The Yes Men are a group who use any means necessary to agree their way into the fortified compounds of commerce, and then smuggle out the stories of their undercover escapades to provide a public glimpse at the behind-the-scenes world of big business. The stories are often both shocking and hilarious. They have been called “the Jonathan Swift of the Jackass generation” by author Naomi Klein. The Yes Men have impersonated World Trade Organization, Dow Chemical Corporation, and Bush administration spokesmen on TV and at business conferences around the world. They do this (a) in order to demonstrate some of the mechanisms that keep bad people and ideas in power, and (b) because it’s absurdly fun. Their main goal is to focus attention on the dangers of economic policies that place the rights of capital before the needs of people and the environment.
Sardono W. Kusumo (Indonesia) is a director/choreographer/filmmaker and lecturer at Jakarta Institute of the Arts. Since the 1970s, not only have the works of Sardono W. Kusumo seen acclaim in his home country, they have been critically received in tours to Asia, Europe and the Americas and at major international festivals. Sardono’s work emerges from the pluralistic multicultural society that is modern Indonesia, informed by his classical Javanese training and his activism (most notably on behalf of Indonesia’s rain forests and the indigenous peoples who inhabit them). Formally trained in classical Javanese dance, Sardono has researched and explored multidisciplinary and intercultural pathways and worked with a diverse group of artists around the globe, whether it is the people in Bali, East Kalimantan and Nias, or contemporary artists such as Peter Brook, Arianne Mnouchkine and Eugenio Barba. His long-standing relationship with the villagers of Teges, Bali, has resulted in remarkable creations such as Dongeng dari Dirah (Sorceress of Dirah) that toured Europe in 1974. A film of the same name, choreographed and directed by Sardono and shot on location in and with the villagers of Teges, was completed in 1992. His environmentally based pieces Meta Ecology (1979), Plastic Jungle (1983) and Hutan yang Merintih (Lamenting Forest) (1987) were the direct result of a relationship he had developed with the Dayak tribesmen of East Kalimantan. He has also created solo pieces for himself with Japanese composers Yuji Takahashi, Kauze Sawai and Takehisa Kosugi which have been seen in Jakarta, Tokyo, Osaka and Kobe. Sardono is a true pioneer. In 1968, he became the youngest member of the Jakarta Arts Council. In the late 1960s, Sardono founded Indonesia’s first experimental group. He has been with the faculty of the Jakarta Institute for the Arts (IKJ) since 1970. A recipient of national and international awards for his contribution to the arts, Sardono continues to travel regularly throughout Indonesia and act on issues of concern to him.
Ricardo Dominguez is an artist and associate professor of visual arts at UC San Diego. He has been the subject of controversy over a number of acts of electronic civil disobedience on his own and with the Electronic Disturbance Theater, which he co-founded with Brett Stalbuam, Stefan Wray, and Carmin Karasic.
Electronic Disturbance Theater, has organized “virtual sit-ins” that attempted to disturb websites with a program called FloodNet that automatically requests the target page over and over. These events sometimes incorporated a search term, such that the search would return a phrase like “Transparency not found” in the University of California, Office of the President website, or “human rights not found” at the website of Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo. On one occasion, the US Department of Defense diverted a planned attack to a nonexistent website. The “virtual sit-ins” were done in solidarity with Zapatista communities in Chiapas, Mexico.
In 2007 Dominguez also helped develop a phone app called the Transborder Immigrant Tool (TBT) with artists Brett Stalbaum, Micha Cardens, Amy Sara Carroll, and Elle Merhmand , which uses GPS technology to help immigrants find water stations in the Southern California desert and which also includes a poetry feature. It raises awareness about the number of people who die in the U.S.-Mexico border region and aims to rethink the ways in which “immigrants are always presented as less-than-human and certainly not part of a community which is establishing and inventing new forms of life.” TBT was subject to considerable controversy initiated by three Republican California congressmen; ultimately the University of California stated that TBT did not misuse research funds, but would not comment on whether it had broken any laws.
Currently, Dominguez is a Principal Investigator at CALIT 2, as well as, the Performative Nano-robotics Lab at SME (UCSD), and he is the Lead Researcher of the UCSD Center for Drone Policy and Ethics.
Ashley Hunt is an artist, activist and writer who engages the ideas of social movements, modes of learning and public speech. His work is often concerned with questions of power and the ways that some people have more, others have less, and what can be done about that. Ashley’s works include the performance, Notes on the Emptying of a City, a ‘dismantled film’ that recounts his time in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina; Communograph, a multi-platform project of community authorship through Project Row Houses in Houston; 9 Scripts from a Nation at War, the collaborative video installation produced for documenta 12 with Andrea Geyer, Sharon Hayes, Katya Sander and David Thorne; On Movement Thought and Politics, an interdisciplinary collaboration with dance and performance artist, Taisha Paggett; and the ongoing Corrections Documentary Project, a body of work addressing the politics of growth in the largest prison system in the world — that of the United States. Recent exhibitions and performances include the 2012 Live Arts/Philly Fringe Festival, the 2012 Biennial in Sinop, Turkey, the Museum of Modern Art, the Made in LA, 2012 biennial of the Hammer Museum and LAX Art, and Woodbourne State Prison in upstate New York. Ashley co-directs the Photography and Media Program at California Institute of the Arts and just planted a peach tree.
Douglas Kearney is a poet/performer/librettist. Cultural critic Greg Tate remarked that Kearney’s National Poetry Series selection, The Black Automaton (Fence Books, 2009), “flows from a consideration of urban speech, negro spontaneity and book learning.” Crescent City, a hyperopera composed by Anne LeBaron, premiered in Los Angeles in 2012. A Cave Canem fellow, he has received a Whiting Writers Award, a Coat Hanger award, MAP Fund grants and several fellowships. Kearney teaches in the School of Critical Studies at CalArts, but has also lectured in the Music and Theater schools. Red Hen Press will publish Patter in 2014.
Born in Bologna, Italy in 1949, Franco Berardi Bifo is a writer, media-theorist, and media-activist. As a young militant he took part in the experience of Potere operaio in the years 1967-19073, then he founded the magazine A/traverso (1975–81) and was part of the staff of Radio Alice, the first free pirate radio station in Italy (1976–78).
Involved in the political movement of Autonomia in Italy during the 1970s, he fled to Paris, where he worked with Félix Guattari in the field of schizoanalysis.
He has been involved in many media-projects, like Telestreet, and Recombinant.org.
Bifo published the books Poetry and finance (1912) After the future (2011) The Soul at Work (2010), Felix (2001), Cibernauti (1994), Mutazione e Cyberpunk (1993) and contributed to the magazines Semiotext(e), Chimères, Metropoli, and Musica 80.
He is currently collaborating with e-flux journal.
Coordinator of the European School for Social Imagination (SCEPSI), he has been teaching at Ashkal Alwan in Beirouth, PEI-Macba in Barcelona, Accademia di Brera in Milano, and has been lecturing in social centers and Universities worldwide.