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The NannyVan

A bright orange mobile design studio and sound lab that "accelerates the movement for domestic workers' rights!"

New Day New Standard

A “public art nanny hotline” accessible by any kind of phone that informs New York State’s 200,000 domestic workers (nannies, housekeepers, elder caregivers) about the landmark 2010 Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights. Think NPR’s Car Talk — but for nannies.

El Bibliobandido

Developed in a region of Honduras with an 80% illiteracy rate, El Bibliobandido is a masked bandit who, starving for stories, terrorizes little kids until they write and offer him stories they've written.

Marisa Jahn

Artist and writer.
Executive Director of REV-.
Fellow, MIT Open Doc Lab.
Artist in Residence, National Domestic Workers Alliance.
I cultivate productive friction.

The NannyVan

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Created by Studio REV- (lead artist: Marisa Jahn) with The National Domestic Workers Alliance, the NannyVan is a mobile design studio and sound lab that “accelerates the movement for domestic workers’ rights.” To date, the NannyVan has engaged more than 10,000 nannies, housekeepers, and caregivers in storytelling and creative media workshops.

Exhibitions/Presentations: Department of Labor, Queens Museum, Tribeca Film Institute, Arizona State University Museum, Intersection for the Arts 

Media Coverage: New York Times, BBC, Creative Time Reports, Fusion TV, Good Magazine, Univision, La Prensa/El Diario, Art in America, Hyperallergic, Boston Globe, parenting and nanny blogs

Support: Rockefeller Foundation, Tribeca Film Institute, MIT Council for the Arts, MIT Center for Civic Media, Terravoz, Funding Exchange, Franklin Furnace, NuLawLab at Northeastern University School of Law, and individual donors.

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Two portraits

My cousin Linda Marini and her husband Claudio Marini are opening a restaurant in New York City called “Da Claudio”; they asked me to design the frontispiece. After designing this portrait of Claudio, they decided to give the restaurant a superhero theme and asked for a portrait of Linda (who is in fact a real life superhero).

"Da Claudio" (C-print, 7 feet x 5 feet), 2014

 "Super Linda" (C-print, 6 feet x 4 feet), 2014

Priming (a project of the Gyumri Public Art Huddle)

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Sponsored by CEC Artslink with the support of the Black Sea Trust, a project of the German Marshall Fund of the United States

"Priming" is a public art park clean-up contest I initiated in Bochi Sad, Gyumri (or “Flamingo Park”) located in the city’s center. The goal was to enable other artists to create works in the park afterwards. The project’s title refers to the process of priming a canvas so that other colors painted on afterwards shine brighter. “Priming” also refers to the act of priming a pump, wherein a surge of water follows the first draughts of water.

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Here’s the talk I gave on June 22nd at the Knight 2014 Conference at MIT Media Lab:

"NannyVan Meets Batmobile: Domestic Workers, Domestic Employers, and Antique Car Fetishists Learn about Their Rights."

In late June 2014, this self-made cellphone video was apprehended by authorities. After decoding the video, they have reason to believe that El Bibliobandido, a story-eating bandit that terrorizes little kids until they write and offer him stories, will next strike Miami this summer. Studio REV- will be heading down to Miami from July 7-17th to work with the Peréz Art Museum Miami to lead a special bookmaking bonanza wherein the public will help make books to avert — or appease — this villain’s insatiable appetite. We won’t let fear take over our lives; we will create stories in defiance. Denizens, beware — make books! July 12th, 2014.

A talk I gave at the Queens Museum #ArteUtil Symposium in 2013 in which I drew the analogy between socially engaged art to The Philosopher’s Axe, a dilemma Greek philosophers deliberated that goes like this: “You’ve got this axe and after a few years, you change its head. Then you change the handle. Is it the same axe?” Essentially, socially engaged art mutates and transforms; its beauty is in its ability to take on a new life. This talk was a report back from a working group I facilitated about the life cycle about socially-engaged art projects.  

A conversation about “agonism,” a Greek word for empathy bound up with struggle on April 19, 2012 at the Walker Art Center with Steve Dietz (curator, Northern Lights.mn), Carl DiSalvo, media theorist Warren Sack, and architect Mark Shepard. In this conversation I delve into the book I produced for the event entitled “Pro+agonist: The Art of Opposition.” My short presentation starts at 28 minutes in but don’t miss my fellow panelists whose wit and insight I really enjoy. Plus, Carl DiSalvo (who precedes me here) talks about this great book, Adversarial Design! 

MicroRangers at the American Museum of Natural History

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My role: Print design for augmented reality card & art/design curricular consultant

Created by Studio Museum and the American Museum of Natural History in Spring 2014, MicroRangers is a teen-led augmented reality mobile game that involves players in learning about the role that microorganisms play in maintaining ecological balance. Along the way, our team learned how to use green screens to teleport individuals from the walls of AMNH to the insides of a discotheque, designed eye-popping graphics to trigger augments, and visited hidden laboratories to learn about the cutting-edge microscopic scientific discoveries. You can read more here.

Press (Selected Summary)

Quick Highlights

The NannyVan in The New York Times, Hyperallergic, Univision, El Diario/La Prensa.

New Day New Standard in BBC Latino, GOOD magazine, and at The White House.

El Bibliobandido in ArtForum and MIT Science, Art, and Technology blog

What People Are Saying

Writes The New York Times, “Project Nanny Van aims to teach domestic workers about their rights…” 

Hyperallergic calls  the NannyVan a ”gussied-up superhero ride” and “a working diagram for other artists with a social practice to follow and build upon.”

Writing about the NannyVanEl Diario/La Prensa writes: “Una camioneta naranja brillante con tapetes afelpados recorre la Ciudad de Nueva York con un misión muy especial: crear consciencia en niñeras y otras trabajadoras a domicilio acerca de sus derechos laborales.”

NY 1 Noticias points out the goal of The NannyVan, “El propósito es elevar la visibilidad de los trabajadores del hogar…”

MIT Arts, Science, and Technology Blog notes, “Jahn is interested in artistic interventions in non-art contexts, which is the subject of her book Byproduct. Her art is a form of serious play that demonstrates the value of injecting creative thinking into the the bloodstream of workaday culture. She introduces a trickster-like humor into public spaces and discourses, and yet it is a humor edged with political potency.”

GOOD Magazine describes New Day New Standard as “a new public art project [..] using humor as a vehicle to educate workers, their bosses, and the public about the New York Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights…New Day New Standard” turns the idea of an information hotline on its headset.” 

BBC Latino describes the power of New Day New Standard: “La novedad es lo que se escucha al otro lado de la línea: episodios con formato de talk show radial y en clave de humor, pensados para volver “digerible” la letra dura de la regulación neoyorquina.”

After my presentation at The White House, Chief Technology Officer, Todd Park, calls New Day New Standard ”super cool.”

ArtForum transcribes a conversation about El Bibliobandido: “Now there are eighteen participating villages and five hundred kids involved in this whole charade.”

Select Bibliography  

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Berry, Colin. Interview on KPFA. (6/2004)

Bongiorno, Rachael. NannyVan in “The Accents of Women”, 85.5 AM (3CR). 5/13/2014

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