The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and Harvard University’s Cultural Agents Initiative host a conversation with Antanas Mockus, a Colombian philosopher, Green Party presidential candidate, and former mayor of Bogota, known for his use of creative political tactics and performance art to solve issues related to traffic and other major environmental and cultural concerns. Together with moderator Professor Doris Sommer of Harvard University, and respondent Professor Ana María Reyes of Boston University, Mockus discusses themes central to the topics of civic engagement and cultural agency. Using Sommer’s recent book, The Work of Art in the World: Civic Agency and Public Humanities (2013), and Mockus’s development of cultura ciudadana (civic culture) in Colombia as starting points, the group explores creativity as a driving force for active citizenship. Drawing from a foundation of academic inquiry and lived experience, they address the need for innovation, art, humor and improvisation in crafting a culture of civic engagement.
This conversation takes place around Pedro Reyes’s sculpture Colloquium as part of the exhibition "Conversation Piece." A multidisciplinary artist trained as an architect, Reyes draws from modernist furniture design, theatre, therapy, and the graphic arts. Each of this sculpture’s interlocking panels is cut in the shape of a blank cartoon “speech bubble” to scale with the human body-an open invitation for dialogue to ensue. Modeled after the classic Isamu Noguchi coffee table that harmoniously melds form and function, Colloquium is part of a series of works that serve as forums for conflict resolution. Its pristine surface and white color symbolize the potential of peaceful dialogue to engender social change. Over the course of the exhibition, three round-table discussions will be held around this sculpture, which also serves as a dynamic platform for impromptu conversation.
This event took place October 22, 2014, as part of the exhibition "Conversation Piece," October 10, 2014–March 15, 2015.
Image: Mime directs traffic in Bogota, El Tiempo, 1995. Source: El Tiempo archives, Bogota, Colombia. Courtesy of Doris Sommer.
Photo by Ricardo De Lima