It’s encouraging to see a momentum building in the art world in support of and/or response to the Occupy movement. When we first launched CIO! in July 2010 we encountered a good deal of ambivalence and resistance from the art community to our challenge of Capitalism (as well as support and participation). We were “too radical,” “too political,” “too didactic.” One artist was initially excited and sent a project description, only to change her mind the following week because she “loves capitalism … it’s all I’ve ever known.” Others were concerned about the impact on their careers of creating such highly political art. And in fact, out of the initial 60 artists who did participate, only one had formal commercial gallery representation; though it was also refreshing that one of the participants owns a commercial gallery.
While the Occupy movement is not overtly anti-capitalist (though many of its key supporters are), as the demonstrations of political dissidence have grown stronger and louder globally, the art world too has galvanized. I’ve also been talking to more and more artists who, like myself, have found it challenging to create work that doesn’t in some way speak to the current economic and social crises. What has given me renewed hope is the power of Occupy and its demonstration that we can create and enact alternatives – that we don’t have to follow the status quo – socially, politically, economically, or artistically.
WE ARE THE 99% ARTISTS!
Some examples of the Occupy movement in the arts locally, nationally, and internationally include: