On Boston Common, July 14, 2007, Mark Tribe ’85, an artist and curator whose interests include art, technology, and politics, staged “Port Huron Project 2,” the second in a series of three performance and media events. Mark is Assistant Professor of Modern Culture and Media Studies at Brown University, where he teaches courses on digital art, curating, open-source culture, radical media, and surveillance.
The Port Huron Project is a series of reenactments of protest speeches from the New Left movements of the 1960s and ’70s. Each event takes place at the site of the original speech; a performer delivers the speech to an audience of invited guests and passers-by. Videos, audio recordings, and photographs of these performances are then presented in various venues and distributed online and on DVD as open-source media. The project is named after the Port Huron Statement, a historic document drafted by Tom Hayden for the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) in 1962.
The first event in the series, Port Huron Project 1: Until the Last Gun Is Silent, took place on September 16, 2006 and was based on a speech given by Coretta Scott King at a peace march in Central Park in 1968. Video of this event, and more information about the project, is available at http://www.porthuronproject.net. The Port Huron Project 1 video was screened in May at Southern Exposure, an important nonprofit art space in San Francisco. It was also screened at “Open Source History: Making History Public,” the annual conference of the American Association for History and Computing.
This summer, Mark and his production team are staging the second and third events in the series:
Port Huron Project 2: The Problem is Civil Obedience
The performance on July 14 at 5:00 p.m. on the Northwest corner of the Boston Common, (near the intersection of Charles and Beacon streets) was originally delivered at an anti-war rally on May 5, 1971 by Howard Zinn, the well-known author and activist. Zinn argues for the necessity of civil disobedience to protest the war in Vietnam and calls on Congress to impeach the President and Vice President of the United States for the “high crime” of waging war on the people of Southeast Asia. In Zinn’s words, “Those who have the power decide the meaning of the words that we use. And so we’re taught that if one person kills another person, that is murder, but if a government kills a hundred thousand persons, that is patriotism.”
Part three will take place in Washington D.C., near the Washington Monument on the National Mall on Thursday, July 26, at 6:00 p.m. (rain date July 27). Port Huron Project 3: We Must Name the System presents the speech of Paul Potter, who was then the director of the SDS, and originally delivered this speech at the April 17, 1965 March on Washington. In this renowned speech, Potter offers an insightful critique of our government’s use of the rhetoric of freedom to justify war, and calls for citizens of the United States to create a massive social movement in which communities collectively build a “democratic and humane society in which Vietnams are unthinkable.”
Mark Tribe, the artist who created the Port Huron Project, is the co-author, with Reena Jana, of New Media Art (Taschen, 2006). His art work has been exhibited at the ZKM Center for Art and Media in Karlsruhe, Germany, the Ars Electronica Festival in Linz, Austria and Gigantic Art Space in New York City. He has organized curatorial projects for the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York, MASS MoCA (Massachusetts Museum of Modern Art), and inSite_05 (Art Practices in the Public Domain, San Diego, California). In 1996, Mark founded Rhizome.org, an online resource for new media artists, and he now chairs Rhizome’s board of directors. He received a MFA in Visual Art from the University of California, San Diego in 1994 and a BA in Visual Art from Brown University in 1990.