Throughout history, art has been used as a means to voice opinion, to talk about social matters and to depict major events that took place in the story of civilisation. Today, the vehicle of art to do just that, is equally as important, if not more so.
In a time of snapchats and instastories, where story telling has become so temporal, we thankfully still have the power of other art forms such as photography, video, fine art and graffiti to document major historical events that shape our world today. In the last 2 weeks, we have been reminded just how important these art forms are, and why they are absolutely crucial to remind future generations about the important lessons to be learned from our time.
Last week saw the mindless killing of George Floyd as a result of police brutality. Unfortunately, this was not a one-off or isolated incident in recent American history, but that image of the police officer kneeling hard on his neck, even in the absence of the accompanying video, is burned permanently into the memory of not just George’s family, but the entire world.
Now let’s not make any mistake here, the photos of that incident were not taken to be the subject of an art exhibition - not by any stretch of the imagination but that one image has enraged the world. It has had the power to evoke an outcry of disgust and to force a much needed conversation about the hidden and unfortunately increasingly unhidden cancer of racism. It has even forced people to risk their lives during a serious global pandemic to come out onto the streets and protest.
Art has this power; and art has always played a part in expressions of protest and resistance, even as far back as the French Revolution, to the 2 World Wars of the 20th century, artists have always been agents of cultural change.
There are many artists all over the world that are using the power of art to change the direction of narrative.
Banksy, arguably the most well-known guerilla artist of the 21st century, whose works provide an unspoken narrative on contemporary society, is proof of how powerful art can be. His pieces, such as his murals on the apartheid wall built in Occupied Palestine, brought much needed attention to world’s biggest open air prison; likewise with his powerful works highlighting homelessness and issues relating to areas of social inequity in the United Kingdom. Or the artworks of Ai WeiWei, whose artwork and installations provide a commentary on the Chinese government’s stance on human rights and democracy.
Organisations such as MasterPeace have sought to counter the extremist policies of the Trump Administration’s desire to build a wall at the Mexican border, by inviting artists from all over the world to do murals that actually bring together all members of society. Siddiqa Juma, one of the founding members of IslamicArtPrints.com was invited to created one such mural in London, which she did with the help of Teakster and Samir Malik along with thousands of passers-by on London’s South Bank, in 2017.
Likewise, Mohammed Ali 'Aerosol' has been doing socially relevant murals in the UK for a number of years. Examples of his work can be found here.
There are many forms of protest, ones that show anger, pain, bold statements that make us question whether what we believe is right or wrong and there are protests that try to turn negative messages into positive actions.
We believe that art has the power to evoke emotion, to create dialogue and to unite - through joining forces, respecting our differences, but always showing solidarity wherever and whenever there is injustice.
From all of us at IslamicArtPrints.com - we stand with all of our brothers and sisters in the Black community.
We are not just with you today, we are with you always.
Below is a list of resources and information for people who wish to make donations or learn more about the Black Lives Matter causes: