Frank Weij: Geopolitics of artivism

Frank Weij | Erasmus University Rotterdam, Erasmus School of History, Culture & Communication | Promoter: Prof. dr Koen van Eijck, Supervisors: Dr Pauwke Berkers; Dr Jiska Engelbert | 01 September 2015 – 31 August 2020 | weij[at]

Geopolitics of artivism
Overarching project: NOW PhD in the Humanities

Geopolitics of artivism explores the complex relationship between arts and politics in an increasingly globalized world. In Western democracies artists enjoy a relatively high degree of artistic freedom, meaning that artists are able to incorporate explicit political advocacy in their artworks. However, since most art fields are relatively autonomous from other societal fields, impact of politically engaged art often remains limited. In order to gain artistic legitimacy, activist artists – or artivists – have to follow artistic hierarchies set by peers and artistic gatekeepers. Political legitimacy, however, revolves increasingly around media and audience representation. This project therefore studies the reception of different cases of artivists in the arts field, in news media and in mainstream society. Hereby it makes a comparison between the three different types of reception and aims to compare the reception of artivists from different geopolitical contexts in order to better understand the extent in which artistic freedom possibly limits the artivist’s impact not just in the arts field but also in mainstream society. In doing so various innovative methods are combined, ranging from topic modelling to computerized content analysis in order to analyse large bodies of textual data. The central research question that guides this project is: how does the attribution of artistic qualities and societal impact in Western democracies differ between Western and non-­‐Western artivists, both in artistic fields and in mainstream society?