Conversations · Exhibition-Related

Body Politic: From Rights to Resistance: Session Two

Cover Image:

A.K. Burns, Living Room, 2017–ongoing (production still). Courtesy the artist and Callicoon Fine Arts. Photo: Lauryn Siegel

Livestream for this event will be available at 11:30 a.m. R

This event features information sessions with lawyers, activists, and grassroots organizers on issues of bodies under duress: civil disobedience, protest, healthcare, policing, prisons, immigration, environmental contamination, and indigenous rights. Each session will focus on resource sharing and modes of resistance, and will include presentations followed by discussion with the audience.

This event is currently at capacity, but a standby list will begin at 11 a.m. the day of the event. Sign-up for the standby list will be in person only, and we will admit as many people as capacity allows.

“Body Politic: From Rights to Resistance” will be held in the New Museum Theater, in the basement level of the building, which is accessible by elevator. There will be ASL interpreters at the event.

Session One: 11:30 AM–2 PM
11:30 AM: Introduction
11:45 AM–12:45 PM: Civil Disobedience and Protest
12:45–2:00 PM: Healthcare Access: Gender, Sexuality, and Disability

Session Two: 3–6:30 PM
3 PM: Introduction
3:15–4:30 PM: Policing and Prisons
4:30–5:30 PM: Immigration
5:30–6:30 PM: Environmental Contamination and Indigenous Rights

A.K. Burns is the artist-in-residence through the Department of Education and Public Engagement’s Spring R&D Season: BODY. In her exhibition and residency “Shabby but Thriving,” A.K. Burns continues a serial work that draws on theater, science fiction, philosophy, and ecological anxieties. The project is organized around five elements: power (the sun), water, land, void, and body. In “Shabby but Thriving,” commissioned by and premiering at the New Museum, Burns presents the project’s next chapter, a two-channel video staged within an installation that explores the subjugation and agency of various bodies.

Biographies, by order of presentation:


Arissa Hall is the Project Associate for the National Bail Fund Network, a project hosted by the Brooklyn Community Bail Fund. Hall is a born-and-raised New Yorker who is passionate about socioeconomic justice and base-building in her hometown and beyond through an intersectional lens. Prior to her work with the Bail Fund, Hall worked as a research intern at the Women’s Legal Centre in Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa, through the Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship. Her research focused on decriminalizing sex work and attaining socioeconomic rights for female farm workers. In addition, Hall is an active member of the Black Youth Project 100 (BYP100), a member-based activist organization committed to socioeconomic justice for all Black people. As an original member of BYP100’s NYC chapter and a Membership Co-Chair, she was an integral part of building the collective. She then went on to assist in streamlining membership and organizing nationally as the BYPTime Data Administrator. Hall holds a BA in Humanities with a concentration in Africana Studies from Long Island University Brooklyn.

Britney Wilson is an attorney and Bertha Justice Institute Fellow at the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR). Her work focuses on issues of racial justice and government misconduct, including discriminatory policing. Wilson is a member of the team working to reform police practices in the wake of CCR’s victory in Floyd v. City of New York, which successfully challenged the NYPD’s discriminatory use of stop and frisk, and she recently authored a piece for the Nation entitled “#BlackDisabledLivesMatter,” emphasizing the need to focus on the intersection of race and disability when addressing issues of police brutality. Prior to joining CCR, Britney was a Marvin M. Karpatkin Fellow in the ACLU’s Racial Justice Program.

Mik Kinkead has been volunteering, interning, and serving on the Core Collective at the Sylvia Rivera Law Project since 2008. He is currently a Staff Attorney with the Sylvia Rivera Law Project and the Director of SRLP’s Prisoner Justice Project. Previously, Kinkead was a staff attorney at Prisoners’ Legal Services of New York. He graduated from the CUNY School of Law, where he participated in clinics focusing on the rights of youth in adult prisons and poverty law representation. Kinkead works in areas of racial and trans justice, LGBTQ youth homelessness, suicide and crisis prevention, and disability justice.

Brittany Williams, originally from Miami, Florida, is a dancer, choreographer, and organizer for black and brown liberation. She is honored to work with JustLeadershipUSA as a community organizer on the #CLOSErikers campaign. Through her organizing, she develops creative and innovative ways to reimagine our communities as whole, safe, and thriving. Please visit for more information about the campaign.


Nermeen Arastu is a Clinical Law Professor and Supervising Attorney in the Immigrant & Non-Citizen Rights Clinic at the CUNY School of Law. Prior to joining CUNY’s faculty, Arastu was a litigation associate at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP and a staff attorney at the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF). At AALDEF, she led the Immigrant Rights Program and Post-9/11 Civil Liberties Project. Through the course of her pro bono work at Simpson Thacher and her tenure at AALDEF, Arastu managed an immigration docket which included deportation defense, suppression, asylum, citizenship and green card interviews, and various other immigration processes. Additionally, while at AALDEF, she oversaw monthly immigration clinics in conjunction with various community-based organizations, litigated matters relating to zoning and houses of worship, addressed anti-Muslim bias in the immigration system, and advocated against racial and religious profiling and law enforcement surveillance. Arastu has also worked at the Legal Assistance Centre of Namibia and in the Immigrant Women Program at Legal Momentum (formerly NOW Legal Defense), where she focused on policy relating to gender-based violence.

Having first served as a staff attorney in the Immigration Legal Services Department of Catholic Charities Community Services, Archdiocese of NY, Raluca Oncioiu is now the director of that department and of the New Americans Hotline. Prior to joining Catholic Charities, she was a National Association for Public Interest Law (NAPIL) Fellow with the Refugee Assistance Project of the New York City Bar Association. She is a graduate of New York University School of Law, where she was the recipient of a Root-Tilden-Snow Fellowship; the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy; and Tufts University. From 1999 to 2002, she was a member of the NYC Bar Association’s Immigration & Nationality Law Committee, serving as secretary of that committee from September 2000 to June 2002. From 2011 to 2012, she served on the New York State Bar Association’s Special Committee on Immigration Representation and on the New York Immigrant Representation Study Group. She is a current member of the Protecting Immigrant New Yorkers Task Force.


Chris Amato is senior attorney with the Northeast office of Earthjustice, a not-for-profit environmental law firm. Prior to joining Earthjustice, Amato was Assistant Commissioner for Natural Resources at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation where, among other things, he drafted and implemented the Department’s first Indian nation consultation policy. While serving as Deputy Chief of the New York State Attorney General’s Environmental Protection Bureau, Amato was lead counsel in the first joint prosecutions brought by a state and Indian nations under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. While in private practice, Amato served as Environmental Counsel to the Onondaga Nation and worked with the Cayuga, Tonawanda Seneca, and Tuscarora nations on environmental, cultural resource, and treaty rights issues.

Joel R. Kupferman is co-chair of the Environmental Justice Committee at the National Lawyers Guild, and the Executive Director of New York Environmental Law & Justice Project and the Environmental Justice Initiative for Haiti. In these capacities, he currently offers environmental law justice counseling for cases in Standing Rock on behalf of the Ramapough Lenape Nation in New Jersey, among many other cases. He focuses on water and air issues that affect the vulnerable environmental justice community.


This exhibition is made possible with support from the Toby Devan Lewis Emerging Artists Exhibitions Fund.

Artist commissions at the New Museum are generously supported by the Neeson / Edlis Artist Commissions Fund.

Artist residencies are made possible, in part, by Laurie Wolfert.

Special thanks to the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.

We gratefully acknowledge the New Museum Council for Artists’ Research and Residencies.

Additional support for Education and Public Engagement programs is provided by public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

Endowment support is provided by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund; the Skadden, Arps Education Programs Fund; and the William Randolph Hearst Endowed Fund for Education Programs at the New Museum.

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