New York City can be a harsh reality for a 20-something with big dreams and a small bank account. Each year, countless artists, musicians, writers and romantics alike flock to the city in hopes of changing the world through their talents. The Antagonist Movement, a social art movement born in NYC, strives to provide these artists with an outlet for their work.
Starting in 2000, The Antagonist Movement has helped over 3000 amateur artists find a venue to exhibit their work. Rejecting the standards and “rules” of mainstream art, The Movement works with many artists who are challenging traditional values and politics. Ethan Minsker, founding member of The Antagonist Movement, has been one of the many threads weaving together multiple projects, artists and, impressively, continents. The Movement works both nationally and internationally, bringing together a solid network of talented creators.
For 11 years, The Antagonist Movement put on weekly art shows at the bar Niagara. For many visual artists this was their first, and possibly only, art showing in NYC. The weekly showings have come to an end, but The Movement continues to provide outlets through an open-mic night on the first Sunday of every month at Black & White Bar in NYC. Actor Jonah Hill began his career at these open-mic events, quickly becoming a headliner. The movement artists also produce a fanzine, Psycho Moto Zine, both in printed and digital form.
On June 1, Antagonist artist, Un Lee, participated in the Howl Festival’s Art Around the Park live-painting event; this is an example of the widespread opportunity for artists through the movement’s networking abilities. Passion, talent and strong character are valued by the movement’s artists, and of course, a bit of punk rock spirit and a rejection of rules.
The movement’s second international film, “The Dolls of Lisbon,” is currently available for purchase on their website, www.antagovision.com, as well as on iTunes and Amazon. The film tells the story of the collective struggles on international and national artists to create art while living in an economically driven world. They shipped 100 blank-canvas dolls around the world to a variety of artists to be made into a work of art. Many dolls were then displayed at an annual art fair in Lisbon, Portugal. The “Zapatista Dolls” used throughout the Zapatista rebellion in Mexico were the inspiration for this project.
“The Antagonist Movement is not a style of art, but a group of artists with the goal of always creating something new,” said Minsker. What started as several artistically frustrated friends looking for a creative outlet has turned into a true cultural movement. Minsker exudes excitement and passion for his fellow artists. Thousands of artists, two books, four movies, and countless fulfilled dreams later- he is just as dedicated today as he was in 2000.
By Meghan Pero
Photographs By Roman Yee