Andrea Bowers: Nonviolent Civil Disobedience Training 2004

4 Mar

In 2004, Bowers presented a complex project that incorporated the use of various mediums of art. The centerpiece of the exhibit, Nonviolent Civil Disobedience Training, featured a two-part video project, in which ten dancers in their 20s participate in a direct action training course taught by nonviolent activists and educators. In addition to the education portion, the video also features a dance performance, with photographs and a drawing accompanying the video project. Firstly, the education portion of the video is portrayed as a stimulating physical and emotional process that draws attention to the relationship between the content and the personal emotion of the dancers. Next, the dancing section further highlights the connection of aesthetics serving as a successful ally to the political theory.

Nonviolent Protest Training, Abalone Alliance Camp, Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant

Nonviolent Protest Training, Abalone Alliance Camp, Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant

Moreover, the drawing displays an image of protestors from the early 1980’s activist group, the Abalone Alliance, which protested the Diablo Nuclear Plant in California. The original image which the drawing replicates is from a newspaper clipping that is also exhibited with the project. In relation to the connection between the physical and emotion portrayed through the dancing in the video, the drawing focuses on the body movements of the figures, and “transforms the activist event into what appears as a still of a dance performance” (Sarah Meltzer Gallery Event Description). In the photographs, Bowers documents the actions of the training session and dance from the accompanying video.

Still from Nonviolent Civil Disobedience Training

Still from Nonviolent Civil Disobedience Training

This project highlights a unique connection between art and the nonviolent tradition. In other examples of both Bowers’ work and global examples of the role of art as civil disobedience, art connects the cultural and political by infusing the work with political context. However, in this piece Bowers more directly uses art to educate an audience on the importance of the nonviolent tradition and education rather than a particular political subject. The audience that views Bowers’ art, and this particular exhibit shown at an L.A gallery, may not by the same group of individuals who seek out training and classes on nonviolent resistance. Yet through the direct inclusion of this training in her video, Bowers exposes a new audience to the subject and context of civil disobedience. Following the methodology in all of her work, Bowers uses her art to get people to pay attention to an issue that they might not have before, and in this case teaches a mass audience about the nonviolent tradition through direct education.

Sarah Meltzer Gallery Event Description 

Andrea Bowers: Art Forum


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