What defines protest and how does it relate to visual culture? How powerful is art as an enactor of social change?
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The second issue of Contra, to be published in early 2019, will be themed around protest. Fifty years on from 1968, the “year of revolt”, we again find ourselves in a particularly pertinent moment to explore this topic. The current political climate, underpinned as it is by the rapid rise of populism; the increasing threat of climate change; the development of global conflicts; and heightening tensions among the political elite; has brought with it a new wave of protests. These have come not only in the form of mass public gatherings, but also social media campaigns, standalone speeches, installations, memorials, performances, paintings, photographs and more.
This visual aspect of protest is not new, but it is ever-changing, and it is this fluidity that we hope to showcase in the magazine. We will look at the ways in which artists, architects, designers, filmmakers, photographers and other kinds of visual practitioners have used their work to respond to a social issue they are faced with or interested in. In doing so, we hope to provide a platform for a multitude of voices and pose questions such as: What defines protest and how does it relate to visual culture? How powerful is art as an enactor of social change? And what does the future hold for protest as a visual language?