TED Talks: five of the best with a political activism theme

We have all heard about TED! TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) invites the world’s leading thinkers to gather, present their ideas, and to share with the world their ideas and projects for everything ranging from climate change to psychological well-being.

Art activism is a theme central to our time. But it is not only the GAPA community which has recognised this! We have rounded up the five best and most inspiring TED Talks on art as a political tool. Be sure to find inspiration, thought-provoking insights, and an incentive to get active yourself!

“You can’t help it. An artist’s duty, as far as I’m concerned, is to reflect the times.” – Nina Simone

How art gives shape to cultural change: Thelma Golden at TED2009

Thelma Golden, curator at the Studio Museum in Harlem, talks through three recent shows that explore how art examines and redefines culture. The “post-black” artists she works with are using their art to provoke a new dialogue about race and culture — and about the meaning of art itself.

My wish – use art to turn the world inside out: JR at TED2011

JR, a semi-anonymous French street artist, uses his camera to show the world its true face, by pasting photos of the human face across massive canvases. At TED2011, he makes his audacious TED Prize wish: to use art to turn the world inside out. Learn more about his work and learn how you can join in at insideoutproject.net.

Street art with a message of hope and peace: eL Seed at TED2015

What does this gorgeous street art say? It’s Arabic poetry, inspired by bold graffiti and placed where a message of hope and peace can do the most good. In this quietly passionate talk, artist and TED Fellow eL Seed describes his ambition: to create art so beautiful it needs no translation.

Art as Activism: Marcus Ellsworth at TEDxUTChattanooga

Marcus Ellsworth takes a look at how art can become a road map for progress as we ask the question “What Now?” Citing examples from world history as well as Chattanooga’s present, Marcus poses the idea that one of the best ways to answer that question is by looking at the creative output of Chattanooga’s citizens. The answers can be found in the music, writing, and even the graffiti of Chattanooga’s most under-served populations. We can use art to engage in meaningful discussions and purposeful action to make Chattanooga better for everyone.

Building a community of Artist Activists: Misra Walker at TEDxMidAtlantic 2013

Misra Walker is currently a junior at Cooper Union and is a Fine Arts Major. Her work blurs the line between activism and art by interrogating the history and politics that make up the backbone of her community. She is the founder of The House of Spoof, an art collective in Hunts Point, The Bronx, that hosts gallery shows for emerging artists and provides free art classes for the community in honour of their friend Glenn “Spoof” Wright who passed away in 2009.

Which talk did you enjoy most? Do you have any recommendations for must-see talks on the power of artistic activism? Let us know at [email protected].

Avid wanderluster, activist, and political sociologist, who is trying hard to be a civic/political educator one day. Also involved at Project Access, and the co-founder and chair of GAPA :) Welcome! Curious mind, revolutionary at heart. Originally Austrian, but I'm more rootless than anything else.

Leave a Reply