Shocking I must say! Intervention Art

Any artist wants to leave their mark and most of them take this goal very seriously and, sometimes, to the extreme. So, for this to happen the artist quickly realizes that if he manages to shock the spectator the easier it gets to leave his mark and, most importantly, to transmit his message effectively.

Throughout the times, there were many artists that created art to mark a position, a critical manifestation about something. Many times, these creations arise in relation to another artistic object, a public, a space or to an already existing situation. We can freely argue that there is an Intervention Art and that is normally associated to Performance Art (although it can take form in innumerous other ways of course). These interventions may be connected to political or social matters or to engage discussions and draw attention to a certain subject that the artist considers pertinent.

Standing out artistically

What can we do then to leave a mark on this world which is already full of artistic expressions? For our first example we couldn’t leave aside the Guerrilla Girls, an anonymous feminist group that was born in the 80’s, made by artists that dedicate themselves to fight against sexism and racism on the art world. Today they still maintain their position, fighting for the equality of rights on the artistic community and marking art history with their posters and flyers with provocative messages and outrageous statistics.



Art as activism is not a novelty and today we have innumerous artists that make art as protest and indignation regarding a variety of subjects. The Cuban artist Tania Bruguera for example, with her piece “Self Sabotage” at the 53rd Venice Bienal 2009, gave a lecture where she was sitting at a table reading about her thoughts on political art and the role of artists in the society, but she was stopping from time to time to hold a gun to her head and press the trigger. This radicalism sometimes generates some confusion and on this case a few audience members and other artists stopped her performance. Nevertheless, she continues to develop her projects and to mark her position through art.

Emotionally shocking

Another example a bit more poetic and quite recent was the intervention made by Luxembourger artist Deborah De Robertis at the Museum D’Orsay in Paris. De Robertis sat in front of Gustave Courbet’s painting “The Origin of the World” and recreated the artwork live. This performance was not accepted in a very good way having two policemen escorted the artist outside for disrespecting the museum rules. The artist stated that this piece entitled “Mirror of Origin” represented what Courbet had failed to demonstrate on his painting of the origin of the world and that now she has demonstrated what goes beyond the flesh, the infinity the origin of the origin.

Finally, and still on a very poetic and emotional line, the action that took place at DIA: Beacon during the Carl Andre retrospective in March this year entitled “CRYING; A PROTEST” in honor of Ana Mendieta. Organized by a group of artists, activists and feminist poets this action consisted in walking around the exhibition space crying for 20 minutes and then gather everyone in one room to cry in unison. The gathering happened to mark the violent death of Mendieta which is still considered controversial today.



Good or Bad, at least talk about it

It is interesting to think about these interventions and in the way they shocked the public because in the end they end up making people think and trigger discussions which the media also engages in. Some are more scandalous then others but deep down what matters is to create artistic moments and transmit a message, emotions, ideas…

As a platform for art, shair also participates on this cultural shock, in a more peaceful way, by making art accessible to everyone on a space where artists, galleries and true art lovers meet.