Last week the Islamic Museum of Australia invited me to Melbourne to talk at the inaugural Islamic Arts Symposium and attend the Gala Ball on Sunday evening . I spoke about my work and how art affects change by expressing our concerns and worries through artistic endeavour. It was a wonderful opportunity to meet people from Australia and overseas. Here is a summary of my talk:
Does Art Affect Social Change?
Artists are producing artworks that are influenced by social issues and are directly affecting their lives such as anti-war, anti-immigration policies, climate change, inequality, discrimination…
For nearly two decades war has engulfed most of my thoughts to express my concern in relation to the humanitarian, the social, and the environmental impact that had on countries of conflict and how the American led wars have succeeded in turning them into zones of crisis.
Arab and Muslim countries have become the testing ground for modern warfare, creating contaminated military landfill that polluted the soil and the waterways. America has deliberately decided against providing financial support to the local economies of Iraq and Afghanistan; they transported tons of prepackaged consumable goods into the country, eventually leaving years of waste material buried under discreet landfill.
My work is an outcry and a desperate need for change, though sometimes I feel as if I am pouring water on sand while most people are disengaged and misguided about the social issues concerning migration, detainees and asylum seekers fleeing war entrenched countries.
Social change can be engaging and stimulating to the creation of a tangible body of work asserting an artistic direction and social interest. Art on the other hand can be empowering to indoctrinate society, creating a social comity and a considerate behavior to others and all.
Art is a visual language instantaneously recognized and able to shout out loud messages of various concerns. This can engage debates not only within small communities, but thanks to the social media it can amplify deliberations to other parts of the world.
Financial conditions can either hinder the creative process of making a body of work that could comment on social issues or generate a stream of endless creativity with poignant ideas.
Art is an engine of a thriving society where power is built on artistic creation, tolerance and critical thinking. It is not necessarily about making the perfect picture or artwork that matches the sofa; it is a conscious determination to make a statement in order to endorse respect and sustain the wellbeing of the global environment that we all share.