Creative Time, the New York–based arts nonprofit organization responsible for wide-ranging art projects and installations, is hosting its 2016 summit in D.C. The event will bring lectures, panels, and performances to the District and promises collaborations with a number of D.C. institutions.
“Creative Time Summit D.C.: Occupy the Future” will take place on October 14–16 at the Lincoln Theater. At the main event, attendees can expect roundtable discussions, breakout sessions, and expert panels—albeit not the ones that typically appear at the convention center. At Creative Time’s 2015 summit in Brooklyn, Boots Riley of The Coup and Nikole Hannah-Jones of The New York Times delivered the keynotes, while Jennifer Reid sang select 19th-century ballads from working-class Manchester.
Artists or speakers for the D.C. Summit have not been announced as of yet. According to a source familiar with the evolving program, Pedro Reyes, a Mexican sculptor and performance artist with a political bent, may be collaborating with a D.C. arts organization on a haunted-house concept. More artists and performances will be announced in the coming weeks.
Creative Time is known for putting on ambitious projects. Last month, working with the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Creative Time launched “Fly by Night,” a performance project by Duke Riley. For the piece—which occurs every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evening at sundown through June 12—the artist lets loose a flock of some 2,000 pigeons living in an enclosure on a decommissioned Navy ship. The trained pigeons leave their coop (designed by Seattle architecture firm Olson Kundig), flying in the air in patterns (well, sort of) and wearing LED anklets that light up the twilight sky.
Kara Walker’s “A Subtlety . . .” was another major Creative Time show. The 2014 project, a sphinx made of sugar installed at the former Domino Sugar Factory in Brooklyn, drew thousands of fans and problematic selfies.
The theme for last year’s summit, “The Curriculum,” was reflected in its lineup of speakers. Among them were Emma Sulkowicz, the artist who dragged her mattress around campus as a student at Columbia University for a performance protesting the school administration’s handling of her alleged rape, and MFA No MFA, seven artists who withdrew as a class from the University of Southern California’s Roski School of Art and Design. Artists Simone Leigh and Hans Haacke also participated in the event.
If the title for the D.C. summit weren’t enough of a hint, “Occupy the Future” will lean heavily on political themes—from D.C.’s status as the seat of power to the looming presidential election. Nato Thompson, artistic director for Creative Time, gave City Paper a statement on the curatorial vision for the summit:
Occurring in the nation’s capital just weeks before the 2016 Presidential Election, the Creative Time Summit DC will take this historic moment to collectively consider what it might mean to radically transform the current state of Democracy. Around the world both the left and the right are making their dissatisfaction with the center known, setting the stage for a virulent electoral season. Shaking up the political landscape, worldwide social movements—from Arab Spring to #BlackLivesMatter—are now engrained in popular discourse. The 2016 Summit offers a platform for citizen-led strategies and grassroots movements working within as well as disrupting electoral politics. As we work to push forward the ideals of human rights in practice, what does it mean to actually occupy power in a future as yet unwritten.
Registration for the summit opens later this month. In the meantime, people can join the mailing list by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.