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Illuminating the Arts-Policy Nexus is a fortnightly series of articles on the role of art in public policymaking. This series invites WPI fellows and project leaders as well as external practitioners to contribute pieces on how artists lead policy change and how policymakers use creative strategies. Each article is also featured on Arts Everywhere, a web-based platform that seeks to magnify the voices of artists across the globe.
Reclaiming Cartography, Photography, and Colonial Imagery
Artist and world traveler Malala Adrialavidrazana examines globalization and cross-cultural productions. Figures, her latest collection, uses photomontage to disorient borders and bring together unlikely worlds, questioning notions of exploration, ownership, and the circulation of knowledge.
The Gang and the Government
Comparing today’s social issues to the politically-charged grunge era of the 1990s, Canadian artist Niki Singleton asks the question: If you can’t be free at a concert, where can you be? Inspired by Jane's Addiction lyrics, she created a comic exploring rising xenophobia and militarization of police.
A Violent Struggle Over National Identity
Kyrgyzstan’s anti-gay propaganda law has enabled a dramatic rise in violence and hate speech toward the LGBTQ community. Andrew North describes the transition from relative tolerance to frequent homophobic attacks in the context of mounting Russian political influence.
Global Roundtable: Borders
Borders are used to define the territory of nations, people, and even special zones, and their implementation can both impose limits and encourage creativity and change. In their essays, Emma Xin Ma and Gili Merin explore the economic, social, and political impact of borders within China and between Lebanon and Israel.
The first artist-run super PAC, For Freedoms, is hosting an exhibit in New York to showcase works that raise questions about fundamental political principles. Jakob Sergei Weitz discusses the co-founders' motivations for establishing a new kind of super PAC and their aim to spark conversations leading up to the U.S. presidential elections. Read more >
"Zero Days" and the Need for Cyber Policy
Zero Days, a documentary by Alex Gibney, lays bare the heavy artillery the U.S. has secretly developed for conducting cyberwarfare. Lisa Thomson discusses the uses and possible consequences of these emerging capabilities.
Melted Away: The American Dream Project
Nora Ligorano and Marshall Reese created a public art installation in which they wrote "The American Dream" in giant blocks of ice. Professor and poet Charles Bernstein dissects the messages and implications of watching these words melt.
The deliberate destruction of a culture makes up half the original definition of the term "genocide" and is often forgotten. Jakob Sergei Weitz explores the damage of cultural genocide through the film "The Destruction of Memory," screening at the Anthology Film Archives in Manhattan.
What is the First Sound of the Future?
The idea of dissenting or marginalized groups "having a voice" is one of the most recognized aspects of social justice. Shawn Van Sluys explores how technology can give voices to many but can also blend diverse voices into a monotonous sound.
The Politics of Monuments and Memorials
A recently installed World War II memorial in Budapest has caused controversy over its supposed whitewashing of Hungarian involvement in the Holocaust. Eunsun Cho considers the monument's political context and the role of art in constructing historical memory.
Embed in Egypt
Turkish photographer Emine Gozde Sevim's new book, Embed in Egypt, follows life in Egypt during and after the 2011 revolution. World Policy Journal sat down with Sevim to discuss the book, her experience taking photos amid riots and protests, and the current political climate in Egypt.
From Preston to Mumbai (and Back)
Arts Everywhere asked 18 artists from around the world to respond to the word "resilience." Comparing the plants and animals from her native Preston, England, to the area surrounding a park in Mumbai, Rebecca Chesney comments on the definition of resilience for both humans and nature.
Counterterrorism investigator Crofton Black and photographer Edmund Clark collaborated for four years to document the CIA's rendition program. Jakob Sergei Weitz examines their book, Negative Publicity: Artefacts of Extraordinary Rendition, and the questions it raises about the opacity of government.
A Mirror Covered in Dust
Documentary film "China's 3Dreams" casts a spotlight on Chinese millennials growing up ignorant of the painful history of the Cultural Revolution. World Policy Journal spoke with director Nick Torrens who spent 10 years in China exploring the country's past, present, and future through the eyes of its rising generation.
What a Queer Urban Future Looks Like: Nairobi
LGBT activism in Nairobi has blossomed over the last decade, thanks in part to the city’s vibrant cultural life and progressive social atmosphere. Eric Gitari details some of the Kenyan capital's LGBT history.
What a Queer Urban Future Looks Like: São Paulo
What might a queer urban future look like in São Paulo? Drawing on the work of José Esteban Muñoz, Thiago Carrapatoso considers the role of gentrification, overdevelopment, and social class in critiquing the city’s realities—and in imagining its possibilities.
What a Queer Urban Future Looks Like: Beirut
Arts Everywhere asked 11 respondents the question: What does a queer urban future look like? Maya Mikdashi, one respondent, explores the political dynamics and crosscutting identities that shape present-day Beirut, arguing that the conditions and practices that make a city "queer" vary across locations and populations.
Life is Waiting: Referendum and Resistance in Western Sahara
The documentary "Life is Waiting: Referendum and Resistance in Western Sahara" is about the creative resistance used by Sahrawis, the indigenous people of Western Sahara, in their fight for self-determination. Atul Bhattarai explores some of the themes of the film and the growing support for war in the Sahrawi community.
Building “The Eternal Sukkah”
Sukkot commemorates the departure of the Jews from Egypt and their stay in makeshift houses known as sukkahs. Graham Lawson writes about two artists in Jerusalem who constructed a sukkah from the parts of a Bedouin house, highlighting the link between Jewish history and the Bedouin way of life.
The corruption scandals involving President Dilma Rousseff and other high-level politicians are creating a frenzy in Brazil's media. Gian Spina argues that the media's and the judiciary's bias against the government exacerbate tensions in the country and make impeachment inevitable.
African Cultural Heritage in Brazil
The black population in Brazil has long been marginalized. Tracing the representation of Afro-Brazilians over time, Thiago de Paula Souza argues that the legacy of slavery still affects how they are perceived today, and that education reform is required to change this mindset.
What Can Be Done?
Since President Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) won electoral victory in November 2015, activists, artists, academics, and journalists who have raised their voices against government policy have faced arrests and persecution. Spike Art Magazine spoke to artist Ahmet Öğüt about the obstacles Turkish artists face and the limits of artistic protest.
“A Journey of a Thousand Miles: Peacekeepers,” recently screened at the United Nations, follows an all-female Bangladeshi peacekeeping unit in Haiti. Atul Bhattarai explores the themes of the documentary and the impact of the mission it covers.
Changing Senegal Through Rap: Y'en a Marre
The Senegalese rap group Y'en a Marre, meaning "fed up," has ambitions that go beyond entertaining. World Policy Journal spoke with Djily Baghdad, a member of Y'en a Marre, about the group's efforts to promote democracy and good governance through its music.
Enclaves of Struggle
The process that immigrants, asylum-seekers, and refugees go through to secure their rights is long, difficult, and often out of view. Raphael Daibert argues that these groups in São Paulo, Brazil live in an "enclave of struggle."
Sweet River, Sour Valley
In November 2015, Brazil suffered an environmental catastrophe when a dam owned by the Samarco mining company burst, unleashing a toxic mudslide in the state of Minas Gerais. Ana Wainer and Gian Spina recount their experiences volunteering in the heavily affected city of Mariana in the aftermath of the disaster.
Immigration and Identity
The Artist Roundtable (A.RT) brings artists together to talk about creativity, policy, and social issues. At the most recent roundtable, a group of artists shared their experience of volunteering with immigrant seniors and reflected on how immigration affects identity.
Artist Residencies in New York City
The NYC Department of Cultural Affairs will soon have artists-in-residence affiliated with municipal agencies. Drawing from the work of graduate students at New York University, Jose Serrano-McClain issues recommendations on how to design these residencies.
The Nature of Graffiti
Graffiti is varied and ubiquitous, and often challenges what is familiar to us. David Maddox introduces his project, The Nature of Graffiti, and explores the role of natural imagery in graffiti and street art.
Photographer, writer, and activist Shahidul Alam uses art to draw attention to politically motivated murders and disappearances in Bangladesh. His latest project, "Kalpana's Warriors," features portraits of individuals who have continually questioned the Bangladeshi government's tacit support of these abuses.
Sharjah Biennial: Shaping the Nation Through Art
2015 has been the year of art biennials attempting to change the world—or at least force the art world to have the difficult conversations it likes to avoid at its fancy gatherings. M. Neelika Jayawardane reflects on three artists from this year's Sharjah Biennial whose work sought to affect global change. Read more>
Brishkay Ahmed: Unveiling the History of the Burqa
From Kabul to New York, the burqa has been at the center of debates, fashion runways, and pop culture, but little is known about its origins and history. Bureen Ruffin interviewed filmmaker Brishkay Ahmed about her new documentary “Story of Burqa: Case of a Confused Afghan," which sparked a more nuanced discussion of the burqa's cultural and political role.
The Cost of Telling the Truth
C.M. Rien Kuntari is an accomplished Indonesian reporter whose 2008 exposé on state violence in East Timor forced her to flee to New York City. Visual artist Sidd Joag shares her story of isolation, struggle, and sacrifice in the name of honest reporting.
"Repellent Fence" Stares Across the U.S.-Mexican Border
The floating, unblinking eyes of "Repellent Fence," a temporary art installation on the Mexican-American border, inspired discussion about the nature of surveillance, boundaries, and national identity. In an interview with World Policy Journal, the art collective Postcommodity discusses the impact of their project and their work to expand the definition of "indigenous."
The Nest Mural
Steve Frost, executive director of the artistic collective Tasai Foundation, admires a mural on an unremarkable corner in Vancouver and reflects on the importance of connecting "grand otherworldly concerns" to daily human struggles.
Why Democracy Needs Arts and Culture
In a world overwhelmed by political, economic,and social crises, what role can arts and culture play in addressing inequalities and democratic chasms? Independent curator Jaroslav Andel suggests that art can in fact help resolve some of the biggest challenges facing the modern nation-state.
Immersed in Context: Jakub Szczesny
From imagining an artificial island that purifies water to building the world’s narrowest house, Polish architect Jakub Szczesny has developed inventive answers to unusual challenges. In an exchange with World Policy Journal, he explains the process behind a vertical urban garden he designed during an artistic residency in São Paulo, Brazil.
Urban Vignettes from São Paulo, Part II
In the second of a two-part series, World Policy Senior Fellow Todd Lanier Lester compares New York City's High Line to other urban revitalization projects. He illustrates the precarious relationship between global speculation and local representation.
Documenting Survival in 'Women as Witness'
‘Women as Witness’ is nearing the end of its month-long run at TI Art Studios in Brooklyn. In a review of the photography exhibition, World Policy Journal’s Laurel Jarombek considers the role of female artists in fostering conversations about conflict, trauma, and gender roles.
Art, Ethnography, and Exorcism in El Barrio
The barrios of Rivera Hernandez in San Pedro Sula, Honduras are some of the most violent in the world. Visual artist Sidd Joag and journalist German Andino follow one man's mission to reclaim his community through art, one home at a time.
Beirut still bears the scars of Lebanon's decades of sectarian conflict and government corruption. Samer Mohdad's camera navigates the divide between the city's political elite and the young people fighting to control their fate.
When Art Becomes "Invisual"
When most people think of art, classical forms such as painting and sculpture still come to mind. Virginia Cimino explores how the Paris-based institute Iheap pushes the boundaries of artistic expression and overturns traditional thinking about art as a visual experience.
Studio Gad: The Value of Visual Memory
Award-winning documentarian Katharina von Schroeder reflects on her efforts in preserving the work of groundbreaking Sudanese filmmaker Gadalla Gubara and the impact of Gadalla's work on how Sudan visualizes its cultural history.
Syria is Mine, Even in These Surral Ruins of War
Even amid continual civil war, Syrian people are endeavoring to create a better future for their people and their country. Honey Al Sayed introduces SouriaLi, a multimedia platform where Syrians engage in online discussions about the steps necessary to reconstruct Syria, a country that has all but collapsed.
Renewal, not Replacement
Often urban renewal projects that demolish and replace old, towering structures result in the marginalization and gentrification of existing communities. Ross Curtner suggests that arts can provide a medium for creative and re-development of urban spaces by better engaging both urban planners and community members in the process.
Urban Vignettes from São Paulo, Part I
In the first of a two-part series, World Policy Senior Fellow Todd Lanier Lester details two separate incidents of theft-at-gunpoint in São Paulo. He illustrates the role urban development plays in creating a culture of criminal activity.
Revisiting the Past, Redefining the Future
In South Korea, aching memories of forced sex slavery during WWII remain vivid in the minds of ‘comfort women’, who are now engaging with their experiences through the lens of artistic expression. World Policy Journal’s Eunsun Cho examines how this social project is helping these women to redefine their relationship with society.
Countering IS's Theft and Destruction of Mesopotamia
Having already defaced a number of archaeological sites in Syria and Iraq, the Islamic State is now poised to destroy the ancient city of Palmyra. Professor Mark Vlasic and Dr. Helga Turku call for a multidisciplinary approach to prevent further loss of humanity’s common cultural heritage.
The Lebanese National Tabbouleh Day
For the people of Lebanon, this upcoming Fourth of July marks the ninth National Tabbouleh Day, an official holiday for celebrating the traditional dish of Tabbouleh. Lebanese visual artist and founder of this national holdiay, Ricardo Mbarkho, tells the story of bringing the conflict-torn country together over a staple of their cultural heritage.
Follow the Zebra: An Interview with Philippe Brunot
Independent filmmaker Philippe Brunot talks with World Policy Journal about "Follow the Zebra," the first in a series of films about the lives of small-scale miners in Africa. Brunot hopes the film will help connect audiences with the individuals who risk their lives on a daily basis to mine for mineral resources.
Dancing to Reconcile
On the 40th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War, choreographers Robin Becker and Le Vu Long set out to set out to create a dance repertoire that could express the conflict's lasting and painful legacy. Gloria Hage, Executive Director of Robin Becker Dance, reflects upon the resonating message of this project.
Arts, Policy, and Wellness
The Artist Roundtable (A.RT) seeks to bring artists together to talk about how creativity can impact policy change. At the most recent roundtable, participants sought to answer the question, 'What would a policy that incorporates our ideas of medicine look like?'
Returning to Homs
Ribeiro's New Social Sculpture
Armed with a new reform platform, Brazil's new education minister, Renato Janine Ribeiro, aspires to blur the lines between art, education, dialogue, and liberation. Brazilian artist Gian Spina traces the ancestry of Ribeiro's thinking from ancient Greece to the radical, democratic German arts scene of the 1960s.
New Approaches to the Art of Well-Being
Art is a medium that can be deployed to address age-old problems plaguing policymakers. Take, for instance, a new artist-in-residency program at Kings County Hospital Center in Brooklyn that is helping to address the stigma surrounding psychiatric wards and mental health issues.
Dancing Under Fire
Male dancers in Iraq are often treated as criminals who are violating deeply rooted religious and social norms surrounding masculinity. But that hasn't stopped Baghdad-born 22-year-old Adil Qais Adil from following his dreams.
Forced to Flee
Refugees are often forgotten casualties of war, whose struggles frequently go unnoticed during lulls in violent conflict. Artist Sidd Joag observes the power of visual storytelling in a new book of work by youth refugees, while reflecting on his own time spent near the conflict zone on the Sino-Burmese border.
Hydrotropism: Lessons from Ficus Elastica
São Paulo’s water crisis is raising critical debate around the universal right to water and the effect of growing populations on available resources. São Paulo-based artist Thiago Gonçalves reflects on what his city can learn about resource management from the highly adaptive Ficus elastica plant.
Dengue Fever: A Different Kind of Rock Revival
In the 1960s, Phnom Penh was the beating heart of rock and roll in Cambodia. Almost 40 years after Pol Pot's genocidal regime nearly silenced the music, the genre is making a comeback. World Policy Journal's Evan Gottesman talks to Ethan Holtzman of Dengue Fever, a Cambodian-American band intent on bringing the songs of this lost era to a new generation.
The "Depths:" Visual Culture in the Murder Capital of the World
Thanks to the War on Drugs in the U.S., Honduras is a hub for political violence and organized crime. Though Sidd Joag of freeDimensional argues that, in addition to policy changes, artists will be critical to terminating the bloodshed in this Central American country.
Looking Back on Charlie Hebdo
The attack on Charlie Hebdo last month shocked Paris and the world, but even the most progressive outlets should hesitate to adopt the "Je Suis Charlie" tagline. Todd Lester, a World Policy fellow and co-director of freeDimensional, reflects on the nexus of free speech and social justice in light of the attack.
Celebrating Transition from Apartheid to Democracy
South Africa's highest court is distinguished by its evocative art collection. Former Constitutional Court Justices Edwin Cameron and Albie Sachs explain that the artwork is a reflection on both South Africa's tortured past and its current transition to a new constitutional order.
Pencil vs. Kalashnikov
After the brutal murder of "Charlie Hebdo" cartoonists this week, Damien Glez, a fellow cartoonist, reflects on the loss of these innocent lives. True to his form, he lets his images do most of the talking.
Adjacent Possibilities in Action
Climate change is a unique challenge that calls on society to invoke unprecedented imagination and ingenuity to address. Canadian artist Scott Baker discusses how Canada's leading artists and entrepreneurs have partnered to combat his country's looming environmental challenges.
Syrian Artists Persevere Through War
In a time plagued by war and devastation, the arts have become one way for Syrians to rebuild their lives and reaffirm their identities. Syria Deeply interviews two artists who have continued to hone their craft despite the chaos that surrounds them.
A Playwright's Journey to the Canadian Arctic
Despite its vibrant culture, Nunavut, in the Canadian Arctic, is struggling both economically and socially. Chantal Bilodeau's most recent theatrical production deals with the intersection of race, class, and climate change within this indigenous.
Ebola Cartoons: Art in a Time of Crisis
A Liberian illustrator and an American writer are depicting the effects of Ebola through poignant illustrations. Ebola Deeply shares their story and several of their sketches.
Artist Roundtable (A.RT): Art and Politics
In order to bridge the growing gap between artists and policymakers, Musagetes organized the first Artist Roundtable (A.RT). Todd Lester explains the importance of bringing the two disparate groups together, in an effort to tackle some of the world's most pressing social and political issues.
A Mythology of Memory — Photo Essay
Berette Macaulay is a photographer and writer, whose most recent portfolio displays her multicultural heritage. She tells the story of her family's emigration from Sierra Leone to Jamaica and beyond, providing an inside look at the complexities of transnational migration.
Abiola Women: Agents of Change
In her new film, "The Supreme Price," Joanna Lipper showcases the strength of the Abiola women against the backdrop of Nigeria's sordid and often violent political history. Yaffa Fredrick explains the critical importance of a film that gives voice to a group of women historically silenced by their government.
Our Disappearing Future
On Sunday, September 21, artist duo Nora Ligorano and Marshall Reese assembled an ice sculpture of "The Future" to coincide with the People's Climate March and the launch of the Clinton Global Initiative. Alyssa Stein speaks with Ligorano and Reese to discuss their hopes for what the installation would inspire across the globe.
Human Trafficking: The Sinai Phenomenon
Thousands of Eritrean refugees, en route to Israel, are kidnapped in the Sinai Desert every year. Israeli filmmaker and activist Keren Shayo documents their struggle in her latest film "Sound of Torture." Alyssa Stein interviews Shayo about her latest cinematic adventure and the kind of policy change she hopes it inspires.
Syrian Filmmakers Expose ISIS
“Our Terrible Country,” a documentary by Ziad Homsiand Mohammed Ali Atassi, tells the story of an imprisoned Syrian intellectual. Katarina Montgomery interviews general coordinator Christin Luettich about how filmmaking has helped expose the oppression of ISIS and the Syrian regime.
Iran's Underground Trade of U.S. Army Gear
Iranian artist Farideh Sakhaeifar is drawing attention to the illegal sales of U.S. military gear in her nation's capital. Her installation displays the malleable cultural significance of these items as they are exchanged between countries and people. Cleo Abramian reports.
Mexico: A View from Both Sides
For the last three years, photographer Encarni Pindado has been living in Mexico, documenting humanitarian issues with a particular focus on gender and migration. Asmara Pelupessy discusses Pindado's striking photographs of migratory dilemmas.
Analyzing the Art of Resistance
In a world increasingly driven by quantitative analysis, it can be difficult to assess the social, political, and cultural impact of art. Mary Ann DeVlieg argues that the artistic community, as well as societies around the world, should include alternative methods of analyzing art that include its success in championing social justice.
Street Art Illuminates Egypt's Lingering Problems
Since Egypt's 2011 uprising, street art in Cairo has boomed, decorating the city with social and political messaging. Sarah Lipkis analyzes two prominent Egyptian street artists, Adham Bakry and The Mozza, whose art addresses issues ranging from violence to gender inequality and corruption.
Art Challenges Homophobia in Vietnam
Vietnamese photographer Maika Elan is changing the way her country views LGBTQ rights. Her photographs profile homosexual couples doing ordinary things, challenging the existing fear and disdain many still have toward gay and lesbian people. Aliza Goldberg profiles Elan's groundbreaking arts advocacy.
WPJ Live: Film Screening & Salon #DayaniCristal
In recognition of World Refugee Day, World Policy Journal hosted a live Twitter chat during a screening and salon of the documentary, “Who is Dayani Cristal?," which follows the story of a migrant found dead under a cicada tree 20 minutes south of Tucson, Arizona. Check out the conversation here.
What Makes Us "Happy?"
Pharrell Williams's hit song "Happy" inspired citizens from close to 150 countries to create their own versions of the chart-topping sensation. The videos challenged stereotypes, spawned controversy, and even led to arrests. Adam Echelman uses this YouTube phenomenon to explore Westernization in the developing world.
Eurovision: How Politics Takes Center Stage
While the world music competition, Eurovision, was originally conceived as anapolitical event, it has become anarena for contemporary politicaldiscourse. Sarah Lipkis reportson how controversy over Crimea and LGBTQ rights took center stage at Eurovision 2014.
Artists As Ambassadors of Cultural Diplomacy
The Battery Dance Company reveals the power of dance in uniting people across the globe. Artistic Director Jonathan Hollander debuts the Company's Cultural Diplomacy Toolkit, which seeks to increase cross-cultural dialogue through art.
Exporting Desperation: Free Trade in Mexico
NAFTA policies were initially put in place to bolster Mexico's economy. However, a recent documentary, "Who is Dayani Crystal," reveals otherwise. Lauryn Beer argues that restrictions imposed by NAFTA actually hinder the Mexican government from enacting true economic reform.
Where the "Terrorist" Sleeps
What does a terrorist look like? Edmund Clark, an award-winning photographer, sought to challenge the stereotypical image of the bearded Middle Eastern man plotting unimaginable crimes. Alex Hobbs reports.
U.S. Border Security: A Death Sentence?
As security has tightened across the U.S.-Mexico border, the migrant death toll has risen drastically. In the pursuit of border security, are policymakers overlooking the issues of safety and human rights? Alexander Hobbs reports.
The Arts-Economic Nexus
Dette Glashouwer, a Dutch performance artist, employs theatrical performanceto explain the intricacies of economics. Ina World Policy exclusive, Glashouwer explains the role her art will play in providingsolutions to a broken financial system.
A Dangerous Journey
Migrant deaths on the U.S.-Mexico border are reaching record high numbers, a phenomenon documented in the film "Who is Dayani Cristal?" Amanda Roth examines the growing threat to the safety and security of migrants as they travel through Mexico to the United States.
The Right Not To Migrate
One man’s attempt to cross the U.S.-Mexico border, documented in the film “Who is Dayani Cristal,” reveals the deeply personal nature of global migration. World Policy’s Rory Fewer sits down with migration expert Marc Rosenblum to discuss some of the complex questions immigration policy raises.
Return to Homs: Inside Syria's Civil War
Return to Homs, an award-winning documentary by Syrian filmmaker Talal Derki, documents Syria's gripping descent into tragic civil war. Amidst chaos and violence, the film tells the real-life story of one young man whose life is changed forever. Alexander Hobbs details the most poignant moments of the film and its effect on an American audience.
Global Violence: The Ceramic Edition
For centuries, artists have created ceramic pieces to express political dissent. Sarah Lipkis explores the Museum of Art and Design's exhibition catalog, Body &Soul, which showcasesrecently crafted ceramic pieces that inv oke the horrors of violence and war.
Into Sunlight: Dance, Reconciliation, and Peace
How can dance reconcile war and peace, unite veterans and protesters, and explore themes of trauma and violence? Into Sunlight, a new performance by the Robin Decker Dance company, does just that with their adaptation of David Maraniss's book, They Marched Into Sunlight.
Brazil's Legacy of Art and Protest Continues
Although protests in Brazil have dwindled since the summer, issues such as economic inequality, lack of social services, and priority of the FIFA World Cup construction persist. Meanwhile, Brazilians embrace art as a critical form of political dissent.
Women of the Colombian Drug Wars
In this photo essay, photographer Zoraida Lopez reveals the human face of the woman and girls trapped in the Colombian drug trade. These women, who have little means of self-support, turn to drug trafficking as a way to provide for their families.
From the Shadows into the Light: FeFa in Cuba
FeFa, the creation of Cuban-American artist Magdalena Campos-Pons, is an art project that seeks to shine light on the pregoneros, Cuban street merchants, and the role they play in the emerging consumer culture in Cuba.
Fighting China's Water Woes
China suffers from severe water resource degradation. With a growing population, the prospects for sustainable water use are grim. Henry Yuan, secretary of Champion Water Alliance, discusses how his organization is working to promote understanding of Chinese water woes.
Main Street Meltdown
In the third and final installment from artists LigoranoReese, Marshall Reese describes their sculpture of the word "economy" which they erected in front of the New York State Supreme Court building in Manhattan during the darkest days of the 2008 financial crises.
The Disappearing Middle Class
In the second installment from LigoranoReese, Marshall Reese discusses the duo's sculptures of the "Middle Class," which appeared at the RNC in Tampa and the DNC in Charlotte in 2012.
Beyond Cultural Diplomacy
Cultural diplomacy, the nexus of arts and policymaking, was the focal point of last week's panel discussion: "Beyond Cultural Diplomacy: Arts, Policy, Change". Honor Bailey shares some key takeaways from the conversation.
Democracy on Ice
Marshall Resse, half of the artistic duo LigoranoReese, describes the ice sculpture of the word "Democracy" that he and Ligorano created and displayed at the Democratic convention in Denver and the Republican convention in St Paul.
Artists Marshall Reese and Nora Ligorano create "temporary monuments" in ice to illustrate the meltdown of Western ideals: democracy, economy, and the middle class.
Human Rights, Development, and Democracy in Africa: What Role for the Arts?
In a repost of an article from African Futures, Mike Van Graan asks, "can the arts make the difference" in lifting underdeveloped African countries out of poverty?
The Theater of Democracy
City Council Meeting, a collaborative theater project in different cities, recreates local government meetings on stage. Its co-founder Aaron Landsman explains how inviting a theater audience to play politics helps us better understand how democracy works in America.
Earthworks: Harvesting An Understated Directive From Environmental Art
The Earthworks movement creates art out of nature and sends a strong message against the destruction of the environment. Policymakers can use this message to enforce legislative action and humanize a rigid political discourse.
My Private China: An Interview with Alex Kuo
The acclaimed writer and poet Alex Kuo talks with World Policy Journal about his latest book, My Private China, his creative process, and the challenges of remaining true to his vision in a culture of censorship in contemporary China.
One Girl's Fight to Learn in Ethiopia: An Interview with Writer Maaza Mengiste
Maaza Mengiste, author of "Beneath the Lion's Gaze," recently contributed to "Girl Rising," a documentary produced to advance female education throughout the world. Mikael Awake sat down with Mengiste to discuss how she captured the story of teenage girl, Azmera, and her struggle to learn in Ethiopia.
Learning to Cherish Hard-Won Rights
When we have rights, it's easy to take them for granted, and when we forget the strufles and lessosn of the ast, we have to relearn them. Looking at the U.S. and Scotland, Arlene Goldbard shows how cultural policy can be used to prvenet the mistakes of history from repeating themselves.
The Gezi Park Experience
As protestors consider the next steps for the recent demonstrations in Turkey, Pelin Tan emphasizes the importance of carrying on the collective spirit of The Gezi Park Experience and argues that art will play a crucial role in doing so.
Forced to Flee: Rebuilding Lives and Communities Through Art
Art can provide exiles with a powerful outlet of expression. WPJ's Farisa Khalid reports on “Forced to Flee: Exiled Voices and Visions for Justice,” a panel hosted by the Arts & Democracy Project in anticipation of World Refugee Day on June 20.
The Pitfalls of Institutional Pedagogy
The Silent University blends art practice and institutionalized pedagogy. Ahmet Öğüt sharpens the distinction between the two approaches and explains why institutions like museums need to steer clear of structures already prevalent at traditional universities.
How Arts and Culture can Advance a Neighborhood Agenda
Strengthening neighborhoods in New York City will not be effective without including art and culture in policymaking. Caron Atlas, the director of the Arts & Democracy Project, details the ideal agenda for incorporating arts and culture into grassroots community projects.
Beyond Dollars and Cents: Defining Policy in Culture
In the United States, policy and funding are often conflated in discussions about developing and maintaining culture. Nichole Martini and Alexis Ortiz argue that real, systemic change in cultural policy can only happen if the "how," the "why," and the "for whom" are part of the discussion, not just dollars and cents.
Creative Placemaking and the Politics of Belonging and Dis-belonging
How do cultural activities such as city planning and the arts shape the physical and social characteristics of a place? Robert Bedoya discusses creative placemaking, its relationship to civil rights, and the politics of belonging.
Survival Strategies for Artists in a Modern World
In the 21st century, arts funding has fallen low on the public spending priority list. Dr. Lawrence E. McCullough examines the current state of the arts in the United States, and where it needs to go from here.
Creative Engagement and a Moral Economy in Appalachia
The Appalachian region of the United States has suffered economically for decades now. Residents have struggled with how to transform not just their economy, but also their society as they move forward. Caron Atlas applies a 12 step recovery program to reviving the communities of Appalachia.
"Go Home Yankee Hipster": How to Make Friends and Improve Public Art
In summer 2011, Shepard Fairey's mural on a controversial spot in Copenhagen earned him a black eye and his work defaced. Looking ahead, Martin Rosengaard and Wooloo have a new idea to improve public art by connecting artists to the communities they visit.
Toward a Common Archive: Reframing the Roots of Palestine and Israel
French-Israeli director Eyal Sivan wants to reshape the way Israelis and Palestinians think about the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. By creating an archive of memories, Sivan hopes a dose of realism will help broker trust in the long run.
Masked Faces, Censored Hopes: An Interview with Artist Shurooq Amin
World Policy Institute associate fellow Shaun Randol interviews Shurooq Amin, a Syrian-Kuwaiti artist whose show "It's a Man's World" was shut down by the Kuwaiti government. This act of government censorship only emboldened Amin. "Censorship," she says, "has only made me stronger."
An Artist Paints His Country's Toil
Kristin Deasy profiles an Iraqi artist named Ayad Alkadhi whose work reflects the violent politics and tortured history of his homeland.
Dissident Artists Matter, Regardless of Their Fame
Uncelebrated dissident artists, writes Sidd Joag, are often the most consequential. While high-profile rebellions like those of Ai Weiwei and Pussy Riot serve a purpose, artists working behind the scenes should not be forgotten.
Echoes of the Lost Boys of Sudan: Excerpts From a Graphic Novel
In 1983, four boys ran from their villages in southern Sudan, fleeing a violent army from the north. Niki Singleton interviewed the four boys when they finally got asylum and arrived in the U.S., and crafted their tales into a graphic novel.
The Dry Wind Came: Breaking the Cycle of Violence in South Africa
Since August, South Africa has been embroiled in violence not seen since the fall of apartheid, all sparked by a massacre of striking platinum miners in Marikana. Now Nick Boraine and the other members of the Global Arts Corps must use their experience overcoming the wounds of apartheid to help their own country heal again, as they have tried to do worldwide.
Did You Kiss the Dead Body?: Visualizing Absence in the Archive of War
Death certificates and autopsy reports of ill-treated Iraqi and Afghani men can serve as more than evidence of Bush and Obama administration abuses of power. After a stint as the ACLU's Artist-in-Residence, Rajkamal Kahlon, writes about the deeper meanings of these documents.
For the Sake of Others
Excerpts from The Mantle’s latest virtual roundtable in which four artists and allies with contrasting perspectives attempt to answer the question, "What is the role of the artist in a conflict zone?"
Mapping Migration: Putting Journeys in Context
Barrak Alzaid reviews an image and video project by Bouchra Khalili that documents tales of migration. By showing these journeys in and out of their geographic context, Khalili pushes viewers to imagine their stories.
Reclaiming Unused Urban Space
A Drop of Life: A Filmmaker's Journey Inside the World Water Crisis
In the second installment of our 10-part series on the arts-policy nexus, filmmaker Shalini Kantayya describes how life imitated art when the dystopian future of paywalls for water depicted in her sci-fi film came to pass in real life, and what it means for the prospect of peace and the fate of humanity in the 21st century.
Popular Dissent: Why Pussy Riot and Ai Weiwei Are Only the Beginning