Contemporary Art and the Prospects for Radical Change

4 November 2005


Imagine a World Exhibition” is a contemporary art exhibition organised by Amnesty International as part of their campaign to Stop Violence Against Women. The exhibition takes place at the Bargehouse (London, South Bank) from November the 25th till December the 11th and features work from New York’s Guerrilla Girls, Tracey Emin, Alison Lapper, Marc Quinn, Grayson Perry and Stella Vine.

In the context of debates about the achievements of the 1325 Resolution and the call for change in the status of women. This exhibition invites us to think more carefully about exploring the ways in which art may contribute to the realisation of this call.

A number of contributors to the 1325 debate on this Blog have expressed disappointment with the slow pace of change and the level of resistance which assessing the 1325 Resolution five years on has brought to light. This is not to say that no progress has been made. Rather, it may be taken to suggest that a more holistic approach is needed - that a legal instrument is not in itself a sufficient vehicle for change.

In that case, could we not benefit from thinking about how art may support this quest for change - in the case of the ‘Imagine a World Exhibition’ by conveying the message ‘Stop Violence Against Women’ in a way that invites the audience to revisit, and possibly change, otherwise unchallenged assumptions.

To support this, it is stated on the exhibition's web-page that research from Amnesty International reveals that many people feel that violence against women is ‘not their problem’ and not an issue which they should engage with. In the light of this, it may well prove useful to think about how art can serve as a way of confronting people with such underlying assumptions, rather than simply assume that a legal instrument is sufficient to fuel change?

If we wish to see changes of a more radical nature we have to explore more innovative approach in order to engage a wider audience and thus broaden the scope of the debate and the prospects for change.  

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