Protest Art

Art has illustrated the timeline history of mankind. Everything about life and development through the period and phases of time. Art was always been with the human nature. Necessity and creativity has a dialectical relationship. Necessity initiates creativity. While creativity always tend to overshadow the necessity… it creates something more than just the fulfillment of the necessity…that ‘more than’ turns out to be art. The portion of the vast product of creativity which is consumed by the human being to satisfy its immediate wants is ‘production’ and the rest is the ‘art’. It, is, by its very essence a protest against the ¬¬¬¬nature’s rule of necessity being the mother of all inventions…yes the mother it is. But not of only what is ‘called for’ by the necessity… but of something more than that. Human nature refuse to be the slave of necessity of food, security and shelter… this protest unleashes the art within…it is a protest of human nature against the nature… of maybe, the god.

What the role of art is?
Then where stands the art that serves as the comfort of the monarchs, as the aesthetics of the rulers and as a satisfaction of the souls whose ‘bellies’ are already satisfied. This art is the work of those who want to limit the functions of art to ‘satisfy’ their wants- the very role which some ‘human activities’ had to shun in order to be what it has now evolved as- the Art.
Many people quoted about art and its function. Many have discussed about the importance of art. There are many philosophers who defined the necessity of art in this world. But all analysis zero down on the present thesis- art and necessity are two opposites and yet are united. Necessity produce art but art does not limit itself to the satisfaction of necessity… it creates something more than that and thus the cycle progress. The failure human efforts which could not fulfill its necessities perfectly, became the arts and those who strived towards looking for a meaning of such ‘failure efforts’ became artists. Thus, Art is, and will remain, the Eternal Protest of Human Kind against being the slaves of Necessity.

Once rendered free to serve as art, the said activities are free to take their own form, acquire new roles.
As Klaous Rieichold writes in his book Paintings that changed the world
“Of course no painting has changed the world! But who can question the influence of art? Who can deny that a painting can change the way we look at the world – or that artists that influence by the world changes? An evolving world captured in paintings and paintings that alter our view of world: past present Couse and effect.”

Structure of Society and Art

As in theatre a very famous German poet, and playwright Bertolt Friedrich Brecht
Writes about the role and type of art. He says that the art functions in only two ways in this world. One type of art plays the role to make comfortable entertainment for the people another art spokesmen the realistic conditions of its time, it reports the problems in the society instead of doing it in a way of making all the situations comfortable.¬¬
In the light of our proposal for the origin of art, we can add that the latter role is the role in the real correspondence with the essence of art.
With the division of society into clans, tribes, castes, classes etc. the art is taken up as the tool to serve the intentions and purpose of various segments of people. The clash between the classes grew to such a dominant scales but some people are still looking for a universal art, a neutral art- an art in itself for itself. But alas! They end up turning the art into a isolated, mystical activity which serves a purpose of some basic comfort which is identified by all across the classes. What that comfort can be? The one identified by all humans irrespective of their caste, class, ethnicity, gender etc.? This pursuit turns the art into a tool for serving the most common human wants- the wants arising out of their biology. Thus such an art, if we still agree to call it art, is the erotica, the works arousing some most common human feelings- the hunger, the sex, the aroma, the curiosity etc. etc. none of which is living beyond its satisfaction. But all such activities in the field of art, without doubt, create the variety of art- The variety which stands divided across broad lines.
We have an art divided as much as the society is divided. We must have corresponding art form of each fraction of the human society. The art of the ‘producers’ is still what it originally had been- the human efforts compulsory to reach at a most suitable way, yet itself not exerted in the most suitable way. On the other hand the non-productive, yet dominating/ruling, sections cannot think beyond the enslaving of artistic efforts to satisfy their own wants. Even if they have to modify their wants for this purpose. Enjoying the nude female figures in the absence of real females is nothing more than that! This is greed, this is the lust- not the aesthetic sense!!
The division of art among classes represents all facets of this division. Thus, we have the people who plan the wars on the other hand we have people who suffer from war. So we have Heinrich Knirr, the artist who portrayed Hitler and the Norman Rockwell who portrays the effects of war on the people’s life. Both may be aesthetically, technically very sound, but they stand among the people across the two sides of the ‘art border’ that we just marked.
The vague and essentially failure ‘effort’ of ancient human being to act in such a way that it causes rain lead to the shaping of the ‘rain dance’- a magic ritual. The ‘dance’ that could not cause the intended rain, turned into an art form even independent of its original intention-the rain. But the same dance, later, was devoted by a class to please the deities or the kings makes it cross-over the border of the ‘people’s art’ and enslaves it to the lavish comfort of a few. (you may relate it further to the sparkling dance of the ‘cheer leaders’ in the modern cricket match!)

Protest art

Having said so, it becomes necessary to justify: if art is a protest in itself, if it has been the people’s art from the ab-initio, then why the need to suffix the word ‘protest’ to define the category of art?
The art was a protest. But a portion of it was enslaved in the due course of human society. Unfortunately, though inevitably, the enslaved art became the mainstream as the classes which enslaved it were themselves the mainstream, the dominant, the ruling classes. Thus, with time as the ‘enslaved art’ took the center stage and became- ‘The Art’. Hence, the original ‘The Art’ now has to be called “Protest Art”.
So, now, the Protest Art is a broad term that refers to creative works that concern or are produced by activists and social movements. There are also contemporary and historical works and currents of thought that can be characterized in this way.
When we come to know about word protest. It is very necessary to know about the origin and the history of it. When was the first time that one felt about the need to protest? What reasons and circumstances make us to do protest?
Well where the human life is today, the all development that we achieved till present time. It took many years of struggle and dark times where the, many extraordinary people sacrificed their precious lives for the social change and development.
Social movements produce such works as the signs, banners, posters, and other printed materials used to convey a particular cause or message. Often, such art is used as part of demonstrations or acts of civil disobedience. These works tend to be ephemeral, characterized by their portability and disposability, and are frequently not authored or owned by any one person. The various peace symbols, and the raised fist are two examples that highlight the democratic ownership of these signs.
Protest art also includes (but is not limited to) performance, site-specific installations, graffiti and street art, and crosses the boundaries of art genres, media, and disciplines. While some protest art is associated with trained and professional artists, an extensive knowledge of art is not required to take part in protest art. Protest artists frequently bypass the art-world institutions and commercial gallery system in an attempt to reach a wider audience. Furthermore, protest art is not limited to one region or country, but is rather a method that is used around the world. For example, Publixtheatre Caravan is an international theatre troupe that creates critical performances in everyday spaces around the world.
There are many politically charged pieces of fine art — such as Picasso’s Guernica, some of Carlsberg’s Vietnam war-era work, or Susan Crile’s images of torture at Abu Ghraib.


It is difficult to establish a history for protest art because many variations of it can be found throughout history. While many cases of protest art can be found during the early 1900s, like Picasso’s Guernica in 1937, the last thirty years has experienced a large increase in the number of artists adopting protest art as a style to relay a message to the public.
As awareness of social justices around the world became more common among the public, an increase in protest art can be seen. Some of the most critically effective artworks of the recent period were staged outside the gallery, away from the museum and in that sense, protest art has found a different relationship to the public.
But we can’t say that there was no protest or protest art in the ancient or previous time of history. Today’s world, where we are at present. This time is the result of all revolutionary efforts by the human being and nature. Without contradiction and defiance development is impossible. And we have a great history of people and social movements who carried their disobedience with the problem in the structure of society in their time.

Activist art
Activist art represents and includes aesthetic, sociopolitical, and technological developments that have attempted to challenge and complicate the traditional boundaries and hierarchies of culture as represented by those in power. Like protest art, activist art practice emerged partly out of a call for art to be connected to a wider audience, and to open up spaces where the marginalized and disenfranchised can be seen and heard.
Activist art incorporates the use of public space to address socio-political issues and to encourage community and public participation as a means of bringing about social change. It aims to affect social change by engaging in active processes of representation that work to foster participation in dialogue, raise consciousness, and empower individuals and communities. The need to ensure the continued impact of a work by sustaining the public participation process it initiated is also a challenge for many activist artists. It often requires the artist to establish relationships within the communities where projects take place.
If social movements are understood as “repeated public displays” of alternative political and cultural values,[1] then activist art is significant in articulating such alternative views. Activist art is also important to the dimension of culture and an understanding of its importance alongside political, economic, and social forces in movements and acts of social change. One should be wary of conflating activist art with political art, as doing so obscures critical differences in methodology, strategy, and activist goals.

Strategy and practice

In practice, activist art may often take the form of temporal interventions, such as performance, media events, exhibitions, and installations. It is also common to employ mainstream media techniques (through the use of billboards, posters, advertising, newspaper inserts…etc.). By making use of these commercial distributive channels of commerce, this technique is particularly effective in conveying messages that reveal and subvert its usual intentions.
The use public participation as a strategy of activating individuals and communities to become a “catalyst for change” is important to activist art. In this context, participation becomes an act of self-expression or self-representation by the entire community. Creative expression empowers individuals by creating a space in which their voices can be heard and in which they can engage in a dialogue with one another, and with the issues in which they have a personal stake.

Dangerous Art
All art is political in the sense that all art takes place in the public arena and engages with an already existing ideology. Yet there are times when art becomes dangerously political for both the artist and the viewers who engage with that art. Think of Jacques-Louis David’s involvement in the French Revolution—his individual investment in art following the bloodshed —and his imprisonment during the reign of terror. If it were not for certain sympathizers, David may well have ended up another victim of the guillotine. Goya is another example of an artist who fell afoul of government power. There are instances in the 20th century when artists have faced down political power directly. Consider the photomontages of John Heartfield. Heartfield risked his life at times to produce covers for the magazine A/Z, which defied both Hitler and the Nazi Party.

Protest Art for the Slum Demolition, Chandigarh
The Artist and Homeless Collaborative is an example of a project that works with strategies of public participation as a means of individual and community empowerment. It is an affiliation of artists, arts professionals and women, ¬-children and teenagers of Chandigarh very actively arranged a performance installation.

A big Slum Area was going to be demolished by the administration without making any alternate arrangement for the residents who had resided there for last 30 years. Many people including activists of leftist parties and civil societies protested the move. But on the final day of demolition, the resistance could not stand to the massive police force deployed by the administration. Finally, the colony, called as colony no. 5, was demolished, adding around 70 thousand people to the long list of homeless in India. Out of the rage and the helplessness that bestowed upon the activists, cpi ml liberation, a group that performing installation in the city Plaza, sector 17, the very next day of the demolition. Following was the shocking scenes that the passerby encountered in the plaza on the day of the protest.

Bant Singh

Bant Singh is a Sikh laborer and singer from the Jhabhar village in Mansa district, Punjab, India, who has emerged as an agricultural labor activist, fighting against the power of the landowner. Described by Amit Sengupta as “an icon of Dalit resistance he has been active in organizing poor, agricultural workers, activism that continues despite a 2006 attack that cost him both of his lower arms and his left leg.”
After his minor daughter was raped by some powerful men in 2000, he dared take them to court, an unusual occurrence when a Dalit is raped by a non-Dalit, braving threats of violence and attempted bribes. The trial culminated in life sentences for three of the culprits in 2004, “the first time that a Dalit from the region who had complained against upper-caste violence had managed to secure a conviction.”
On the evening of 7 January 2006, Bant Singh was returning home through some wheat fields. He had just been campaigning for a national agricultural labor rally to be held in Andhra Pradesh in January. He was suddenly waylaid by a gang of seven men, suspected to be sent by Jaswant and Niranjan Singh, the current and former headmen of his village who have links with the Indian National Congress party. One of them brandished a revolver to prevent any resistance while the other six set upon him with iron rods and axes beating him to a pulp.
He was left for dead, and a phone call was made to Bant Singh, a leading man in Jhabhar, to pick up the dead body. However, Bant Singh was alive, though barely.
After a great struggle with life, Bant Singh lost his limbs and legs but has never failed to protest by singing against the feudalistic social structure. Bant Singh is active as a protest artist in the field of music he sings the songs written by revolutionary writers including Sant Ram Udasi, Avtar Paash and many other who dedicated their life for the social change.


The world is in continuous flux, but it needs to have suitable conditions to happen. Most of people remains same and satisfied with the given environment and situations but those who want to explore something beyond the given, they leads to the change. And the people who need society to be changed are the antagonistic to the structure of society that don’t make suitable atmosphere for life.
In the field of art we have all type of categories in it, we have one who wants to be fit in the given structure and others who break the conditions and find something more than they got.
As a Chinese artist said “Artists are free to make art for art’s sake and I respect that, I do not criticize them. I am born as a human. I care about human conditions rather than opinions. I have no choice.”
– Ai wei wei
I am agree with that statement and As a whole I just want conclude this report on the situation of present time where maximum people of the world are suffering from economic crisis, war and environmental problems. And the artists need to spokesmen the real time situation of world.