MAP 2013

A festival and exhibition of social practice projects

Projects that restore and preserve the environment, promote social justice, and advance human knowledge and well-being
Dallas, Texas USA
  • Photograph by Janeil Engelstad

From October 1 - November 24, 2013, MAP produced MAP 2013 in the greater Dallas – Fort Worth area - a festival and exhibition of projects that restore and preserve the environment, promotes social justice and advances human knowledge and well-being. The exhibition included interdisciplinary projects, performances, public art, workshops, lectures, a bike share program and other public programs. MAP 2013 directly engaged the audience in ways that: expanded their perspective on how arts and culture can make positive contributions to the lives of the greater community; enhanced civic engagement through participatory projects, for multi-generational groups from various communities; produced unique opportunities for artists, scientists, cultural institutions, government agencies and other individuals and organizations throughout the greater DFW area to engage and collaborate, building relationships and increasing cross disciplinary understanding.
A lab for cross-media and cross-cultural practices that incorporated new technologies and tools for innovative art making, MAP 2013 engaged a variety of forces including, social, economic and cultural that are shaping the natural and built environment. The MAP 2013 catalogue includes information about each project; essays and conversations that offer ideas and insight for how art as social practice can promote positive change. 
Projects included: 
Flow: River to Sea 
Flow: River to Sea is a multiform project from artist Barbra Benish that includes a permanent, public, teaching garden designed for the Trinity River Audubon Center. The project is a part of Barbra Benish's ongoing investigation into the connections between inland communities' consumption practices to pollution levels in the world's ocean. 
Composed of native flora, the garden forms a rough shape of Texas. When viewed from a nearby observation platform, the shape replicates what one would see from a "bird's eye" view, out to the Gulf of Mexico and beyond.
At ground level, the garden appears as a natural space. Eighteen flowering red plants, listed in Geyata Ajilvsgi's "Wildflowers of Texas" have been delicately interspersed within the existing prairie. In spring, when the plants bloom, a swath of red flowers will stretch along the garden from top to bottom, symbolizing the path of the Trinity River through the state of Texas.
Recent neurological brain research has discovered that there is a significant connection between the human female visual DNA to hues of red. It is thought that this connection is rooted in the female role within ancient hunter-gatherer societies as forager, collecting red berries and fruits to sustain life in the larger community. Maintaining that these connections might also be true for the aviary population, Benish designed the garden with red flowering plants to attract breeding females.
Translating Culture 
Translating Culture . . . Community Voices at the DMA grew out of a series of conversations between Susan Diachisin, the Kelli and Allen Questrom Director of the Center for Creative Connections (C3) at the Dallas Museum of Art and MAP Director, Janeil Engelstad. Taking place over several months, and during a time when the DMA was in process of embracing new ideas for engaging the community (and returning to free general admission), Translating Culture dovetails with a central part of MAP's mission- to produce programs that are inclusive of multiple voices and perspectives and to provide access to cultural programs for communities that are often marginalized because of ethnicity and socio-economic reasons. 
For more information, please click here 
Immigrant Nation
Theo Rigby with Kate McLean and Anthony Weeks
The McKinney Avenue Contemporary 
At the heart of Immigrant Nation is a simple premise: nearly every person living in the United States has a story about an immigrant journey to share, be it their own or the voyage of a relative in the past. As the hot-button topic of immigration divides communities across the country, this shared history has the potential to create commonality between new arrivals and people whose families have lived in the U.S. for generations. 
An interactive project, Immigrant Nation uses the personal narratives to give users multiple entry points into the issue of immigration. Through the intersection of documentary film, user-generated storytelling and social mapping, Immigrant Nation provides a platform for users to create, share and explore personal immigration stories. The project consists of an online platform, a series of eight short documentary films and community events where the participants’ stories become part of an illustrated mural. Logging into the Immigrant Nation website via Facebook, users enter an innovative platform that immediately personalizes the experience through social mapping and geolocation. Within the platform, users can tell their own immigration story through text, photos from their Facebook account and a statement about their views on immigration. Users can then place their own immigration story on a data-rich timeline that charts the waves of immigrant populations throughout history and see their own story in the context of immigration to the United States over the last two centuries. 
Museum Solidarity Lobby 
Azra Aksmija
Dallas Holocaust Museum Center for Education and Tolerance
Museum Solidarity Lobby (MSL) is a system that creates empathy with threatened heritage worldwide, while critically reflecting on the role and relevance of the museum in civil society today. The system is open to public participation and operates through spatial, activist and discursive forms of lobbying. MSL is motivated by an acute cultural crisis as many museums and cultural institutions worldwide have been closed or are victim to diverse political and economic pressures (e.g. Sarajevo, Budapest, Belgrade, Ljublijana, and Lichtenstein). MSL consists of physical installation, activist interventions, and discursive reflections. 
The shipping create furniture installed in the entrance lobby of the Dallas Holocaust Museum Center for Education and Tolerance were each themed with different interactive content. Voices coming from the boxes, triggered the attention of the visitor, inciting participation. The installation included postcards that the visitor could fill out, voicing their opinions about cultural heritage. 
One of the sound installation featured Aksamija’s podcasted interviews with Dallas area residents asking them to make a proposal for a “Future Heritage Collection.” The other sound installation provided a physical infrastructure for her interviews with a global network of culture lobbyists. In this sense, MSL provokes sympathy and empathy with museums and other cultural institutions around the world that are in crisis. 
MSL explores and creates relational ties between cultural institutions (museums, galleries, archives and libraries), cultural heritage (tangible and intangible culture) and cultural producers in the arts, humanities and social sciences. Aksamija translates the activities created through interactions within this threefold social system – institutions, heritage and people – into barricade signage based on the primary colors of red, yellow and blue. 
My Immovable Truth 
E.G. Crichton 
African-American Museum 
This exhibit begins to manifest the history of several African-American Dallas residents who openly identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual. Transgender, queer and same gender-loving people. Their tangible memories unfold as art, documents, photographs, video, objects and words that reference complex and active lives. This is a multi-generational story of spiritual and political courage that has had to address racism within the dominant Dallas LGBT community and homophobia/transphobia within parts of the African-American community. These archive collaborators have fought battles on the most vulnerable of personal fronts as well as within corporations, bars, churches, on the streets and through a variety of art forms. This exhibit brings into public view just a few of their stories, fragments of a much larger history. The truth represented here is enduring, shifting, immovable, and vital. This is history, all our history, and it forms a powerful lineage that commands recognition. 
Knotty Nest 
Freya Bardell and Brian Howe 
Three temporary gathering spaces were installed within the Natural Dye Garden at the University of North Texas. Three teepee forms sat upon repurposed wood platforms, the teepee structure is wrapped with hand woven rope panels to create small intimate pavilions - representing a space that the wider community can use for many purposes such as - photos with family after graduation (the space is adjacent to the coliseum where the students graduate two times a year), studying, and community workshops and teaching. This space is a maintenance free destination within UNT that will also serve to provide inspiration and an area for collaboration and learning.
Censorship and Propaganda – In the US And Abroad
Morehshin Allahyari
CentralTrak – University of Texas at Dallas, Artist Residency and Gallery
Growing up in Iran, Morehshin Allahyari learned about censorship from an early age. Perhaps as early as 6 or 7 years old when she was advised and constantly reminded by her parents not to share stories of the life that they lived inside of their home; from owning a VHS player to not praying.  
Living a double life inside and outside of the home became a normal component of her daily activity; continually going back and forth between prescribed norms, rules, and different layers within herself.  Later in life, as a writer and artist, coping with censorship became harder and more problematic. Allahyari began to understand the many negative influences of censorship on her work and practice. 
The issue of censorship (imposed by the government and society) and self-censorship (imposed by the artist to avoid conflict with the government and society) has consistently been a challenge; a challenge for both the pre and post immigration life of Iranian artists, activists, and, in many ways, ordinary people.
In the United States, the experience of censorship is perhaps not as apparent in daily life. But recent events, such as the revelation of spying by the US National Security Agency (NSA) and censorship in war journalism have raised questions about freedom of expression and privacy in the United States. About this Allahyari writes, “As I continue to live this American life as the citizen of Iran and the resident of the United States, I intend to draw lines between censorship imposed by the governments of both countries.”
In Censorship and Propaganda – in the US and Abroad, Allahyari created a participatory performance piece that raises questions and awareness about censorship, the involvement of governments in the flow of information and our access to information that governments work to suppress. The piece included a community discussion about the role and influence of the citizen watchdog and censorship by the governments in our lives; from the Middle-East to the United States.