“The earth without art is just ‘eh.'”
One of the biggest questions critics of art have is whether or not the world really needs art. The answer is yes.
Art has always been an integral part of human history, as evident with the various transformations and roles it has played thus far. The reason I bring this up is because recently street artist Banksy, went to Gaza and spray-painted some new pieces to spark awareness about the destruction in the Gaza strip. After the onslaught by Israeli forces in Operation Protective Edge, over 2,100 innocent civilians were killed, and it lasted for 50 days.
To bring about awareness for the much needed reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, Banksy traveled to Gaza and filmed this short clip here. The clip features Banksy spray-painting his work onto large pieces of rubble, getting to the neighbourhood via tunnels. It also shows children playing amongst the rubble while getting an opinion from one of the older residents in the area.
The important thing is that through his artwork, Banksy was able to bring awareness to a much overlooked issue by the average citizen. With one’s art, it is not only possible to bring attention to an issue, but also something for the locals to contemplate. Furthermore with his work, he was also able to paint some pieces onto the separation wall in the West Bank.
Besides Banksy, there are other artists that have also taken to the canvas, whether it’s the street or not, to bring attention to issues or protest injustices.
One example is that of Afghan street artist Shamsia Hassani, who paints images of women in blue burqas, wanting to bring attention to women’s rights in Afghanistan. Something important to note with Hassani is that she wants to, “colour over the bad memories of war on the walls,” hoping to instead have people know Afghanistan for its art, rather than it’s troubled past.
Additionally, in the realm of human rights, Chinese artist Ai Weiwei is one of the more notable example of protesting unjust rule, and breaching of human rights and free expression. He brings to attention the Chinese government’s persecution of free expression with his work in Alcatraz, along with an essay that discusses censorship of art as well.
Besides the artists mentioned above, there are others such as the collaboration of artists that were responsible for creating the large image of a child to protest drone strikes in Pakistan. There is also artists that protest for equal gender representation in the art world like the Guerrilla Girls. Moreover, the work of Object Orange, The Kid, and the artists behind the famous Northern Irish murals, discuss topics from discrimination to solidarity, all while presenting them in a way that exposes the public to these issues.
Another big canvas for artists to highlight injustice is that with the Ferguson movement, creating several pieces standing in solidarity with the movement as well as telling stories on canvases rather than with words. Likewise, the world has seen many iconic pieces centered around issues or events that the world has seen. With every movement comes art to back it up; to connect with the masses and create symbols that add to the meaning.
What one should take away from this is, is the fact that art has always been and always will be an important part of bringing about social change in the world. It is a creative form of expression that has the ability to evoke emotion and change the course of history. Not only is it impossible to ignore, it is important for us to see that it is a way to effectively bring attention to something constructively.
The world is a dreary place without art and the artists who create it. What the world needs is not more wars, more discrimination, more violence or more injustices. We need ways of coping with the messes we’ve already made and finding better outlets for doing so.
So yes, the world indeed needs art, and it always will.