Can Art Change the World?

How art and artists can transform the world.

One of the most popular new works of art to emerge in recent weeks is the bronze Fearless Girl sculpture by Kristen Visval that has rapidly become a symbol and rallying point for the women’s movement.

It was placed on March 8 in Wall Street at the intersection of Broadway and Morris streets, to draw attention to gender inequality and the pay gap in the corporate world. The sculpture – which became an instant tourist draw, and has been seen by thousands of visitors to New York since it was installed — had been due to be removed on Sunday.

Now New York’s mayor Bill de Blasio has announced that the sculpture will stay in place at least until March next year.  The statue was “standing up to fear, standing up to power, being able to find in yourself the strength to do what’s right”, he added. “She is inspiring everyone at a moment when we need inspiration.”

The art work was commissioned by asset managers State Street Global Advisors (SSGA), who have stated that one in four of the 3,000 largest traded US companies did not have even one woman on their board and the company has said that the girl represented the future.

But this young girl has had a far wider and unexpected impact. It is being recognized as a symbol of the women’s movement and can be seen on many levels to represent the strength and courage of women around the world. Fearless Girl is something all women of any age, shape, color or creed can relate to.

The sculpture has been created by Kristen Visbal, an American sculptor who was born in Uraguay, and who now lives and works in Lewes, Delaware. She specializes in lost-wax casting in bronze. She attended the University of Arizona in Tucson. Her latest creation, Fearless Girl, is a 50-inch high (1,300 mm) bronze, installed on the Bowling Green in Manhattan’s Financial District.

According to Visbal, “The young girl says soft and sensitive equals strong and capable — The piece is pungent with Girl Power!”

In a March 8 press release she stated that “All women should relate to this work,” she wrote. “It should inspire the young to dream as if anything were possible and simultaneously encourage today’s working woman to hold her ground, no matter what challenges may come barreling down the pike.”

The piece was a collaboration with State Street Global Advisors and McCann New York in celebration of International Women’s Day, March 8, and Women’s History Month.

The Charging Bull sculpture was originally guerrilla art by Italian-born artist Arturo Di Modica. Installed in 1989, the bronze was meant to represent the “strength and power of the American people” in response to the market crash in 1987. But it become a popular attraction and was allowed to stay.

The impact of the Fearless Girl sculpture, and one that has not escaped anyone that sees it, lies in the fact that in spite of the confrontation by the iconic bull of Wall Street, the young girl braces herself and defiantly stands firm. As she faces off against the bull, she has become a potent symbol for the awakening strength in today’s international woman”s movement.

However, in an article on Artnet, a darker view of the story behind the sculpture is described.

In contrast, Fearless Girl, created by artist Kristen Visbal, is a carefully calculated play—some say a publicity stunt—by financial firm State Street Global Advisors (SSGA) and advertising firm McCann New York. As Nick Pinto put it at the Village Voice: “Too Bad That Statue of a Girl Staring Down the Wall Street Bull Is a PR Stunt by Wall Street Patriarchs.”

“As such, the work’s pro-women message is a bit tainted. Both companies are predominantly run by men: Hyperallergic crunched the numbers and found McCann’s leadership was only 27 percent female. SSGA was even worse at just 18 percent. The gender gap, the very thing The Fearless Girl appears to be fighting, is alive and well at the companies that brought her into being. “Could there possibly be anything more patronizing,” asked Hyperallergic’s Jillian Steinhauer, “than two massive, male-dominated capitalist companies installing a branded statue of the most conceivably non-threatening version of womankind in supposed honor of a day devoted to women’s equality that was founded by the Socialist Party?”

(See the complete Artnet article https://news.artnet.com/exhibitions/fearless-girl-wall-street-art-installation-extended-904112?utm_campaign=artnetnews&utm_source=032817daily&utm_medium=email&utm_content=from_&utm_term=artnet%20News%20-%20European%20List%20Only )

In my opinion however, it shows that art has a great impact and can change the world, sometimes in totally unexpected ways!

This non-threatening but courageous little girl has become a potent symbol for the women’s movement as it makes its own statement about the strength and courage of women in the face of aggression — no matter what the original intent was of the firm that commissioned it.

You can never predict how art may transform the world !

see other articles at:  Artnet

https://news.artnet.com/exhibitions/fearless-girl-wall-street-art-installation-extended-904112?utm_campaign=artnetnews&utm_source=032817daily&utm_medium=email&utm_content=from_&utm_term=artnet%20News%20-%20European%20List%20Only

From the Cape Gazette, by Chris Flood, March 8, 2017.

http://www.capegazette.com/article/lewes%E2%80%99-kristen-visbal-creates-fearless-girl/128311

Fearless Girl was modeled and cast in two months, a process which typically takes six to eight months. The sculpture was cast in bronze at New Arts Foundry of Baltimore, Md.

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A Marriage of Art and Science

Artists and scientists exchanging ideas

Cosmic Song is a work of art and cosmic ray detector embedded in the floor of the Visitors entrance – Building 33, at CERN and was made in collaboration with the CERN workshops in 1987. It lights up with the constant rain of cosmic ray particles from outer space as visitors stand on the sculpture. The piece is made by the French artist Serge Moro

CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, has developed three unusual artist-in-residence programs that encourage the exchange of creative ideas between artists and scientists.  It is hoped that the ground-breaking program, and the  technology that explores the fundamental secrets of the universe can be a new force for human creativity.

Artists of all disciplines work as artists in residence at the laboratory, where they can both be inspired by the science and inspire the scientists to make new discoveries. While protons collide in the machinery at unimaginable speeds and perhaps reveal some of the secrets of the universe, the artists and scientists “collide” in ways that may help make some of these secrets more understandable to the human imagination. With this initiative, the chasm between the arts and the sciences may finally be bridged.

The laboratory, located in Geneva, is one of the world’s largest and most respected centers for scientific research in the world.

ATLAS mural at CERN by Josef Kristofoletti

COLLIDE

The first residency program, called Collide @ CERN, was launched in 2011, and combines a maintenance grant and prize money for the selected artist. The program “collides” the imaginations of artists with the minds of scientists to create new work.

The arts at CERN comes under the auspices of CERN’s Cultural Policy for Engaging with the Arts, Great Arts for Great Science.  The program is the leading art and science program that promotes a dialogue between artists and particle physics. It stimulates the creation of new expert knowledge in the arts through a connection with fundamental science. COLLIDE gives artists the opportunity to encounter the multi-dimensional world of particle physics.

Artists can apply online for the three-month residency and stipend of €10,000 that comes with the chance to be mentored by the CERN scientists and given a unique opportunity to experience the cutting edge of physics from the inside.

By forming partnerships with leading international arts organisations, CERN is allowing the “collision” to happen. Bill Fontana is the artist in residence, and the project’s creative patrons include Swiss architect Jacques Herzog, German photographer Andreas Gursky, British sculptor Antony Gormley, British musician Brian Eno, Dutch wildlife artist Frans Lanting and Japanese artist Mariko Mori.

The COLLIDE International Award started as Prix Ars Electronica Collide @ CERN, in a three-year partnership (2011-2014) with Ars Electronica. It was funded by private sponsors, with the prize money supported by our cultural partner at the time, Ars Electronica, Linz. In 2015, the partnership carried on for one more year with COLLIDE Ars Electronica Award. As of 2016 the COLLIDE International Award is part of The COLLIDE CERN FACT Framework Partnership 2016-2018, in collaboration with FACT, The Foundation for Arts and Creative Technology in Liverpool, UK.

Gayle Hermick’s sculpture Wandering the Immeasurable, at the CERN site in Switzerland. (Photo Guillaume, Jeanneret, CERN).

ACCELERATE

CERN’s second art program ACCELERATE, is the country-specific, one-month artists residency award. This award is for artists who have never spent time in a science laboratory before, and is the sister of CERN’s flagship residency programme, COLLIDE.

Every year, the ministries or foundations, from two different countries, fund a different artistic domain to participate in the ACCELERATE Awards. The winners receive a stipend of 5,000 CHF for their one-month residency at CERN, and a budget covers accommodation, subsistence and travel costs. The awards are made following open calls in each country, and the jury is made up of the cultural partners as well as representatives from Arts at CERN, including scientists from CERN.

The 2016 awards were

ACCELERATE Lithuania In collaboration with Rupert, and

ACCELERATE UAE – Supported by The Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation, ADMAF.

The 2017 awards are

ACCELERATE Croatia Award In collaboration with Kontejner, and

ACCELERATE Korea Award In collaboration with ARKO

On 20 May 2005, the well-known Swiss artist Gianni Motti went down into the LHC tunnel and walked around the 27 kilometres of the underground ring at an average, unaccelerated pace of 5 kph. This was an artistic performance, aimed at drawing a parallel between the fantastic speed of the beams produced by the future accelerator and the leisurely stroll of a human. The artist, who originally hails from Lombardy, was accompanied by cameraman Ivo Zanetti, who filmed the event from start to finish, and CERN physicist Jean-Pierre Merlo.

GUEST ARTISTS

CERN’s third residency program is Guest Artists. Initiated in 2016, artists with an extensive internationally recognized career, are invited to visit CERN for a short period, to learn about what the laboratory offers to arts and creativity, from an interdisciplinary approach.

James Brindle was awarded Honorary Mention of Collide International in 2016. He is a British writer, artist, publisher and technologist, currently based in Athens. His work covers the intersection of literature, culture and the network. His current research, on the impact of information technologies into knowledge, brought him to CERN.

Tomás Saraceno was the first Guest Artist of the year. His work is an ongoing research, informed by the worlds of art, architecture, natural sciences, astrophysics and engineering. During the past decade, he has initiated collaborations with scientific institutions that have included the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Max Planck Institute, the Nanyang Technological University of Singapore, and institutions of the Exhibition Road Cultural Group, among them Imperial College and the Natural History Museum London. He came to CERN to discuss ideas in cosmology and particle physics with scientists.

Pascal Dusapin, from France is interested in a diverse variety of fields, from morphogenesis to philosophy, from photography, to architecture, to the theatre of Samuel Beckett, to Flaubert’s work, among others. The French musician and composer Pascal Dusapin will be visiting CERN on 21-22 November for deep exploration in high energy physics.

More information about the CERN program is available from

Monica Bello, Head of Arts at Monica.Bello@CERN.ch  and

Julian Calo, Coordinator of Arts at  Julian.Calo@CERN.ch

CERN’s Advisory Board includes

Andrea Bellini – Director of Centre d’Art Contemporain de Genève

Frédérick Bordry – Director of Accelerators and Technology CERN

Assoc. Prof. Bilge Demirköz at the Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey.

Ariane Koek – Founder and former Head of Arts@CERN

Laurent Le Bon – President of Picasso Museum in Paris

CERN Particle Accelerator

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Constitutional Court Art Collection

How Art is Defining the Role of the Constitution and Justice in South Africa.

Art and justice are usually represented as dwelling in different domains: art is said to relate to the human heart, justice to human intelligence. Rationality is sometimes seen as inimical to art, and passion as hostile to justice. The Constitution Court Art Collection shows how art and human rights overlap and reinforce each other. At the core of the Bill of Rights and of the artistic endeavor represented in the Court is respect for human dignity. It is this that unites art and justice.”
Former Constitutional Court Justice Albie Sachs

An inspiring and poignant  collection of over 400 artworks has been formed in South Africa’s Constitutional Court.  More than an aesthetic addition to the Constitutional Court building; it is a unique collection of South African and international heritage that contributes to education, critical debate, and research on the roles of the Constitution and the Court.

The themes of the artworks.are connected to the Constitution in some way and all contribute to the Court’s special environment.  Media include tapestries, engravings, sculptures and paintings — also included are examples of bead-work and craft objects. Some are landscapes, abstract works, portraits that honor working people, others evoke the past or celebrate new beginnings, and the works of local artists predominate. . All were gifts to the highest court in South Africa, and are a tribute to the Constitution and its values.

Dozens of leading South African artists are represented in the collection.  There are large tapestries by Marlene Dumas, a selection by Gerard Sekoto from his Paris period, and drawings and a major sculpture by Dumile Feni. Other artists represented include  William Kentridge, Judith Mason, Willie Bester, Karel Nel, Cecil Skotnes, Hamilton Budaza, Kim Berman, Sue Williamson, Anton van Wouw, John Baloyi, Andrew Verster, Marc Chagall, and many others.

“Every day, as we try to answer difficult questions concerning fundamental human rights, the moving works of art and uplifting design of our building constantly remind us of what should never be forgotten: that justice is for people and that all people are united in their inherent human dignity.                    Former Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court, Pius Langa

The collection was assembled from the beginning of the Constitutional Court in 1994.   Justice Albie Sachs was appointed with his colleague  Justice Yvonne Mokgoro to take charge of decor when the Court was housed in a rented space. 

Justice Sachs was one of the founding judges of the Constitutional Court and he devoted himself to the challenge with passion and dedication — taking nearly 10 years to gather the pieces..  The Court’s original decorating  budget, the sum of R 10 000, was used to purchase a single work – Humanity, a tapestry .by Joseph Ndlovu.  The other acquisitions were donations from artists, gallery owners and patrons of the arts. 

Fund raising for the project has been difficult because the collection is governed  by the Constitutional Court Trust, which  is prevented from receiving  funding from entities that might have a possibility of future litigation before the Constitutional Court.  As a result this therefore precluded many local foundations and charities, since they are linked to corporations active in South Africa.

Judge Sachs went on a speaking tour of the United States to raise additional funds and contributions were also received from the Dutch and Finnish governments, the Getty Foundation and others. Some projects, such as Artists for Human Rights, donated artworks.  There were also a large number of art commissions. 

My hope is that this spirit of shared humanity, so clearly conveyed by the Court’s collection, will continue to inspire judges and ordinary people alike in our collective pursuit of justice”
Former Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court, Pius Langa

 

Key artworks in the Constitutional Court collection include:

The Man Who Sang and the Woman Who Kept Silent by Judith Mason. Often referred to as the “Blue Dress”, this is one of the collection’s most powerful works. The triptych was inspired by the execution of two liberation movement cadres by the security police – Phila Ndwandwe and Harald Sefola, whose deaths during the struggle were described at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) by their killers.

 Prison Sentences by ​Willem Boshoff. These eight slabs are made from Zimbabwean black granite and inscribed with the tally of days served behind bars by the Rivonia trialists who were sentenced to life in prison in 1964.

Nine Body Maps. This series of intimate self-portraits is the result of a community art project that gave those suffering from HIV and AIDS a platform to express their experiences of living with the disease.

 The Three Sentinels. Standing outside the building at three different corners are three sculptures referred to as ‘the three sentinels’. Adjacent to the building’s main entrance is History by Dumile Feni, a large bronze sculpture (based on a smaller clay artwork from 1987) that reminds visitors of the brutality of the master-slave relationship.

The South African flag. One of the most impressive features of the court chamber is the 6m by 2.5m intricately beaded and embroidered South African flag. The flag was hand-stitched over a period of six months by a group of women from KwaZulu-Natal. On completion of the work their names were also embroidered onto the flag in recognition of indigenous craftsmanship as a form of art.

“The building design expresses high hope for, and abiding faith in a united and democratic Sough Africa able to take its rightful place as a soveirgn state in the family of nations..  The Constitution, Court building and artwork share an animating theme:  Everyone has inherent dignity and the right to have their dignity respected and protected.  The art displayed in the Court is a perfect match for the buildings design.  .The collection affords the visitor, and all who work at the Court, a moving and delightful impression at every step and turn. Imbued with the spirit of emancipated humanity, it is the most vibrant collection I have seen in any courthouse in the world”
– US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Humanity, by Joseph Ndlovu, 1995, fiber

The Court, a potent representation of the democracy that replaced apartheid, was erected on the ruins of the Old Fort, a notorious prison that housed political activists including Mohandas Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and many others — and its location symbolizes the triumph of hope over a troubled past.

The symbolic importance of its setting was constantly in the forefront during the planning process and helped to refine the architectural plan of the project. The design brief stipulated that the building have meaning and significance to the evolving national cultural identity.of South Africa.

Artists and craftspeople were invited to participate in the building’s make-up by submitting proposals for individual elements many of the building components were conceptualized and customized by individual craftspeople.

A pdf brochure about the collection is available on the website http://ccac.org.za/

Touring the Constitutional Court of South Africa with Justice Albie Sachs. A video that explores the history, creation and art of the Constitutional Court is available on youtube at    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bSH7ToW1NsM&t=1093s

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