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As an essential element of a politically conscious society, politically charged art continues to evolve as it grows in popularity and dynamism. Concerns relating to human rights, corruption, the distribution of class, wealth and power have proven to be universal issues. This notion triggers artists around the world to voice their opinions through their medium of choice and take a stand on the global political causes that concern them most.
In her latest piece, Badwan, a Palestinian artist based in Gaza, invites the viewers into her bedroom, where she remained secluded for 100 days. During the most recent Israeli-Palestinian conflict in 2014, both Israelis and Palestinians had to take cover in bomb-shelters or indoors whilst the other side fired. Badwan chose her own bedroom – a private, safe place, to resemble a shelter from the violence and rubble outside her house. The photographs, as colourful and peaceful as they may seem, highlight the opposing reality of those days when everything was pale, covered dust and intense.
Iran’s nuclear programme is probably one of the Israeli Prime Minister’s greatest fears. Prior to the 2015 elections, Benjamin Netanyahu gave a speech to US Congress and undoubtedly divided Americans and Israelis on the issue. Moshik Lin, an Israeli caricaturist, portrays Netanyahu as a winner who controversially used the speech for his own campaign and eventually won the election. The balloons in the background resemble bombs and are coloured blue and red like the American flag. The media loves Netanyahu as much as the Americans love the media. This bittersweet caricature shows how in politics, the strongest always survives.
Less than a month before the elections took place in Israel, well-known graffiti artist Banksy visited Gaza. On his visit, he painted a few pieces on the remains of a house destroyed by the Israeli army. One of the murals shows a kitten playing with a scrap metal ball as if it was a woolen toy. On his website, the activist street artist explains, ‘I wanted to highlight the destruction in Gaza by posting photos on my website, but on the internet people only look at pictures of kittens.’ Unlike the kitten, his new anti-immigration mural in Clacton-on-Sea was removed by the council after complaints of racism. The work showed five gray pigeons, holding up signs including one stating ‘Go back to Africa’ towards a more colourful migratory swallow. The piece was made in reaction to a UKIP argument that Britain’s immigration policies are too lax.
This mass-sculptural performance displays the human cost of austerity and urging action against it. Artist-activist Liz Crow sculpted 650 small human figures. Each figure represents an individual at the sharp end of austerity. The number of sculptures also echoes the 650 constituencies and the number of members of Parliament whose choices determine the choices of others. The exhibition will tour from Bristol to Central London until the eve of the elections. The artist will then set a bonfire, burning the figures and grounding the remains to dust.
Following Nicky Morgan’s saying that British teenagers should steer away from the arts, Bob and Roberta Smith (Patrick Brill’s pseudonym) decided to stand against her predecessor Michael Gove in the coming UK elections. Gove’s views erode confidence in the arts and in creative education. Bob and Roberta’s work, since standing as an independent candidate in Surrey Heath, has been focusing on promoting art and encourages future students to choose the humanities.
By Inbal Drue
Inbal Drue was born in Israel, has lived in several places and is currently based in Ramat Gan. She’s a visual artist and a writer, living between the second and third dimensions. Nowadays she’s an art teacher and living the dream to use her verbal passion in order to express her visual passion. She practices photography, installation art and has recently been exploring sound. You can find her on www.inbaldrue.com.