Art and Politics Now
The number of artists creating, performing, and exploring in the world of social and political reality is mushrooming. Artists, motivated by strong political beliefs, aim to open discussion and explore the complexities of issues that we face daily; rather than trying to persuade the viewer to one fixed position.
New technologies allow artists to open up created opportunities. Call it what you will — performing art, social practice, avant-garde, dialogical aesthetics, community art, public art, activist art, radical art — audiences for the confounding, beautiful, horrible and hilarious kinds of practices are growing.
A recent survey highlighted more than 200 contemporary artists whose work addresses the political. Some are well known like the Chineses artist Ai Weiwei; others are unknown outside their circle of friends. Some are street artists like UK’s Banksy using graffiti in public spaces to send often oblique political messages.
A rusting, crumpled car is in the main atrium of the Imperial War Museum in London surrounded by some of the most powerful military hardware of the last 100 years. It's message was simple – this is what war does.
Called simply It Is What It Is - 5 March 2007, the car is a piece by artist Jeremy Deller.
Before it was salvaged, the vehicle was mangled in a street bombing that killed 38 people and wounded many more at Baghdad's Al-Mutanabbi book market, a place at the heart of the city's cultural and intellectual life. No-one has claimed responsibility for the attack.The museum hopes the car will serve as a sobering reminder of the impact of war on civilians.
The Financial Crash
The financial crash 0f 2007 and the ensuing economic crisis saw confidence in the market plummet. Artist responded in many ways:
Steve Lambert’s Capitalism Works for Me (True/False (2011) is a 20 ft billboard neon-lit sign with an attached scoreboard, participants are asked to vote true or false. He uses the style of mass advertising to engage his audience in a discussion about capitalism.Watch the video from Times Square: http://visitsteve.com/made/capitalism-works-for-me-truefalse/
Miaden Stilinovic’s Nobody Wants to See (2009) presents a simple but telling fact: the unequal distribution of wealth across the globe. He produced an installation consisting of thousands of sheets of paper which the number 3 is printed 600 million times.
Banksy is a UK-based graffiti artist, political activist and film director whose real identity is unknown. His satirical street art and subversive epigrams combine dark humour with graffiti executed in a distinctive stenciling technique. His works of political and social commentary have been featured on streets, walls, and bridges of cities throughout the world.
Banksy's work grew out of the Bristol underground scene, which involved collaborations between artists and musicians. Observers have noted that his style is similar to Blek le Rat, who began to work with stencils in 1981 in Paris.
Banksy says that he was inspired by "3D", a graffiti artist who later became a founding member of Massive Attack, an English musical group.