What is an art activist?

Artivism is a portmanteau word combining “art” and “activism”. Artivism developed in recent years while the antiwar and anti-globalization protests emerged and proliferated. In many cases artivists attempt to push political agendas by the means of art, but a focus on raising social, environmental and technical awareness is also common. Besides using traditional mediums like film and music to raise awareness or push for change, an artivist can also be involved in culture jamming, subvertising, street art, spoken word, protesting and activism. In some cases, Paris in 2003 for instance, artivists were arrested for acts of political art that verged on property destruction.

A typical short-term goal of artivists is to reclaim public space, especially by subverting or destroying ads in urban areas or on city transportation systems. Nevertheless artivists engage in different media like utilizing the Internet not only for actions which could be described as hacktivism. By 2008 the term made its way into academic writing, with Chela Sandoval and Guisela Latorre published a piece on Chicano/a artivism and M. K. Asante used the term in reference to Black artists.

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Jil Love