Activist Art In Writer's Block

1095 Words 5 Pages
Lucy Lippard defines activist art as trying to “combine social action, social theory, and the fine arts tradition, in a spirit of multiplicity and integration.” She also describes activist art as being free from any particular style, as a movement for cultural democracy, and as a way of giving a voice to the seemingly invisible and powerless victims of social and political injustice. Thus, many artists have produced activist art for the purpose of expressing their positions on particular political and social issues. Sheryl Oring’s “Writer’s Block” is a prime example of activist art. As one first steps into Oring’s exhibition, one observes the placement of numerous typewriters locked inside dull and rusty steel cages. Although they’re just material …show more content…
Evidently, typewriters are a necessary tool for writers, so by taking them away and locking them inside steel cages, one strips away this tool from the writer and consequently, he can no longer express his ideas or opinions. Locking the typewriters within steel cages is similar to the Nazi’s book-burning as they both share a common symbolic purpose: to censor and eliminate freedom of expression from a particular group of people. Also, one can establish an interpretation between the caged typewriters and the physical imprisonment of the Jews in the concentration camps: not only were Jews physically imprisoned to concentration camps, but their ideas and expressions were also imprisoned like the typewriters inside these cages. According to Lippard, Oring’s use of metaphor is a significant characteristic of activist art. In his definition, Lippard suggests that activist art opposes unjust political views by “providing alternative images, metaphors, and information formed with humor, irony, outrage, and compassion, in order to make heard and seen those voices and faces hitherto invisible and powerless.” This is exactly what Oring’s work accomplished. By reminding people of the irrational book-burning and the injustice behind the Nazi’s systematic censorship of expression, “Writer’s Block” portrays a metaphor that induces a feeling of outrage and …show more content…
Evidently, cultural democracy can’t possibly exist if there are restrictions or limitations placed on any kind of expression or any group of people. In a cultural democracy, everyone must have the liberty to express freely without any kind of censorship, and this is the message that Oring achieves through the symbolic content of his exhibition. Thus, by caging in the typewriters, one can argue that Oring ultimately exposes the danger that censorship poses upon this goal for cultural democracy. Also, Lippard believes that cultural democracy is a right, just like political democracy, in which people have the right “to make and to be exposed to the greatest diversity of expression.” Oring’s work attempts to do exactly that: not only does “Writer’s Block” show uniqueness and diversity in its own expression, it also promotes the political and social importance of freedom of expression. When the average person thinks of art, he or she thinks of famous paintings or sculptures like the Mona Lisa and the statue of David, however, Oring strives to convey cultural democracy by abandoning any particular and conventional style, and expressing her overall message through a non-conventional work of art. After all, rusty type-writers locked inside a cage do not scream art for the average person, however, it

Related Documents