In this series, Mathilde Walker-Billaud invites artists and writers to show us how to become more active, more engaged–and perhaps better–spectators. The speakers share their experiences and personal observations as viewers, readers, watchers, listeners and audience members of visual and performance arts, graphic design, radio, TV and cinema. Through their trained gaze and skilled sensitivity, they disturb and displace our perception of contemporary culture and expose spectatorship as an everyday dynamic act.


Sunday, October 23, 2016: Pilvi Takala – The Body at Work. Laborious Gestures, Awkwardness and Hostage Spectatorship

Using her own body and presence as a research tool, Artist Pilvi Takala places herself in awkward, uncomfortable but constructive places to investigate social situations and human behavior.

In this screening-presentation, she will look at the creative process behind her narrative videos that emerge from her experiments with others. From a community of poker players in Thailand, a corporation office in the Finland to a boarding school and a text message service in the US, we will follow her infiltration and disguised activities in work settings, witnessing how small but subtle infractions can disrupt people’s sense of purpose and seriously threat social order.

Thursday, September 22nd, 2016: Irene Lusztig – Empathy in the Archives

What does it mean to listen or look deeply and critically across time? How can empathy help us move towards a collaborative model for placing ourselves in conversation with history–different from the stance of a passive spectator or even of an analytical historian? Filmmaker and archival researcher Irene Lusztig leads this personal tour through fifteen years of looking at, reflecting on, and making film work out of archival materials. She will share the viewing pleasures, poetics, ethics, responsibilities and the freedoms of being an artist in the archives. From Romanian propaganda films to 80s television and from medical training films to 70s feminist documentaries and material archives, Lusztig will explore what it means to be an empathetic witness to historical images and other ephemera, ultimately proposing a feminist politics of archival spectatorship.

Monday May 9th, 2016: Lawrence Abu Hamdan – Towards a Politics of Listening

Since 2010 Lawrence Abu Hamdan has been dedicated to understanding the role of voice in law and the changing nature of testimony in the face of new regimes of border control, algorithmic technologies, medical sciences, and modes of surveillance. His projects have taken the form of audiovisual installations, performances, graphic works, photography, Islamicsermons, cassette tape compositions, texts, forensic audio analysis, advocacy, expert testimony and even potato chip packets.  For the 2016 season of “What You Get Is What You See”, Abu Hamdan will present a body of work that attempts to define a politics of listening, that moves away from classic notions of advocacy and of giving people a voice. A politics of listening that does not simply seek to amplify voices but attempt to redefine what constitutes speech itself.

Friday June 10th, 2016: Melanie Bonajo – Progress Vs. Regress

Melanie Bonajo digs into our internet enthusiasm and watching obsessions, highlighting the funny but grotesque dramatization of nature and reality.

In this screening / presentation, she will look at spectatorship through two her recents projects: Progress vs Regress, a film about the way elderly people experience and think about our ultra-mediated social relationships, and Matrix Botanica, a publication about how amateur animal photographies online changed our idea of Nature.


PAST EVENTS (2014-2015)

Saturday, September 20th, 2014 : Luc Sante – The Tabloid

Before there was an Internet, or even television, there was the tabloid. It was a newspaper, but it was also a personal-size billboard. You could walk through the city and catch the news just by looking at what people were reading, and–well before the 24-hour news cycle–you could track events through the day by the successive editions that hit the stands. Luc Sante will talk about the history of tabloids, the poetry of the Railroad Gothic typeface, the many permutations of the half-sheet, the pleasures and dangers of public hysteria, the heritage of the punk-rock handbill, the silent shout and the urban central nervous system, among other things. He will show slides.

Luc Sante first encountered the tabloid as a pedestrian walking by the newsstands in New York City. Showing his personal archives of images from tabloids and other materials, and beginning with memories from his childhood in the 60’s, he will share his own perception of this culture. He will also tell us how the tabloid has been used in movies and pop art and its place in the news ecosystem of today.

Friday, November 7th, 2014: Jace Clayton (DJ /rupture) – When God Is In The Room

What’s so special about experiencing sound in a packed club? Why does music sound better when God is in the room? How did supercomputers listening to geology improve pop music? Jace Clayton (aka DJ /rupture) will explore these questions and more. From personal stories of after-hours dancing in Boston and Jamaica to a discussion of Koranic recitation in Egypt. Listening audiences considered from the body, the earth below, and the heavens above. Jace Clayton will play music, show videos and images.

Sunday, November 23rd, 2014: Nora Chipaumire – Colonial

“As a dance maker from a particular class, history and culture, I am tempted to say that I am never a spectator. I am tempted to say I am always participating never spectating. Personal implication and responsibility are as much a driving philosophical and moral engine for me, as is innovating an aesthetic that refuses to ignore race, gender, class (amongst other things).”

In this presentation, Nora Chipaumire will examine her post-colonial / neocolonial / diasporic gaze, sharing her experiences of works by Steve McQueen, Teju Cole, NoViolet Bulawayo, Robert Mapplethorpe and more. She will tell us how the practices of these artists resonate in her own vision, voice and body. Nora Chipaumire will show slides, videos, improvise movements and read literature.

Friday, January 23rd, 2015: David Levine – Down and Out in San Francisco and Antarctica

In this presentation, David Levine will discuss how a 2004 trip to Berlin’s Volksbuehne led him to conspiracy theories about the transformation of performance into spectatorship, spectatorship into surveillance, and surveillance into transcendence.

Friday, February 13th, 2015: Ant Hampton – Hello, I’m Sorry to Disturb You

In this presentation, Ant Hampton recounts his experiences of performances which involved ‘meeting’ other people, wonders how a first encounter could constitute an experience of spectatorship, and works through some of the questions, issues and surprises that he has discovered this approach to entail.

Friday, April 17th, 2015: Kenyatta Cheese – Two Turntables, an Image Macro, and a Bear Named Mr. Truffles

A spectator of spectators, Kenyatta Cheese will show how Internet meme and pop culture communities actively defy the traditional narrative of spectator passivity and reveal an experience that is communal, participatory, and emotional.Kenyatta will argue that the audience has always desired participation and that this desire was only rendered passive in order to fit the needs of large scale, industrialized commerce. He then suggests that we change the discourse around the creative process towards a model of networked participation that embraces varying levels of effort and expertise.

Friday, May 8th, 2015: Geoff Manaugh – The City Has Eyes

The first part of this talk will attempt to look at security professionals, at those who look for a living—to watch the watchers—and to understand urban security as a different kind of spectatorship, with its own narrative expectations and interpretive cinematography. Whether this involves staring for hours at a time at multiple video feeds or simply reorienting CCTV cameras to watch—and thus protect—their own cars parked outside the office, guards are the very definition of urban spectatorship, literally looking at how the metropolis is used or inhabited.

The second part of this talk will look the other way, so to speak, at those who seek not to be looked at, who wish to remain invisible and anonymous: how burglars, vandals, and everyday criminals see the city, as an arena of crimes both real and imagined.

The point is to reveal the city as a stadium of looking: on the lookout for criminals hiding in the shadows, and looking out for police waiting around the next corner.



Luc Sante-portraitLUC SANTE is the author of Low LifeEvidenceThe Factory of FactsKill All Your Darlings, and Folk Photography. He has translated Félix Fénéon’s Novels in Three Lines. He is a frequent contributor to The New York Review of Books and teaches writing and the history of photography at Bard College. The Other Paris will be published next year.




jc headshot - 150JACE CLAYTON, also known as DJ /rupture, is an artist whose recent projects include Sufi Plug Ins and The Julius Eastman Memorial Dinner.





2660692757_52a77b66c5_bKENYATTA CHEESE, Kenyatta Cheese is a professional internet enthusiast best known for co-creating the web series and internet meme database Know Your Meme. He built interesting things at Rocketboom, Unmediated, the Eyebeam Center for Art and Technology, Screensaversgroup, and Manhattan Neighborhood Network. Nowadays he is Creative Director at Everybody at Once, a consultancy dedicated to audience development for media, entertainment, and sports.



NORA CHIPAUMIRE is a dance performer and a choreographer who has been challenging and embracing stereotypes of Africa and the black performing body, art, and aesthetics. She has studied dance in many parts of the world including Africa (Senegal, Burkina Faso, Kenya, Tanzania, and South Africa), Cuba, Jamaica and the U.S. Recent works include Rite Riot (2013), a 75 minute solo rendering of The Rite of SpringMiriam (2012); The Last Heifer(2012), Parallels;Visible (2011); Kimya (2011); I Ka Nye (You Look Good)(2010); Silence/Dreams(2010); and lions will roar, swans will fly, angels will wrestle heaven, rains will break: gukurahundi (2009). 




DAVID LEVINE is an artist living in New York and Berlin. His work incorporates video, photography, performance, and theater, and has been seen at MoMA, Mass MOCA, and KW Institute for Contemporary Art (Berlin).  His work has been featured in ArtforumFrieze, and the New York Times, and his writing has appeared in ParkettMousse, and Cabinet. He recently directed an opera about the pop group Milli Vanilli.




ANT HAMPTON made his first show as Rotozaza in 1998, a project which ended up spanning performance, theatre, installation, intervention and writing-based works, and often focussing on the use of instructions given to unrehearsed ‘guest’ performers, both on stage and in public settings, as detailed here. Rotozaza became a partnership with Silvia Mercuriali, and ended in 2009 after their last production Etiquette, which was also the first Autoteatro ‘show’. Since then Ant has worked with Glen Neath, Joji KoyamaIsambard KhroustaliovTim EtchellsGert-Jan Stam and Britt Hatzius to create the work detailed here – over 48 different language versions exist of the various productions created so far.

Other solo projects include ongoing experimentation around ‘live portraiture’ as The Other People (La Otra Gente): structured encounters with people from non-theatrical milieu. He was head dramaturg for ‘Projected Scenarios’ at Manifesta7 Biennial for Contemporary Art and has contributed to projects by Jerome Bel and Forced Entertainment. Prior to their recent collaborations (‘The Quiet Volume’, and ‘Lest We See Where We Are’) Ant worked with Tim Etchells for the 2009 ‘fantasy-protest’ programme of live-art for the ICA, ‘True Riches’.

His 2005 collaboration with Britt Hatzius, ‘This Site Could Be Yours’ involved invitations to over 20 artists and writers in a reflection on site-specific performance, photography and feasibility, and continues to produce off-shoots including a workshop, ‘Fantasy Interventions – Writing for Site-Specific Performance’. Ant has also worked as coach / mentor for artist programmes such as MAKE (Ireland), A-PASSSound Image Culture (Beligum) and, most recently in late 2013, Dasarts (Netherlands) where in collaboration with Edit Kaldor he designed and mentored a 10-week block, ‘Every Nerve’.

Manaugh_SpectatingShotGEOFF MANAUGH is a freelance writer and curator based in New York. His work has appeared in The New York Times, New Scientist, Popular Science, Domus,, and many other publications, including multiple books, exhibition catalogs, and artist monographs. He is most widely known as the author of BLDGBLOG (, a long-running online catalog of architectural and spatial ideas, across various scales and genres. His newest book, investigating the relationship between burglary and architecture, is forthcoming from Farrar, Straus and Giroux in October 2015.

director portraitLawrence Abu Hamdan is an artist, “private ear,” and currently a fellow at the Vera List Center for Art and Politics at the New School, NYC. The artist’s forensic audio investigations are conducted as part of his research for Forensic Architecture at Goldsmiths, College University of London, where he is also a PhD candidate. His solo exhibitions include, Earshot at Portikus Frankfurt (2016); Taqiyya at Kunsthalle St Gallen (2015); Tape Echo (2013/14) at in Beirut in, Cairo, and at Van AbbeMuseum, Eindhoven; The Freedom Of Speech Itself (2012) at The Showroom, London; and The Whole Truth (2012) at Casco, Utrecht. Additionally his works have been exhibited and performed at The New Museum Triennial (2015), The Shanghai Biennial (2014), and at the The Whitechapel Gallery, the MACBA Barcelona, Tate Modern London, Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA), and the Museum of Modern Art Antwerp (MuHKA) Antwerp.

Melanie BonajoMelanie Bonajo is a Dutch artist working with performance, installations, music, event organizing, and photography. Her works address themes of eroding intimacy and isolation in an increasingly sterile, technological world. Her experimental documentaries often explore communities living or working on the margins of society, either through illegal means or cultural exclusion.

Her work has been exhibited and screened internationally, from De Appel Arts Centre and Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam to the Center for Contemporary Art, Warsaw, the Moscow Biennial, International Documentary Film Festival (IDFA), the Berlinale, the International Film Festival Rotterdam, and Treefort Film Fest.

Irene LusztigIrene Lusztig  is a filmmaker, visual artist, archival researcher, and amateur seamstress. Her film and video work mines old images and technologies for new meanings in order to reframe, recuperate, and reanimate forgotten and neglected histories. Often beginning with rigorous research in archives, her work brings historical materials into conversation with the present day, inviting the viewer to explore historical spaces as a way of contemplating larger questions of politics, ideology, and the production of personal, collective, and national memories.  Born in England to Romanian parents, Irene grew up in Boston and has lived in France, Italy, Romania, China, and Russia. She received her BA in filmmaking and Chinese studies from Harvard and completed her MFA in film and video at Bard College. Her debut feature film, Reconstruction (2001) was recognized with a Boston Society of Film Critics Discovery award and won best documentary at the New England Film Festival. Her most recent feature-length film is The Motherhood Archives (2013), a feature length archival essay charting the history of the maternal education film from 1919 to the present. She is now working on Yours in Sisterhood, a performative, participatory documentary project based on archived letters sent to the editor of Ms. Magazine, 1972-1980.

Her work has been screened around the world, including at MoMA, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Anthology Film Archives, Pacific Film Archive, Flaherty NYC, IDFA Amsterdam, and on television in the US, Europe, and Taiwan. She has received grants from the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities, Massachusetts Cultural Council, LEF Foundation, New York State Council for the Arts, and Sustainable Arts Foundation and has been awarded fellowships at the MacDowell Colony, the Flaherty Film Seminar, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and Harvard’s Film Study Center. She is the 2016-17 recipient of a Rydell Visual Arts Fellowship and a Fulbright Fellowship. She teaches filmmaking at UC Santa Cruz where she is Associate Professor of Film and Digital Media; she lives in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

pilviwinterPilvi Takala (born 1981 in Helsinki, Finland) lives and works in Berlin. Her recent solo exhibitions include CCA Glasgow, Kunsthal Aarhus and Tartu Art Museum. Her work has been shown in Manifesta 11, MoMA PS1 and New Museum, New York; Yerba Buena Centre for the Arts, San Fransisco; Palais de Tokyo, Paris; S.M.A.K., Ghent; Kunsthalle Basel; De Hallen Haarlem; Wiels, Brussels; 4th Moscow Biennial; Witte de With, Rotterdam; 7th and 4th Bucharest Biennial; 5th Berlin Biennial; and the 9th Istanbul Biennial.

matMathilde Walker-Billaud trained and worked as an art editor in Paris. She was a Program Officer for the Book Office at the French Embassy and for Villa Gillet in the USA. She is now an independent curator and cultural producer based in New York City.




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