June 27, 2007
Port Huron Project
Brown Artist Creates Vietnam-Era Protest Speech Re-enactments
Exploring the parallels between the war in Iraq and the Vietnam War, artist Mark Tribe will stage re-enactments of Vietnam-era protest speeches in Boston and Washington, D.C. in July. The events are part of Tribe’s Port Huron Project, a series of re-enactments of protest speeches from the New Left movements of the 1960s and ’70s.
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PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Exploring the parallels between the current war in Iraq and the Vietnam War, artist and curator Mark Tribe will stage re-enactments of Vietnam-era protest speeches this July on the sites where they were originally delivered. The re-enactments will take place in Boston on July 14 and in Washington, D.C., on July 26, 2007.
The events are part of Tribe’s Port Huron Project, a series of re-enactments of protest speeches from the New Left movements of the 1960s and ’70s. Each performance in the project is staged at the site of the original speech and is delivered by an actor to an audience of invited guests and passers-by. To reach a wide audience, videos of these events are also distributed on DVD and posted online at YouTube and other sites. The project is named after the Port Huron Statement, the visionary manifesto of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), a radical student group formed in 1962. The first event in the series, Port Huron Project 1: Until the Last Gun Is Silent, took place Sept. 16, 2006, and was based on a speech given by Coretta Scott King at a peace march in Central Park in 1968.
“When I read these speeches, I was struck by how relevant they are now. It’s almost as if they could have been written today,” said Tribe, assistant professor of modern culture and media at Brown. “Staging these re-enactments is a way of opening a dialogue between the present and a time in the not-so-distant past when people seemed to believe more strongly in the power of dissent.”
At the re-enactment Saturday, July 14, 2007, at 5 p.m. on Boston Common, an actor cast by Tribe will deliver a speech originally given by author and activist Howard Zinn at a peace rally in May 1971. In the speech, Zinn argued for the necessity of civil disobedience to protest the war in Vietnam and called on Congress to impeach the president and vice president of the United States for the “high crime” of waging war on the people of Southeast Asia. The performance, titled Port Huron Project 2: The Problem is Civil Obedience, will take place at the northwest corner of Boston Common, near the intersection of Charles and Beacon streets, the exact site of Zinn’s original speech. In the event of severe weather, the event will be held Sunday, July 15.
Tribe is also staging a re-enactment of a speech originally given SDS President Paul Potter at the March on Washington in April 1965. The re-enactment, Port Huron Project 3: We Must Name the System, will be held Thursday, July 26, 2007, at 6 p.m. near the Washington Monument on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. In the speech, Potter said, “The President mocks freedom if he insists that the war in Vietnam is a defense of American freedom. Perhaps the only freedom that this war protects is the freedom of the warhawks in the Pentagon and the State Department to experiment with counter-insurgency and guerrilla warfare.” In the event of severe weather, the event will be held Friday, July 27.
“Some of these speeches have been published in books, but I wanted to bring them back to life in a way that would really connect with people today, both on the streets and online,” Tribe said.
Support for the Port Huron Project has been provided by the Department of Modern Culture and Media, the Office of the Vice President for Research, and the Karen T. Romer Undergraduate Teaching and Research Awards at Brown University.
For more information on the Port Huron Project, visit http://www.porthuronproject.net.
Mark Tribe is an artist and curator whose interests include art, technology and politics. As an assistant professor of modern culture and media at Brown University, Tribe teaches courses on digital art, curating, open-source culture, radical media and surveillance. He is the co-author, with Reena Jana, of New Media Art (Taschen, 2006). His artwork has been exhibited at the ZKM Center for Art and Media in Karlsruhe, the Ars Electronica Festival in Linz, and Gigantic Art Space in New York City. Tribe has organized curatorial projects for the New Museum of Contemporary Art, MASS MoCA, and inSite_05. In 1996, Tribe founded Rhizome.org, an online resource for new media artists, and he now chairs Rhizome’s board of directors. He received an M.F.A. in visual art from the University of California–San Diego in 1994 and an A.B. in visual art from Brown University in 1990.
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