Our generation has been incredibly lucky not to have suffered, as others have, in times of war.
Our history is made of this horror and even after the last two great wars, I’m not so sure that we have learned many lessons.
Today, globalization and the Internet have brought about a degree of transparence that affords greater socio-cultural integration.
This flow of information results in an increasing number of people seeking to make a difference, to help, to protect and to try to avoid such inhumanity.
This desire is often expressed in either Cultural Activism or Political Art.
While many consider these two to be one and the same thing, there is a distinct difference between the two.
Cultural Activism celebrates culture, it may be a work of art that comments on society, functions as an observer or as a form of public conscience.
It may offer a critical commentary on social or political issues but it stops there, it goes no further. It is passive.
Cynical Realists for instance, depict socio-political issues yet do not take a stance. They hover in ambiguity, as is clearly seen in the work of Yue Minjun.
Political Art (or Activist Art) takes on an identity or cause and seeks to modify behavior.
It is art created to speak peacefully to advocates social change.
One such painting is Goya’s Tres de Mayo de 1808, which commemorates Spanish resistance to Napoleon during the Peninsular War.
This work went on to inspire works such as Picasso’s Guernica, as well as, his Massacre in Korea of 1951 (which mirrors Goya’s piece!)
Political Art presents itself as a means of achieving social change by confronting the issue and raising awareness.
It endeavors to create collaboration among its viewers; to heal wounds and speak of social injustices.
The objective is to elicit action, and this commitment to act is founded in its ability to suggest an alternative.
It means to inspire the courage to see a new vision of our world.
Some organizations use art to engage the audience in ideas surrounding socio-political issues and in doing so, offer a path forward.
Political art counts on such organizations and their efforts to create a platform for the artist to put forth their work for the good of humanity.
Let us all; artists, organizations and peoples of the world; speak out in the name of peace.
By Boky and Blake