TEENS + EDUCATION + ARTS + MEDIA (T.E.A.M.)
Oakland Youth Projects (1991-2000)
"Art works on our central nervous systems. This performance is a substitute for a traditional public hearing. At tonight’s public hearing and public seeing, we take the familiar and gather together to put ourselves in a new picture. Art intensifies our empathy."
- Annice Jacoby, T.E.A.M. artist
- Annice Jacoby, T.E.A.M. artist
The Oakland Youth Projects were a series of installations, performances and political activism with youth in Oakland, California. Annice Jacoby collaborated with Suzanne Lacy and Chris Johnson, and teams of youth, artists and community leaders, in nationally praised public art projects.
"'Shut up and listen’ may not be the most diplomatic request, though in our inequitable society, it’s too often a privilege to be heard. Artist T.E..A.M. dialogues, workshops and public policy interventions known as ‘The Oakland Projects’ (1991–2001) issued this directive at affluent audiences and institutions. For its inaugural performance, The Roof is On Fire, Suzanne Lacy and the artist-educators Annice Jacoby and Chris Johnson invited 220 high school students (predominantly African-American and from low-income families) to assemble on the rooftop garage of a federal building in downtown Oakland, where they drew a crowd of nearly 1,000 people (many older, white and middle-class). The students sat in cars that had been meticulously arranged upon the rooftop and conversed, unscripted, on a range of topics. Audience members could approach the cars to listen in. Then-high school senior Leuckessia Hirsh reflected on the speaker/listener role-reversal: ‘Usually the dynamic between teens and adults is the opposite. Teens are usually the ones that are told to shut up or stay in their place, and adults do a lot of the talking." - FRIEZE Magazine
Please visit The Oakland Projects website for further in-depth descriptions, videos, photos, news articles, planning documents, and graphics of each work.
The Roof is on Fire
On top the roof of a federal building in Oakland. students broke into small groups and sat in meticulously arranged cars, where they conversed at their leisure on a variety of topics. The gathering grew an even greater crowd of onlookers, predominantly older, white, and middle- class, who were invited to eavesdrop on the animated conversations in the cars. Just shut up and listen.
Over one hundred red, white or black cars converged on the rooftop of Oakland’s City Center West Garage. In the glow of their headlights, small group discussions between 100 police officers and 150 young people confronted urgent issues: crime, authority, power and safety. Named after the police radio code to clear the radio waves, the three-year project explored ways to reduce police hostility toward youth, provide youth with a set of skills to participate in their communities, and generate a broader understanding of youth needs.
No Blood/No Foul
T.E.A.M. worked alongside youth activists, city council members and the mayor’s office to draft a Youth Policy Initiative that would create a stream of funding to serve youth needs. In the spring of that year, No Blood/No Foul was a performance on the eve of the Policy’s vote by the Oakland City Council, with the Mayor, council members and a large audience in attendance. The performance pitted youth against police officers in a tough, competitive, and fast-paced "basketball as performance" alive action video, real sports commentators, mixed up the rules of the normal basketball game. The audience participated as referees, The performance received extensive local and national television coverage
Expectations looked at teen pregnancy, from its personal impacts on the health and education of young women to its role in political stereotyping, law-making, and social policy. It consisted of a six-week summer school art program with high school credit, for 32 pregnant and parenting teenagers.