Starting May 1st, City Lights and Gray Area will bring together artists, actors, performers, writers, and cultural activists to perform both original works and readings of famous artists' manifestos to construct a collaborative poetic reflection on current sociopolitical, economic, and ecological challenges. The manifestos will be showcased daily on the Gray Area Patch online platform and form a collective community vocabulary for creative intervention during this great 21st-century pandemic.
How can artistic thinking become a meaningful tool in the midst of a global crisis? What is the role of creativity in reimagining our world when great upheavals create openings for change? For much of the 19th and 20th centuries, artists, writers, and philosophers responded to times of calamity with manifestos outlining their creative and ideological principles as a means to both break with a disintegrating past and point towards a new future. In this contemporary moment of a global pandemic and ensuant economic fallout, these manifestos from the past take on a new importance as models for how we might define and create our post-COVID world.
We invite the global creative community to submit either their own interpretations of historical manifestos or original takes on the manifesto tradition in the form of 3-5 minute videos.
On May 1st of 2004, City Lights produced an event at the legendary Cell Space in San Francisco's Mission District called MANIFESTO: Coming Out Against Empire. Dozens of writers, performers, artists, and musicians came together with the goal of building a kind of literary crucible.
Of concern at that time was what many saw as a global environment poised on the precipice of wide scale social and ecological devastation. A call was sent out to bring together voices which would speak honestly and with urgency about the crisis of our time. It is remarkable that many of the concerns of that moment still echo loudly today! Not only do we find ourselves at a crossroads, yet again, we find ourselves speaking directly "through the flames."
A renaissance of creativity is needed to reimagine a world in ever-accelerating upheaval. How do we break from a disintegrating past and create pathways toward a more equitable, sustainable, and humane future? With the encouragement and partnership of Gray Area, City Lights revisits the concept of a forum that nurtures a collaborative poetic reflection upon the crisis of our time. We hope you'll join us throughout the month of May in listening to voices speaking to us "through the flames" about how we may better transform catastrophe into possibility.
Starting May 1st, City Lights and Gray Area will bring together artists, actors, performers, writers, and cultural activists to perform both original works and readings of famous artists' manifestos to construct a collaborative poetic reflection on current sociopolitical, economi...