July 16, 2008

Active History

There’s a conference coming up in the Fall of 2008 in Toronto called “Active History.” I have been having email “conversations” with several colleagues about the roles that history plays in contemporary art practice, in design studios, and in community settings. Nick Brown reminded me of a couple of efforts in Pittsburgh and in Toronto that engage in what Greg Sholette and his group called REPOhistory

: The Missing Plaque Project in Toronto and the Howling Mob Society. The Toronto-based group (really one artist, Tim Groves) creates posters on overlooked historical events.
The Howling Mob Society focuses on the Great Railroad Strike of 1877 and makes markers telling about the events related to that strike, one of which is on the left here. When markers like this, or posters, or actions in public occur on the streets it is a kind of informal education, with layers of a site uncovered that many don’t know about. The Active History conference will include sessions on community research, archeology, labor history (or as they say in Canada, labour history), and grassroots activism.

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