Cultural manifesto. CC: social innovators

Art is an important part of my life. It helps me reconnect, simmer down, regain a broader perspective. Art, I believe, is the seam that keeps different parts of our societal and private lives together. Art is what allows us to mean more, to transform, feel empowered. And so art and social innovation, to my mind, are close keens.

There will always be those who say that art is purely for esthetic pleasure and those who say that art should also (or even only) serve as a tool to transform societies and help people solve their problems. Artur Żmijewski is a Polish artist who belongs to the latter group. Apart from his artistic work, he is widely recognized for his 2007 Manifesto: “Applied Social Arts” [PL/EN], in which he disucces the role of the artist in today’s society and outlines how art can reenter the social and the political. His new exhibition was opened on December 8 in the Center for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle.

As I read about the exibition, I remembered that there were two projects in Poland that I wanted to share with you already for some time now, and that perfectly fit into the conversation about artists’ involvement in the issues troubling today’s societies.

1. KORDEGARDA – Old age is a state of mind.

Kordegarda is a ministry-run art gallery in Warsaw, vis-a-vis the Presidential Palace. For the last couple of months, Kordegarda has been running a cultural project for the elderly. They didn’t go with a conventional book club or knitting club, though. They decided to organize a series of workshops, teaching skills like: mixing music (being DJs), street art painting, designing fashion, etc. Now, they have this amazing group that shows up each and every time to learn something “an old person isn’t supposed to be doing.” How is that for social inclusion and breaking stereotypes?

street art workshops for the elderly

[photo: Karolina Orfali]

Here you can find more photos from this and other workshops.

2. 3rd Wave. Darek Paczkowski (my personal hero)

3rd Wave used to be one of the most widely recognized street art groups in the country. As time went by, their paths split, but they never stopped painting. In 2010 Darek Paczkowski, one of  3rd Wave’s leaders, created with his friends a foundation called “Brace” (Klamra). Through street art workshops (mainly, but also through photo, video, drama) organized for people of all ages and backgrounds they educate about all sorts of issues ranging from GMO, autism, nuclear weapons, Tibet, and global education. Darek, as a tireless leader criss-crosses the country with his friends and shapes people’s minds with the use of a spray can.

Here’s one of their recent projects “Actively for tolerance.”

I could go on for hours about art-based projects that transform communities. I’m sure you know many such examples too. And anyone, who deals with social innovation should have these examples in mind, cause having artists on board may often really help turn things around!



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