visual activism

French street artist JR is ‘turning the world inside out’ by means of a large-scale art project encouraging participants to print and paste their image in public spaces around the world… (a note by the Guardian here)

Dutch graphic designer and journalist duo Haas&Hahn convert a hillside favela into a brightly-coloured model neighbourhood

British artist Banksy shows Middle East politics new ways by ripping open the Jerusalem wall with nothing more than spray paint

and

cartoon artist Carlos Latuff intervenes (in)directly from his studio in Rio in the uprising on Tahrir square by drawing up and instantly circulating the visual commentaries that people need to express their cause…

… The common claim of these and other projects is to be able to change the world by making both the world as it is and the change has it happens visible: in everyday life (definitely on the street yet increasingly also on the web it seems). Whether or not successful in achieving the specific aims of each project, they give an example of the visual arts’ possibilities – and growing confidence – for making their voice seen in creative local and trans-local (urban) interventions. Yet the strong focus on images of this kind of visual ‘street politics’ also attracts criticism routed in the concern that the social dimensions of life, space and politics are too fast and too easily thrown over board pursuing streamline communication design and maximum media impact.

Where do you stand? And where does this practice figure within the methods and theory of visual sociology?

A ISA T05 call for papers is open (here) till December 15th, 2011. Comments are welcome, too.

 

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