The Situational Junta: What Cometh?

The Arts


The United States Department of Culture (USDAC) and the Associação Espaço Cultural Lanchonette (aka Lanchonete) are taking over the Bowery Poetry Club for a series of evening encounters and exchanges. The Situational Junta, as the multi-part event is called, is equal parts happy hour, radio talk show, creative mixer, and ideas incubator.


For three evenings this fall, Situational Junta asks artists to address a deceptively simple question: If artists are empowered to innovate on a large enough scale to interrupt the status quo, what would that look like? 


The results depend on chosen tactics, for there is no one way to tackle the issue. Dependencies and questions arise...


What is a situation? According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a "situation" can be defined (and so addressed) variously: A "situation" is 1) the place, position, or location of a city, country, etc., in relation to its surroundings; 2) The place occupied by something; the site of a building, etc.; 3) The place or position of things in relation to surroundings or to each other. 


"Situational," then, pertains to the situation. It is determined by the understanding of how participants see the "place" in which they suddenly find themselves thrust. We are in New York City... in the poetry club... in a mash-up... Or, more profoundly, we are at a crossroads... on the brink of something dramatic... in an existential crisis... What is the situation?


country, etc., in relation to its surroundings.


As for junta? The OED references "junto," which is a body of men who have joined or combined for a common purpose, especially of a political character; a self-elected committee or council; a clique, faction, or cabal; a club or coterie.


We can, of course, put aside the gender bias in the above definition. But do we need to limit the definition to "genders" anyway? Artists likely don't think of themselves as man or woman or transgender or vegetable or whatever first, but rather as something cosmic, mysterious, ethereal, fluid, and undefinable. 


If in this situation the status quo will be challenged, important questions must be asked of the participants:


For one, which status quo do they seek to disrupt? Does the art world need shaken up? (Well, yes, it does, but in what ways?) Do curators and museums need to be put on notice? Is the aim the oligarchic American experiment? What about a status quo of complacency? To which hegemonic regime will energies be focused?


Also, from where or what will they derive the empowerment? On what authority, in other words, will they be compelled to act? Will it be in the self? In another artist? Is the Situational Junta, by its very existence, enough to "permit" these artists to think and act on grand scales?


The Situational Junta, then, is the coming together of ____ in a place that refereneces ____ so as to overturn ____.


I am unsure what to expect in the coming months. I'll be there, though. Listening. Watching. Engaging. Following. Over the course of the Situational Junta, I'll file dispatches, but I hesitate to describe what to expect from me. Will I fall into the orbit of an artist? A project? Will I be spun around to different experiences? I hope I witness the explosion of something. Or, at least divine the spark that lights the fire.


Situational Junta will take place at the Bowetry Poetry Club on three dates: 10/21, 11/18, and 12/16, 6-8pm. Check out the Facebook page for details on how the nights will shake out.


Follow Shaun on Twitter @shaunrandol



Situational Junta