Join us for book talk around Culture Strike: Art and Museums in an Age of Protest, written by Laura Raicovich, curator, activist, and former director of the Queens Museum. The author will be joined by the historian, writer, and cultural critic Jeff Chang to explore the issues and controversies around art museums today and to discuss how activism shapes existing and future cultural organizations.
Laura Raicovich is dedicated to art and artistic production that relies on complexity, poetics, and care to create a more engaged and equitable civic realm. Her latest book is Culture Strike: Art and Museums in an Age of Protest (Verso 2021) and most she recently served as interim director of the Leslie Lohman Museum of Art, a museum devoted to queer art and artists. She is the recipient of both the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Fellowship and the inaugural Emily H. Tremaine Journalism Fellowship for Curators at Hyperallergic.
Until early 2018, she served as President and Executive Director of the Queens Museum where she oversaw an inviting and vital commons for art, ideas, and engagement. Prior to the Queens Museum, Raicovich inaugurated Creative Time’s Global Initiatives, where she successfully expanded the organization’s international work; launched Creative Time Reports, a media initiative featuring artists’ perspectives on world news and events; and directed the Creative Time Summit, an annual conference on art and social justice. She arrived there after a decade at Dia Art Foundation, where she served as deputy director and was a key member of the senior team during a period of transformation for the institution that included the opening of Dia:Beacon. She graduated from Swarthmore College and holds a Master’s Degree in Liberal Studies from the Graduate Center at the City University of New York.
Jeff Chang has written extensively on culture, politics, the arts, and music.
His first book,Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation, garnered many honors, including the American Book Award and the Asian American Literary Award. It was updated in 2021 with co-author Dave “Davey D” Cook in a new edition for young adults, along with a new audiobook. He has also written Who We Be: The Colorization of America (St. Martin’s Press, 2014), which was released in paperback and retitled Who We Be: A Cultural History of Race in Post-Civil Rights America (Picador, 2016); We Gon’ Be Alright: Notes on Race and Resegregation (Picador, 2016). He edited the book, Total Chaos: The Art and Aesthetics of Hip-Hop. (Civitas Books, 2007)
He has been a USA Ford Fellow in Literature and a winner of the North Star News Prize. He co-founded CultureStr/ke — now known as the Center for Cultural Power — and ColorLines. He was formerly the Vice President of Narrative, Arts, and Culture there, and the Executive Director of the Institute for Diversity in the Arts at Stanford University. Born and raised in Honolulu, Hawai’i, he is a graduate of ‘Iolani School, the University of California at Berkeley, and the University of California at Los Angeles.
About Culture Strike: Art and Museums in an Age of Protest from Penguin Random House:
A leading activist museum director explains why museums are at the center of a political storm.
In an age of protest, cultural institutions have come under fire. Protestors have mobilized against sources of museum funding, as happened at the Metropolitan Museum, and against board appointments, forcing tear gas manufacturer Warren Kanders to resign at the Whitney. That is to say nothing of demonstrations against exhibitions and artworks. Protests have roiled institutions across the world, from the Abu Dhabi Guggenheim to the Akron Art Museum. A popular expectation has grown that galleries and museums should work for social change.
As Director of the Queens Museum, Laura Raicovich helped turn that New York muni- cipal institution into a public commons for art and activism, organizing high-powered exhibitions that doubled as political protests. Then in January 2018, she resigned, after a dispute with the Queens Museum board and city officials. This public controversy followed the museum’s responses to Donald Trump’s election, including her objections to the Israeli government using the museum for an event featuring Vice President Mike Pence.
In this lucid and accessible book, Raicovich examines some of the key museum flashpoints and provides historical context for the current controversies. She shows how art museums arose as colonial institutions bearing an ideology of neutrality that masks their role in upholding conservative, capitalist values. And she suggests ways museums can be reinvented to serve better, public ends.