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


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.



Visual Activism and Social Justice

Visual Sociology Thematic Group,

International Sociological Association, mid-term conference “Forum on Social Justice and Democratization”
1-4 August 2012, Buenos Aires

CALL FOR PAPERS (submissions by 15 December 2011)

In our sessions, we would like to both create the opportunity for a sociological discussion of the meaning of Visual Activism and Social Justice, and at the same time endeavor to democratize the ways our knowledge and practices are produced and shared. The following sessions are happy to receive your contributions… (detailed descriptions here)

SESSION A: Icons, Models and Drama Queen(s): A Comparative Analysis of the ‘Burqa’ in European and North American Political Visual Cultures

SESSION B: New Media, Videos and Cyber-Activism on Social and Environmental Issues

SESSION C: Culture and Visual Forms of Power: Experiencing Contemporary Spaces of Resistance

SESSION D: Civic Media and Creative Youth Activism in the Middle East (CMCYA-ME)

SESSION E: Cross-Examining Visuals in the Criminal Justice System

SESSION F: Critiquing Participatory Video: Experiences from Around the World

SESSION G: Visual Activism: The (Street) Art of Making Visible Alternative Ways of Seeing the World

SESSION H: Visual Sociology As/Of Activism for Social Justice

SESSION I: Teaching Visual Methods, Learning to become a Visual Sociologist

SESSION J: Visual Representation of Injustice and Exclusion

Anyone interested in presenting a paper should submit an abstract on-line to