Edward Snowden monument placed (and removed) in New York City

-+*There’s a Massive, Illicit Bust of Edward Snowden Stuck to a War Monument in Brooklyn While most people slept, a trio of artists and some helpers installed a bust of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden in Brooklyn on Monday morning. The group, which allowed ANIMAL to exclusively document the installation on the condition that we hide […]


School for Creative Activism Cape Town – Participants Announced!

We’re delighted to introduce the participants for our workshop on Campaigns to Support Sex Work Activism, funded by Open Society Foundation and taking place in Cape Town, South Africa THIS VERY WEEK!

Say hello to…

Dimitri Delibasdimitri
OSF South Africa
Programme Officer

A recent addition to the Open Society Foundation team, Dimitri is the Programme Officer for the portfolio of Advancing Civil Society and Promoting Socio-economic rights. This has a large focus on public health and education.


Voyokazi Gonyelavoyokazi
Treatment Action Campaign
Provincial Officer

Voyokazi is a young human rights female activist who lives in the eastern cape province. She started volunteering for TAC in 2003 with the aim of educating and advocating for therecognition and protection of human rights particularly people living with HIV. Her activism grew as she was exposed to a lot of challenges and later formed partnership with SWEAT based in the EC office as she identified a need for TAC as an organized group to offer support and add voice to address challenges experienced by key populations including Sex workers and LGBTI’s.

wayneWayne Helfrich
Project Manager

Wayne has been functioning as Project Manager on the Sex Worker’s Project since October 2014; prior to that he has been involved in projects related to; adolescent HIV, People who inject with drugs, the homeless, gender based violence survivors, transgendered people and LGBTI community at length. He has a life-time of experience as an activist for the LGBTI community and for the last five years tried to be the voice of those who are denied one.


Ishtar Lakhaniishtar
Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce
Community Health Worker

Growing up with activist parents involved in the visual and performance arts, Ishtar always had an interest in using creative methods to further our call for social justice and rights for sex workers. Currently working at Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce. The formal role at SWEAT is coordinating SWEAT’s parliamentary lobbying and responses to the human rights violations of sex workers. Part of that work also consists of organising strategic direct action and assisting in coordination of the decriminalisation of sex work coalition with an end goal of achieving legal reform.

munyaMunyaradzi David Masunga
Provincial Coordinator

Munyaradzi is 26, and born in Harare, Zimbabwe in 1988. Munya grew up and studied there, but fled homophobia from motherland and found a second home in South Africa in the year 2010. Munya has a passion for defending human rights, especially where women and the LGBTI rights are concerned. Munya is also a music lover and a singer.


Tshepo Edwin Modisane
Community Health Worker

Edwin is a Community Health Care worker with vast amount of experiences working with key populations. He currently works with Wits RHI providing direct support to the nurses, conducting pre and post counsilling, pricking, adherence counseling, follow up of defaulters and taking down sex workers’ demographics. He has also worked for ANOVA Health Institute where he had to identify and establish working relationships with stakeholders in the community. He also organized MSM activities and dialogues and is currently studying project management at diploma level and has done GCP (Good Clinical Practice)

kgaugeloKgaugelo Mokgwatsana
Perinatal HIV Research Unit

Kgaugelo is the coordinator for the Soweto Sex Worker Project, working in conjunction with Sisonke and the Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT). As a sex worker herself and having been recently nominated to sit on the Gauteng Provincial AIDS Council, she is a dedicated activist and programmer implementer.


Elsa Oliviera
African Centre for Migration & Society (ACMS)elsa
PhD Student

Elsa is a researcher/activist who has worked closely with Sisonke since 2010 in an array of arts-based research projects (visual and narrative) where the centrl aim of the work has been to conduct robust research that can reach a wide range of audiences, specifically the general public, policy makers and key stakeholders. In 2010, she led the ‘Working the City’ participatory photo project with migrant sex workers in inner-city Johannesburg (http://www.migration.org.za/page/about-wtc/move). In 2013, ACMS was awarded a grant from OSF/OSISA to conduct another two participatory photo projects with sex workers in South Africa. This project culminated in an exhibition entitled ‘Volume 44’ (http://www.migration.org.za/page/about-vol44/move).

siyabongaSiyabonga Radebe
Team Leader

Siyabonga is currently employed by WRHI as A Team Leader for MSM (men who have sex with other men) & transgender Sex Work Project, where he started as a Peer Educator and was recently promoted as a Team Leader. He has previously been employed by Bassline Music Venue as a Bartending Manager and also did work for Platinum Group as a Store Machandiser and Stylist. He is an active MSM sex worker working in Sandton and Johannesburg.


Nivesh Rawatlal
Midrand Graduate Institutenivesh
Lecturer/Graphic Artist

As a practicing Graphic artist and lecturer Nivesh aims to use his work as a tool for activism through the development of imagery utilized for creating awareness. He has in the past developed bodies of work concerning varied issues faced by Southern African society, such as class division, crime, poverty and so forth. In addition to this practice he has worked extensively with Arts for Humanity, an NGO concerned with creating global networks through art in order to educate youth by visual methods. He is also currently developing his masters study at the Durban University of technology surrounding my practice. His portfolio can be viewed at www.behance.net/NiveshR

marliseMarlise Richter
Sonke Gender Justice
Policy Development & Advocacy Specialist

Marlise Richter is a senior member of Sonke’s Policy, Development and Advocacy Unit where she manages Sonke’s prison reform advocacy, serves as coordinator of Sonke’s partnership with Sweat aimed at the full decriminalisation of sex work, and also manages the Sonke-UCLA Health and Human Rights LLM fellowship programme. Marlise has worked in health and human rights focused organisations for many years and in a number of different key national NGOs. She worked as a researcher at Project Literacy, the AIDS Law Project, the Treatment Action Campaign and the Reproductive Health and HIV Research Unit. She is currently a visiting researcher at the School of Public Health & Family Medicine, University of Cape Town and at the African Centre for Migration & Society, Wits University, where she pursues her research and advocacy interests in feminism, human rights and HIV/AIDS, with a particular focus on sex work and gender based violence. She is also involved in campaigns on animal rights, urban greening (particularly Guerilla Gardening) and ethical food-production.

Greta Schuler
University of the Witwatersrandgreta
PhD Candidate

Greta Schuler is pursuing her PhD in Creative Writing at the University of the Witwatersrand. Her dissertation focuses on the lives of migrant sex workers in Johannesburg. She is conducting research with the African Centre for Migration and Society as a Doctoral Fellow, working on the MoVE Project, funded by the Open Society Foundation. For the project, Greta is facilitating creative writing workshops with sex workers. Greta’s short stories and essays have appeared in various literary journals. She holds an MA in Forced Migration from the University of the Witwatersrand and an MFA in Creative Writing from American University, Washington, DC.

ruvimboRuvimbo Tenga
Western Cape Sisonke Media Liaison

Ruvimbo Tenga is a migrant sex worker human rights activist from Zimbabwe. She works at Sisonke Sex worker Movement in South Africa as the Western Cape Media Liaison which advocates for the decriminalization of sex work. She is in the Advocacy Unit and manages the social media for Sisonke, like facebook. She is also involved in direct action planning and mobilisations of sex work to fight their constitutional rights.

Lesego Tlwhale
Media Advocacy OfficerLesego

Lesego Tlhwale is a communication personnel currently working as a media advocacy officer for Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT) within the advocacy unit. In this position Lesego is responsible for all media interaction with SWEAT and Sisonke as well as branding, communication and social media for the organisation. Furthermore, Lesego is a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) activist in a personal capacity as well as a human rights defender. Lesego holds a national diploma in media studies and journalism and currently is studying towards a B.A. in communication science at the University of South Africa.

Hamunyari Dumba
Provincial Coordinator

Hamunyari is a single parent of two boys aged seventeen and fourteen. She is a migrant sex worker from Zimbabwe, and has worked with market photo and ACMS with sex workers in limpopo on projects volume 44 and equal air time.

portiaPortia Maseko
Community Health Worker

Portia Maseko is a Community Health Worker currently working for Wits RHI providing direct support to the nurses, conducting pre and post counseling, pricking, adherence counseling, follow up of defaulters and tracking down sex workers demographics. She also worked as a peaditrician counselor at Baragwaneth hospital and also worked as a community healthy worker at research department under WRHI tracking patients who are on ART and doing follow up on defaulter tracing. She is currently studying Office administrator at diploma level with Damelin.

Nelago Amahdila
Aids and Rights Alliance for Alliance for Southern AfricaNelago
Regional Advocacy Officer

Nelago recently completed an MPhil in International Law from the University of Cape Town and has been working at ARASA since April 2014. ARASA is a regional partnership of over 80 CSOs working together to promote a human rights based response to HIV and TB in Southern and East Africa. In her role as regional advocacy officer she works with diverse partner organisations on issues related to creating legal enabling environments for key populations, which includes sex workers, as well as advocacy around access to treatment care and support.

GlynisGlynnis Bentham
Lobbying Officer

Glynnis Bentham is a lobbying officer for SWEAT. This role involves lobbying parliament and ward councillors. She also interacts with my community on a social services platforms, speaking about harrassment and and stigma within the community. The main aim in her job is to lobby for decriminalisation of sex work. Glynis is a mother, grandmother, sexworker and activist from yesteryear, still going strong.

Moses Tofamoses
OSF South Africa
Programme Officer

Moses Tofa is a Programme Officer in the Justice and Equality and the Socio Economic Rights Programmes. Moses has previously worked as a Lead Researcher with the Mass Public Opinion Institute. He is also a Peace and Security Scholar with the African Leadership Centre and the Conflict, Security and Development Group. Moses holds a Bachelor of Science in Political Science and a Master of Science in International Relations from the University of Zimbabwe. He also holds a Master of Arts in International Peace and Security from King’s College, University of London. He has been admitted to a PhD in Conflict Transformation and Peace Studies at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal. He has published on regional politics widely.

Shepi Mati
Rhodes University

Shepi lives in Cape Town, South Africa, and works in the Journalism Department, Rhodes University, Grahamstown. He has devoted more than twenty years to the media and communications sector in South Africa, working for a broad range of organisations including public and community broadcasters and civil society organisations. His professional experience includes production (video, photo, radio, podcast, broadcast journalism), script writing, editing, communications research and teaching, training and development. Shepi has a special passion for community journalism and specifically radio as a medium to promote citizen agency and reflect a diversity of voices in community development.

What are your Super Powers?


It can sometimes be easier to focus on our weaknesses than our strengths – but like every Superhero, there might be some talents laying dormant just waiting for us to discover them, or that we already use, but don’t give ourselves credit for.

Here’s a little tip we found from corporate management site Inc. (like we always say, it doesn’t matter where you get your creative strategies from as long as they work for you): try using these three categories when assessing your strengths and weaknesses:

  • Superpower: It comes naturally.
  • Energy Zapper: I can do it, but it takes effort and deliberate attention.
  • Danger Zone: Others do this much better.

Superpowers are your straight-out-of-the-box skills – the things you do with little to no stress or energy. Energy Zappers are the things that you can work on, build on, and maybe even one day turn into superpowers. Then there’s your Danger Zone – these are the tasks or skills that you know you’re weak on. It might be enough to note them and think of ways you can improve on them with practice – or alternatively, like Kryptonite, it may be that these are things that you should just avoid and it might be better, and more effective, if you delegate those to others who have that Superpower – There’s a reason its the Fantastic Four and not the Fantastic One.

So put on your mask/cape/outside underwear, harness your inner Superpowers and start saving the world!

Steve’s Super Hero Exercise

Here’s a great exercise to help realize your inner superhero!

Super Hero Exercise

Curriculum by Steve Lambert


The purpose of this exercise is to help young and old discover:

  • they have things they care about they want to communicate to others
  • art is a form of communication
  • as artists, they have a unique power to communicate ideas

For all but experienced artists the idea of being an artist, or even creating art, is intimidating. Public speaking is a top fear for a majority of people and, essentially, art is a form of public speech. Isolating aesthetics, leaning on ambiguity, or simply making art without content is comparably much easier than exposing ones true feelings and desires for the world to see. Doing the latter feels so risky!

This assignment is a playful trick. It starts out so absurd that the students can’t help but have their guard down. By the time they’ve realized what’s happening, their core desires have been released onto paper. The excercise then provides a framework for working with those ideas.

Act 1

It starts with a guided meditation of sorts. Read slowly and pause between each section. Let the students put together each piece in their imagination. The total time for this part can be 10-15 minutes.

Prepare the students. Have them get a pen/pencil and paper ready.

Now we’re going to have some fun and time to imagine.

Close your eyes. No one is going to embarrass you and I will watch over the room. So close your eyes and get comfortable.

Imagine that you are a superhero.

You are a superhero. You have a specific power I will tell you about soon. But first, you have an outfit. Imagine what it looks like.

You are very strong and powerful. The wind is blowing through your hair as you look off into the distance like superheroes do.

What are you wearing?

As a superhero, you have super powers. Your superpower is that you can transmit your thoughts. You put brief thoughts or ideas into people’s minds. You can do this with any number of people you like – from everyone in the world, to just your friends or family, and everywhere in-between.

Now, you can’t make anyone do anything. Your power is not mind control. But you can cause people to have thoughts.

All superheroes have weaknesses, and your weakness is you can only transmit thoughts three times before you have to leave the planet to recharge.

What I want you to do is imagine what three brief thoughts you would communicate and to what group of people. As you think of them, open your eyes and write them down on the paper. You will not be forced to share these, so you can keep some or all of them to yourself if you like. But choose three and write them down.

Give them a several minutes to write them down. Make sure the room stays quiet and thoughtful.

Check in occasionally and see how many thoughts people have written. If need be, remind them that they should be brief – a couple sentences rather than a paragraph.

When almost all of them have 3 thoughts on paper, tell the remainder that they should keep writing. Then ask if anyone has one they’d like to volunteer to share.

Choose a few from the group to read their thoughts aloud.

Some of the responses I’ve heard are:

  • “you are a beautiful person”
  • “don’t have oil spills” (from a 6 year old)
  • “I like ice cream” (from another 6 year old)
  • “before you speak ask, ‘why am I saying this'”
  • “all borders are really just arbitrary lines”
  • “why don’t you call me”

You should end up with a mix of responses, some personal and many having to do with large philosophical or political ideas.

After getting some responses ask “How many people have something written that might fall under the broad umbrella of ‘making the world better'”

Most usually raise their hands.

Without the pretense of the superhero visualization, it’s much more difficult to get a group of people thinking of the power of their voice and what they have to say.

Act 2

Explain the following to the students.

Art is your superpower. Like I described before, through art you can transmit ideas and put thoughts into people’s minds. And like the superpower we talked about, you can’t make anyone do anything, but you can cause them to have a thought.

Art is a form of communication. We can use it to convey ideas and concepts to different audiences. That may be an audience of a few dozen people at a fancy gallery, or a few hundred people on a train. Depending on what media we use and the venues the work appears in, we have the ability to reach different audiences.

Look at the three things you have written. You have a valuable piece of paper in front of you. This is the starting point for what you care about and what you want to communicate to the world. If you’re not making art about these things, think about that. If you’re ever stuck or want to know what to make art about, you can return to these ideas.

This is what we’re going to use as a starting point for our next assignment.

Act 3

Using the first 2 acts, you can get creative with a follow-through project using anything you like. With their super-hero messages I’ve had students make:

  • t-shirts
  • post the messages around town
  • create giant signs they stand with on the street
  • shop-drop the messages into stores

My personal favorite is assigning students to get their messages on to TV, the radio, or the newspaper within one week. This assignment must be delivered with absolute and unwavering confidence and seriousness or it will not work. Students usually ask if the internet counts, and it does not.

The students are usually visably freaked out – and some are excited. They will ask, panicked, if they can have 2 weeks. I say no.

I then spend the following 20 minutes or so strategizing on how to get any message onto mainstream media. There are many ways, and the easiest is calling into a talk-radio show. Many see this is a fall-back and the panic subsides. The students tend to figure out many ways to get themselves onto the media through the discussion. The results are often impressive – I’ve had students come back with clips from Good Morning America and Jim Cramer’s Mad Money for example.

Students come to understand that they can strategize ways to achieve what they thought to be highly unlikely, that getting on mainstream media is easier than they believed, and it’s also a lot of fun.

The superhero visualization also creates a pretense where it’s safe to imagine that you are powerful and let’s the students voice and ideas emerge.

Formula for Success

The formula is quite simple: if attained aeffect matches desired aeffect, then we’ve succeeded. If it doesn’t we’ve failed. If attained aeffect comprises a fraction of desired aeffect, then we are on the right path. Expressed as a mathematical formula (that we just made up) it might look like this:








Here’s how it would work in practice: say you want to create a piece that would engage and inform and involve people in the struggle to create community gardens. Only ten people showed up at your first organizing meeting, and you would you’re your piece to double attendance. You make the piece, show it or perform it all around the neighborhood and, lo and behold, twenty people show up at your next meeting. If we plug those values into our formula it looks like this:

S = (20-10) = 10 = 1 = 100% success
(20-10) = 10 = 1

If 15 people show up:

S = (15–10) = 5   = 1 = 50% success
(20-10) = 10 = 2

If 10 people (or less) show up:

S = (10-10) = 0 = 0 = 0% success, or failure
(20-10) = 10 = 1

If 30 people show up:

S = (30-10) = 20 = 2 = 200% success, or successful beyond expectations!
(20-10) = 10 = 1

And, if we were aiming toward multiple targets, as we might if we were planning a campaign, we might set X different goals/measures and find the average success over them all. That formula would look like this:


(Plugging in real variables gets so complicated and takes up so much space that you’ll have to trust us that this works. It does.)






There we have it: the formula for successful Artistic Activism!

Are we serious?

Yes…and No.

The math works, but what it can work on is very little. At times, with relative straight-forward objectives that can be easily measured, like increasing the number of people showed up at an organizing meeting, you might be able to use a formula like this. But such easily quantifiable objectives are few and far between. We offer it here as more metaphor than mathematics, a heuristic tool to get us thinking about the aeffect of artistic activism.

Art is marvelously irrepressible. It is forever producing affects and effects that we did not predict or even desire; one could even argue that this is its strength. Art, if it’s any good, always creates a surplus, bubbling up and slopping over the sides of whatever categories we create to contain it, spilling out on the floor, making new forms and patterns that demand new perspectives to understand it and new measures to judge it. Some aeffects of our artistic activism may not be discernible, not in the short run, or even in our lifetimes – mass changes in sense perceptions or bodily patterns, for instance. How do we judge the success of, say, the Re-Distribution of the Sensible which, if we are successful, will have created entirely new criteria of success and failure?

We probably cannot. And that’s OK — we need to make peace with this. Changing the world is a long project and we needn’t get dispirited if it doesn’t happen overnight. Artistic activism, when all is said and done, is an art, not a science. There is no singular way it works, nor formula to determine if it has worked. Acknowledging this, however, does not allow us to retreat back into magical thinking where we create a piece and poof! change happens. We may not have, nor want, the one metric that can be applied mathematically to all artistic activism, but we can, and should, have a methodology. Sometimes the formula above will work; sometimes it won’t. But in all cases it’s imperative that we think seriously about exactly what we want to do and how to know if we’ve done it.

(Thanks to Professor Matt Stanley for the math assist.)



‘My art has nothing to do with religion.’

This week we’re throwing the spotlight on the guerilla street art of Princess Hijab.

Princess Hijab détournes advertising in public spaces: superimposing black veils onto the iconography of popular culture.

‘The Hijab is very powerful, not just religiously. It has been used in fairytales. It is part of the collective memory: a symbol of observance, mourning, and death. It can be luminous, it has many symbols attached to it: in the western world and the eastern world. The hijab doesn’t belong to a single religious or ethnic group. My art has nothing to do with religion.’

We like the way the artist works in a space that is both secular and highly sectarian: heterogeneous and also conformist; creating a form of activism that challenges everyday commuters to consider their own position in the way that identity is formed.

You can find out more by visiting the Actipedia entry: http://actipedia.org/project/hijabizing-dolce-gabbana

And, watch a great short intro to her work here: http://theviralmedialab.org/876/2011/10/princess-hijab/


From the vaults of Actipedia this week we’re looking at a subtle way of subverting your local store to do your messaging for you!

When Hobby Lobby, the US craft store, filed a lawsuit against a federal mandate requiring employers to provide insurance coverage for contraceptives Jasmine Shea and Nathaniel Peck decided to take action. The pair then rearranged various alphabetical crafting supplies to spell out “PRO CHOICE” alll over the store.

So simple, and fun for all ages!

Why not put a little extra activism in your day and get creative with craft store trolling?

Check out more info on the action at Actipedia: http://actipedia.org/project/pro-choice-trolling

Pro-Choice Trolling

Red, White, and Beard

-+*“In response to stereotypes and intolerance, one man — with a flowing beard and bright blue turban — dashes  around the Big Apple in a Captain America uniform.” Learn more about the project by visiting:  http://www.redwhiteandbeardfilm.com/   


24 pieces of life advice from Werner Herzog – via Kottke.org

Wener Herzog

Paul Cronin’s book of conversations with filmmaker Werner Herzog is called Werner Herzog – A Guide for the Perplexed. On the back cover of the book, Herzog offers a list of advice for filmmakers that doubles as general purpose life advice.

  1. Always take the initiative.
  2. There is nothing wrong with spending a night in jail if it means getting the shot you need.
  3. Send out all your dogs and one might return with prey.
  4. Never wallow in your troubles; despair must be kept private and brief.
  5. Learn to live with your mistakes.
  6. Expand your knowledge and understanding of music and literature, old and modern.
  7. That roll of unexposed celluloid you have in your hand might be the last in existence, so do something impressive with it.
  8. There is never an excuse not to finish a film.
  9. Carry bolt cutters everywhere.
  10. Thwart institutional cowardice.
  11. Ask for forgiveness, not permission.
  12. Take your fate into your own hands.
  13. Learn to read the inner essence of a landscape.
  14. Ignite the fire within and explore unknown territory.
  15. Walk straight ahead, never detour.
  16. Manoeuvre and mislead, but always deliver.
  17. Don’t be fearful of rejection.
  18. Develop your own voice.
  19. Day one is the point of no return.
  20. A badge of honor is to fail a film theory class.
  21. Chance is the lifeblood of cinema.
  22. Guerrilla tactics are best.
  23. Take revenge if need be.
  24. Get used to the bear behind you.

via 24 pieces of life advice from Werner Herzog.

Call for Applications: School for Creative Activism – Campaigns to Support Sex Work Activism in South Africa

barcelona_sca__50We’re pleased to announce a call for applications to a School for Creative Activism training session taking place this March, in South Africa.

“In an open society sex workers should have the same rights to safe working environments as all other workers.” (Open Society Foundation)

We’re inviting grantees of the Open Society Public Health Program and their allies supporting the human rights of sex workers to apply to participate in a 4-day School for Creative Activism (SCA) to be held in Cape Town, South Africa on March 30 – April 2, 2015.

You can download the application form here: SCA Call for Applications – Sex Work Narratives – Cape Town

UPDATE: Deadline extended to Sat 7th Feb 2015!

Please note: this workshop is only open to grantees of the Open Society Public Health Program. Don’t worry, we’ll be doing more workshops in the coming months, so if this doesn’t apply to you this time stay tuned for future programs.