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Artists examine election issues

Election Day draws near and the Center for Advanced Visual Studies (CAVS) is launching its own brand of coverage with a special series about politics.

"People across the arts have been absolutely galvanized by the attitudes and policies of the Bush administration," said Larissa Harris, newly appointed associate director of CAVS. "It seemed to make sense to bring some of this passion and energy--in the form of exhibitions, individual works and conversations--into our program."

"How should an individual make the world a better place? By doing the work they do best or by marching in the streets?" said Harris, who worked at New York's P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center and as reviews editor at Artforum International Magazine before coming to MIT. "Does an artist have to abandon art's symbolic dimension--which touches our lives in a unique way--to make a real-world impact? These are the questions that artists in the show are struggling with right now."

Titled "The Last Four Years: Artists React," this show includes video footage shot at the Republican National Convention and a daylong discussion of the issues arising from the investigation of a New York artist who was suspected of bioterrorism.

CAVS also joined forces with the Public Service Center to create voter registration awareness posters for the campus. "I want to stimulate discussion with the 'Last Four Years' programs," said Harris, "but I also want to do something concrete, and concrete in this environment means registering students."

Artists react

On Oct. 12-13, New York artist and activist Sharon Hayes will present footage from a work in progress--video she shot largely at and around the 2004 Republican National Convention--as well as a selection of her previous work. She will hold open studios from 3-6 p.m. on both days of her visit and will present the work at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 13 in Room N52-390.

On Friday, Oct. 29, the 16 Beaver Group will organize a daylong discussion of the federal bioterrorism investigation of Steve Kurtz, the professor of art at SUNY Buffalo who was accused of misusing bacteria for one of his projects with the Critical Art Ensemble. The event will be held from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. in Room N52-390.

Voter registration forms and absentee ballot applications will be available at all CAVS events until the presidential election. "The one thing you can do is vote," said Harris.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on October 6, 2004 (download PDF).

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