Fahrenheit 9/11 and bridges : activist art strategies for a new century
Latta, Maureen Elizabeth
This research is intended to contribute to critical discussion concerning the development of independent visual culture initiatives giving voice to human justice concerns within the context of globalized, corporate-controlled media. The problem is how to devise visual strategies for effective cultural production that addresses contemporary social and political issues. This thesis examines two case studies of activist art, one American and the other Canadian, that utilize documentary modes to intervene in hegemonic discourses of neo-colonialism and new forms of imperialism: Michael Moore’s documentary film Fahrenheit 9/11 and Liz Canner’s digital video public art project “Bridges.” Analyzing the artist’s background, the political context, the intentions behind the project, the visual strategies, and the effectiveness of the work, the thesis concludes that there are barriers to creating works that function catalytically in service of social change. The limits of discourse in democratic societies, the difficulties of developing participatory audiences, the challenges of transforming the projection site into a democratic arena of discourse--these are some of the general factors that inhibit a work’s effectiveness. The case studies also show that strategies of political subjectivity are needed to counter the official narratives of power, while performance as an activist tactic, particularly if combined with technologies of mass media, engages audiences and helps to break down a separation between entertainment and activism.
DegreeMaster of Arts (M.A.)
DepartmentArt and Art History
ProgramArt and Art History
CommitteeNorlen, Alison; McMullen, Linda; Hamilton, Paul; Gingell, Susan; Fowler, Graham; Bell, Lynne
Copyright DateSeptember 2005