Art And The Occupy Movement In 2012

Marissa Gluck has a cool piece up at Atlantic Cities about how Los Angeles, in the midst of dismantling its citiy’s Occupy encampment, took the time to preserve a mural created by people who were living there or passing through (the mural also had a functional purpose to protect a fountain):

The mural’s preservation is thanks to the efforts of Matthew Rudnick, a budget bureaucrat with no formal art education but with a keen sense of historical import. During the park clean up, Rudnick coordinated efforts between General Services, (which was responsible for cleaning the park), and the Department of Cultural Affairs. “It would be a tragedy to have it thrown away,” says Rudnick. “The work is dynamic.” […]

The Department of Cultural Affairs is now beginning the process of finding a permanent home for the mural. Interested parties will soon be invited to submit offers to display the mural publicly.

It’s relatively new terrain but one the city viewed as necessary for an artwork that had become an emblem. “We felt giving it to a [caretaking] entity without a public process would come back to haunt us,” says Olga Garay-English, Executive Director of the Department of Cultural Affairs. “It’s more appropriate to have a transparent system in place.”


There’s a radical chic element to all of this, of course, and it’s worth keeping that in mind as Occupy-created and Occupy-inspired art is turned from political expression into commodities. But that doesn’t meant that the work isn’t worth making, or that Occupy-inspired art can’t provide a valuable public example of the connection between artistic expression, political argument, and change. Flavorwire, as one of their 2012 cultural resolutions, hopes the novelists, poets and playwrights who have signed up as part of Occupy Writers will start producing work inspired by their own commitments and in some cases reawakenings. It goes without saying that I agree. Yes, there’s a lag time between events and art inspired by them. But if the 99 percent movement’s going to continue, artists can play a role in sustaining it and looping more people into the conversation, and processing what is past, and passing, and yet to come.