Art, Protest, and the Archives

Friday, August 4, 2023 to Sunday, January 7, 2024

What can art do to change the world? From the revolutionary posters of Mayakovsky to the murals that covered walls and streets in the latest struggles for social justice, art and artists have played key roles at the forefront of protest movements for more than a century. But why, how? Drawing on Yale’s rich holdings of protest culture in America and Europe, Art, Protest, and the Archives will explore many of the diverse strategies and tactics—but also the challenges and controversies—that have emerged from attempts to wield art as a weapon in the fight for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness over the past hundred years. The simple brazen street art and cacophonous “shock aesthetic” of the historical avant-garde in Europe; the Cultural Front in Depression-era America; Revolutionary Surrealists, Situationists, and Provos; Civil Rights, Black Panthers, Free Speech, and Anti-War movements; the global rebellion of 1968; feminists, environmentalists, gay, lesbian, and queer rights activists; and many other agents and causes that have come to the fore since the 1970s. What can they tell us about the role of art in protest in the context of creative resistance today?