CMA Stories

6 Fun Facts About Eric Gottesman

You might know that CMA has teamed up with For Freedoms in their 50 State Initiative to present a Town Hall on Sunday, October 21st. For Freedoms is an artist-run platform for creative civic engagement, discourse, and direct action. Did you know that For Freedoms was co-founded by Eric Gottesman, an artist featured in our current exhibition, Art & Activism: Drawing the line? His project “Sudden Flowers” is a fourteen-year-long artistic collaboration with a collective of young people in the Shiromeda/Sidist Kilo neighborhood of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia who have been orphaned by AIDS. Hanging in CMA’s gallery through October 28th are a series of prints called Who Would You Be If You Weren’t Who You Are? and a video alongside film stills entitled 1st Annual AIDS Orphans Comedy Festival and Laughing, Addis Ababa.

Eric Gottesman is an artist and teacher who uses art to engage civically. To get us ready for our Town Hall and say goodbye to Gottesman’s work in our gallery, here are six fun facts about Eric Gottesman’s practice:

  1. Gottesman photographed the Sudden Flowers members while they answered the question “Who would you be if you weren’t who you are?” The question imagines what lies outside the limitations of the camera’s frame, outside the limits of our understanding of one another’s, and to better understand what the viewer can not see.
  2. The video and some stills shown depict a real laughing competition Gottesman staged with the Sudden Flowers kids. A panel of young judges monitored the laughers, and if someone was faking, they were disqualified. The competition was fierce; one of the favorites stumbled and jumped off the stage in tears after a few seconds, and the champion, Marta laughed for 28 minutes.
  3. Gottesman co-founded For Freedoms in January 2016 with conceptual artist Hank Willis Thomas to spur artistic action that engages in political discourse. For Freedoms is registered with the government as a “political entity,” the first ever artist-run PAC (Political Action Committee) in America.
  4. For Freedoms’ 50 State Initiative launched in June of this year. It is the largest creative collaboration in U.S. history.
  5. Gottesman is a multimedia artist combining photography, video, and journalism techniques.
  6. His work relies heavily on collaboration, that is, the action of working together. His work often asks, “Who is the viewer?” “Who is the author?” and rarely offers a tidy answer.

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This program is supported, in part, by the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, the New York State Council on the Arts with support of Governor Andrew Cuomo, and public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. CIVICKIDS is sponsored by Google.


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