Art, Protest, and the Archives

Friday, August 4, 2023 - 12:00am to Sunday, January 7, 2024 - 12:00am
Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
121 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06511
Open to: 

Visit the Beinecke Library website for daily hours and other visitor information.
It is hard to miss the role of art in protest these days. Bold acts of performativity; vulnerable bodies marching and dancing in the streets; songs, chants, posters, banners, murals, new monuments raised and old ones brought crashing down. Alongside grief, fear, and anger, there is a collective exuberance here, the discovery of power in the aesthetics of resistance. It is this moment of unforeseen power in beauty mingling with defiance—art merging with protest—that breathes life into such images, infusing cultural memory with hope that change is possible in times like these. But what is this power? Can something as otherworldly as art really change the world? Aren’t there more direct ways to resist? What strategies and tactics have artists and activists tried? Do they work? Is art still art when it serves political ends? Isn’t that just propaganda? Above all: What can art do that other forms of resistance cannot? Artists and activists have been asking questions like these for a century or more. We still ask them today. Inspired by Black Lives Matter, Standing Rock, and other recent struggles, a whole new generation faces them, urgently, as it confronts pressing new concerns of its own. Art, Protest, & the Archives invites concerned citizens young and old to explore both questions and answers through the work of previous generations in a century-long struggle to change the world through the power of art.