How does artistic activism work?

This past summer, I set out to find out how art can work as a mode of activism in urban center like Madrid, Spain. Madrid has a rich artistic and activist history–one delved into by the people I spoke with–that lives on and continues to develop in its large and lively arts and cultural centers–like La Tabacalera, Matadero, and MediaLab Prado–where new community projects are undertaken each day; a history that lives on it its people, who I watched spill into the streets for Madrid Orgullo, the largest LGBTQ Pride event world wide, the same people who cheered as the float for Podemos drove by, the same people who poured into the streets for 15M to demand change.

This creative, charged landscape is palpable in the words of the artists and activists I interviewed. In my interviews, I focused on both the affect and effect of artistic activism: affect entails the ways in which artistic activism move people internally, while effect is focused on the external results. The question, then, is what makes artistic activism affective and effective–what makes it work?

I heard many different thoughts and answers to this questions from the various artists, activists, and change-makers I spoke with. Their insights are presented here.

For more information–and interviews–visit the site of the organization I worked with: The Center for Artistic Activism! The Center for Artistic Activism (C4AA) works to explore and strengthen the connections between art and social justice. Besides research, they facilitate different workshops on the practice of creative activism. Check them out!