Art and Activism equals ARTivism?

5 Jul

Hello all,

during discussions with members of the network during an arts and crafts social, the subject of what we could do to use arts within the CFN has been briefly approached. It would seem most appropriate for us to use arts -in a broad sense- for our cause as it is a good way for us to establish the network within the public space in a vibrant way and gain reactions from the public. The first  and brilliant ongoing action thought up and organized by Sally was the making of 1000 cranes which will be presented to the NaFW to celebrate International Women’s Day. This type of action could be coupled with other events, taking maybe more the format of performances or happenings. Here I have simply got together a bit of information regarding activist art/artivism for your attention so that we can get some ideas, discuss it in a future meeting and decide on what actions could be interesting for us to take.

First of all, a bit more regarding artivist art with a little help from wikipedia:

Artivism is a portmanteau word combining “art” and “activism”. Artivism developed in recent years while the anti-globalization and antiwar protests emerged and proliferated. In most of the cases artivists attempt to push political agendas by the means of art. Yet this is not political art as it was known before, in the sense of artworks being political. The artivist is often involved in Streetart or Urban Art, Adbusting or Subvertising. ‘

One of the mot obvious famous artivist groups that comes to mind would be the Guerilla Girls, mainly using posters with hilarious images and texts:

The Feminist Activist Forum seems to be a good place to find information, get networked and have a look at links of other groups and projects on a national and international scale:

One of the first examples that came to mind on my part whilst thinking of possible actions to take was the work of French group ‘La Barbe’ (The Beard), which defines itself on its website as:

‘ A group geared towards action.

The action consists in invading places traditionally dominated by men whilst wearing beards. The action can be played out in a restaurant, during a meeting, in the canteen of a society or within a festival’s jury.

The idea is to propagate a female beard epidemic to make obvious the absence of women within the most influent circles.

The beards stand straight in front or behind their victims. The picture is silent, dignified. the presence of beards, nicely stood in line or spread out within the tailor suits speaks for itself: Facial hair were needed to be part of it!

If sometimes The Beard talks, she is careful to be in character: a man within his equals, invested by the same prerogatives. The Beard talk to defend the interests of men in a serious and dignified manner ‘

(roughly translated from the French, apologies for any repetitions or mistakes).

La Barbe acts in a very repetitive manner that is part of their act as they also want to criticise the self congratulation and repetitiveness which are part of the media they criticize.

Here is a link towards La Barbe’s website:

And a couple of links towards videos:

(Again, in French but to sum things up, La Barbe went to the Senate to underline the absence of women there. The way they do the videos is also well thought. As a side note, in the first video, one of the guys talks about ‘The Feminine Condition’ and states that he understands it as ‘He is married to a woman, he has four daughters, a mother and when he has a dog, it’s a bitch’. Amazing.)

To conclude this long post, it has also been suggested to me by Meg to do a proposal as a group -or several of us- for the Newport Empty Shop projects which could also be an option.

Looking forward to hearing ideas/reactions/suggestions/plans and getting active in the future!


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