Steve Lambert

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Activist Art: Does it Work? | open!

Stephen Duncombe and I published a column called “Activist Art: Does it Work?” for Open! Magazine.

It begins like this:

Activist Art: Does it Work?

The first rule of guer­illa war­fare is to know the ter­rain and use it to your ad­vant­age. The to­po­graphy on which the act­iv­ist fights may no longer be the moun­tains of the Si­erra Maes­tra or the jungles of Vi­et­nam, but the les­son still ap­plies. Today, the polit­ical land­scape is one of signs and sym­bols, story and spec­tacle. Re­spond­ing to this new ter­rain, there has been an up­surge in the use of cre­at­ive, artistic, and cul­tural strategies as a tool for so­cial change. This prac­tice goes by many names: polit­ical art, act­iv­ist art, in­ter­ven­tion­ist art, so­cially en­gaged art, and so­cial prac­tice art. No mat­ter the de­scrip­tion, artists are using their aes­thetic train­ing and skill to wage battles for so­cial change. Yet as prac­ti­tion­ers and train­ers in these forms of artistic act­iv­ism, we are haunted by the ques­tion: Does it work?

Read the rest: Activist Art: Does it Work? | open!.

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