30 Apr ’14
Protest Art in the Contemporary World
Violence. Protest. Awareness. Social movements geared towards change. People gunned down in the streets, beaten for speaking out. All throughout history, there have been many examples of violent and non-violent protests. From Dr. Martin Luther King’s civil rights protests, to the Tottenham Protests of England, the fight for change has been a turbulent but nonetheless progressive step towards protesting. Speaking out and relaying the message can come in all forms, but none more various and popular than protest art. When wanting political, economic, or social change there is more than one way to creatively display your point of view.
Though there is no direct link to track protest art through history, what could have started in the early 1900s has gradually increased into the phenomena seen today. There are many different forms protest art can shift and morph into, like signs and banners, performances, illustrations, graffiti, and other cross boundary mediums to name a few. This type of awareness is not limited to one region, one state, or country. It has the potential to be seen and addressed throughout the world, in a way that could attract more followers and activists than in a march or occupation. It has become popular with the masses, as a person does not need to be a professional artist to take part in protest art. Any person with a voice to be heard can contribute and speak out for their cause.
There are many different examples in contemporary society of protest art. In Great Britain, youth are encouraged to advocate for their beliefs in a way they find expressive and creative. This protest may be shown in different forms, but all have the mixture of visual fun and politics. “I want to say to the government that a future that works will be a future where one can be innovative, inventive, creative, and imaginative,” said one U.K protester. Others will share their concerns on health, gay rights banks, workers’ rights, women’s rights, free speech, and democracy. In another country not too far away, Romanians have protest art of their own. In Bucharest, many different paintings and sculptures are breaching the surface, all displaying criticism towards communism. “A new exhibit of some 650 paintings opened this week at the National Library seeks to show how some artists subverted to regime, creating works that criticized communism or painting in styles like cubism that were out of favor.” Some work would never have been shown in public, in a time when censorship was rife, but still was used as a propaganda medium. It’s late justice. It shows there was resistance to the regime, not a violent resistance, but not everything was social realism.
Overall, protest art is a very appealing way for the average person’s voice to be heard. There is no need for formal art education, just a voice and confidence transformed into any of the various art forms. Protests started as a form of violence, an act aimed to hurt and make example of. Now there are many various mediums in which to be innovative and expressive to attain non-violent protest.
Mutler, Alison. “Exhibit Shows Romanian Artists Resisted Regime.” Huffington Post Sept. 2012, U.S
ed.: n. pag. Print.
Smith, Bob, and Roberta Smith. “U.K. Portest Art is Hip Again.” theguardian Oct. 2012: n. pag.
30 Apr ’14
The fair trade movement began in 1960s, with the first fair trade certification created in 1988 in the Netherlands (1). Fair trade aims to provide fair prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability, and equitable partnership between workers and buyers. It does this by paying workers an “above-market ‘fair trade’” (1) price if specific labor, environmental, and production standards are met. Fair trade not only seeks to protect farmers but also to ensure that large corporations do not receive special privileges.
Organizations, such as Fair Trade USA and Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO), have raised awareness to many shoppers about trading internationally. However, there are still flaws within the system, especially for fair traded coffee. The first flaw is the “price floor”, which is the minimum price for fair traded coffee (1). In order to understand the flaws it is important to understand the system. FLO pays a minimum price of $1.40 per pound of coffee bean (this price was in placed in 2011) and $0.20 per pound higher than commodity coffee if prices increase. Also, coffee is graded on their quality, so a higher grade (A) means higher quality. Because of the low demand for Fair Trade coffee, a problem arises between quality of coffee and whether it is labeled as Fair Trade. For example, a farmer has fair trade coffee grade A and fair trade coffee grade B, but there is only one fair trade buyer. The fair trade coffee grade A is $1.70 per pound in the open market and the grade B is $1.20 in the open market. In order to make a profit, the farmer must sell his fair trade coffee grade A at the market price of $1.70 without the Fair Trade label and the fair trade coffee grade B as Fair Trade coffee at the FLO’s minimum price of $1.40. This problem escalates as commodity coffee bean prices have increased from $0.40 in 2001 to $2.50 in 2011. (Example provided from source 1)
Another flaw is the new Fair Trade USA labeling policy for multi-ingredient products. The new policy will allow a Fair Trade label for products that meet 20% of fair trade ingredients. For example, a chocolate bar from a company with fair trade coca beans, sugar and milk and a company with only free trade cocoa beans (33% of ingredients) both receive the Fair Trade label. (2) So a company that meets the 20% fair trade ingredient gets put on the same playing field as one that is 100% fair trade ingredients. This creates an incentive for companies to use only the minimum amount of fair trade ingredients. This new policy completely undermines the Fair Trade standards.
Fair Trade USA and FLO has tremendously increase shopper’s awareness and created a way for consumers to purchase products that are meeting fair trade standards. But these standards change as our insight into the situation increases and the current fair trade standards do not reflect that. Fair trade standards should take into consideration and:
• Increase relationship between supplier and buyers. Reconnect production with sales. If workers don’t know the price there products are sold at or how much the collectors make, how do they know if they are receiving a “fair” price?
• Execute on its goal to alleviate poverty. Most organizations have this goal as a priority but few attempts are made towards this. However, there are a few organizations that take actions. Allegro pays higher than the Fair Trade price (1) and 85% of its profits go towards the worker’s community.
• Increase transparency.
• Include quality as a factor.
These are just some of many factors to consider.
It is important to understand and question existing models to ensure that the people’s wellbeing are taken into account.
New labeling policy: http://fairtradeusa.org/sites/all/files/wysiwyg/filemanager/Fair-Trade-Certified-Label-Use-Guide-2013_Dual-Labels_vers15.pdf
By shelbelise Contemporary Issues, Student Blogs 2 Comments