Social movements are not merely political activities, perhaps more importantly they provide spaces for cultural and artistic growth and experimentation. This presentation will be exploring art that supports and agitates towards change. The emphasis will be from the1960s and references broader cultural context. Art, Action & Activism: under this ruberic we can include propaganda, subversion, feminism, practice which participates in the world, environmentalism etc, and on occasion the world they seek to agitate is the artworld itself.
Potentially one of the powers of art is its ability to convey the human aspects of political events, ranging from war to revolution to sexual liberation. Art can also transform society, which is the theme that pervades this presentation, looking at art, artists and anarchism since the 1960s. The broad aim is to interrogate moments of engagement when artists have confronted pivotal events or made work intended to precipitate change. Exploring art's potential as a vehicle for meaningful social change.
The 1960s were a decade of protests, social revolution. The socio-political turmoil reached its peak in May 68 with the Paris student uprising when 30,000 students clashed with police.
Martin Luther King After World War Two, a broad movement against racist institutions and stereotypes developed in many Western societies. Civil rights organisations in the United States protested against negative stereotypes of African-Americans and against institutional racism and discrimination. The 1960s and 1970s introduced popular images of black emancipation - 'black pride', 'black is beautiful', 'black power', 'black solidarity'. Derogatory images of black people were gradually pushed back and, along with a stronger presence of black people in media, more positive and 'normal' images appeared.
Working around this time was John Hopkins (born 1937) the British photographer, video-maker and political activist, who was a highly influential figure here in the UK in the counterculture or underground movement in London.
In 1965 he helped set up the ‘London Free School’ in Notting Hill. This in turn led to the establishment of the Notting Hill carnival. In 1966 Hopkins co-founded the influential ‘International Times’, a radical underground newspaper and Europe’s first ‘alternative’ publication. The voice of a generation.
The 1960's were a socially and politically turbulent time The civil rights movement and the escalating war in Vietnam were the two great catalysts for social protest in the sixties.
Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin helped a stronger and more recognizable change. The book showed people the brutality of slavery and aided in the Abolitionist movement. Ideal Premise is that art involves a connection between the viewer and society. Art can encourage understanding or expose misunderstandings. These are parts of the human experience that relate the individual to society. The new awareness can be a benefit to both the society and the individual. The individual gains better understanding about his or her place in society and about the society as a whole. The society will profit if the individual puts this new understanding into practice. Focus on the issue of racial identity.
Contemporary artists address stereotype and identity in a variety of ways. The role of the artist in confronting stereotype and racism and effectively using it in art in order to move forward in a process of mending and recovery is articulated by art critic, Lucy Lippard. She questions what it takes to turn a stereotype around, to undermine a commonly assumed ‘r ealism ’? The options for breaking patterns, reversing stigmas, and conceiving a new and more just world picture are many and multifaceted. They range from opening wounds, to seeking revenge through representation, to reversing destructive developments so the healing process can begin. To turn a stereotype around, it is necessary to be extreme, to depart from, rather than merely engage with, accepted norms and romanticized aspirations. Stereotypes have the borrowed power of the real, even when they are turned around in the form of positive images by those trying to regain their pasts. It can be an unexpectedly vicious dig in the ribs indicating that the joke ’s on you, or a double vision that allows different cultures to understand each other even as they speak in different ways.
Kara Walker is one example of a contemporary visual artist who takes Lippard ’s approach. She strives to confront and wipe out stereotypes. She cuts out fantasy scenes of sex and violence down on the plantation. These silhouette cartoons are of exaggerated characters with powerful stereotypical attributes.
The uses of stereotype in artistic production are complex and subtle. Generally speaking, to combat racism and stereotype, visual artists employ the stereotype image as a weapon turning it upon itself. Lippard’s conclusion is that art and artists who address stereotype can ultimately help in a healing process and positive outcome for all people.
On the other hand Walker’s work generated a lot of dispute. They were seen to portray identity at its most traumatic, showing the utter humiliation of slavery with caricatured figures acting out gross acts of subjugation, rendered in a sweet fairy-tale manner. The criticism of the work was that it has no clear moral frame of reference. The work doesn’t preach but appeals to suppressed fantasy and desire. The question is whose desire? Some black commentators saw the work as amusing a white audience with a dangerous confirmation of their own prejudices.
The painted Grace Jones is a monument to cultural stereotyping.
Jones played with iconic signs of the ‘primitive’, and transformed these signifiers and her body into a site of power. Idealised notion of other cultures, projection of a fantasy of what that culture is (e.g. Gauguin) assumptions
1952 novel Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison Stereotyping and individuality in relation to equality seem to resonate throughout the book. In Invisible Man , Ralph Ellison explored not only overt expressions of racism but also its more hidden, corrosive elements. African-Americans suffered from metaphysical wounds. They were “invisible,” seen not for who they were as individuals but for what they represented as a group. Blackness was a kind of impenetrable mask. Appearance was all.
Historically, many African-Americans have tried to escape from this prison. Some whitened their skin or straightened their hair. Still others made a fetish of blackness by wearing enormous Afros. Usually, however, one mask was merely being exchanged for another. The poster boy for such psychic wounds is, of course, Michael Jackson.
Ellen Gallagher, she has Irish, African American origins which have shaped the texture and subject matter of her practice. Critique of racial stereotypes Controversial or taboo subject matter relating to gender, race and history Sources include the vaudeville tradition of black minstrels, science fiction and advertising targeted at African Americans
in her series DeLuxe , in which she manipulates ads from African American magazines of the fifties by means of digital and drawn interventions or the addition of molding clay to transform the magazine images into commentaries on subconscious aesthetic conventions. In the prints, Gallagher transforms the transformations, performing a kind of cultural intervention in order to break apart phony identities. Eyes represent a particular offense. In the world of the invisible man, the eyes are unseeing, in any serious sense, and Gallagher naturally erases them or turns them into slits. “ DeLuxe” could be called political art, since it makes a point about racism and social identity.
Yinka Shonibare explores issues of race and class. He lampoons the concept of achieving status through what might be called cultural authenticity. Shonibare makes reference to a &quot;Grand Tour&quot;, a country outing of noblemen in the 18th century. The costumes are tailored from printed African cloth. His work takes us on a roller coaster ride through our own history, from colonisation to space exploration, taking in literary works and modern art, and all the while collapsing the idea of national identity, authenticity and cultural ownership.
Subverting imagery of Shonibare which turns history on its head, inserting himself into positions of power , in this case in a stately drawing room. He parodies European culture and cultural works, and encourages us to recognise that cultures and histories shift. Western thought’s monolithic sense of itself is undermined. New ways of thinking about the world, relating to history, race, ethnicity, culture and power are introduced.
Born in England in 1962 and raised in Nigeria, Shonibare aspires to untangle the ways in which cultural globalization attempts to neutralize all kinds of cultural, social, political, and economic conflicts within the claims of new social movements. It allows us to consider questioning and breaking-up of the homogeneous continuum of a single unique history, becoming a zone of encounters, a flexible space where histories, facts, theories and various cultural practices and social relations tangle productively.
Born in Glasgow in 1960 of Scots and Ghanaian descent. She uses photography for political ends in order to change the way we generally think about things, including society, race, gender and so on. In one important work she made a series of nine classical muses of antiquity each of which embodied by different creative black women of today. She was making a very sharp point about the way culture is generally something that is white pervasively, and she wanted to advance the claims of black creativity, but also a bit more than that. In this work she points out that when eighteenth-century women of some position had their portraits painted the clothes they wore were painted separately and they tended to be worn by maids who were often black maids who stood in and posed for them. So it's all about what is written into history and culture and what is there but is written out.
She explores the black contribution to world culture and history in order to reclaim power and redress inaccurate histories. Sulter could be said to be engaging with Cultural Feminism There are fundamental differences between men and women, and women’s differences should be celebrated. There is an attempt to recover lost or marginalized women’s works and traditions and create a culture that nurtures and supports women’s experiences. What is meant by “essentialism”? A belief in the real, true essence of things. (Sexuality and/or gender is determined by an individual’s biology or psychology).
As an African-American who is able to pass as ‘white’ Adrian Piper makes work which reveals the social and institutional prejudices that surface when she divulges her racially mixed identity. The purpose of the work is to pointedly express the racial stereotyping that exisits.
linked to the Civil Rights movement which begun in the late ’50s is Feminism. Key issues: antidiscrimination policies and equal privileges. Second Wave – In the years, 1966-1979, there was heightened feminist consciousness. Third Wave – From the 1990s onwards. What characterizes the third wave? Inclusive, eclectic, beyond thinking in dualities. “ postfeminism” is feminism that is primarily defined against and that criticizes 2 nd Wave feminism. 3 rd wave feminism is characterized by contradiction. The choice of whether to work or not is no longer an either/or proposition. The cause of oppression is worldwide economic hardship. Feminism needs to address academics, the media, and technology.
Beecroft is hailed as a feminist by some, as the veritable poster-girl for our current, third wave of feminist art history. There's an ambivalence in her work that is present in the work of many of her contemporaries, which is the result of a culture that has both internalised feminist goals more than any generation that preceded it, and chafes against what it perceives as feminism's restraints.’ … while others have accused her of exploitation: There is a 'cruel classicism' to her aesthetic: she makes the girls stand for up to three hours in uncomfortable high heels, sometimes several sizes too small; she has had the models' pubic hair shaved to make their public violation more complete; and she gives them strict rules (don't talk, don't move, don't make eye contact with the audience).
Schneemann ritualistically stood naked on a table, painted her body with mud until she slowly extracted a paper scroll from her vagina while reading from it.
Raises questions: Today’s young women have reaped the benefits of previous generations’ struggles. And yet, they seem to experience a whole host of negative emotions. Why many young women today may reject the word, “feminist.”
Are feminist creative practice and critical analysis still relevant in the 21st century?
Sarah Lucas’ work operates with a casual post-feminism that contrasts with the more ardent womens’ art of the 1970s or even the theoretical rigor of the 1980s epitomized by Barbara Kruger. Lucas’ work is political in the sense that she espouses a British working class aesthetic. She projects a self-consciously butch image
25 years ago, some posters went up on the streets of New York and all hell broke loose. The posters showed how bad things were for women artists in museums and galleries and everyone started talking about the issues. The press release from May 6, 1985 stated: &quot;Simple facts will be spelled out; obvious conclusions can be drawn.&quot; The Guerrilla Girls are a group of anonymous women activists fighting for gender and racial equality within the New York art world. In 1985, The Museum of Modern Art in New York opened an exhibition titled An International Survey of Painting and Sculpture. It was supposed to be an up-to-the minute summary of the most significant contemporary art in the world. Out of 169 artists, only 13 were women. All the artists were white, either from Europe or the US. That was bad enough, but the curator, Kynaston McShine, said any artist who wasn't in the show should rethink “his” career. And that really annoyed a lot of artists because obviously the guy was completely prejudiced.
Women artists’ work still sells for less Women artist still underrepresented in major museum collections
&quot;A Picture of Health?&quot; is a body of work in which Jo Spence responds to her disease and treatment through photography, channelling her research and feelings about breast cancer and orthodox medicine into an exhibition. Her work raises several important issues based on her experience of cancer treatment, offering a unique insight of a patient’s perspective for those in the medical profession. She was particularly interested in the power dynamics of the doctor/patient relationship and the role of the healthcare institution in the infantilization of patients.
Nan Goldin is best known for her snapshot-like representations of subcultural explorations of gendered identity. Goldin notes, for example, that her work is very political it is about gender politics. It is about what it is to be male, what it is to be female, what are gender roles. The theme of identity is central, in particular the theme of gender-liberated bohemian identity, and the identity of the creative personality who can find it difficult to fit into conventional society.
Keith Haring (1958-1990), The narrative of the East Village cannot be relayed without giving attention to the devastating role played by AIDS, in terms of the resulting deaths of many of the leading figures and some of the work created at the time and in the neighbourhoods eventual demise as a gallery district. The AIDS virus was discovered in 1984 as a virus of primarily gay men. This discovery has an impact on the personal lives,and the careers of many artists including Keith Haring who was diagnosed with AIDS. He spent much of his career in a creative response to the AIDS crisis. Haring saw art as an activist statement promoting societal awareness to the political, health, and cultural problems associated with the AIDS virus.
Gober fragments the male body, positing it as the arena where the struggle between his own homosexuality and anti-gay social conventions is acted out. His works are metaphor for isolation, exclusion and expulsion.
Marc Quinn’s monument of Alison Lapper who was born in 1965 without arms and shortened legs, the result of a medical condition. An artist herself who creates work which deals with the themes of beauty and disability. She asks can disability be beautiful? Can it evoke more than revulsion, pity or sympathy?
Since 1994, Russian performance Oleg Kulik has become internationally known for his naked performances as a territorially aggressive dog. His performances included the 1997 performance ‘I Bite America and America Bites Me.’ during which he was displayed in a pen for fifteen days, posturing as a dog, barking and defecating. In his performances Kulik is implying that the new conditions for culture are dehumanising. The Russian context, Soviet and Post-Soviet, from which he springs, provides us with a key to understanding his motivation in art. His performances originated directly in the Russian realities of the two revolutions of the nineties (August 1991 and October 1993) In the Russian society, in parallel with the fading of cultural institutions, a cultural context has faded, the prevailing context is that of politics. This performance presumes to respond to Joseph Beuys' famous 1974 work ‘I Like America and America Likes Me’ where he spent five days living with a coyote in Rene Block's New York Gallery.
Matthieu Laurette, Dealing with our capitalist, commodity culture. Money-back Products (1993-2001) was his method of shopping and being fully refunded based on the basic marketing system of the major food and commodities corporations. He fed and cleaned himself for nothing by almost only ever buying products with &quot;Satisfied or your money back&quot; or &quot;Money back on first purchase&quot; offers. In 1999 the Daily Express in UK featured him in an article titled &quot;The secret of free shopping&quot; and in 2000 the Daily Record named him 'The Freebie King'.
Works which engage with political events, using them as material for their work. The Battle of Orgreave: Recreating the climactic clash of the 1984 miners' strike Jeremy Deller
David Černý is a Czech sculptor whose works can be seen in many locations in Prague. His works tend to be controversial. He gained notoriety in 1991 by painting a Soviet tank pink that served as a war memorial in central Prague. As the Monument to Soviet tank crews was still a national cultural monument at that time, his act of civil disobedience was considered &quot;hooliganism&quot; and he was briefly arrested.
State Britain Mark Wallinger has recreated peace campaigner Brian Haw’s Parliament Square protest for a dramatic new installation at Tate Britain. Running along the full length of the Duveen Galleries, State Britain consists of a meticulous reconstruction of over 600 weather-beaten banners, photographs, peace flags and messages from well-wishers that have been amassed by Haw over the past five years. Faithful in every detail, each section of Brian Haw’s peace camp from the makeshift tarpaulin shelter and tea-making area to the profusion of hand-painted placards and teddy bears wearing peace-slogan t-shirts has been painstakingly sourced and replicated for the display. Brian Haw began his protest against the economic sanction in Iraq in June 2001, and has remained opposite the Palace of Westminster ever since. On 23 May 2006, following the passing by Parliament of the ‘Serious Organised Crime and Police Act’ prohibiting unauthorised demonstrations within a one kilometre radius of Parliament Square, the majority of Haw’s protest was removed. Taken literally, the edge of this exclusion zone bisects Tate Britain. Wallinger has marked a line on the floor of the galleries throughout the building, positioning State Britain half inside and half outside the border. In bringing a reconstruction of Haw’s protest before curtailment back into the public domain, Wallinger raises challenging questions about issues of freedom of expression and the erosion of civil liberties in Britain today.
N55 is a Copenhagen-based Scandinavian art collective which was founded in 1994. They aim to inspire public initiatives and events. Throughout October 2007, N55 installed a series of ‘dispensers’ in various Edinburgh locations. The dispensers were part of N55’s initiative N55 Services , and were in situ for 28 days at a variety of locations. N55 Services worked with the idea of public space and local communities in central Edinburgh in order to innovate the culture of swaps. The N55 SERVICES project is simple in essence. N55 offer people the opportunity to exchange goods and services via a series of pods placed around the city. The pods allow the user to leave gifts anonymously for others to take. N55 SERVICES offers to help improving living conditions wherever it is needed, in collaboration with local communities or persons around the world.
The N55 ROCKET SYSTEM enables persons to communicate their protest in a concrete way. It is a low tech, low cost, highly efficient hybrid rocket propulsion system, fueled by a mixture of polyethylene and laughing gas (N2O). The N55 ROCKET SYSTEM makes it possible to distribute various things from high altitudes. For example, printed matter or plant seeds could be spread over a vast area. The traditional means of protesting through street manifestations and via formal channels seem inadequate for invoking changes in the present dangerous and undemocratic situation. As people in power fail to live up to their social responsibilities, and let populations down by favouring concentrations of power, the need for new means of expression emerges.
N55’s rationale.. Borders between nations, and nations as such, are ideological constructions that exclude other persons socially and prevent them from sharing land, water, food and other resources. To exclude other persons in this way is not in compliance with the fact that persons should be treated as persons and therefore as having rights. It makes no sense to talk about persons and persons' rights if persons are not allowed to participate in society, stay on the surface of the earth, drink the water etc. If we want to respect persons and persons rights' we must try to share the land and resources of the world. It is not possible to accept borders between nations or nations themselves and at the same time respect persons and persons' rights.
They also engage with ecological issues CITY FARMING PLANT MODULES enable persons to grow plants in cities. The plant modules can be arranged in multiple formations directly on pavement, squares, etc.
Guerrilla gardening is gardening on another person's land without permission. It encompases a very diverse range of people and motivations, from the enthusiastic gardener who spills over their legal boundaries to the highly political gardening who seeks to provoke change through direct action. It has implications for land rights, land reform. The land that is guerrilla gardened is usually abandoned or neglected by its legal owner and the guerrilla gardeners takes it over (&quot;squat&quot;) to grow plants. Guerrilla gardeners believe in re-considering land ownership in order to reclaim land from perceived neglect or misuse and assign a new purpose to it.
In 2005, Černý created Shark, an image of Saddam Hussein in a tank of formaldehyde. The work is a direct parody of a 1991 work by Damien Hirst, The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living. In 2006, the work was banned twice.
Neshat used these images to comment on the violence of the 1979 Iranian Revolution, after which she was barred from entering the country, and later on post-Revolution society in Iran. Historically, the role of women in Iran is fraught with repression and restriction. Visually the presence of writing on the faces, hands, and feet of the women depicted alludes to the silencing of women in Muslim society.
Founded in 1980 by Seth Tobocman and Peter Kuper, World War 3 Illustrated is run by a collective of artists working with the unified goal of creating a home for political comics, graphics and stories. . World War 3 Illustrated has served as a document of our collective history—including many aspects ignored by the mainstream press. The retrospective exhibition is gathered under key themes: “From Reagan to Bush,” “No Police State!,” “Housing Is a Human Right!,” “Politics of Medicine, “Women and WW3,” “Against Global Capital,” “Environment,” “Anti-War,” “New Orleans,” “9/11.”
Maurizio Cattelan's signature juxtaposition of humor with weighty political and cultural issues. Here he has gaffer taped his gallerist to a wall, a commentary on the economics of the artwork in which he circulates.
maurizio cattelan’s work simulates and subverts the rules of culture and society
Anarchy in the Art World Social movements are not merely political activities, perhaps more importantly they provide spaces for cultural and artistic growth and experimentation. This presentation will be exploring art that supports and agitates towards change.
The painted Grace Jones is a monument to cultural stereotyping.
Jones's performances embodied a negotiation of two of the most crucial issues during that period: art in relation to popular culture and modernist conceptions of ‘Primitivism’ reinterpreted by modernism's black female ‘Other’ .
In Invisible Man , Ralph Ellison explored not only overt expressions of racism but also its more hidden, corrosive elements. African-Americans suffered from metaphysical wounds. They were “invisible,” seen not for who they were as individuals but for what they represented as a group.
Historically, many African-Americans have tried to escape from this prison. Some whitened their skin or straightened their hair. Usually, however, one mask was merely being exchanged for another.
In DeLuxe , Gallagher manipulates ads from African American magazines of the fifties by means of digital and drawn interventions or the addition of molding clay to transform the magazine images into commentaries on subconscious aesthetic conventions.
Yinka Shonibare. Diary of a Victorian Dandy: 21.00 Hours. 1998
Yinka Shonibare, Reverend on ice 2005 (detail)
Maud Sulter, Clio (Portrait of Dorothea Smart), 1989
Maud Sulter, Phalia (Portrait of Alice Walker ) , & Polyhymnia (Portrait of Ysaye Barmell) , 1989
Adrian Piper, Self-Portrait as a Nice White Lady, 1995
What does patriarchy mean? The rule of men as a social group over women as a social group. A system based on sexual hierarchy, with men at the top and women below. Simply put, feminism affirms women’s equality with men, and rejects patriarchy.
Carolee Shneemann has spent several decades trying to destroy the taboo of the eroticized female, often by appearing nude in her own work. Carolee Shneemann, ‘Interior Scroll’, 1975 “… breaking the silence of centuries and getting the female muse to speak.” Parker & Pollock, ‘Framing Femininity, Art and the Women’s Movement 1970-1985’, Pandora, London, (1987), p291
Today’s young women have reaped the benefits of previous generations’ struggles. And yet, they seem to experience a whole host of negative emotions. Why do many young women today may reject the word, “feminist”?
Alison Lapper is an artist herself who creates work which deals with the themes of beauty and disability. She asks can disability be beautiful? Can it evoke more than revulsion, pity or sympathy?
Oleg Kulik, I Bite America and America Bites Me (1997)
Matthieu Laurette, "Moneyback Life ! Mobile Information for Moneyback Products (version #2)" 2001 Laurette survived almost exclusively on products with money-back guarantees. He ate the food, then asked for a reimbursement, claiming to be somewhat less than "100 percent satisfied."
The Battle of Orgreave: Recreating the climactic clash of the 1984 miners' strike Jeremy Deller
David Černý "Of course, it was a political statement and at the same time it was an artistic action. And it was a lot of fun."
Mark Wallinger ‘ State Britain’ Wallinger raises challenging questions about issues of freedom of expression and the erosion of civil liberties in Britain today.
N55 SERVICES offers to help improving living conditions wherever it is needed, in collaboration with local communities or persons around the world.
N55 has initiated a new campaign called NO BORDERS CAMPAIGN. NO BORDERS CAMPAIGN aims to abolish all borders in the world. As a part of NO BORDERS CAMPAIGN, N55 offers the service to redesign national symbols such as flags, national anthems, buildings etc.
N55 CITY FARMING PLANT MODULES It has implications for land rights, land reform.