Amelia G. Ellis

Political Engagement can be large-scale and it can be small-scale, but it means engaging in—forming a relationship with—that which threatens or protects those things that affect freedom and free-will. Political engagement is not just attending protests or capital ‘p’ Politics, it is participating in the relationships between human-(non)human, human-state, and human-environment. Political engagement can happen unknowingly, however it is up to those who are aware of the engagement to enlighten those in the ways they are participating in the political. This enlightenment is also political engagement. Political engagement is not beholden to one form. Artists can engage through their works, speakers through their rallying, and on the intimate level, individuals can love and look out for their friends and neighbors.

Thinking to the artist and the relationship between creation and political engagement, the engagement in the art should, like curating and documentation, require a certain level of responsibility, awareness, and research in the process. The artist should be aware of what they are trying to engage in and how it may sit in the eyes of the audience. Political art should know when it is agitprop and when it is satire or support; it should know when it is insular and restrictive, and it should know what, where, and how it is building community.

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