The Speaker, an interactive installation by artist Zafos Xagoraris, is an exploration of student protests from the 1960s to present in Ann Arbor and across the United States. This installation will be on view live for one day only, in the U‑M Museum of Art’s Stenn Gallery and on UMMA’s front plaza on Saturday, September 15 from 11 am to 8 pm. Xagoraris is a 2018 Witt Artist in Residence at the Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design. Documentation of Xagoraris’ installation will be included in the upcoming exhibition Have We Met? Dialogues on Memory and Desire, on view at Stamps Gallery (201 S. Division Street) from September 21-November 18, 2018.
Combining archival material sourced from the Bentley Historical Library at U‑M with an interactive “soapbox,” visitors to this installation are able to experience protest moments of the past and communicate their own messages of dissent in the present. The project aims to recognize the resurgence of student protests in creating social discourse today and draws a connection to the past.
In his audio and text archival explorations, Xagoraris illustrates the role of documentation of the 1960s protest movements — New Left, Free Speech Movement, Students for a Democratic Society — in sustaining a vital connection between protesters working in disparate cities, separated by the sprawling geography of our nation.
Xagoraris states: “Through documentation of iconic moments of the 1960s protests, we see photos of People’s Park and Arnold Kaufman and the teach-ins at the University of Michigan. Together, these events create one complicated but unique series of relatable moments, influencing each other and depicting a past era but also projecting an image of the future.”
In addition to Xagoraris’ archival exploration, The Speaker visitors will find an interactive “soapbox,” complete with AV equipment designed to project the speaker’s voice outside of the museum and display a green-screen image of the visitor making an address from atop a 1964 Ford Thunderbird parked on the museum plaza — a historical nod to the famous image of Mario Savio during a Free Speech Movement protest in Berkeley.
The Speaker was created with the collaboration of Tom Bray, Chrisstina Hamilton, Katerina Stefanidaki, and the students of the Identity Politics course taught by professors Marianetta Porter and Irina Aristarkhova at the Stamps School of Art & Design. This interactive installation is presented in partnership with the University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA).
Zafos Xagoraris is a Witt Artist in Residence at Stamps School of Art & Design and a Professor at the Athens School of Fine Arts. His work consists of drawings, participatory events and public sound installations. He has participated in exhibitions such as documenta 14, Kassel and Athens, Manifesta 7, Rovereto, the 4th Athens Biennial, the 1st Bienal Fin del Mundo, Ushuaia, the 1st Thessaloniki Biennale and the 27th Sao Paulo Bienal.