Can Art Really Change the World?

Crosses of Mexico

A row of pink crosses in the desert, in memory of the killed women, near Ciudad Juárez, Mexico.  Photographer Unknown.

While maybe not always making the front page headlines, defining the continued epidemic of violence against women has a renewed strength in conversation at least, with the “Me Too!” protests that have dogged the arenas of North American politics and entertainment since Harvey Weinstein was outed for multiple counts of sexual harassment in October 2017.

But when you look at this row of pink crosses and you learn that 7 women are killed per day in Mexico simply because they are women, and you read about a 12 year old girl in India who was raped and brutally beaten and found by the courts to be at fault for her attack, and almost a year later, some of Weinstein’s accusers are changing their minds, I question if feminist art is truly a useful voice that is helping women to gain the simple human right of being treated as human.

After watching Art21’s Season 8 Episode about artists in Mexico City, and in particular the interview with Minerva Cuevas whose entire practice revolves around political charged events, I remembered another artist Andrea Narno Híjar who has created a collective of 21 women working pretty much covertly in the same city using the art of printmaking to fight back against the violence towards women in their country.

CBC You Tube

Televised on CBC Arts – October 17, 2017

But does or has Ms. Narno Híjar’s politically motivated art collective helped to change anything for women in Mexico?

Mexico’s elections earlier this year found that candidates avoided the needed debate around gender parity, and political violence against women.

While I cite Mexico’s human rights for women here, other countries are a not immune from this travesty of not being born in the right body to live a safe, long and happy life.

Here in Canada we have our own tragedy with the missing and murdered Indigenous Women and we have our art projects too including the one launched here at the University of Guelph in March of this year.

UofG Project

Aerial Photograph by Dronemates Edited by Peter Denton

February of this year in Los Angeles The Feminist Art Project hosted a symposium entitled “Feminism Art in Response to the State”.  Conversations from people around the world, academics and artists alike, took place on this never ending discussion of power and the marginalization and oppression of individuals.

Lots of conversations.  Many debates.  Fabulous art projects.

But does it, any of if it, change the world?

Is there an answer from the making of art that can be implemented to improve human rights and not just those rights of women?