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Reclaiming Art as a Force for Liberty

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11.06.2021

When I was a kid, I collected Wacky Packs — a series of stickers inside packages of gum. The images were well illustrated but crude satires of familiar products and brands. For instance, instead of Gillette's Right Guard Deodorant, the Wacky version was Killette's Fright Guard, the can depicting a thug proudly unleashing lethal B.O. This raunchy spoof and others like it thrilled my kindergarten boyish sense of humor.

Fast-forward a few decades, and such shenanigans aren't a childish novelty in the candy aisle anymore. Now cheap-shot rip-offs of corporations are supposedly groundbreaking art, and tools for social change. As Art and Object states:

Whether you call it artistic activism or artivism, the compound word keeps gaining traction. The use of creative expression to cultivate awareness and social change spans various disciplines including visual art, poetry, music, film, and theater. To make their points, artivists cleverly employ parody or satire through culture jamming and other forms of subvertising — a portmanteau of subvert and advertising — to change the original meaning of a well-known image or corporate logo.

"Cleverly" is not a word that applies here. An example of subvertising would be creating and distributing as art a feeble graphic where the word "McDiabetes" is inserted into the Golden arches logo.

What Art and Object is promoting as cutting-edge are progressive activists using Wacky Pack–level discourse, while preening as if they were brave rebels artfully skewering The Man. In my ongoing art market research, it's becoming rare to find any efforts that don't aspire to partake in misconceived ideology. Artist statements are sociology lectures. Landscapes preach on climate change; portraits must feature hot takes on racism. Left-wing proselytizing and conformity are mandatory conditions for advancement.

The main reason the awkward word and practice of artivism is gaining traction in........

© American Thinker


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