7 Examples Of Activism In Art: Exploring Performative Activism

It seems like everyday art activists are using their creative genius to develop new ways to social practice art and activism together. This post will explore the many facets of art activism.

You will also learn the following:

  • The Art Activism Definition
  • Social Issues Through Art
  • How Art And Activism Work Together
  • What is Performative Activism
  • Activist Artists
  • Performative Activism Examples

What is Art Activism

Art activism is a form of protest in the form of art. Art activists use various forms of media, such as music, poetry, and painting to voice their dissent against society’s values.

One example is the graffiti artist Banksy who uses his work to address themes such as war and capitalism.

Social Issues Through Art

The use of art as a form of protest and political statement has been around for centuries, but it has recently gained traction.

Performance art can express and convey messages that we cannot voice through other methods. In other words, art activism makes it easier to talk about controversial topics like gender identity or climate change.

Art And Activism

Activist art creatively uses art to change society and create social justice for all people. Activists use art for change to communicate their desire to advocate social issues through art.

A good artist knows that an artwork is not just a painting. It’s the way you can see the world and experience it.

Van Gogh

Performative Activism

Performance activism is a performance that incorporates aspects of activism and art to create an interactive experience for the audience while addressing issues such as oppression, inequality, social justice, and cultural appropriation.

This kind of socially engaged art makes you want to get up off your chair and do something more than sitting around all day long in front of a computer screen or front of some canvas waiting for inspiration to come out.

Activist Artists

Some famous activist artists include Yoko Ono, Ai Weiwei, and Banksy.

Yoko Ono

Yoko Ono is a Japanese artist best known for her work in performance art and conceptual art.

She is also involved in music and filmmaking. In the early 1960s, she was part of the Fluxus movement and later collaborated with John Lennon on various projects.

AI Weiwei

Ai Weiwei is a Chinese artist, curator, and social activist.

He is known for his controversial work, which often critiques the Chinese government and addresses social injustice. In 2011, he was arrested by the Chinese authorities and held for 81 days.


Banksy is a British street artist whose identity is unknown.

His graffiti and street art often feature satirical political commentary. He has created artworks in many cities worldwide, including London, Paris, New York, and Bethlehem.

Art Activism Examples

Some artists choose to make their artwork interactive by including viewers in the creative process or experience and mobilizing them into taking tangible actions for social change.

Performative activism can help facilitate change by empowering individuals through self-expression and encouraging them to act against injustice in their communities.

I Am Not Your Toy

“I am not your toy” was created by Coco Fusco with six performances at Defibrillator Gallery in NYC from September 16 – to October 14.

There were six performances of “I am not your toy” at the Defibrillator Gallery in New York City from September 16 to October 14.

The piece is a series of mixed media and performance art pieces to highlight the experiences of women, specifically Black and Brown women, who get persecuted.

Caught Up

The activist art performance took place at the Powerhouse Arena in Brooklyn, NY.

This case of performance activism gets attributed to the artist’s mother and her love of reading.

In the spring of 2014, the creator made a vow to read one book per day for all 31 days of April.


Yony Leyser created “Pilgrimage.”

This example of activism and art took place at The Greene Space in New York City, and it included two performances on October 29 and November 19.

This particular performance activism was composed of dance sequences adapted to incorporate religious practices into them.

The first part focused on the transition from one gender to another, the second section looked at how transgender people are perceived, and the last section showed how religion impacts our daily lives.


Sharmini Perera and Manish Vyas created it.

This art activist performance took place at the Queens Museum in New York City on September 24, 2014.

The concept of this collaboration was to create a series of paintings that would highlight different moments from Sita’s life and images typically seen in Indian art and tradition; however, they wanted these types of images to get portrayed in a new way.

Final Word On Art Activism

The performative activism examples we’ve discussed should inspire us all to think about how we can use activism and art for something more meaningful than just personal expression alone. If this sounds like a project worth pursuing, then don’t hesitate to reach out.


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