Art & Agenda -
Political Art and Activism
from We Make Money Not Art, by Lynn
Publisher Gestalten writes: Life has become significantly more political in the new millennium, especially in the aftermath of worldwide financial crisis. Art is both driving and documenting this upheaval. Increasingly, new visual concepts and commentaries are being used to represent and communicate emotionally charged topics, thereby bringing them onto local political and social agendas in a way far more powerful than words alone.
This book explores the current interrelationship between art, activism, and politics. It presents new visual concepts and commentaries that are being used to represent and communicate emotionally charged topics, thereby bringing them onto local political and social agendas in a way far more powerful than words alone. It looks at how art is not only reflecting and setting agendas, but also how it is influencing political reaction. Consequently, Art & Agenda is not only a perceptive documentation of current urban interventions, installations, performances, sculptures, and paintings by more than 100 young and established artists, but also points to future forms of political discourse.
The artists represented in the book all have some kind of social commentary about the world that surrounds them. Their work conveys a message, a critique, an opinion. Sometimes also a provocation. Their work is socially-engaged art but i would not always define it as activism.
(left) Czech guerrilla artist collective Ztohoven gained fame in June 2007 when they hacked into a weather forecast on national tv and inserted a digital image of a nuclear explosion on a live panoramic shot of the Krkonoše Mountains. Their intention was to point to the distorted view of reality in the media. Several members of the collective were prosecuted for scaremongering and spreading false information but the judge dismissed the scaremongering charges against the artists, citing public amusement rather than public unrest.
Since its return to democracy in 1985, the country has become rich with a fine art, architecture and cultural renaissance that match the beauty of the country’s famous beaches and lush rainforests. Aside from many starchitect-designed museums that have popped up all over the country, independent art galleries, art fairs and public art are thriving. In 2009, the Brazilian government made street art legal with the consent of business owners; so many cities throughout the country have their own open-air museums, created by local and international artists that add another layer to the vibrancy of Brazil.
São Paulo is not only the world’s fourth largest city, but also an exciting hub for contemporary art, with a bevy of museums, galleries and growing street art scene attracting artists and collectors the world over. MASP or the Museu de Arte de São Paulo is the pinnacle of the contemporary art world in both São Paulo and South America, focusing on post-World War II and contemporary art with its vast collection that rivals MoMA and the Centre Pompidou. The seminal Galleria Raquel Arnaud first bolstered contemporary artists in São Paulo in the late 1960s, and continues to be one of the most respected galleries in the city. Considered a visionary, Arnaud regularly shows cutting edge artists such as Sílvia Mecozzi, Alberto Martins, and Waltercio Caldas, who she recently brought to Art Basel 2014. Street artists have flocked to São Paulo for years, turning the city into an outdoor museum, with added murals commissioned by FIFA to add to the fun. If feeling adventurous fans can head to the Vila Madalena neighborhood to enjoy a high concentration of open-air art. One of the original venues to showcase street art inside the gallery is Choque Cultural. Founded in 2004, the gallery is an immersive experience, with art covering almost every surface inside and out, featuring exhibitions by Brazilian street artists, as well as international street artists from the US and Europe. The upcoming São Paulo Biennial, the second oldest art biennial in the world, presents its 31st rendition from September 6 to December 7, bringing 70 projects, 100 participants and 250 artworks to Ibirapuera Park.
Visitors are welcome to the capital city of Brasília by its unofficial sculpture, Os Candangos, a 25 foot tall bronze by Giorgi in front of the Palacio do Planalto depicting two figures holding poles that pay tribute to the men who built the city. The central focus of Brasília’s art scene is at The Museum of Brazilian Arts Brasília, which houses 700 works of contemporary Brazilian art from 1970 to present day. The space age Museu Nacional, also designed by Brazil’s beloved Oscar Niemeyer, looks like a futuristic dome and houses rotating contemporary art exhibitions.
In time for the FIFA celebrations, ice cream company Kibon has transformed the rooftops of Morro do Alomeo, which is not a regular art center in Brazil, into a sprawling art gallery that can only be seen from a bird’s-eye view. The “Raise the Roof” campaign features 22 pieces by ten local artists and the community that visitors can view by cable car. The focus of the entire world may be on Brazil for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, but there is a thriving and exciting contemporary art scene waiting to be discovered throughout the country’s diverse regions.
Amnesty International has today launched a new campaign highlighting sexual exploitation around the world. The charity teamed up with Tokyo-based artist Hikaru Cho for the ‘My Body My Rights’ campaign. Each of the body art designs is supposed to show a different ‘body right’ and is part of an educational drive to help people around the world learn about their sexual and reproductive rights Ms Cho said: ‘You have the right to choose who you love and what kind of family you want and to live free from rape and sexual violence. ‘ She added: ‘I hope my art can help young people start a conversation about those rights.’
The vista of Indian art reflects a diverse terrain of creative influences unfolding over the centuries, each artist mirroring his or her own individual response to the ever changing realities of a given time and space. The sophistication in the artistic development of ancient India art is exemplified in the temple statuary of the early second-millennial period. Built in accordance with classical treatises, such as Silpa Shastra and the illustrated manuscripts of the medieval era, these structures are rich with decorative embellishments, drawing on abstractions from nature, surrounding habitat, history and mythology and reinforcing the inextricable intertwining of art and life.
In the preceding eighteenth and nineteenth century, there emerged the Company School of Painting, a genre when Indian artists focused on capturing the exotic for their British patrons, using water colour and oils, instead of traditional mineral and vegetable colours, in an amalgam of western academic realism and perspective, with a touch of the stylization of Indian miniature traditions.
The history of the modern Indian art movement is generally seen to begin in the 20th century with the emergence of Santiniketan and Bengal art led by Rabindranath (1861-1941) and Abanindranath Tagore (1871-1951) and Nandalal Bose (1882-1966), amongst others. Two other significant painters of the period are Raja Ravi Varma (1848-1906) and Amrita Shergil (1913-1941). The two, though different in their personal and creative thrust—Ravi Varma from the South and Shergil from the North—the former’s work was often categorized as decorative calendar and portraiture art, rooted in Indian mythology and folk forms, while the latter’s was more-realistic work, focused on day to day life of simple people that she encountered in her father’s palatial home in a village. Yet, each adopted influences of British oil painting practice in their own particular way.
These artists were amongst the pioneers who reflected the merging of ‘modernity’ with ‘nationality’ in Indian art. This trend occurred against a backdrop of art schools set up by the British at Madras, Calcutta, Lucknow and Bombay that were modeled on western academic canons, widely perceived to run against the grain of India’s eternal cultural traditions. They did, however, help train a whole generation of Indian artists.
I’ve written many art orders over the last two decades. From a game designer point of view, an art order is a series of text descriptions for art that I want to see accompany the game text I’ve written. Every piece of art in a game product has to be commissioned from an artist. That process begins with the designer figuring out what each of those illustrations should generally look like. While that sounds fun (and it is), sitting down and actually writing the order can be a big job if the product in question is large.
The bachelor’s degree program in Game Art & Design prepares graduates for careers in the game and other industries as 2D and 3D artists, texture mappers, and project managers; with experience and advancement some students may become game and level designers. Students will work as members of development teams to produce digital games, interactive entertainment, and educational and training software products.
The process of designing and producing digital games and other types of interactive multimedia involves a variety of people utilizing specialized skills. Some of these skills are conceptual: designing game concepts and interactions or creating stories. Some of these skills are artistic: drawing and sketching, creating 3D models, 3D animation, and texture mapping for 3D, using industry standard software; photo manipulation and original creation of 2D art for backgrounds, and characters, and props using imaging software. Some of these skills are managerial: determining budgets and schedules for project completion and assembling the right group of creative people. Game artists may be specialists in one or two aspects of the total game development process, but their value as participants in that process is enhanced by a comprehensive knowledge of the entire operation.
Fountain is a 1917 work widely attributed to Marcel Duchamp. The scandalous work was a porcelain urinal, which was signed "R.Mutt" and titled Fountain. Submitted for the exhibition of the Society of Independent Artists in 1917, Fountainwas rejected by the committee, even though the rules stated that all works would be accepted from artists who paid the fee. Fountain was displayed and photographed at Alfred Stieglitz's studio, and the photo published in The Blind Man, but the original has been lost. (see my post titled “body art” of 2/27/14 for more on this subject)
While most throw out those brown toilet paper rolls when they reach the end of the roll, Paris-based artist Anastassia Elias recycles them and creates tiny magical worlds inside. The scenes range from nature settings to basketball games to a classroom filled with students and a room filled with tango dancers. In order to make the silhouettes appear like they are coming out of the roll, Anastassia uses the same colour paper as the brown toilet paper rolls. The rolls are then backlit with a light to bring life into each scene.
Junior Fritz Jacquet is an artist that loves working with paper and has created a series of small masks by bending and folding empty toilet paper rolls. The masks are sculpted by hand, then coated with shellac and different pigments. Each mask expresses a kind of emotion of people.
The Trans-Layers installation by Sakir Gökcebag will broaden your horizons. A Turkish artist, currently based in Germany, thought of a way to set up multiple rolls of toilet paper into surprisingly beautiful forms and patterns, creating an urban and minimalistic installation.
This is not the first time Sakir discovers a way to reveal the artistic potential of the ordinary every-day objects laying around us – previously, he has also used brooms, umbrellas, clothes hangers, clocks and such. His work is the result of a close observation of the objects’ form, function and intrinsic qualities.
Krafft is a Seattle-based postmodern artist whose kitschy ceramics decorated with Nazi regalia were thought to be ironic -- they were displayed in the Seattle Art Museum and purchased by Jewish collectors. Yet after an onslaught of anti-semitic slurs on Facebook and podcasts, many became horrified to learn Krafft's works weren't as tongue-in-cheek as expected. Jen Graves expanded on this dark interpretation in her piece "Charles Krafft Is a White Nationalist Who Believes the Holocaust Is a Deliberately Exaggerated Myth." The startling discovery challenged our ideas of how an artist's personal beliefs and morals should affect the evaluation of their work.
The question is hard to get your head around: If Charles Krafft is a Holocaust denier, what does that say about his revered artwork? What exactly does he believe happened, and didn't happen, during the Holocaust? How should collectors and curators—or anyone who sees his work— reassess his art in light of what he's been saying lately?
Krafft, an elder of Seattle art, is a provocateur. He makes ceramics out of human cremains, perfume bottles with swastika stoppers, wedding cakes frosted with Third Reich insignias. Up-and-coming artists continue to admire him. Leading curators include him in group shows from Bumbershoot to City Arts Fest. His work is in the permanent collections of Seattle Art Museum, Henry Art Gallery, and the Museum of Northwest Art, and it's been written about in the New Yorker, Harper's, Artforum,Juxtapoz. It's also appeared on the cover of The Stranger.
In 2009, I included his daintily painted ceramic AK 47 on a list of the 25 best works of art ever made in Seattle, and called him "the Northwest's best iconoclast." AK 47 is part of Krafft's Disasterware series, injecting the homey crafts of European ceramic painting with violence and catastrophic events. At the time of its creation, pretty much everyone thought Krafft was being ironic—poking holes in the fascist and totalitarian ideologies of the 20th century. He said as much in an interview in Salon in 2002. "For some reason, art has to be this earnest, serious, even Freudian, exploration," he told Salon. "But it doesn't necessarily have to be that at all. Art that's funny seems to get dismissed just because it is funny. But I've always had a knack and a penchant for going toward humorous irony."
Now, a decade later, some of Krafft's more than 2,000 Facebook friends would be hard-pressed to detect humor in his increasingly sinister posts.
Anonymous has caught the attention of the media--and even Homeland Security--with its biggest contribution to Occupy Wall Street: hype. But, so far, the amorphous, leaderless hacktivist movement has disappointed anyone expecting full-on revolution from a Guy Fawkes-masked army or a massive cyber attack.
Anonymous does, however, have prominent members and often unites a large number of sympathizers. The gap between expectations and reality when it comes to Occupy Wall Street results from the disconnect between those dominant members and fringe elements who hit up the costume shop and start posting YouTube videos.
The story of how Anonymous and Occupy Wall Street intertwine dates back to February 2010, to the birth of "The 99 Percent Movement."
The notion of “the 99 percent” most likely started with journalist David DeGraw in his 2010 book, The Economic Elite vs. The People of the United States. “The harsh truth is that 99% of the US population no longer has political representation,” DeGraw writes. As a follow-up, he formed the 99 Percent Movement, a social network soliciting ideas for a platform of economic and legal reform.
The Dreaded #refrefDuring the summer, the Internet was abuzz over about a new, potent attack tool called #refref. It could take down any type of unpatched online database (of which there are a great deal, according to several security experts we spoke to). Like other hacking tools, such as Low Orbit Ion Canon, #refref would be very user-friendly. People with no technical skill could download and run it.
Even the Department of Homeland Security believed that the tool, if it existed, would appear on Sept. 17 as part of the occupation. But it didn't and still hasn't.
At the Zucotti Park occupation, a self-identified hacker called "not_me" said that #refref was "a troll," a bogus message. "#refref does not exist," he said. Many Anonymous sympathizers agree on Twitter, including Sabu (@anonymousabu), who may have been the leader of this summer’s LulzSec hacks.
In fact, it's likely that #refref could notexist. "We had a lot of conversations about it and we thought, there just doesn't seem to be anything there," said Josh Shaul of Application Security, Inc. He was most skeptical of the claim that #refref was a single tool to attack any type of database: Oracle, IBM DB2, Sybase, My SQL. "They claimed it would work for any database. [But] what works for SQL doesn't work for [others]." Further, Shaul says that when Anonymous announces an "exploit," they publish the complete code of the tool.
A month after the due date, “We still haven't seen anything resembling code,” says Shaul. “I’m calling bullshit on #refref.”
In January 2011, the movement’s host site, AmpedStatus.com, was repeatedly taken down by unknown attackers. It was then that Anonymous hacktivists contacted DeGraw, offering to set up a more secure site. That grew into a collaboration called A99, which published a laundry list of demands in March. And on March 12, A99 announced Operation Empire State Rebellion (#OpESR) with the Arab-Spring-style demand of forcing a man from office--in this case, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke. On June 1, A99 hastily called for multi-city occupations on the 14th. (In New York, it would have taken the same spot, Zuccotti Park, that is home to the present occupation.) But the OpESR action was a flop. Just 16 people showed up in Manhattan, and similarly feeble numbers in 22 other cities.
Meanwhile, organizers at activist magazineAdbusters had been developing their own occupation idea since February, which crystallized in a July 13 call to action. “Adbusters has never communicated directly with Anonymous,” said senior editor Micah White in an email.
But Anonymous spread the word vigorously, using Twitter, blogs, Internet Relay Chat (or IRC, their preferred discussion forum) and eventually YouTube videos. A sometime hacktivist named Robert whom I met at the September 17 protest in New York said that he knew about the campaign just two hours after the Adbusters page went live.
“The geek aspect is most important in the early days of a movement,” said Joseph Menn, a Financial Times security correspondent and author of the book Fatal System Error. “Once you get mainstream coverage, it’s self-perpetuating.”