The Center for Artistic Activism regularly publishes articles, books and essays on artistic activism.

The Art of Activism: Your All Purpose Guide to Making the Impossible Possible

This accessible, richly illustrated guide shows how to create progressive social change by mixing the emotional power of art with the strategic planning of activism. From O/R Books.

The Art of Activism brings together the authors’ extensive practical knowledge—gleaned from over a decade’s experience training activists around the world—with theoretical insights from fields as far-ranging as cultural studies and cognitive science. More at artofactivismbook.com

The Art of Activism Book
The Art of Activism: Your All Purpose Guide to Making the Impossible Possible

The Art of Activism: Workbook

Artistic activism isn’t just a set of ideas, it’s a practice. This companion to The Art of Activism is designed to help you develop the skills necessary to become the most æffective artistic activist you can be. For over a decade, the Center for Artistic Activism has been researching and creating training materials to help artists and activists make the impossible possible. In 50 easy-to-follow exercises, you’ll practice the techniques, perspectives, and approaches that we’ve seen lead to creative and impactful actions and campaigns. More and a free PDF at artofactivismbook.com/workbook

The Art of Activism: Workbook

Additional Publications

  • Political Imagination

    At the C4AA we like to say that: Imagination powers change. And changes power. But why is imagination so important to social and political change. In this encyclopedia article for The Palgrave Encyclopedia of the Possible on “political imagination,” C4AA Co-founder Stephen Duncombe and C4AA alumnus Silas Harrebye explore the whys and hows of activist …


  • The Copenhagen Experiment, Social Movement Studies

    Over three days on a bridge in Copenhagen, C4AA Co-Founder Steve Duncombe and C4AA alumnus Silas Harrebye and a team of young researchers and activists set out to test whether creative forms of activism are more effective than conventional ones. (Spoiler: they are.) The findings of this first-ever public experiment in artistic activism is now …


  • Publications of the Center for Artistic Activism

    Why Artistic Activism?

    Sometimes we’re asked, “what’s this artistic activism thing all about?” and “what’s the difference between artistic activism and regular activism?” or “why would I use artistic activism in my campaign?” As an answer, we offer this primer. Why Artistic Activism: Nine Reasons By Stephen Duncombe and Steve Lambert 1: Artistic Activism Mobilizes Affect and Effect …


  • DREAM: RE-IMAGINING PROGRESSIVE POLITICS IN AN AGE OF FANTASY – FREE PDF

    Dream: Re-Imagining Progressive Politics in an Age of Fantasy, by Center for Artistic Activism co-director Stephen Duncombe is now a free PDF. Part analysis of popular culture, part how-to guide to creative activism, Stephen make a case for how activists can, and must use fantasy and spectacle in their work…and do it ethically. FREE PDF. Dream: …


  • Lessons From Utopia

    Adapted from the C4AA’s upcoming book How To Win: The Art of Activism, this is an article by Co-Directors Duncombe and Lambert about how Artistic Activists can use the idea and ideal of Utopia. Lessons From Utopia Part 1 Lessons From Utopia Part 2 Lessons From Utopia Part 3


  • Protest Sign

    Leading up to the Women’s March(es) on January 21, 2017, C4AA Co-Director Stephen Duncombe was asked to write about a “political object” for the web journal HiLoBrow.  He chose to write about a protest sign he had made and carried at an earlier march.


  • Can Art Save Us from Bullshit? The Practice of Making Political Art that Works

    In November of 2016, C4AA Co-Director Stephen Duncombe and School for Creative Activism alumnus Silas Harrebye were invited to Oslo Norway to do a presentation (with local actors!) at the National Theatre as part of the Public Calling conference. They later wrote up a version of this performance, sans actors, for Public Seminar, the web …


  • Affect and Effect: Artful Activism and Political Impact

    As part of a collection of essays on The Democratic Public Sphere (edited by Henrik Kaare Nielsen, et al.) C4AA Co-Director Stephen Duncombe writes about the history of a protest as a performance, what this looks like in an age of global information flows, and the problems of protocols and interface between spectacular protests and …


  • Does it Work? The Æffect of Art Activism

    In this article, published in Social Research in 2016,  C4AA Co-Director Stephen Duncombe muses on the different ways in which activist art can “work,” In the process, presenting the patented C4AA mathematical formula for success. No kidding, well kinda kidding.


  • Protest Scenography

    C4AA Co-Director Stephen Duncombe considers protest as a performance piece in this short 2013 article in Performance Research, using case studies from the Civil Rights campaign to desegregate Birmingham, Alabama to Occupy Wall Street.


  • Bar-B-Que Utopia

    Stephen Duncombe & Steve Lambert “The Good Life” was the mantra of the United States in the 1950s. The country had emerged from a devastating economic depression and a brutal world war into a era of seemingly unbound plenty. The economy was in high gear from the war: there were new products to consume for …


  • No Longer Interested

    In 2014, Center Co-Director Steve Lambert was asked to contribute to A Blade of Grass’ ‘Growing Dialogue‘, a series of practitioner-led articles and opinion pieces circling around questions of the affect and effect of art and social practice. Steve’s contribution was No Longer Interested, which you can read below… No Longer Interested I’ve worked to strike …


  • INTRODUCTORY ESSAY FOR ‘TRUTH IS CONCRETE’

    In 2014, Stephen Duncombe and Steve Lambert were invited to write an introductory essay for “Truth is Concrete: A Handbook for Artistic Strategies in Real Politics“. It includes essays from, among many others: Andy Bichlbaum, Reverend Billy, Andrew Boyd, Tania Bruguera, Andrea Fraser, Guillermo Gómez-Peña, Hans Haacke, John Jordan, Kalle Lasn, Leónidas Martín, Antanas Mockus, …


  • On Utopia

    Keri Smith is a long-time friend of the Center, and even sits on our board! For her 2014 book, The Imaginary World Of…, Center Co-Director Steve Lambert was asked to write a few words on Utopia, so he did… (Also – check out her latest book, “The Wander Society“) On Utopia The problem with reality …


  • ‘No One Wants To Watch A Drum Circle’ (and Something for the Letters Section of The Sun Magazine)

    Back in 2011, Center Co-Director Steve Lambert wrote a short piece called “No One Wants to Watch a Drum Circle” for the Beautiful Trouble book (which you can read here). That piece was selected to be included in The Sun Magazine in 2014. After it was published, someone who didn’t like his criticism of drum …


  • And What Do I Do Now?

    Center Co-Director Steve Lambert presented this talk at the Responsible Data Forum in January. We think it’s got a lot to say about how to turn data towards social goals so we thought we’d share it. USING DATA VISUALIZATION FOR SOCIAL CHANGE Those who visualize data can be reluctant to sully themselves in the messy world …


  • Activist Art: Does it Work? — from OPEN! Journal

    The first rule of guerilla warfare is to know the terrain and use it to your advantage. The topography on which the activist fights may no longer be the mountains of the Sierra Maestra or the jungles of Vietnam, but the lesson still applies. Today, the political landscape is one of signs and symbols, story …


  • three women at a school for artistic activism workshop

    School for Creative Activism, a project of the Center for Artistic Activism — Social Text

    Overview The first rule of guerrilla warfare is to know the terrain and use it to your advantage. No longer does this require navigating the mountains of Cuba with a rifle on one’s back, as today’s political topography is one of symbols and signs, images and expressions. From small community organizations to international NGOs, the School …


  • AN OPEN LETTER TO CRITICS WRITING ABOUT POLITICAL ART

    Last weekend Creative Time held their fourth annual summit on the current state of artistic activism. Over two days, scores of political artists from around the world gave short presentations and organized longer workshops. Hundreds of people participated. The critical response, so far, has been underwhelming: few critics attended and those that did had little substantive to …