Artists show their power to effect change
In the visual arts, a greater sense of activism is possible, and it’s being helped by the absorption of a broader range of disciplines and media into the canon
...One of the most passionate and articulate advocates for this ability that art has to address the Anthropocene is the US artist Justin Brice Guariglia. He began his career as a documentary photographer in China, capturing the “great acceleration” that is at the heart of theories about this new geological era. But he made the shift into art because he wanted, he told me, “to figure out how could I make something that is more effective, because photography is more about the past. Very little photography is really about the future, whereas great art is really about the future.” To reject reportage, the discipline that is most associated with urgency and action, in favour of the wide-ranging disciplines of art installation, is a bold gesture. But it is an exemplar of artists’ conviction that they can effect change. We may, as the artist Alexis Rockman says, be “fucked”, but artists are not sinking without a fight.