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Art as a Medium for Action

Pembroke PhD student Cinthia Willaman (2010) has been working with artist Gyunel Rustamova to curate an exhibition entitled Art as a Medium for ACTION, opening this week in London and next week in Cambridge.

Art as a Medium for ACTION posterCinthia met Gyunel while studying for her MA at the Courtauld Institute of Art and the two have been working together on exhibitions in London and Paris. Gyunel is now working as a fashion designer, but still uses her art as a starting point in all of her bespoke creations. The inspiration of the project stems from Gyunel’s experience working in the fashion industry, and her increasing interest in role of philanthropists and celebrities in influencing public opinion.

Speaking to Cinthia she explained that Gyunel wanted to ‘explore the themes of charities and activism, philanthropy and grassroots, trust and empathy, and the power of art and images to compel people to make lifestyle changes’. Cinthia has curated an exhibition that would interact with the public, asking them how they felt about these issues through art. Together with Gyunel’s research, they have created a show that combines her project with an exhibition with activist art and corresponding/collaborating charities, focusing on poverty, climate change, violence against women, animal welfare, and the refugee crisis.

The exhibition itself will present the results of the project’s previous focus groups, alongside new artistic works that designate, discuss, and dissect political and social issues. These include works by the renowned National Geographic activist Asher Jay, and performance artist and academic Suzanne Lacy, as well as Gyunel herself. The exhibition aims to put further pressure on the question of art’s relation to action and to activism, by bringing together a diverse range of artists and media that reflect on social, political, and environmental problems. Visitors will be led through a variety of displays, and will be invited to add comments around the works, and to respond to and engage with the art in their own way.

The audience’s participation in the exhibition constitutes the basis for the project’s third and final stage: that of action. Visitors will be encouraged to make a pledge relating to a cause and charity of their choice. Collaborators include the UK branches of major charities such as the Helen Bamber Foundation, Greenpeace, PETA, Oxfam, and Shelter. Visitors will be given a token that represents a real financial donation made by the exhibition organizers to their charity. They will also be invited to make a pledge of their own; to change their attitude, actions, or thinking in relation to their chosen cause. This final, interactive element of the project is designed to explore the divide between monetary donation and activism. The exhibition’s aim is to draw visitors into the project and to encourage them to take their pledges with them when they leave the gallery.

You can visit Art as a Medium for ACTION at the following venues and view the online catalogue below:

Hoxton Arches, London,
8-10 September
Opening Hours 1pm-7pm
Admission Free

Chris Adams House, Pembroke College, Cambridge,
13-17 September
Opening Hours 1pm-7pm
Admission Free

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