Socially Engaged Art
Foucault Primary Task_ajusted.jpg

 August 8, 2013 and August 15, 2013

Under the auspices of Parallel University, Francesca Frattaroli, Zachary Gough, Laurel Kurtz, and Sandy Sampson conducted a two-part participatory discursive research project during Emerging Tactics: Public Schools at PNCA. They facilitated two discussions stemming from a well known 1971 debate entitled Human Nature: Justice vs. Power between linguist, political theorist and activist, Noam Chomsky and philosopher, social theorist and historian, Michel Foucault.

In the first event, they explored Foucault’s insistence of the necessity to understand the complex systems of oppression in our society. Taking on a performative facilitatory role, Parallel University attempted to dupe the audience by providing an overly authoritative and alienating experience. Due to the complexity of questions, and their icy and condescending demeanor as they read from a purposely lackluster and hard-to-follow Power Point, Gough and Sampson asserted their power and attempted to place participants in a disempowered and subordinate role. Kurtz, visible to the group and wearing security cop blues, sat expressionless and watched the event unfold through a video camera that was placed in front of a surveillance camera. Frattaroli, who stood unseen above the crowd while documenting the discussion, yelled, “TIME!” on cue, signifying that the jig was up. Parallel University then revealed the game, and initiated a conversation about how the model they had presented, though exaggerated, was reminiscent of what one might typically experience. The conversation continued through the second half of the first event, but in a more natural way.

In the second week, Parallel Universtiy followed Chomsky’s assertion that we need to envision better systems, while unearthing current injustices. They invited special guests who had particular experiences using decision making models to explore different power structures, from top-down decision making to consensus models. These special guests were invited to share their experience using these group decision making models, as well as some successes and failures of these models. From this, a discussion ensued, where all in attendance added to the conversation to get a deeper understanding of this topic.

Special guests included:
Alex Rempel (
Ali Sadiq (OHSU
Ally Drozd 
Andre Fortes (CTCR Ma @ PNCA
Charlie Foster (Project Grow)
Chloe Womack (Recess Gallery)
Eden Oliver (
Jeff Poyner(
Kimi (Recess Gallery
Kurtiss Lofstrom (artist profile)
Lynda Wysong (PNCA)
Marco Frataroli (Bastas, Cibo)
Mark Jondahl (Spherelab, Legendary Map)
Nicholas Perrin (Lower Mainland Painting Company)
Rosemary Sotta
Rachel Mulder (Project Grow)
Tori Abernathy (Recess Gallery

Participants were invited to join the conversation, and watch the video ahead of time
Part 1: com/watch?v=8tQRoUS8Plk


Part 2: http://www.

Charles Hale’s article “What is Activist Research?” and other texts were available to participants in the Emerging Tactics Reader.