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What is an act of activism or protest? Is it a march or rally? An action undertaken in opposition to something? What about the act of remaining true to your beliefs, values or identity? The quiet activism of choosing how you look, what you do with your body or your life? Or the simple act of existing and living authentically in a world catered for the majority? Loud or quiet, these are all valid forms of activism and protest. Likewise, the events that provoke these actions can be big global issues, such as climate emergency, feminism, the Me Too and Black/Blak Lives Matter movements, or other issues of justice and discrimination, as well as deeply individual, personal issues that play out in the family home, in school or socially.

In this theme, we see art and design as a vehicle for highlighting the things that matter to us, and the different methods that artists use to achieve this. This includes the traditional use of flags to protest or denote a unified community or the small but powerful acts of defiance seen in the designs on street posters. Ancient vases – hallowed for their age and cultural association – become a form of protest when they are repainted to obscure their origins, and granite stones reference the rubble and ruin of revolutionary altercations that have occurred throughout history.

Activism and Protest

Due to NGV procedures regarding light sensitive objects, the works below have been removed from display for the remainder of the exhibition.