List Projects: Civil Disobedience

Still showing a massive crowd of protestors wearing pink pussy hats and holding signs, filling the screen.

Video still, Jem Cohen, Birth of a Nation, 2017. Single-channel video, sound, 9:47 min. Image courtesy of the Video Data Bank

Bakalar Gallery
Featured Artists
Group show with many films on view
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Social and political movements are born out of the urgent desire to make abstract principles concrete.

Public demonstration is one way to voice opposition to a government’s actions believed to be unjust, illegitimate, or unconstitutional. In the streets and on college campuses, in town halls, churches and prisons, in public parks and reservations, civil disobedience has long been a tool of activism. Whether taking the form of mass occupation or individual statement, political protest is ingrained in American culture.

List Projects: Civil Disobedience is a program of documentaries, news footage, citizen journalism, artist’s films and videos focusing on moments of political resistance and public demonstration from the early 20th century through today. Presenting records from the historical Civil Rights and women’s movements, gay liberation and AIDS activism, the Black Lives Matter movement, and recent Women’s Marches recognize the history of resistance, and considers the role that artists and documentarians play in chronicling and confronting abuses of power and social injustice.

The exhibition includes the work of filmmakers Madeline Anderson, Gregg Bordowitz, Jem Cohen, Storm de Hirsch, Ja’Tovia Gary, Kevin Jerome Everson and Claudrena N. Harold, Barbara Hammer, Leonard M. Henny, Richard Leacock, Tara Mateik, and Patricia Silva; collaborative work by video collectives Meerkat Media Collective, Paper Tiger Television, the Workers Film and Photo League, and Videofreex; content from long-running television series Firing Line, and media outlets such as the Associated Press, C-SPAN, Democracy Now!, PBS NewsHour, and Third World Newsreel.  All films are screened daily in the Bakalar Gallery. 

Presented in conjunction with the exhibition are selections from the MIT Student Activism Poster Collection 1968-1973, courtesy the MIT Museum.

List Projects: Civil Disobedience is curated by Henriette Huldisch, Curator, and Yuri Stone, Assistant Curator, MIT List Visual Arts Center.


A selection of the films and videos included in this exhibition are courtesy of the Associated Press Archives, Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI), The Film-Makers’ Cooperative, the Hoover Institution Archives, Icarus Films, MIT Museum, MoMA Circulating Film & Video Library, Picture Palace Pictures, and Video Data Bank.

Exhibitions at the List Center are made possible with the support of Fotene Demoulas & Tom Coté, Audrey & James Foster, Jane & Neil Pappalardo, Cynthia & John Reed, and Terry & Rick Stone. 

General operating support is provided by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Council for the Arts at MIT, the Office of the Associate Provost at MIT, the MIT School of Architecture + Planning, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and many generous individual donors. The Advisory Committee Members of the List Visual Arts Center are gratefully acknowledged.