“Artists are not the only ones to use culture to change the world.”
Nato Thompson talks about his book Culture as Weapon: The Art of Influence in Everyday Life, and how politicians, corporations and artists use aesthetics to channel their agendas and motivate collective action.The backdrop for our conversation is artist Julio Le Parc’s retrospective exhibition at the Pérez Art Museum in Miami, Florida. From Argentina, Le Parc was a founding member of GRAV, an international artist collective active in Paris in the 1960s. As curator and critical writer, Nato Thompson often explores the aesthetics and politics of activism.
Culture as Weapon is a must read. Considering how today’s fraught political environment is sparking widespread community activism on a global scale, this book could be a primer for interventionists! A chapter examining the culture of military actions features Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals. “These are powerful tools,” says Thompson. “It forces artists and people who use these tools not to just assume that they are doing good because they’re using them, but to think carefully about who’s being empowered and for what ends.”
Julio Le Parc, GRAV, une journée dans la rue, 1966