Down with Sofa-Beds

At a panel on Access & Activism with Favianna, Keba, Marcel Diallo and others at the Oakland Museum of California today, Jaime Cortez quoted Arundhati Roy about why he doesn’t sit well with the term “artist-activists”: it remindes her of the word sofa-bed, uncomfortable as both a couch and a “piss-poor” mattress, and with the implication of lowered expectations in the realms of art and activism.

I love the analogy!

I once called myself an artist-activist, several years ago when I was working as a youth educator, and was more of an idealist than an optimist. But Jaime’s comment resonated with me — my art really suffered while I worked at unsustainable jobs at non-profits. Cortez’ comments was especially meaningful in relationship to museums, where community engagement departments diversify the museum’s attendance while the exhibitions departments try to correct the imbalance of representation in the collections.

I had a lot of history with some of the panel members. And though at first I felt oddly disconnected, today’s discussion made me excited about OMCA returning to its more radical roots. After Art Murmur yesterday, it’s nice to feel hopeful about art in Oakland.


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