Gan Golan is a NY Times bestselling author, artist and activist. He has spent the last two decades on the front lines of social justice movements throughout the US and abroad, starting with the first civil disobedience he helped organize at age 16, shutting down the Apartheid-era, diamond-trafficking South African consulate on Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles.
As punishment for his many transgressions, has has been forced to do hard time at a number of America’s toughest re-education facilities, from UC Berkeley, where he studied political economies, to Harvard and MIT, the last of which earned him a masters degree in Urban Planning. There were highlights during these lost years however, including studying organizing with Marshall Ganz at the Kennedy School of Government, and International Comparative Politics with Noam Chomsky.
While at MIT, he learned just as much from the secretive underground “hacking and tunneling” subculture, who taught him how to re-program illuminated traffic signs and navigate the subterranean urban mazes. It was during this time at MIT that he became a fully fledged organizer, helping design and implement the first campus-wide walkout in over 30 years, the day the War in Iraq began.
After leaving academia, he toiled for years as a visual artist. Along the way, he designed rock music posters for musicians like Erykah Badu, Queen Latifah, Willie Nelson, Nick Cave and Henry Rollins. Two of his images were named among The Best Posters in Rock History by Billboard Magazine.
Later, he became an “author” largely by accident, after the first book he co-wrote and illustrated, Goodnight Bush (which began as a joke between friends) made it onto the NY Times Best Sellers List 10 times. His second book, The Adventures of Unemployed Man, while not as commercially successful, was considered one of the best graphic novels of the year by a broad spectrum of industry critics and perhaps more importantly, diehardcomic book geeks.
In fall of 2011, he moved from Los Angeles to New York City after getting his dream job on Wall Street: occupying it. During many months of sleeping on couches and floors in order to organize Occupy Wall St full time, his creative practice fully merged with his organizing. His primary creative medium became people, and his venue became numerous places he was not invited to.
Working within the vast and vibrant Occupy network, he initiated a number of collective projects, including a completely fake sports team, the corporate ‘Tax Dodgers’, who to the surprise of both activists and sports fans alike, were put on display in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. He now organizes large-scale “performance interventions” within a number of distributed creative networks, mounting public spectacles that lie at the intersection of art and protest. He employs a broad spectrum of medium from spandex costumes and video games, to guerilla light projections and giant LED signage.
His work has been featured in the NY Times, The Washington Post, Forbes Magazine, BBC, CNN, MSNBC, The SF Chronicle, The Guardian, The Huffington Post, Salon.com, Wired Magazine, USA Today, Mother Jones, The Nation, Democracy Now! and dozens of other major media venues.
He is currently the National Training Director for Beautiful Trouble, helping to teach organizations and activists across the country how to inject creativity and courage into their campaigns.