 621 museums, university art galleries, and art centers in 48 states and 29 countries worldwide, including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Iceland, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Mexico, New Zealand, Poland, Romania, Spain, Sweden, and Taiwan. Experienced by nearly 6 million people, the exhibitions and events have attracted extensive local, national, and international press, and are placed in a critical framework through accompanying catalogues and books published by ICI.