Today, NYC Cultural Affairs Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl and Immigrant Affairs Commissioner Nisha Agarwal joined artist Tania Bruguera and the Mujeres en Movimiento to launch “CycleNews,” a new collaborative art project that seeks to build bridges between New York City government and its immigrant residents by demonstrating that we respect and protect all of our communities.
CycleNews is a project by Immigrant Movement International initiated by Tania Bruguera, in collaboration with Mujeres en Movimiento and Kollektiv Migrantas. Tania Bruguera is the Public Artist in Residence (PAIR) with the NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs and Department of Cultural Affairs. The project seeks, among other things, to build trust between government agencies and new and undocumented immigrants, and to connect immigrant populations to critical services MOIA provides: IDNYC, ActionNYC legal services, English conversation classes, and know your rights materials.
CycleNews will begin with a pilot program in Corona, Queens working in collaboration with approximately 15 women from Mujeres en Movimiento, a local group of Spanish-speaking mothers and neighborhood advocates. The Mujeres formed from Bruguera’s Immigrant Movement International, an art project/think tank/community center initiated in 2011 in Corona with Creative Time and the Queens Museum. Coming together through self-organized fitness classes in Immigrant Movement International, the Mujeres have since become neighborhood leaders, using tactics from art and community organizing to advocate for community improvements, including adding bike lanes along Roosevelt Avenue.
The Mujeres have been working with Bruguera and training with MOIA to develop strategies to educate and engage immigrant residents about their rights and the services available to them. One of the initial steps of this collaboration was to revisit the way that services are communicated. By working with Kollektiv Migrantas, a Berlin-based artist collective specializing in migrant rights, Bruguera, the Mujeres, MOIA, and DCLA came together to co-create picture-based materials that outline critical MOIA services while centering on immigrant experiences. The materials were created through a series of participatory storytelling workshops facilitated by Kollektiv Migrantas with the Mujeres and MOIA, separately. Kollektiv Migrantas combined these images and stories into the graphic materials ultimately produced.
The Mujeres will deliver this specially crafted information on CycleNews bicycles, as bike messengers, and in accompanying uniforms; serve as a direct point of contact between immigrant communities and government institutions; and bring first-hand feedback, ideas, hopes, and fears from immigrant communities to City officials and policymakers. CycleNews aims to strengthen direct lines of communication between policymakers and those most affected by immigration policies.
At the press conference, attendees heard from Queens Poet Joyce Sanchez of Poem Songs — Salmos de Fronteras, of Ecuadorian heritage, who performed an original poem titled Mujeres in English, Spanish, and Quechua; a singer from the New Day United Methodist Worship Team in the Bronx, Rae Wesley, who sang about immigrant rights and family; and Mobile Print Power, a multi-generational artist collective based out of Immigrant Movement International in Corona, Queens. Mobile Print Power uses silkscreen printmaking and participatory design in public space to engage communities and explore social and cultural situations.