Our research began by interviewing practicioners. Here’s a selection from our archives:

  • Aaron Gach / The Center for Tactical Magic
    Aaron Gach is the founder of the Center for Tactical Magic and has a notable background. As part of his art training, he studied with a magician, a ninja, and a private investigator. Under the auspices of the Center for Tactical Magic he collaborates with a variety of artists, activists, and thinkers to produce projects […]
  • Aaron Hughes
    “We’re bringing about these extreme situations, we’re bringing about that choice where people have to respond just like in Iraq. We’re making people respond to us. The whole idea was to share that, because there was no way in our minds that people in the United States could think that an occupation was moving into […]
  • Adelaide Damoah
    “I noticed whenever something happens whether it’s some kind of disaster, some people get killed or one person gets killed, well that’s just what happens the world just keeps on turning, life goes on, and it’s disgusting but that’s just what happens. So that kind of stuff I sometimes put into the work because that […]
  • Alfredo Jaar
    Alfredo Jaar is an artist, architect, and filmmaker who lives and works in New York City. He was born in Santiago de Chile. Jaar has realized more than sixty public interventions around the world and more than fifty monographic publications have been published about his work. He became a Guggenheim Fellow in 1985 and a […]
  • Amin Husain
    “Art actions relevant for today come from a place of vulnerability and radical love, from fighting back. They push back and it creates a little space, and that little space could be something more meaningful, if only for a second. And then you do it again. And it gives you that breath of fresh air.” […]
  • André Leipold
    It’s not that we have a vision necessarily, but we try to poke holes in the scenery – a scenery which is built up by the politicians, by the media. They are playing theatre, too, with our lives and with our destinies. We are making a counter-theatre to go against theirs. So, by poking holes […]
  • Andrew Boyd
    “I think there is something affirming of our humanity in culture – in the community building side of things. A connective tissue, quilting all of us together and creating meaning as you strive for these outcomes. That is different from operational politics – when you’re just trying to do turn out or get numbers or […]
  • Avram Finkelstein
    “That’s the thing about history, you know, history is capital. The reason why I think the distinctions are worth knowing about is while communal responses, political responses, like ACT UP are incredibly valuable and noteworthy, there’s also power in the individual voice. It was six gay men, who had no idea that they were surrounded […]
  • Beatrice Glow
    It’s a long wave. I think of everything as being interdependent or part of an ecosystem, philosophically and biologically. There are urgent moments of crisis where the waves are crashing on the land, which are the moments that activists quickly rise to. But then there’s the long waves, behind them, that are holding a space. […]
  • Ben Davis
    In this interview, Ben Davis, radical art critic and author of 9.5 Theses on Art and Class, talks with C4AA co-founder Stephen Duncombe about his “constructively critical” view of art’s role in activism. Davis discusses some of the trends he sees in contemporary political art and considers the realistic scope of art’s impact on change.
  • Coco Fusco
    “People don’t like the things that I do. At all. The problem is that I still do them. So it’s kind of like, it would be easy to throw me out for a lot of reasons, and I have gotten bounced. But I’m still working. That’s enough.” “It took three hundred years to get rid […]
  • Dara Greenwald
    “You could go down to any commercial gallery and see political art. It has political content, it has a critique, opposition, maybe a submerged expression that was not readily validated by dominant culture. But activism is…is just different. I feel like there’s a real difference between making cultural projects that are intended to augment, heighten, […]
  • Diana Arce
    he change has to come from socialization. It’s the way that people are being taught to interact with other people. I don’t think it’s something that’s going to come quickly; I think it’s a generational issue. If we do enough right things now and teach these younger generations of people what’s up, get them on […]
  • Dread Scott
      “They denounced my work on the floor of the Senate as they passed the legislation. And President Bush publicly said he thought the work was disgraceful. So here I am 24 years old and the President of the United States knows I exist and doesn’t like what I’m doing, and I think, I must […]
  • Elaine Forde
    I think that the arts, in terms of social change, create an indirect way for people to be able to speak and express themselves. So, you can use theatre, spoken word, visual art, contemporary art, dance, movement, to relay your message, but you can also involve the people who need to relay their messages in […]
  • Elliot Crown
    Images operate the same way that memories do; images have this deep-seated attachment to your mind and I like to think that the images ingrain themselves into people…It really makes them want to stop for a minute and read the article. And hopefully it’s not a terribly biased article. And hopefully the image, in itself, […]
  • Eve Mosher
    In a few short years, Eve Mosher went from being an abstract sculptor who cared about the environment to an artist making powerful, engaging, and interactive public works about the climate crisis. Kitra Cahana/The New York Times Eve is an artist and interventionist living and working in New York City. Her work has been profiled […]
  • Favianna Rodriguez
    In this interview, C4AA co-founder Steve Duncombe talks with Favianna Rodriguez, prolific art activist and Executive Director of CultureStrike. She shares her creative process behind the “Migration is Beautiful” butterfly, an image that has been widely adopted as a symbol of the migrant rights movement. They also discuss Rodriguez’s theory of change, which involves a strategic focus on cultural change over policy change, as she argues that policy is “the final manifestation of an idea,” that stems directly from culture.
  • Federico Hewson
    here’s socially engaged art, there’s socially engaged business, and there can also be socially engaged horticulture; flowers working for different social issues, whether that’s fundraising or awareness or development. Federico Hewson is a writer, curator, and activist currently based in Berlin, Germany. Hewson is the creator of the Valentine Peace Project and an advocate for […]
  • Felicia Young
    My theory is one of creative collaboration and joyous affirmation — activating change through the inspirational power of the arts and affecting the individual on a deep emotional level, which can be imperceptible, as well as through more visible and public, celebratory and collective community action. People may look to statistics and metrics, such as numbers engaged and gardens saved, which we […]
  • Fernando Garcia-Dory
    In this interview, Fernando Garcia-Dory talks with C4AA student fellow Emily Bellor about his practice of incorporating art into collaborative projects for social change. They discuss his work in cooperative farming as well as the tensions that can arise when the art world meets the activist world.
  • FiNK
    Visual appreciation for my art is wanted I suppose, but not totally necessary…Ideally, I want my audience to react in some way either positively or negatively to my art and either a smile or smirk will keep me happy as either way I have gotten an audience response to my art. I suppose the artivist […]
  • Gan Golan
    In this interview, George Perlov talks with Gan Golan, artistic activist and author of the bestselling children’s book parody “Goodnight Bush” and “The Adventures of Unemployed Man,” the critically-acclaimed graphic novel about the economic crisis. Golan discusses the importance of movement narratives and calls for artists and activists, alike, to figure out ways to measure what a movement means to the public.
  • Hans Haacke
    Hans Haacke lecture Gallatin School, New York University, April 15, 2008 S&S: As a political artist, how can you know when you’ve been successful? Haacke: I’ve been asked that question many times, and that question requires one to go around it before one really avoids it. I believe it is a relatively new phenomenon that […]
  • Jan Cohen-Cruz
    “t’s kind of a witnessing. It’s kind of an active witnessing where someone is giving you feedback. It’s dialogic as you go, and that to me is a lot of the value. There’s much to be said for dialogue in many contexts and I’d say that dialogue is a component of the way I do […]
  • Joey Juschka
    “ intention is to raise the topic, and on one side, be funny, and on the other side be really serious underneath; to find a way into people’s minds in a way that isn’t confrontational, because then most people would go, “Oh yeah? You want to confront me? You’re aggressive! Why should I stay and […]
  • Joseph DeLappe
    Joseph DeLappe, Dead in Iraq, 2007 “It may not effect change in the kind of physical sense that maybe we’ve been talking about, but I think if you can get inside someone’s head, and make the synapses shift for a second, then there’s something really valuable to that.” Working with electronic and new media since […]
  • L.M. Bogad
    Innovation, surprise… when you surprise someone, you’re earning a moment because you’re opening up a space. The surprise can open up a temporal, experiential space where anything can come in.  There’s opening up a political space, opening up a physical space.   Events, protest events, tend to either occupy space or open space.  There are […]
  • Marlène Ramírez-Cancio
    In this interview, C4AA co-founder Steve Duncombe talks with Marlene Ramirez-Cancio, Associate Director of Arts and Media at the Hemispheric Institute. They discuss the elusive nature of evaluating artistic activism through qualitative frameworks. What is the vocabulary for doing so? And why is that vocabulary so difficult to find? Marlene shares her thoughts on these questions and challenges arts funders to become more comfortable with metrics that measure qualities beyond material successes.
  • Owen Griffiths
    In this interview, C4AA research fellow Sarah J Halford talks with Owen Griffiths, a social practice artist based in Swansea, Wales in the UK. Griffiths shares his strategy for using art projects as tactics to enter into publicly-owned spaces. He collaborates with others to transform these spaces into beautiful and useful landscapes that are co-authored by people in the community. Ultimately, he argues that the art is used to beautify the space, create community buy-in, and keep the space in the hands of the people – rather than sold to a private corporation.
  • Pam Korza
    In this interview, C4AA co-director Steve Duncombe talks with Pam Korza about methods of evaluation in artistic activism. They consider the resistance that some artists have to quantitative evaluation, as well how we might evaluate the work from a perspective of aesthetic excellence. Korza also shares her extensive knowledge as co-director of Animating Democracy, an organization that fosters art for social change projects, and the six outcomes that she looks for when evaluating the success (or failure) of a project.
  • Phoebe Davies
    In this interview, C4AA research fellow Sarah J Halford talks with Phoebe Davies, a social practice artist based in London. In it, Davies discusses her work on constructing social spaces that provide an environment for productive, and often difficult, conversations about politics, sex, gender, and more. She also shares her thoughts on the importance of more collaboration and thoughtful reflection in and around art and activism.
  • Rebecca Bray and Britta Riley
    “…in terms of success, it really became more than just the art project that’s sitting on the wall. It became something that people wanted to engage in and talk about the wider implications.” “We actually wanted to give our work to the audience and let them play with it.” At the time of our interview Britta […]
  • Ron Goldberg
    Going back to the early days at the March on Washington…to watch people respond to us as we walked by was…people just lit up. It was 6-7 years into the epidemic by then and people were just looking for something to do that was positive. I remember chanting: “we’ll never be silent again!” And the […]
  • Sheba Remy Kharbanda
    “When I was doing grassroots work… around specific issues associated with trauma state violence sexual violence. I found that I wasn’t offering enough just documenting it. Witnessing is very important but then what do we do with all that pain, where do we take it? …many of us not from the “first world”, are coming […]
  • Webinar #27: Avram Finkelstein
    Avram discusses collectivity and communicating in public space for participants of the Free the Vaccine for COVID-19 campaign. At our last Free the Vaccine for COVID-19 meeting some participants said they wanted to know more about working in collectives. We immediately went to Avram Finkelstein who has a wealth of experience with working in collectives […]