About Project

Draft Card Burning Here – Notes of Protest

is a project by:
Taf Hassam
made in cooperation and research with Jan Franciszek Cieslak, and assisted by Jan Rymenants.

Draft Card Burning Here. Antiwar demonstrators protest in New York City’s Central Park and march to the United Nations building, October 21, 1967. Videocap from Universal-International Newsreel. In 1976, the films’ owner, MCA, made the decision to turn over ownership of all of these newsreels to the National Archives. The decision effectively ended Universals copyright claim, releasing the films into the public domain.

Notes of Protest took place as part of the Affectionately Yours exhibition, from the 1st of May to the 8th of May 2010, at the Wyspa Institute of Art, located in the docklands of Gdansk, where famously in 1980 the Solidarity Movement began.

The project offered local musicians and bands the opportunity to use gallery space at the Wyspa, as a rehearsal studio. Inside the space, the artist installed an audiovisual image archive relating to the history of the Protest Song. The archive had been compiled from the collections of various artists, theoreticians, and curators and contained a variety of rarely seen or heard recordings. The intention was to offer musicians access to this archive as an added resource, available to be copied and recorded. The space was then open for the musicians to use at their disposal, both day and night and throughout the week.

The project also included various film screenings and a guest lecture entitled: “Punk po polsku – protest ale przeciwko?” (Polish Punk, a protest, but against what?) by the Art Historian and Sociologist Patryk Wasiak.

On the 8th of May the exhibition space was opened to the public. For the opening, the musicians were invited to perform a concert in collaboration with the artist, containing covers of the songs salvaged from the archive.

Draft Card Burning Here – Notes of Protest, took place as part of the Affectionately Yours exhibition organized by the If I Can’t Dance I Don’t Want To Be Part of Your Revolution platform, in collaboration with The Dutch Art Institute and the Wyspa Institute of Art.

The event had been the result of a seminar that has been taking place at The Dutch Art Institute with the artists Phil Collins and Hito Steyerl on the subject of ‘Affect’.

Curated by Frederique Bergholtz, Maaike Gouwenberg and coordinated by Tanja Baudoin.

Wikipedia Entry:

A protest song is a song which is associated with a movement for social change and hence part of the broader category of topical songs (or songs connected to current events). It may be folk, classical, or commercial in genre. Among social movements that have an associated body of songs are the abolition movement, women’s suffrage, the labour movement, civil rights, the anti-war movement, the feminist movement, and Environmentalism. Protest songs are frequently situational, having been associated with a social movement through context. “Goodnight Irene”, for example, acquired the aura of a protest song because it was written by Lead Belly, a black convict and social outcast, although on its face it is a love song. Or they may be abstract, expressing, in more general terms, opposition to injustice and support for peace, or free thought, but audiences usually know what is being referred to. Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”, a song in support of universal brotherhood, is a song of this kind. It is a setting of a poem by Schiller celebrating the continuum of living beings (who are united in their capacity for feeling pain and pleasure and hence for empathy), to which Beethoven himself added the lines that all men are brothers. Songs, which support the status quo, do not qualify as protest songs.

Protest song texts have significant cognitive content. The labour movement musical Pins and Needles deftly summed up the definition of a protest song in a number called “Sing Me a Song of Social Significance.” Phil Ochs once explained, “A protest song is a song that’s so specific that you cannot mistake it for bullshit”



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