Friday 26 May 10:00 – 17:30 | University of Sussex
Please join Mike Bonanno of the Yes Men, Emile Devereaux, the Centre for Material Digital Culture and CHASE researchers for a practice-led event that explores and expands the connections between our research areas and the institutional and social frameworks that intersect with, support, or resist our efforts. What are some of the performative, digital, and media-based techniques that we can use to not just disseminate our ideas but also to generate creative forms of discourse?
Underlying the workshop is a questioning of the link between theory and practice and the development of associations that bridge scholarly research with agents of social change. Firstly, by considering the corporate and economic systems that encompass or enframe your research we will identify possible sites for intervention. A Yes Lab is a hands-on process for developing creative direct actions that serve the goals of social movements and campaigns. Through an analysis of how performative and symbolic actions are enacted in specific institutional structures, we can better consider points of intersection between these symbolic forms and creative forms of communication for a cause. Through analysis of case studies, discussion, and participant presentations, we will brainstorm ideas for executing media and performative actions. Working in groups in the final part of the workshop, we choose a few of the ideas and create roadmaps to complete them.
The workshop is taking place at the University of Sussex. CHASE researchers have priority, but space is limited. Please email Emile Devereaux (firstname.lastname@example.org) before 5pm Friday 19 May if you’d like to attend with a brief description of research ideas you’d like to explore in the workshop. Emile will reply as soon as possible with further details in preparation for the workshop.
TALK – Thursday 25 May 16.30 Fulton 104, University of Sussex
Making Meaningful Mischief
Can pranks, mischief, and creativity change the course of history?
Mike Bonanno of The Yes Men will deliver a lively talk that begins with a brief history of tricksters and progress, and ends with autobiographical lessons they’ve learned in over 20 years of comic creative direct action.
The Yes Men are culture jamming activists who pull off hilarious media hoaxes to expose fascist and corporate crimes. By impersonating corporations and government agencies at business events, on the news and in the streets, they use their temporary authority to expose problematic issues in society.
They knocked billions of dollars off Dow Chemical’s stock value. They reversed the US Chamber of Commerce’s position on climate change. They are the subject of three feature documentaries, most recently The Yes Men Are Revolting. By injecting humor into drop-dead serious subjects, they provoke laughter and debate from audiences.
The three documentaries about them have won numerous awards and been shown at the Whitney Biennial, the Venice Biennale and ARS Electronica, among others.
Their workshops explain how to attract media attention for low-budget or no-budget activist campaigns. Attendees should come prepared to brainstorm ideas for their own actions.
Their live presentation includes unreleased behind the scenes video clips from their actions and shared secrets about what worked, what didn’t, and how their successes and failures are inspiring the Yes Men in their actions going forward.
Mike Bonanno is a co-founder of The Yes Men, an activist group that carries out publicity stunts designed to humiliate some of the world’s biggest corporate criminals. The Yes Men have made three award-winning feature films that follow their hi jinx. He has also shown his work in museums like the Whitney in New York, and won awards such as a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship. When he’s not making mischief, Bonanno is a professor in the Art Department at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York.