All posts by mimielkhaz

Radical Art Activism: Nudity, Graffiti and Iconoclasm

Radical art activism, through the medium of nudity, graffiti and iconoclasm, is opening up avenues of empathy to create change due to forced perspective.

Activism is the power to seek out causes and sources of social inequality, protrude the social norms of today and make change for our future. It is the doctrine or practice of vigorous action or involvement of some action to work towards or achieve social or political goals. Although art cannot inhibit immediate change, I will explore how radical art engages with activism through an artist’s visual expression, with the goal to raise awareness and to embody the viewer with a perspective which they may or may not agree with. Radical art is defined as an art practice that is shocking to the viewer, that portrays a situation in an unfamiliar manner against traditional . Radical art can be illegal and extreme, present nudity, and use language to display radical ideologues. Through it’s extremism, I argue that radical art activism has the able to create change through the medium of empathy and forced perspective. With the main case studies of Banksy and public street graffiti, the Guerilla Girls and their iconoclasm in demonstrations, and anti-Female Genital Mutilation campaigns and nudity through the medium of the internet, we will uncover the methods in which they use activism to highlight social issues and will discover how forced perspective is practiced. Furthermore, we will delve into a psychological analysis of empathy in radical art, opening up social issues to disengaged communities.

 

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The Relevance of Radical Art Activism

Link to infographic: https://infograph.venngage.com/p/215532/radical-art-activism

The feedback I received during the peer review on the written proposal helped me solidify my research by continuously pushing me to link my examples to my main topic of radical art activism. Often times, my examples of art and artists did not fully include why is it was a effective form of activism. Taking on this feedback, I have made a goal of consistently analysing each artistic piece, movement and artists to the same extent and always tying them back to my research topic.

My Genre Modes offered a different medium in which I could form my argument using imagery and emotion. The feedback I received showed that my infographic may have included too much pathos and was an overwhelming experience. Others, however, thought the radical infographic effectively persuaded the audience of the message I was attempting to convey. In future, weighing the emotional stress versus the effectiveness of imagery will be an important factor to be aware of.

Thesis:

Radical art practice through graffiti, profanity, nudity, and violence, has the potential, through forced perspective, to open up avenues of empathy.

 

Activism in many forms

In activism, there are a plethora of subjects one could discuss. Here are my top five:

  1. Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a taboo subject that is unspoken of around the world. 91% of women in Egypt have been subjected to FGM, usually between the age of 4 and 15. As an Egyptian woman, I am shocked by the lack of conversation around the subject in my grandmother’s household and in the media. I would like to explore the ways we can overcome the taboo using various methods of activism, such as comedy, art and social media in order to make the subject more accessible and easier to address.
  2. Art and Design Activism: The Guerrilla girls. The Victoria and Albert Museum in London, United Kingdom held the exhibition: Disobedient Objects. Bringing together objects used by activists all over the world, the Guerrilla Girls section caught my eye and showcased an interesting use of art and activism. The anonymous group of radical feminists used culture jamming through art to highlight issues of racial  and gender inequality. I am most interested in writing about this subject as the use of art and imagery can be valuable medium in which to evoke a feeling and display a message.
  3. Transgender & Trans Race Movement: Trans explores the differences and similarities of the trans gender and trans race movements. If one can be transgender, can one be trans race? Referring to the Dolezal vs Jenner debate, I would like to look at the struggle of racial fluidity, leading to a further discussion on categorization.
  4. Planned Parenthood: I am interested in exploring the history of planned parenthood and its effects on communities. The series, The Midwife highlights the issues of a lack of education and birth control in East London. How have women gained more control over their lives and how did this develop?
  5. Ocean Governance: Our climate is constantly changing and we are in need of international agreements on how we are reducing our effects on the ocean. In a space of no borders, international responsibility becomes critical in keeping the ocean safe, clean, sustainable and healthy.

 

Power

Activism!: Direct Action, Hacktivism and Future of Society by Tim Jordan explores the subject of power in the realm of activism!. The goal of activism! is to fight and dissolve power in order to alleviate the discrepancies of social justice. Furthermore, Jordan notes we must “end the exploitations of Others by Selves” (146) and thereby reduce difference and oppression. With the example of male oppression, men are viewed to have more power. This dominance can seen in many different mediums such through the power of a making decisions and controlling a country. Men take up 90% of the Senate and, therefore, have more power than women when making decisions for a country – showing a large difference of power. Furthermore, power can be portrayed socially: in Saudi Arabia, women are not granted the power of transportation and freedom due to laws abiding women from driving cars. The lack of freedom is a form difference and oppression of power. Power is a means of naming the enemy where the access to power provides the ability to make a difference and therefore perform in activism.

Furthermore, in chapter 4, Jordan highlights the power of culture jamming and the use of isolated moments of humour and anger. In his example of McDonalds, an activist replaces the billboard from “feeling hungry all of a sudden” to “feeling heavy all of a sudden?” (108). This example portrays the simplicity of power and how it is diffused to reduce the power McDonalds over its customers – who, now can retaliate against the distribution of McDonalds’ fatty foods. Power is everything and even in this mere example, it is the root to difference and exclusion.