Art Term

Activist art

Activist art is a term used to describe art that is grounded in the act of ‘doing’ and addresses political or social issues

Tania Bruguera, ‘Tatlin’s Whisper #5’ 2008
Tania Bruguera
Tatlin’s Whisper #5 2008
Tate
© Tania Bruguera

If anything, art is... about morals, about our belief in humanity. Without that, there simply is no art.
Ai Weiwei

The aim of activist artists is to create art that is a form of political or social currency, actively addressing cultural power structures rather than representing them or simply describing them. In describing the art she makes, the activist artist Tania Bruguera said, ‘I don’t want art that points to a thing. I want art that is the thing’.

Activist art is about empowering individuals and communities and is generally situated in the public arena with artists working closely with a community to generate the art.

Some artists concerned with activist art, are also involved in direct action, like the Women On Waves Foundation, a feminist art collective that runs a floating abortion clinic, carrying out abortions in places where they are not legal.

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Activist Art at Tate