Activists of the Left have the potential to harness significant numbers of people around economic action that can be transformative to the whole of society. It’s an immense amount of potential power, but that’s all it is, potential. Learning about your strength and gaining the confidence to be active is something that creatives can play a role in. – Alex Ettling
On November 2 2021 a session entitled ‘What can the Old Left offer today’s creatives?’ was held as part of Lines of Resistance: A Symposium on Media, Arts & Activism, an international virtual symposium. Featuring hundreds of images it was hosted by the Centre for Media History Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia. A video was made of this session and includes the following:
- Alex Etlling delivers an introduction discussing the history of creative activism.
- Neale Towart provides a tour of objects and images from the Sydney Trades Hall union collections, highlighting examples of union campaigns, logos, slogans and artworks.
- Iain McIntyre discusses the cartoons and graphic art of the Industrial Workers of the World, 1909-1945.
- Lisa Milner speaks about the work of the post-war ‘front’ organisations of the Communist Party of Australia, the artistic work of trade union groups, and the music, visual arts, writing and theatre production that have come out of local protest and social movements.
- Ian Milliss outlines the program and the foundation of Union Media Services and later union-based publishing enterprises that generated a union funded media and art scene.
Official Panel Description
“Have you ever shared a meme with a political message? If so, you’ve put yourself in the well-travelled intersection of visual culture and communications. It’s an eye-catching tradition the political left has been experimenting with since the very beginnings of when bad stuff happened and people joined together do something about it. For over 200 years, Australian progressives have led the way with new adaptations in political communication, with artists as key figures in aesthetic innovation and avant-garde cultural movements. This panel is intended to offer something to artists and activists who are curious about radical art objects and learning about the successful creativity-infused strategies from the previous eras of progressive politics. Join us for a visually stimulating journey through the hits of the Australian labour movement’s creativity.” – Source: Macquarie University
The role of the artist is to make the revolution irresistible. -Toni Cade Bambara
See other talks from the Lines of Resistance Symposium that profiles recent research on the role of media and visual arts in activist movements.
- Artivism_Art activism
- Cartoons and Comics
- History - Australia
- Movements_Campaigns - Labour_Worker's rights
- Movements_Campaigns - Unions
- Visual communications