We’re living in strange times – particularly when it comes to social, environmental and political issues. From the leaders of the world, to the plastic usage, the rising temperatures, deteriorating mental health to the amount of time spent with our faces in our phones on social media – there is so much to take in and building pressures to do something about all of it. Being an activist in 2019 can mean so many different things, with age-old connotations and stereotypes still loitering around the phrase.
This week’s Wylde blog is looking at how art meets activism and provides a fresh face for being part of and understanding change. Artivism takes roots from a 1997 gathering between Chicano artists from East Los Angeles and the Zapatistas in Chiapas, Mexico. Quite literally connecting Art & Activism, Artivism focuses on how art in its multiple forms can embrace political intention.
The idea has been put into practice for many decades – where music, art, poetry or film have been used to raise social awareness of political campaigns, political injustice or agendas. Think; culture-jamming, subvertising, street art or punk music, the hip-hop movement – the list goes on. Art, in it’s broadest term, allows political, social, environmental campaigns to be translated and digestible to non-experts. Art is accessible, emotive, innovative and inspiring – all things that activism needs to be!
“The encounter between art and activism shakes our representations of artistic practice, teasing it out of its usual circuits and habitats such as galleries and museums into the domain of daily life and public space. Artivism uses creativity to raise awareness, mobilise, and inspire the spectator.” -Artivism Online
Here in Bristol we’re absolutely phenomenal at Artivism – whether we knew it or not, we’ve done this for decades! With our home grown Banksy as the world renowned political graffiti artist, Massive Attack leading the UK’s hip hop/trip hop movement and more recently leading the way with Jody’s mural (that went viral) on the Tobacco Factory of Greta Thunderberg. We’ve trail blazed an Ad-Blocker campaign using art and design to highlight important issues rather than advertising campaigns and the walls of our city are constantly adorned with messages for the community.
As you enter Bristol on the M32, the motorway is lined with Extinction Rebellion artwork, the centre is accessorised with beautifully knitted ‘yarn-bombings’ and Stokes Croft is a creative epicentre of Artivism in it’s rawest form. The People’s Republic of Stokes Croft houses china and ceramics decorated with powerful political statements and more and more frequently we are seeing collectives of artivists shining spotlights on issues and campaigns through the medium of art.