But is it art? Reaching out to real people

Excellent article by Ekow Eshun on the Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei on how to use simple participatory art movement campaign tactics to reach out and connect with “real” people affected by “real” social issues.

  • Have a provocative key message. In Ai Weiwei’s Sichuan campaign the allegation was that 1000s of children had died needlessly because of shoddy, building work fuelled by corruption.
  • Organise people to get to real people with real lives affected by real social issues.  In the Sichuan campaign 200 volunteers went door-to-door to collect information and record the bereaved families’ stories about the children they’d lost.
  • Share these stories on blog posts quickly.

Is it art? I think it is because it’s making people see the world differently, making them aware of something that they perhaps hadn’t seen before. Look through the prism at a different angle. Change starts with a change in perception.

 “This investigation [Sichuan campaign] will be remembered for generations as the first civil rights activity in China. It directly affects people’s feelings and their living conditions, their freedom and how they look at the world. To me, that is art.” (Ai Weiwei)

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