A week after the U.S. 9/11 I was in France conducting an art workshop for painters from various parts of the globe, and I was thinking about the Chilean 9/11. I suggested a little quiz — ten definitions of an activist, and from those ten those engaged in plein aire painting had to choose four definitions that would combine to make a good activist. The definitions went something like what’s below.
Select four answers to the question of what should constitute a good activist:
- The activist should belong to a proactive non-profit.
- The activist should identify himself or herself with a successful hero or heroine from the past or present, attempting to emulate that person.
- The activist should focus on what’s commonly considered our most pressing social or environmental issues.
- The activist should recruit as many others as possible to be on board with civic engagement.
- The activist should be familiar with the daily reports from alternative media outlets.
- The activist should read reputable history books regularly.
- The activist should nurture his or her imagination.
- The activist should pay attention during all waking hours.
- The activist should be open to new ideas.
- The activist should be respectful of others’ efforts to transform society.
The painters leaned heavily on emotional identification, action, and the issues angle. But the “correct” answers — as per my mindset at the time — were not popular with the artists.
To learn what those “correct” answers are, please contact me at your earliest convenience. [Pause.] Ah, I’ll just tell ‘ya ’cause I’d like folks to get with what I advocate these days… which is what I advocated then, seventeen years ago. Which happens to be what I believed in the sixties.
Look at the last four listed, and spend a little time thinking about why I might make them priorities. You can, then, contact me for elaboration. How’s that?
Rachel Olivia O’Connor is a member of the Oxman Collective. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.