A Political Art Primer – Part 1

I love art with a message. Here are some basic terms that you might come across when viewing political artworks. Part 2 to come.

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ABOVE: Ministry of the Interior building with an iron mural of Ernesto Che Guevara, Havana

COMMON POLITICAL ART TERMS

Bourgeois – A member of the middle class whose political, economic, and social values are thought to be determined by concern for personal wealth and perceived respectability.

Class – The grouping of people based upon economic, occupational, or social status.

Consumerism – An obsession with manufactured goods and their acquisition.

Cultural Icon – An easily recognizable symbol, object, or person with great cultural significance to a large group of people.

Culture – The customs, arts, and achievements of a nation, people or social group.

Ethnicity – A group of people with a shared culture, religion and/or language.

Feminism – A collection of movements and ideologies that advocate for equal rights between men and women.

Gender – A socially constructed identity that is assigned to a person based upon their sex.

Globalization – The shifting of views, products, and ideas from a local level to an international one.

Hegemony – The political, economical, or ideological influence of one dominant group over another.

Iconoclast – One who attacks, and seeks to overthrow settled beliefs or institutions.

Iconography – Common and/or traditional images with symbolic meanings.

Identity – The conditions and characteristics that determine one’s self.

Identity politics – The social organizing of people based upon the interests and perspectives with which they identify.

Idol – An object of worship.

Institutional critique – An inquiry into the practices of art institutions which often challenges the assumed norms of theory and practice.

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