Talking Point

Can art change society?

Can art influence the way we think and act as individuals, and as a society? How do artists make and create change in the world today?

Hear Tate Exchange artists and Associates share their thoughts on the power of art for individuals and society as a whole.

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Can art really change the world?

I do think that art can change society. I don’t think it’s one artwork that does it, I think it’s the collective effort of artists and institutions together.

Bojana Janković

Artist, Who Are We? Project, Tate Exchange

It's one of the biggest questions that comes to mind when we really, truly think about the value of art: can art make a difference?

Many movements in art history have tried to change society in one way or another: Dada artists advocated for silliness and nonsensical behaviour in daily life as the only response to the horrors of the First World War. Fluxus sought to "promote a revolutionary flood and tide in art, promote living art, anti-art" through its network of international artists. And groups like the Situationist International played a major role in the revolutionary Paris events of 1968 by exposing the divisions between artists, consumers, and the means of production. And of course art can take the form of protest, addressing political and social issues with direct action.

So we know that art movements can change society, but what about art today? Are there works of art that have changed the way you think or feel about something? Can all of those small changes add up to something bigger?

Art making positive changes

Art opens everything up to such a bigger spectrum of people. And this is why I personally believe art is powerful, because art saved my life.

David Tovey

Artist, Museum of Homelessness, Tate Exchange

At Tate Exchange we've been questioning the impact of art on society through a range of open events with our artists and Associates: with the Guerrilla Girls, we opened a Complaints Department for airing of public grievances, big and small. We hosted an ongoing debate on how we talk about sex education, desire, and consent with Bedfellows. We created a week-long art school of the future. We asked how art can serve in therapy in wellbeing. We created an alternative Fairground questioning the impact of art on politics, ideas, and society. And more.

And now, Tate Exchange is opening up the floor to you and asking: how can art make a difference to people's lives and society? We invite you to share your stories and ideas through writing, drawing, talking and making. Join us at Tate Modern and online to tell us how art made a difference in your life, and get a chance to see your responses displayed in the gallery.

Art movements that changed the world