fine print

An Introduction to Protest

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fine print's seventh issue asks: where does the protest occur in contemporary art and what does it push at?

Contemporary art – as witness to our environment, translation of our thoughts, document of our condition – is inherently embroiled in the complexities of our time. And though the idea of protest brings foremost to mind the artistic output of activism and social movements, it could be argued that the political affects every aspect of the art we create and consume; that the agitation and unrest of a particular moment in time permeates the production, exhibition, transmission and reception of art. With this broader reading of political engagement in mind, can art still act as a medium for social change? Is it enough for works to reflect discontent or is active protest needed? Is it possible to address societal, cultural and monetary unrest objectively? Or is there truth in the idea that the most political response is also the most personal?

With the labour behind the production and dissemination of art so glaringly under financial pressure, exploring the provocations of contemporary artists has particular urgency. Our writers offer their take; Tamzin Buchan (SA), Mark Dean (SA), Celia Dottore (SA), Liz Nowell, (SA), Julie Reed Henderson (SA), Mary-Jean Richardson (SA), Adelé Sliuzas (SA), Hen Vaughan (SA).