On the 21st of January 2017 more than three million women across the world marched to support women’s rights in the age of a Donald Trump presidency. It seems an odd thing to talk about on an Arts Blog, and although I may have strong political views myself, this isn’t the place to discuss them. The reason I am so interested in the marches is that I saw art come to life in front of my eyes as I watched the videos of the women and men marching and the subsequent photos that were then produced.
I caught myself saying to a friend how much I wanted one particular image printed on a canvas and hung on my wall. The photograph in question is a happy accident that summed up the marches as well as being brilliantly powerful. I talk, of course, of the photo of a crowd in which a person holds up the lyric from the musical Hamilton, “History has its eyes on you.” Behind it, is a picture of Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia. The two images align to produce something that has stayed with me, long after the marchers left the streets and went back to their homes. For me, this is the image of the marches.
This then made me think of the other signs that have been shared all over the word. Images and decorative texts that have created and conveyed emotions and empathy from every person who came into contact with it. Could we not call this art, too? It is something created for a purpose, to move people, to speak to people, to change the world. I have to state that these photographs from the marches and even the signs created, are artwork. They are art born from desperation and pain and hunger, with no monetary greed or value. It is art in its purest form- just to say something.
What lies behind the millions that marched is an idea. And it has often been said that you cannot kill an idea. The banners, signs and photographs created from the marches continue this. They are the idea that no one can kill. As long as creativity is still being used to speak, to fight and to share than it will never die. On the 21st January we didn’t just see people marching for a cause they believed in, we saw the beginnings of a surge of artwork that describes the modern world we live in.
When historians look back on this time, they won’t remember exactly how many people marched, or who they were. But they will remember the images that have been kept and spread. The art that was created to change the world.