Photography, Text and Video by Julia Chun, Copyright 2018
Art as Activism
Sometimes, a protest and going on a strike for a few weeks will do the job. Your city government hears you out and resolves your issues.
Sometimes, a series of protests or making to the news headlines throughout the year will pass that bill that you’ve been fighting for.
Often times, issues are left unresolved. Some years, the society and the political scene seem to be fighting in your favor and in others, they turn their backs to you.
In this project, I wanted to capture the artwork and the people who use art as a means of activism to perpetuate political and cultural issues that need attention of the society. Some targeted topics that are more directly influenced by politics such as LGBTQ, reconstruction of a rundown town in Philly, black women oppression, and Islamophobia. Others created performances to enhance the sense of resonance, which is crucial in every minority communities or communities formed by people of the same race but with vastly different social status. One Indian American might be the CEO of Google while many others are still subject to deportation with DACA’s end. The commonality among all the artworks and people I captured is that they all fight for their long-lasting causes in a peaceful way through film, performance, music, and poetry.
I photographed three different events for this project. First series was themed “Resonance”, organized by the Asian Pacific American Heritage Week (APAHW), which featured different shows put together by cultural groups. The second series was also put together by APAHW, but it featured guests from outside of Penn to showcase their work and talk about the various issues they fight for – Islamophobia, LGBT rights, urban renovation, etc. The last series was called “SPEECH/ACT”, an exhibit taking place at the Institute of Contemporary Art. The artists used black poetry as a way to discuss black rights and used commercials to show black oppression in America.
After seeing so many protests, often violent, take place since the election last year, it was very mind opening to realize that there were so many other issues to fight for besides taxation or those that are starkly political. It was also inspiring to discover artists who are so persistently and actively trying to make a statement through their artwork shaped by their personal experiences, although they may never make it to the front page of a news paper.
About The Author: Julia Chun is a computer science major enrolled in the School of Engineering & Applied Science. University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2019. To access additional articles by Julia Chun, click here: https://tonywardstudio.com/blog/julia-chun-aesthetic-non-aesthetic/