Photo credit: Letzte Generation, via Associated Press
For centuries, art has been used as a method of communication. Art evokes feelings and emotions, and usually always sparks a conversation around the created medium. Art can be literal or abstract and still impact the viewer/consumer the same. It comes in a multitude of mediums including film/tv, music, dance, visual art, photography, poetry, and more. However, in my opinion, anything can be art and anyone can be an artist.
Art as activism allows for the message to either shine through in an easily digestible manner or cause conversation around its abstractness. As a dance artist, I have created, performed, and viewed many pieces that surround activism around race, climate justice, politics, and more. Music artists such as NWA, Michael Jackson, and Latto (and many more) have written songs that serve as audio activism around police brutality, climate change, and women's rights. Movies such as “The Day After Tomorrow,” “Interstellar,” “Wall-E,” and “The Lorax,” all focus on climate change and present a world without climate action. Creating art as a response to activism begins by establishing what you are trying to communicate to an audience and then figuring out how to evoke the emotions that the creator felt while making the piece. As mentioned, art can be anything; many times viewing art is a more efficient and effective form of communication compared to articles, presentations, and readings.
To me, art as activism is very intuitive and almost second nature. However, in the past week, I have begun to view a new form of art activism that uses classical art pieces to serve as a canvas to speak about climate change. Multiple people are throwing food at Van Gogh, Monet, and other famous artists’ original works. The goal is to do something drastic to bring attention to climate change and the impacts that it will have on society in the coming years. The reception online of this activist method has not been well received as many feels as if it is extra, vandalism, and not achieving anything. However, I believe that in the coming months, when people reference this period of food throwing on classical art pieces and ask why, many can confidently say to raise awareness of climate change. It also highlights how people place so much value on art but not on climate change. To have a fit surrounding a piece that was not impacted (as the art is placed behind glass) but not has the same reaction toward climate change is very telling and speaks to most Americans' values and efforts towards mitigating climate change.