Agent of Transformation: part 3 “Transforming the world through social Media”

Grab a camera and take a picture of anything that inspires you. Media can transform society, especially when one thinks about social media: twitter and Facebook among others have taken the world by storm. Their contribution to the success of The Arab Spring movement is undeniable and Social media can be an extremely powerful tool to bring about change. Ai Weiwei, the Chinese Artist who uses Twitter to convey messages of any wrong doings by the Chinese government can attest to it.

Ai Wei Wei, one of China’s most renown contemporary artists, has used his sculptures, installations, architectures, curating, photographs and films to feed his social, political and cultural activism. Over the years, he has become an icon.

Using the Arts is more than a choice. It has become a question of social and environmental responsibility. And that is exactly why Suzi Gablik ,recalling in her book “the Reenchantment of Art” the forum organized by the Rockefeller Foundation in 1990, wonders if artists should be more engaged in work that addresses social issues. She ponders on the relevance to their art, as well as their participation in an inclusion of nature and issues of the environment in new ways, while highlighting the relationship of their work to environmental activism.

To answer to this question, Gablik visits many writers and philosophers’ theories, criticizing the philosophy of the Cartesian era for instance for being a method that only succeeded at creating individualistic societies. That individualism is at the core of many problems society is faced with. In focusing on individualist goals, artists separated themselves from the community and the world, undermining the interconnectedness of what Donella Meadows would emphasize on in “Thinking in Systems” as the glue that connects all the threads of the world.

That concept of transforming one’s self was debated over forty years ago by Brasilian writer Paulo Freire In his “ Pedagogy of the Oppressed”  when he emphasized on the importance for the oppressed to open themselves to the world by refusing to live by the debilitating narrative sickness, by breaking the chains of the system which enslaved them to others. He goes even further by encouraging students, one of the most typical group of oppressed subjects the world has known, to avoid being necrophilous beings who love the static and mechanism and instead, to espouse new ways, new ideologies and eventually free themselves by embracing artistic ways in other words, new creative and liberating pursuits of their lives.

Part 2 of Agent of Transformation can be found HERE.

Part 4 can be found HERE.

by: Wore Ndiaye K.