Pedro Reyes: People’s United Nations

Pedro Reyes: People’s United Nations (pUN)
Nov 24 2013, 12:30pm – Nov 24 2013, 6:00pm

The People’s United Nations (pUN) is an event and exhibition by Mexican artist Pedro Reyes. The event takes place November 23-24, 2013, and the exhibition runs from November 9, 2013-March 30, 2014. Pedro Reyes: The People’s United Nations (pUN) is a playful homage to the United Nations, inspired by the fact that the global body’s General Assembly met from 1946-1950 in the building that later became the Queens Museum. This experimental gathering will test Reyes’ hypothesis that, since diplomacy has not yet solved the world’s problems, conflict-resolution techniques proven in other fields should be tried instead. Over the course of two days, this singular group will use theater games, group therapy, and techniques from social science to grapple with a set of surprising and provocative proposals as well as the problems the delegates themselves bring to the table. It is precisely the lighthearted spirit of play that allows the participants to engage in subjects whose magnitude would otherwise overwhelm us.

Welcome to the People’s United Nations (pUN), an exhibition and performance by Pedro Reyes!
pUN is made up of over 150 citizen-delegates from the 195 member and observer states of the (real) United Nations. They’re with us today to use popular theater and other techniques to grapple with real-world problems from a personal, playful perspective. On Nov 23 and 24, they will be working in full view of our museum visitors. There will be two camera crews and a photographer actively documenting the sessions as well. It promises to be quite a spectacle, and we want to make sure you enjoy it while delegates focus on their work.

Modeled directly on tours of the UN itself, our tours include: up-close views of sessions themselves; insight into Reyes’ exhibition of sculpture and painting inspired by pUN’s underlying themes of dialogue and peace; and the history of the UN at the New York City Building. Tours are guided by staff in the Queens Museum Education, Public Programs, and Curatorial departments; and two young curator friends of the Queens Museum.


9:30am-6pm Free shuttle service from the 7 train Mets Willets Point stop to the Queens Museum. The trolly will leave from Roosevelt Avenue and drop off at the Grand Central Parkway side Museum entrance.
12:00 – 1:00 pm Session 1: Group Therapy / pUN Times. Turning a problem into an opportunity, and then into a headline. MAIN ATRIUM
1:00 – 2:15 pm Delegate lunch(Private). SECOND FLOOR GALLERIES
2:30 – 4:00 pm Session 2: Legislative Theater/ Pharmasphere. Augusto Boal’s participatory theater techniques address the global drug trade. MAIN ATRIUM
4:00 – 5:00 pm Wrap-up MAIN ATRIUM


10am-6pm Free shuttle service from the 7 train Mets Willets Point stop to the Queens Museum. The trolly will leave from Roosevelt Avenue and drop off at the Grand Central Parkway side Museum entrance.
12:00 – 1:00 pm Session 3: Force Field Analysis/Global Proposals. Helping and hindering forces face off. MAIN ATRIUM
1:00 – 2:15 pm 1:00 – 2:15 pm Delegate lunch. Private. SECOND FLOOR GALLERIES
2:45 – 3:45 Lecture/ Introduction to Climate Engineering SECOND FLOOR THEATER. **Streaming available.
4:15 – 5:00 pm Thank you and UN at pUN: Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal, UN Undersecretary General for Communication and Public Information followed by Body Synthesis by Urban Bush Women MAIN ATRIUM
5:00 – 6:00 Meet the delegates at Cocktail Hour!

BOTH DAYS Please note: Between 12:20 – 2:30 access to the 2nd floor via the central stairway is blocked. Please access the second floor by walking through the wonderful Panorama of the City of New York.

Pedro Reyes (b. 1972, Mexico City) lives and works in Mexico. Reyes rose to international attention with projects such as Capulas (2002-10), Baby Marx (2009-present) and Palas por Pistolas (2008). Previous solo exhibitions include Labor, Mexico City (2012, 2010); Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2011); Guggenheim Museum, New York (2011); CCA Kitakyushu, Kitakyushu (2009); Bass Museum, Miami (2008); and San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco (2008). Group exhibitions include the Liverpool Biennial, Liverpool (2012); Gwangju Biennial, Gwangju (2012); dOCUMENTA(13), Kassel (2013); Istanbul Design Biennial, Istanbul (2012), CCA Wattis Museum, San Francisco (2012); STUK, Leuven (2012); Creative Time, New York (2011); Serpentine Gallery, London (2010); Museo de Arte Moderno, Mexico City (2010); Lyon Biennale, Lyon (2009); Museo Nacional de Arte, Mexico City (2009); Yokohama Triennale, Yokohama (2008); Reykjiavik Art Museum, Reykjiavik (2008); Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2007); Seattle Art Museum, Seattle (2007); and the 50th Venice Biennale, Venice (2003). Other exhibitions in 2013 include the Sharjah Biennial 11, Sharjah (March 13-May 13 ); In the Spirit of Utopia, Whitechapel Gallery, London (July 4-September 12); and the Carnegie International, Pittsburgh (October 5-March 16, 2014).

The People’s United Nations (pUN) is funded by Mexico’s National Council for Culture and Arts (CONACULTA), Jacques and Natasha Gelman Trust, BBVA Bancomer, Consulate of Mexico, New York and The Mexican Cultural Institute of New York. Major production support provided by Lisson Gallery. Additional funding provided by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.
Special thanks to LABOR Gallery, Mexico City and Antojeria Popular, New York. Additional thanks to Galeria Luisa Strina, São Paulo; SOMA Summer, Mexico City, and Casa Vecina, Mexico City.

The People’s United Nations (pUN) is part of the Performa Consortium.

Final Project Schedule

Hi all, here are the four bench marks for the final project:

  1. Week 09, Thu Oct 24th (Liz Barry Public Lab day): accountability structure (how decisions are made, and who does what), articulated prototyping plan and schedule due
  2. Week 12, Thu Nov 14: prototype 1 due
  3. Week 14, Tue Nov 26 (thanksgiving wk, meet Tue): prototype 2 due
  4. Week 16, Thu Dec 12th: Final Presentations

Reminder: Attend Theaster Gates Artists’ Lecture next Wed Sep 18th, 7:00 pm, 66 W12th St.

Info here.


Sheila C. Johnson Design Center
Arnold and Sheila Aronson Galleries

September 18 – October 15, 2013

Forum: Wednesday, September 18, 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Thursday, September 19, 10:00 am – 12:00 p.m.
Theresa Lang Community and Student Center, 55 W. 13th Street

Opening reception: Thursday, September 18, 5:00 – 6:30 p.m., Arnold and Sheila Aronson Galleries, 66 Fifth Avenue

Artist Lecture and Prize Presentation: Wednesday September 18, 7:00 p.m., Tishman Auditorium, 66 W. 12th Street

Curated with support by Theaster Gates, recipient of the inaugural Vera List Center Prize for Art and Politics, this exhibition and forum are the culmination of The New School’s engagement with the artist and his work. It offers a view into how the artist creates synergies within his work, and examines the complex ways of creating and maintaining an expanded studio practice rooted in institutional engagement, object making, and the production of space. The installation includes drawings, videos, and a rickshaw, inspired by visits to Haiti and Mexico, and related to Dorchester Projects, a space for artistic production on Chicago’s South Side.


Thomas Hirschhorn’s Gramsci Monument in the Bronx ends this Sunday

Information here from the Bright red and green website:

The decision to do the “Gramsci Monument” at Forest Houses was taken in common by Erik Farmer, the President of the Resident Association of Forest Houses and myself. It was him who invited me to do the “Gramsci Monument” at Forest Houses together with his neighbors in the spirit of co-existence and co-operation.


Location: Forest Houses, Bronx, NY
Gramsci Monument is located on the grounds of Forest Houses, off Tinton Avenue between 163rd and 165th Streets.

Subway: 2, 5 at Prospect Avenue
Head north on Prospect Avenue
Turn left onto 163rd Street
Pass Union Avenue
Turn right onto Tinton Avenue
Take first left onto pedestrian pathway leading into Forest Houses
Bright red and green info here.

3rd Ward’s Make and Take Pop-Up happening at Chelsea Market

3rd Ward’s “Make ‘N’ Take” Pop-Up is in full effect!

Hey everybody! We’re still holding it down in Chelsea Market getting ready for another awesome Drink ‘N’ Draw tonight at 7:30. We’ve also got skateboards you can make yourself and roll away on at 5pm & 6pm tonight, stop by to register for the workshop! The Make ‘N’ Take lathes are still spinning, so stop by Chelsea Market and Make Something!

3rd Ward’s “Make ‘N’ Take” Pop-Up schedule can be found here.

Reading Responses for CAE’s Observations on Collective Cultural Action

CAE mentions several reasons to collaborate creatively; including diversifying technical and media related skills. Media projects continue to get more complex. Much like the previous era of making films, which might have involved different people for writing, acting, camera, sound, and editing; newer media projects might involve different people for audio, video, graphics, interaction or game design and back end coding.

Question: What experiences have you had creating projects large enough to diversify creatively and technically, and what was the result? When does “collaborate with me” mean “do the technical/skilled labor I am ignorant about for free” and when does collaboration fuse the skills and ideas of all collaborators? Would you consider doing your thesis project collaboratively, sharing ideas and labor? Why or why not?

CAE writes that “Members must be able to interact in a direct face-to-face manner, so everyone is sure that they have been heard as a person (and not as an anonymous or marginalized voice).”

Question: What is your opinion on this? Have you had experiences which have supported or contradicted this?


While reading this piece, I was reminded of something Chinese philosopher Mozi wrote in a piece about “indulgence in excess.” He  writes excess renders certain groups of people invisible and creates hierarchies based on social markers like class. And he warns that indulging in excess contradicts any sincere call for change by reinforcing power dynamics. Mozi believes that this indulgence hurts collectives and produces inequities (Book 1, Section 6).

Collective building, at the different scales described by CAE, all share a need not only for establishing trust, but also a process for self-reflection– a time to check your indulgences.  I can give an example. I was recently working on developing a public program with a small arts group where I was the only person of color/woman on the team. There were moments during our planning meetings where maybe I didn’t speak up as much because of fear and, reciprocally, the three other men felt like they had to be more vocal to be heard (sometimes even silencing each other). I had to express how the way we were communicating with one another wasn’t adding to our overall growth as a group or our planning efforts. We collectively arrived to a decision to become more self-aware as means of building trust.  For us, this process of self-reflection included sharing readings around privilege, acknowledging how much each member was talking during meetings, and making pizza together (“convivial relationships beyond the production process are necessary”). And maybe understanding excess and indulgence happens best at a cellular level because there is more opportunity for face to face interaction, but I think acknowledgement of self and others is key to working together.

Consequently, there has always been a drive toward finding a social principle that would allow likeminded people or cells to organize into larger groups. Currently, the dominant principle is “community.” CAE sees this development as very unfortunate. The idea of community is without doubt the liberal equivalent of the conservative notion of “family values” – neither exists in contemporary culture, and both are grounded in political fantasy.

By far, one of my favorite moments in the piece. While I also choose to shy away from the word “community,” I don’t completely agree with CAE’s reasons for tearing it down. I think the word is void of meaning when you use it to describe a group of people as a monolithic organization (ie. “the gay community,” “the black community,” etc). But I think people operate in multiple communities simultaneously and that a group of people can value an individual’s dissimilarity in the same way that similarity brings them together. Almost immediately, Afropunk comes to mind. Afropunk is part music festival, part zine fair, and part marketplace. This annual summer event draws crowds of folks who feel like they operate outside of what is widely accepted to be “black culture” (whatever that means) in hopes of expanding definitions of blackness. The festival has a range of attendees that identify in a multitude of ways, but all share the affinity of race. This festival provides a platform for truly different people to commune, cross lines, and celebrate their differences. Calling a community like Afropunk a “minority” just seems like giving the original issues around the term “community” a new face.

Also, I wish CAE detailed their understanding of coalition building. I didn’t really understand how a social subsystem lacks social solidarity. Moreover, I wish CAE defined what counts as “conflicting” when social subsystems are supposed to put aside “any conflicting differences” as a step towards building coalitions and alliances.

A friend once beautifully related the process of alliance building to rehearsing in an orchestra. First, the different sections– strings, brass, etc.– rehearse on their own to strengthen their sounds. Once the different sections feel confident to share, the entire ensemble comes together to rehearse together. I think different social subsystems need this time to “rehearse” because it allows for self-definition, so you are not muted out by the other instruments. So many thoughts on this.


Some questions I’m left with:

How does a collective anticipate reaching critical mass?

How have collectives turned down new members? Is that cool?

How can cellular collectives create formulas for new collectives to initiate?

How does a social subsystem lack social solidarity with other groups?

What are examples of conflicting differences between social subsystems?

What does it mean to be an ally?

“Indulgence in Excess.” Chinese Text Project. W. P. Mei, 10 Sep 2013. Web. <>.



Welcome to Collaborative Futures! In this collab studio, we will investigate forms of collaboration. How are ideas conceived, developed, enacted and distributed in collaborative approaches seen in art, science, design, political action and the free software movement? We will meet collaborative groups and engage in readings, discussions,  games, and collaborative experiments of our own. We are looking forward to it! To start, here’s some inspiration from John Cage and Sister Corita Kent: