We are announcing a series of public dialogues, Raw Hope of Humanity Rising, Webconferenced via the Third Space Network from the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center in Washington, DC. Four Interdisciplinary panels made up of artists, activists, curators, scholars, media, policy makers, and cultural officials will engage in participatory online roundtables during the run-up to the 2020 presidential election.

Raw Hope of Humanity Rising is intended to address critical arguments emerging in the current political climate, in which hope is as raw as our democracy is faltering. These arguments concern core principles of democracy that are increasingly challenged, in which freedom of the press is threatened, elections are undermined, and constitutional guardrails are pushed to the limit. In the current climate of fear, tribalism, disinformation, abuse of power, and the abandonment of democratic ideals, we see a steady erosion of the most fundamental qualities of humanism and embrace of the common good that binds us all.

We ask: can art actively mediate political turmoil to bring new insight and perspective to partisan conflict that is gripping the country? To this end, Raw Hope of Humanity Rising proposes a much needed broader public conversation that transcends boundaries between the arts, media, and government: critical to illuminating the complex social, cultural, technological, and political issues we face. We intend to extend this conversation even further, using the Internet as a platform that invites online audiences across the third space to be involved in civic engagement that is freely accessible, participatory, and global.

Panelists (confirmed to date)

  • Roberto Bedoya (Cultural Affairs Manager, City of Oakland)
  • Hasan Elahi (Artist, Director of Visual Arts, George Mason University)
  • Nora Ligorano & Marshall Reese (collaborative artist-activist duo)
  • Zoe Leoudaki (Television Producer and Social Media Strategist, Voice of America)
  • Leanne Mella (independent cultural producer and media curator)
  • Randall Packer (artist, director of Zakros InterArts)
  • Martha Rosler (artist, Professor at Rutgers University)
  • Douglas Rushkoff (author and media critic)
  • John Sipher (retired CIA Officer in the National Clandestine Service)
  • Will Stevens (US State Department Foreign Service Officer, Russian propaganda specialist)

The panel discussions will address specific issues relevant to the 2020 Presidential Election:

(1) Democracy vs Authoritarianism
March 4, 2020, 6:00 – 7:30pm ET
The hijacking of democracy through intentional manipulation of the levers of power, thus undermining systems of government and the voice of the people.

(2) Information vs Propaganda
June 17, 2020, 6:00 – 7:30pm ET
The manipulation and distortion of truth and information through techniques of propaganda and disinformation that falsely attempt to persuade public opinion.

(3) Idealism vs Cynicism
July 22, 2020, 6:00 – 7:30pm ET
The disruption of idealism essential to the core principles of democracy though cynical disdain for the rule of law, wisdom, and logic.

(4) Real vs Fake
September 2, 2020, 6:00 – 7:30pm ET
The intentional public confusion of a clear distinction between what is real and what is fake, what is truth and what is fiction, and what is fact and what is a lie.

We are also creating the online publication, “A Citizen’s Guide to 2020 Artistic Mediations,” intended as a resource that magnifies the artistic lens in these times of political turbulence. The publication will include essays on art, media and activism; a national listing of upcoming exhibitions, performances, interventions, and participatory public artworks that reflect on the constitutional, geopolitical, environmental, and many other crises we find ourselves in; and useful links to online resources and reading materials that stimulate civic engagement through the arts.

For further information, contact: Randall Packer (rpacker@zakros.com), director of the Third Space Network.

Raw Hope of Humanity Rising is organized by Randall Packer in association with the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center in Washington, DC, along with the participation of cultural producer Leanne Mella and support from the Washington, DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities. Raw Hope of Humanity Rising is a Third Space Network initiative of Zakros InterArts.